Nostalgia, finances shaped how Calgarians marked their Olympic ballots

Games might have been a morale booster for those who supported them

Barry Farlow voted at the Richmond Elementary School in south-west Calgary. He experienced the 1988 Olympic Winter Games and says he voted in favour of Calgary’s bid for 2026 because the city has a lot, not only to gain, but to give from hosting. Stephanie Hagenaars Photo

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Vehicles lined Calgary’s community streets as city residents made their way to the polls this evening for the Olympic bid vote.

And while the question seemed fairly simple — asking if voters are for or against the Games — the reasons behind some voter’s answers go deeper, taking into consideration Calgary’s economy, environmental impacts and nostalgia of the 1988 Olympic Games.

Barry Farlow, 84, attended the Games here in 1988, and voted in favour of Calgary hosting the events at a polling station at Richmond Elementary School in the city’s southwest. He says he remembers the atmosphere in the city and wants others to experience the feeling.

“Though I might not be around about that time, I want the people who will be to have the chance to enjoy what we did in ’88,” says Farlow. “I want them at least to have the chance to do it.”

Diane Chua, 42, also voted in favour, but has the city’s economy and infrastructure in mind. She says hosting the Games will bring in provincial and federal funds that could help to upgrade a lot of Calgary’s older sports facilities.

Calgary’s economy and old facilities were a factor in a lot of voters’ minds, but for Katrina Bellefeuille, 24, the focus was purely environmental.

She says she gathered some research about how the Games could affect the country’s national parks, as potential event sites include Whistler, B.C., Nakiska ski area and Canmore’s Nordic Centre, among others.

“I don’t know if we’re prepared enough to handle that kind of traffic around that area,” says Bellefeuille.

In the south-east, polling stations also saw steady turnout, including New Brighton’s Residents Association where there was some division among family members.

Mark and Sarah Prescott don’t see eye-to-eye when it comes to the Olympic bid.

Mark says there is more that the city could have done to better inform voters of the cost versus benefits of hosting the Games, adding that some of the statistics “didn’t make sense” and is concerned about the potential of long-term debt.

Sarah, on the other hand, says hosting the Games would be fun and good for the city. Her parents worked at the 1988 Winter Olympics and remembers “the hype and the unity that it brought to the city.”

For some, the vote was about boosting morale.

Steve Raffa voted with his three-year-old daughter, Sammy, and mother-in-law, Brenda Tomaszyk. He says hosting the Games is the right thing to do economically, but also said we need to improve the morale of the city.

 

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