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November 1, 2018

Open Letter to Calgarians re: the 2026 Olympic Bid

November 2018

Dear Calgary;

A decision is looming and it is a decision that you will make not just for your city, but also for the region, our Province and the country as a whole.  That decision involves whether or not to put in a bid to host the 2026 Winter Olympics.

I moved to this Province because of the incredible way Albertans do business, the ability to take risks and open-mindedness, especially when it comes to big vision thinking. While other Provinces shy away and say “meh… no, let’s wait and see if we can find a failsafe way to do this”, Albertans jump right into an opportunity giving ideas a shot. That’s one of many things I love about Alberta, the Province I call home.

Right now I see doom and gloom; I see fear; I see people sticking their head in the sand … is it because the carpet was pulled from under your feet? I see negativity and fear, hiding behind the financial discussions being had these days. Have we forgotten the smell of success after taking a risk and being a leader?

You may feel you got your wings clipped by natural and economic disaster over the past few years, but I saw Alberta going through fire and high water – to hell and back coming out shining more than once. Don’t forget that no matter what, whenever disaster struck we came together and showed the world and the rest of Canada how it is done.

Now we have the potential opportunity to claim the world stage with another positive Olympic story, and I can’t help but wonder what happened to the Alberta I came to know and love?

Where is our bold leadership? Where is the optimism? Please do not tell me that the “can do” spirit has left the building?

I cannot believe that we don’t have the ability to show the world how the 2026 Olympics can be done in an innovative and financially responsible way. The negative rhetoric surrounding whether we should or should not submit an Olympic bid sounds like you doubt our ability to lead in a financially sustainable way – and that we cannot resist corruption.

We are a winter country … what are we telling the world if we don’t bid on the 2026 Winter Olympics? We, the winter country do not care about winter sports and do not want to provide our children and grandchildren with the opportunity to enjoy renewed infrastructure that will get them outdoors. If we are not bidding and taking on the winter Olympics as a winter country, who will?! Who could do it better than us?

Here’s something else to consider, all of the tired recreational and other infrastructure we enjoy now – as a legacy of the 1988 Olympics, will have to be renovated sooner or later. The difference is, without the 2026 Olympics that Calgary and the surrounding municipalities will have to pick up the tab pretty much on their own, with relatively limited provincial and federal support. A successful 2026 Olympic bid would give us the opportunity of not having to carry the financial burden alone. We have financial commitments from the provincial and federal governments, along with the IOC to contribute, substantially to the necessary upgrades. In light of sustainability, this could even be the beginning of our hosting this event more often and actually turn a profit for years to come.

If we are so afraid, why not pick up our neighbours (BC) offer to help us? Pride? Doubting that we are able to be a leader in organizing the games in a financial, sustainable and non-corrupt manner?

Why are the Olympics seen as expenses versus investment? I have seen what the games did for the city of Vancouver, Whistler, the region and the entire Province of BC. It was incredible, to say the least. I was involved in the business development and investment attraction part.

The main activity in terms of business did not take place during the Olympics but the years leading up to the Olympics and after the games. It was busy and it still is busy. The city is thriving and the 2010 Olympics had an incredibly positive impact. It does not look like they are in the poorhouse, they do not have offices sitting empty, challenges to sell real estate, unemployment, or have a challenge attracting businesses.

Are you saying we cannot afford 2026, but we can afford the continuation of over 20% office space vacancy? Are you telling us, we can afford to pay for the infrastructure upgrade on our own or could completely lose the facilities in not upgrading at all?

Are you telling me putting Alberta and in particular Calgary back on the world stage in a positive light is worth nothing? The interest generated through marketing around the globe, profiling our country and province, in particular, is not only important to business and investment attraction, but also to retention of our current business.

This should not be a political fight, because one may support it and might be able to continue a legacy or another party can capitalize on the initial investment and take credit for thriving businesses and reviving the economy – suit yourself any which way we slice this, it is a win-win situation! Just take a stand and we will judge you after… just sayin… we will judge you either way!

If we do not show that we will invest in our own city and province, what will investors think? The world is again watching us and Calgary’s vote and reaction to this investment will send a message to businesses and investors.

In not going for the 2026 YES vote we deny a legacy for future generations. That goes for the naysayers as much as the people that do not vote at all – you are then considered a naysayer as well. I sure wish I was given the opportunity to vote, but I live 15 minutes from the city limits and don’t have a say and depend on Calgary to VOTE YES 2026. Again, Calgary’s vote is not just affecting the city, it affects the region, the province and our Canada. It will affect our children, seniors, businesses, sports and yes the arts and much more. It is not just Calgary’s tax money it is ours. The benefits have been pointed out and can be viewed on various other pro-2026 websites, I encourage you to visit their website in order to make an informed decision. We need the 2026 Olympics to instil confidence and get back on a positive page on the world stage, to name two of many reasons.

Alberta Strong! – Calgary be the Energy! …. where are you? We miss you! Sincerely,

Alexandra Ross

Principal, Streamlined Vision