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Updated: 8th November 2018 09:19

Yes vote in plebiscite doesn't guarantee Olympic bid, says Nenshi

The mayor says the threshold for a decision will be 50 per cent plus one, but he would prefer a stronger mandate in either direction.

Mayor says threshold for vote is 50 per cent plus one for either side, but he'd prefer stronger mandate

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi says if Calgarians vote to support an Olympic bid, it doesn't necessarily mean council will pursue the Games. (Mike Symington/CBC)

Calgary council will not pursue the Olympics at any cost even if a plebiscite shows public support for the Games, Mayor Naheed Nenshi said on Wednesday. 

"At some point after the plebiscite, and I don't know exactly when, council will then vote on whether to continue or suspend. So if there's a no vote, I imagine that council will vote to stop the work. If there's a yes vote, that doesn't necessarily mean yes at all costs," he said.  

"It allows the work to continue but council still reserves the right, if there's not a good deal there or it doesn't work for the City of Calgary, to pull out of the process."

He said the metric for a decision will be 50 per cent plus one, but that he would prefer a stronger mandate in either direction. 

High turnout on first day

The non-binding plebiscite is on Nov. 13, but advance voting started Tuesday and continued on Wednesday. 

There were long lines at some polling stations on Tuesday. According to the city, 28,923 Calgarians cast a ballot in person and another 7,738 voted through mail-in ballots. 

On Wednesday, another 84 mail-in ballots were received and 25,435 voted in person, bringing the total number of advance ballots cast to 54,442.

Nenshi said he's "super happy" with the high turnout, pointing to low turnout as the worst possible outcome for the plebiscite. 

Asked about a CBC Calgary poll that shows a majority don't support a bid, the mayor remained optimistic. 

"It's a great pollster, Janet Brown; it's a very small sample size, just 200 people in Calgary," he said, although the actual number was 243. 

"There's lots of polling going on and I've certainly seen polls that are much, much closer."

The poll's findings still held when the margin of error was considered. 

When asked who would be responsible for any cost overruns tied to the Games, the mayor said the city is working out details on the bid and the proposed funding agreement with other levels of government. 


LIVE EVENT: CBC Calgary Olympic Games Plebiscite Town Hall

If you live in Calgary, find out what you need to know before you cast your vote in the Nov. 13 plebiscite by tuning in to the CBC Calgary Olympic Games Plebiscite Town Hall.

Featuring a knowledgeable panel and hosted by the Calgary Eyeopener's David Gray, we will hear from both sides and take questions from the audience. Panellists include:

  • Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi.
  • Calgary 2026 CEO Mary Moran.
  • Coun. Evan Woolley, chair of city council's Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games assessment committee.
  • Economist with the University of Calgary's School of Public Policy, Trevor Tombe.
  • No Calgary Olympics organizer Jeanne Milne.
  • David Finch, associate professor at Mount Royal University's Bissett School of Business.

It'll take place at Calgary's new Central Library (800 3rd St. S.E.) on Wednesday, Nov. 7. Doors open at 6 p.m., with rush seating available at 6:15 p.m. All of the reserved tickets have been claimed.

Didn't get a ticket? Never fear, you can tune in by:

  • Joining our Facebook Live at facebook.com/cbccalgary, where you can ask questions and post comments.
  • Watching the Facebook Live in a story on our CBC Calgary website.
  • Listening in on CBC Radio One (99.1 FM or 1010 AM in Calgary), at cbc.ca/calgary or your CBC Radio App from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. MT.


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