I have been listening to the discussion on the Calgary 2026 Olympic bid for the past few months with some concern. As someone who has participated in the grassroots discussion on the future of our city along with hundreds of others, I am struck by the struggle we seem to be having as a city as we try to move the discussion forward.
Now, before we go off on a pro/con rant on the Olympics, this is not about this project specifically.
What the Olympic discussion is really reflective of is our capacity and ability to make generational, game-changing decisions as a community. Make no mistake: since the 21st-century “bus” missed the stop in Alberta as we were all enjoying $120 oil, the only way to get back in the game – let alone change the game – is to be making really big, bold decisions. And quickly.
This is a referendum on that change process. The projects we need to do are audacious, possibly frightening to some and will – like the Olympics – be divisive and not unanimous. But they are essential. We need to announce to the world that Calgary is able to confront its future with a new regenerative spirit that weaves in a new social contract of openness, pay it forward and diversity; that our community of all stripes is able to have difficult discussions and is able to frame the debates recognizing that in order to raise the tide, we have to lean in together. Not in unanimity and harmony but with respect and urgency.
So, think of the Olympic bid as a referendum on our ability as a city to debate with urgency, to be able to rationally recognize the trade-offs inherent in boldness, and to understand facts through a lens of critical thinking and informed discussion making.
Whatever we decide as a community for 2026, I believe if it is done through these lenses we will be able to say, “ok team, what’s next on the list?” and move on – regardless if the decision went your way or not. Because all of us need to get onboard a new bus and to stop wasting time and energy calling names and being beholden to the narrowing view of a social media timeline.
Because this is just the first of many, team Calgary! Wait until we get to the HyperLoop discussion!