A city councillor who is running for mayor this year wants a plebiscite on whether citizens want Vancouver to host the 2030 Winter Olympics and Paralympics.
But rather than have a stand-alone vote, Colleen Hardwick wants a plebiscite question on the same ballot voters will cast in the October municipal election.
Hardwick, who was not immediately available for comment Wednesday, has stated her case for a plebiscite in a motion that she is expected to introduce when council meets next week.
“Vancouver electors/residents have not yet had the opportunity to express their views on this important matter that affects them,” she said in her motion.
Hardwick’s motion comes four months after the Musqueam, Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and the Lilwat First Nations announced they jointly entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the City of Vancouver and the Resort Municipality of Whistler to begin the process of assessing the feasibility of hosting an Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Hardwick’s suggested ballot question is straightforward: “Do you support or do you oppose the City of Vancouver's participation in hosting the 2030 Olympic Winter Games and Paralympic Winter Games?”
Hardwick doesn’t provide an estimated cost to tie the question to the ballot.
But she noted the plebiscite held in 2003 to gauge whether citizens wanted to host the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics cost $575,000. More than 63 per cent of voters supported the city’s bid for the Olympics.
A byelection in 2017 cost $1.2 million.
Given the significant financial commitment involved in hosting the Games, Vancouver electors should have a say on whether they favour proceeding with a 2030 Olympic bid, she said in her motion.
“Incorporating a ballot question on the 2030 Olympics with the 2022 municipal ballot would cost less due to efficiencies of scale,” she said. “Three questions surrounding the capital budget are already planned to be on the ballot.”
The question, however, may be moot by the October election.
“In the event that any and all exploratory or concrete bids involving Vancouver for hosting the 2030 Olympics are dropped by the time ballots need to be finalized, this ballot question can be omitted,” Hardwick said.
Mayor won't support motion
Mayor Kennedy Stewart said in a written statement Wednesday that Hardwick's call for a plebiscite does not honour the Memorandum of Understanding with First Nations "and risks severely undermining our relationship with the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh people upon whose unceded lands our city is built."
"I will not second this motion and suggest other councillors consider what supporting councillor Hardwick's decision to essentially tear up our MOU says about their own commitments to reconciliation," Stewart said.
Councillors Adriane Carr and Sarah Kirby-Yung would not say Wednesday whether they supported Hardwick’s motion, noting they want to hear from the four nations on what they think about a plebiscite.
“Without me knowing where they stand, I wouldn’t vote for it,” Carr said.
Kirby-Yung: “I've been a big fan of the importance of public input, but I also think that it's phenomenal that we have an Indigenous-led bid, and I don't want to discount that. I also know the significant boon that this could have to our tourism sector, which has just been decimated and is struggling.”
Vancouver Is Awesome contacted Musqueam Chief Wayne Sparrow Wednesday but he wasn’t available for comment at the time of this story being posted. Messages were also left for Khelsilem of the Squamish Nation.
'Stop this idea right now'
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.
Swanson argued that the 2010 Olympics and Expo 86 contributed to an increase in property values in Vancouver, which in turn contributed to an affordable housing crisis.
“In the Downtown Eastside, everybody pretty much understands that had we spent money on ending poverty and homelessness that we spent on the Olympics, that we could have done that,” she said at the time.
“I’m actually very uncomfortable with the idea of promoting something during a climate emergency that involves a bunch of flying around in airplanes all over the world. So I think there’s lots of reasons that we should just stop this idea right now.”
Hardwick, a first-term councillor, was acclaimed March 13 as the mayoral candidate for TEAM for a Livable Vancouver.