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Vancouver councillor Colleen Hardwick fails to get support for citizens’ vote on 2030 Olympics

Hardwick wanted vote tied to Oct. 15 municipal election ballot
Hardwick copy
Colleen Hardwick’s push to have citizens vote on whether they want to host the 2030 Winter Olympics and Paralympics failed Tuesday after her motion was not seconded by another member of council.

A Vancouver city councillor’s push to have citizens vote on whether they want to host the 2030 Winter Olympics and Paralympics failed Tuesday (April 12) after her motion was not seconded by another member of council.

Colleen Hardwick drafted a motion that recommended council approve adding a question to the Oct. 15 municipal election ballot to gauge whether citizens wanted to host another Games.

But because neither Mayor Kennedy Stewart nor the nine other councillors seconded Hardwick’s motion, it failed to advance and have council hear from 11 registered speakers, including two members of the non-profit Vancouver 2030 organization.

“It's safe to say that the public will not have a voice in the October 15 2022 election on the subject of the Olympics,” Hardwick said Wednesday by telephone.

Olympics in Vancouver good topic for 'democratic debate'

Leading up to her motion being introduced Tuesday, Hardwick said she heard from citizens personally and via polls that suggested people wanted a say on whether Vancouver should host another Olympics.

“I demonstrated strong and unequivocal public support,” she said. “So it would have seemed to me that on balance someone on that council would have had the wherewithal to bring it forward into democratic debate.”

Hardwick’s motion was introduced four months after the Musqueam, Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and the Lilwat First Nations announced they jointly entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the City of Vancouver and the Resort Municipality of Whistler to begin the process of assessing the feasibility of hosting another Games.

It was that agreement, or MOU, that Stewart suggested in a previous statement would be compromised by Hardwick’s call for what was originally described as a plebiscite.

Were First Nations consulted?

Councillors Adriane Carr and Sarah Kirby-Yung also said in previous interviews they were concerned Hardwick had not consulted First Nations before drafting her motion.

Carr and Kirby-Yung questioned Hardwick Tuesday about their concerns, with Hardwick responding that city staff did not raise any issues about the agreement when she drafted her motion.

“Like any MOU, each one of those parties has an internal responsibility to their shareholders, members and constituents,” she said. “So I wouldn't expect the First Nations to be coming and asking us whether it was okay if they had a referendum, for example.”

Over the past two weeks, Vancouver Is Awesome left voicemail messages, text messages and sent emails to leaders and representatives of the four nations to discuss Hardwick’s call for a vote on the Olympics.

None had replied before this story was posted.

In 2003, Vancouver held a stand-alone plebiscite at a cost of $575,000 on whether citizens wanted to host the 2010 Games. More than 63 per cent of voters supported the city’s bid for the Olympics.

Hardwick didn’t know how much it would cost to add a question to the Oct. 15 ballot but said it would be a “cost effective solution” to holding a stand-alone plebiscite. She suggested a question on the Olympics would also increase voter turnout for the election.

Canadian Olympic Committee will decide if bid will be made

Meanwhile, the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) has since signed a collaboration agreement with the nations, City of Vancouver and Whistler to study whether a bid will be made. That decision is expected in the late fall.

The nations set the terms by which the Olympic committee is operating and have governance-level oversight over every stage of the project, according to an emailed statement from the COC.

“Should all partners decide to move into bid phase, it is at this time the project would transition into targeted dialogue with the [International Olympic Committee],” the statement said. “Targeted dialogue is the IOC’s new process of exploring a proposal to host a specific edition of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. There is no timeframe for targeted dialogue.”

In November 2020, council voted 7-4 to direct staff to conduct preliminary work on the feasibility of hosting another Winter Olympics and Paralympics.

Hardwick joined councillors Jean Swanson, Christine Boyle and Pete Fry in opposing a motion from Coun. Melissa De Genova, with Swanson and Fry concerned an Olympic Games would not help deal with the city’s homelessness and affordability housing challenges.

Hardwick, a first-term councillor, was acclaimed March 13 as the mayoral candidate for TEAM for a Livable Vancouver.

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