Vancouver city council rejects motion to hold vote on 2030 Winter Olympic bid

A motion to allow constituents to vote on the possibility of a Vancouver 2030 Winter Olympic bid was left on city council floor Tuesday after it failed to receive a seconder.

Vancouver 2010 Opening Ceremony (IOC Photo)

Vancouver 2010 Opening Ceremony (IOC Photo)

Vancouver city councilor Colleen Hardwick first forwarded the motion to hold a plebiscite last month but pulled it from the agenda at the last moment in order to address concerns raised by Mayor Kennedy Stewart.  The Mayor had claimed that holding a plebiscite would violate a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed with First Nations leaders who have been positioned to lead the possible bid.

Other councilors backed the Mayor, and the spirit of the bid that is driven by a pledge of reconciliation through sport as set out by Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Hardwick removed “plebiscite” from the wording of the motion and instead proposed the vote as a “ballot question” that would be added to the municipal election ballot on October 15.  The new motion was included on Tuesday’s agenda.

If the motion had received a seconder, it would have been open for council debate and to the registered speakers who were already queued to weigh in.

In her introduction Hardwick claimed that the language in the signed MOU did not preclude the possibility of a public vote on the issue.  Other councilors asked if she had spoken to the First Nations leadership before proposing the vote, but Hardwick shrugged off the request saying that such dialogue was not required.

Vancouver is proposing the first-ever indigenous-led Olympic bid in its quest to host the Games for the second time in only 20 years.  Canada also hosted the Winter Games in Calgary in 1988 and the Summer Games in Montreal in 1976.

If the municipalities of Vancouver, Whistler, the four involved First Nations and the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) agree to move the bid forward they will face at least three other international projects vying to host in 2030 and all for the second time.  Sapporo in Japan last hosted in 1972 and recent polls show the bid has the support to move forward without any referendum.  Salt Lake City in the United States has excellent backing at all levels and with a well-preserved legacy still in place from 2002, the Utah capital is a top contender.

A regional Pyrenees-Barcelona bid from Spain will face a binding referendum on July 24 before proceeding with its hope to be only the second region to host both the Summer and Winter editions of the Olympics after Beijing achieved that feat in February.  Ukraine had been preparing to bid with Lviv and Odesssa before the start of the Russian incursion launched in February.

There is no set timeline for the election of the 2030 host city, and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) can choose to lock in its preferred bid at any time.  However it is thought that the IOC will aim to crown the winner at its all-members session to be held in Mumbai, India in spring next year and that a candidate will be singled out late this year.  The COC has said that it doesn’t expect to finalize its plans until this fall.

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