Thursday at Mount Royal University, Sport Calgary hosted an informational session designed to share facts, budgets and visions of what a 2026 Winter Games bid might look like.
There’s lots of numbers (delivered at each session by Mary Moran) to wrestle over, to be sure — arm wrestle, even.
But each information session, led by moderator Ken Cameron, also asks the audience to do some vision work of its own that’s not mathematical at all, but rather aspirational.
Cameron hands out pens and workbooks, and asks each person to write down a big, hairy, audacious dream for what Calgary might become as a result of bidding to host the 2026 Games.
Most people don’t think in terms of civic dreams — except maybe sports franchise owners and charismatic mayors.
We think in terms of individual ones, or family ones — so it’s interesting to witness a process where a group of non-sports franchise owners and non-elected private individuals gather in a room to imagine out loud a little bit, what their city might one day become.
Jason Zaran is the owner of the Fit Kitchen, a home delivery healthy meal service that includes a number of world class athletes among its client roster.
He’s also the chair of the Calgary Multisport Fieldhouse Society.
His first priority of course is to get a multi purpose fieldhouse built that was first proposed to Calgary city council, he says, “The last time the Toronto Maple Leafs won the Stanley Cup.”
But his dream is less site-specific than simply finally getting that damn fieldhouse built, 50 years after Edmonton got theirs (and then got Led Zeppelin to perform in it).
“Calgary is well on its way already to being a global leader when it comes to sports and activity in a healthy, well community,” said Zaran, “but I can really see us becoming the global leader when it comes to health and wellness, really becoming a centre for tying in medical science with health and wellness communities.
“When we’re looking to reinvent our economy, why not have that (goal) as what the new economy of Calgary looks like — because we’re already a (world class winter) sports city as it is?
“We’re already a destination that hosts all these (world championship sports) events – and when you bring the world to the city (for an event like the Winter Olympics), it is an opportunity to show the world what we’re doing.”
Colleen, a communications student at MRU, dreams of the city becoming more para-friendly.
“I never realized how inaccessible Calgary is — even just going out to a bar,” she said.
“(My dream is leveraging the Games – especially the Paralympics — to showcase how difficult it is for those to just get around is — and to hope Calgary can become a hub for diversity and including everyone.
“By 2026,” she adds, “Calgary will be the most accessible city in the world.”
Greener, cleaner Calgary
Rachael McIntosh is a heptathlete — that’s a summer sport — who just spent eight years as a member of the Canadian national track and field team.
She moved to Calgary to join the team from Nova Scotia eight years ago, after pit-stopping for a year on a track scholarship at the University of Pittsburgh.
She didn’t know it at the time, but says she found a home — one that she said has been voted the cleanest in the world, and the fourth most livable city on the planet, two things she always mentions when she meets people from somewhere else.
“I always brag about it to people when I travel,” she said.
“A greener, cleaner Calgary is surprisingly my biggest dream,” she said.
“Everyone would think I would bring it to a sport preference — and selfishly, we all have something we want to get out of it,” she said.
“But it’s (hosting the Games) not just (about) sport.”