The Olympics have a mixed history in Canada.
While the 1976 Summer Olympic Games in Montreal solidified the city's international stance and catalyzed some of its most major infrastructure projects, they also left it with a debt that would take decades to pay off and a monstrous Olympic stadium into which officials have had to drain money to keep standing.
The 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver were well-received by critics, but preparation for events led to the displacement of homeless people across the city.
Really, only one Canadian Olympics has left a legacy acclaimed by residents, officials, and the media: the Calgary 1988 Winter Games.
Calgary 1988 made the city a desination for winter sports, put the city on the international map, and fostered municipal pride and enthusiasm.
Now, the city of Calgary wants to try to repeat history with a bid for the 2026 Winter Games.
The Calgary city council has voted to officially move the question of another Olympics to a citywide referendum this November. If approved by citizens, the city council would then have to ratify that decision.
The move comes as Olympic Games become increasingly expensive. Few cities actually want to host the Olympics. Boston, for example, was chosen as the United States bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics. But after polls showed the Games were deeply unpopular among city dwellers and the mayor refused to pay for cost overruns, the U.S. switched Boston for Los Angeles at the very last moment.
The referendum in Calgary will ensure the Games have broad support. And given the favourable memory of the 1988 Olympics, it has a good chance at passing.
As the world enters a period of political turmoil, the Internationl Olympic Committee (IOC) has been selecting more stable choices to host the Games. In an unprecedented move, the IOC this past year awarded two Olympics at once, to Paris in 2024 and L.A. in 2028.
Because Games have become so expensive, autocratic governments (like those in Russia and China) without democratic oversight of spending have been most interested in hosting.
If the IOC is intent on further democratizing the Games and selecting cities safe from global upheaval, then Calgary should be a frontrunner for 2026.
And let's be honest, no country does winter sports like Canada.