Vancouver City Council is not considering directing city staff to add a question to the ballot in the October 2022 municipal election asking residents if Vancouver should host the 2030 Winter Olympics and Paralympics – At least for the moment.
A revised motion from members of TEAM City Councilor Colleen Hardwick calling for a public vote on revamping the Olympics died on the City Council floor on Tuesday afternoon.
For a member’s motion to be considered by council, it must be seconded (seconded) by at least one other councilor or the mayor. But in a rare scenario for City Council, Hardwick’s motion received no support today.
Hardwick’s original motion, which included the term “plebiscite”, was originally scheduled to be debated at the end of March 2022, but it was withdrawn and postponed because his motion would also not have received support at the time.
Without a seconder today, it was an expression of clear opposition by the majority of the city council to the idea of moving forward with any public vote at this stage.
His revised motion ahead of today’s meeting remains largely the same as the original motion, except for the deletion of the term “plebiscite” and the emphasis on the “ballot question.”
Hardwick argues that adding a question to the ballot in the October 15, 2022 municipal election would be the most cost-effective solution, compared to a stand-alone plebiscite vote, which could cost over $1 million – similar to the cost of the 2017 by-election to fill a vacant councillor’s seat. Similarly, the upcoming election ballot will also include questions about the city’s capital plan.
She argues that there is precedent for a public vote, given that the City of Vancouver held a plebiscite on February 22, 2003 for the 2010 Olympic bid – just four months before the International Olympic Committee (IOC) took its host city decision.
The 2010 candidacy plebiscite had one of the highest turnouts ever for a Vancouver municipal public vote, with approximately 135,000 ballots cast, a turnout of approximately 50% at the ‘era. Vancouverites voted in favor of the Olympic bid; 64% voted “Yes”, while 36% voted “No”.
In comments made public over the past three weeks and at today’s meeting, other members of city council, including the mayor, expressed great apprehension about a public vote, suggesting rather such a move would run counter to a memorandum of understanding signed in December. 2021 between the four Host First Nations — from Metro Vancouver and Sea-to-Sky — Lilwat, Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh — and the City of Vancouver and the Resort Municipality of Whistler.
In the spirit of reconciliation, the memorandum of understanding states that this would be an Indigenous-led bid and, if successful, an Indigenous-led Games.
Mayor Kennedy Stewart also specifically suggested that Hardwick’s motion was an affront to reconciliation.
City Council approved a formal Memorandum of Understanding to work in partnership with host First Nations to explore how the 2030 Winter Olympics could become the world’s premier games of reconciliation. 2/4
—Kennedy Stewart (@kennedystewart) March 24, 2022
I will not be supporting this motion. I urge other councilors to think about what supports @CllrHardwickThe decision to tear up our memorandum of understanding speaks volumes about their own commitments to reconciliation. 4/4#vanpoli
—Kennedy Stewart (@kennedystewart) March 24, 2022
And now she’s called the advisory for Council Week April 12 with a slightly modified title:
2022 municipal ballot question to gauge Vancouver voter support for a 2030 Winter Olympics bid.
Maybe consult First Nations this time? https://t.co/m1f0RyraWZ
— Sarah Kirby-Yung 楊瑞蘭 (@sarahkirby_yung) March 30, 2022
Agree with the mayor here. Regardless of what one thinks of the Olympics, the 2030 bid is an Indigenous-led initiative. This motion undermines our commitment to reconciliation and the recently signed memorandum of understanding. I support maintaining strong partnerships with host First Nations. #vanpoli https://t.co/Qt5L0f8mKe
— Rebecca Bligh (@rebeccaleebligh) March 24, 2022
Today, city councilors asked Hardwick if she had consulted with First Nations, but she said there was no proper framework for those discussions to take place.
“It’s up to us, as a member of the MOU, to be accountable to the electorate. That’s what it’s all about,” Hardwick said during the debate.
In a statement yesterday, ahead of today’s meeting, the Mayors Office said the draft Concept Plan for hosting the 2030 Games will be made available to all MOU members in June 2022 for submission to their respective councils for consideration.
The draft Concept Plan is currently being developed with direct input and support from the Canadian Olympic Committee and the Canadian Paralympic Committee. The draft Concept Plan is the product of ongoing technical research and assessments to determine the feasibility of revamping the Games.
Once the draft concept plan is completed in June 2022, City of Vancouver staff will submit a public report for a vote on whether to move forward with the 2030 bid. The Mayor’s Office adds in besides that “at that time the council may decide to schedule a community vote or other engagement with residents”.
If the councils of the four Host First Nations and the city councils of Vancouver and Whistler support the bid this summer, the current efforts of the exploratory committee will transition to a formal bid committee for the international competition stage this fall.
The IOC is currently expected to make a decision on the 2030 host city in 2023. Vancouver would compete with former Olympic hosts including Salt Lake City, Barcelona and Sapporo.