News / Calgary

Naheed Nenshi wants numbers to speak for potential Olympic bid

Calgary's mayor says infrastructure projects will not be tied to a bid

Although Mayor Naheed Nenshi is definitely the driving force behind a potential Olympic bid for Calgary, he said he's been deliberately avoiding selling the idea to Calgarians.

Helen Pike / Metro Order this photo

Although Mayor Naheed Nenshi is definitely the driving force behind a potential Olympic bid for Calgary, he said he's been deliberately avoiding selling the idea to Calgarians.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said he’s been deliberately quiet about a possible Olympic bid because he wants people to look at the information on their own.

“People should be questioning it,” said the mayor. “It’s exactly the right thing to do because it’s a big deal, and we are taking — as we often do in Calgary — a very different approach.”

Nenshi said Calgary would not tie a bid to much-needed infrastructure projects.

“Usually when cities do this, they tie it together with a bunch of infrastructure they need anyway: a train to the airport, affordable housing downtown or whatever,” he said. “And we’ve been very deliberately not doing that. We’ve been showing the stripped-down version.”

He said it’s fine if those projects come about because of an Olympic bid, but they can’t be inextricably linked either.

The mayor said the opposition to hosting the Olympics he’s seen on social media does not match what he’s encountered when talking to people face-to-face or in scientific polling of Calgarians.

He said those polls show “overwhelming gigantic majority support” for another Olympic bid.

Reports the city commissioned from The Conference Board of Canada and Deloitte suggested there would be strong economic benefits to hosting the Olympics, but two critiques of those reports by other economists noted many problems with the assumptions made.

“These reports project false certainty about the economic outcome of hosting the Games not borne out by actual past experience,” wrote Brad Humphries, a professor with West Virginia University’s school of economics.

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