As an avid sports observer from Vancouver and someone who majored in political science in university, I’ve spent a large amount of time watching both Vancouver Canucks games and city council meetings.
Sometimes it’s hard to discern the differences between the two, actually. They both have random outbreaks of fighting, a bizarre “code” that governs the way they are run, and often leave Vancouverites disappointed.
But Vancouver sports fans will want to check in on council on Tuesday morning (meetings are accessible online), when the mayor and the 10 elected members will decide whether or not to go ahead with Vancouver’s part of the North America bid for the FIFA 2026 Men’s World Cup.
Vancouver has been chosen as one of the four Canadian cities in the bid (along with Edmonton, Toronto and Montreal), and will host three to five games if the submission is accepted. The only other bid on the table is Morocco's. A country that hosts the tournament automatically qualifies to play in it, so Canada would be back in the Men’s World Cup for the first time since 1986.
City staff have reported that each host city will bring in a range of $90 million to $480 million in economic activity, and that hosting will only cost Vancouver between $10 million and $20 million. Given these numbers, Vision Vancouver, the party with a majority on council, will surely be voting in favour of the bid.
It’s a virtual certainty that the motion to keep the bid going passes, but that’s not what you should be watching for. No, as municipal politics in this city start to ramp up in anticipation of October’s election, keep an eye on how the other parties involved vote.
The Non-Partisan Association currently has four party members on council, and they’ve taken contrarian positions lately, like voting against a dedicated bike lane for the Cambie Street bridge while proposing inane “solutions” like a massive connector only for bikes that they know would never get built.
Vision has seen three of its sitting councillors, along with Mayor Gregor Robertson, declare that they will not run in the upcoming election. Because of this, and the recent by-election in which Vision finished fifth, the NPA smells blood in the water. So they’re using every vote to go against Vision so that they can say they voted against unfavourable decisions by the party when it comes time to cast ballots.
The opposition is playing politics instead of looking out for what Vancouverites want. Indeed, a tweet by councillor Melissa de Genova imploring citizens to come to council to speak against the bike lanes was almost unanimously rebuffed on Twitter.
It’s also worth keeping tabs on what solo Green councillor Adriane Carr does, as there’s no guarantee that she’ll support the tournament.
Will other municipal parties vote against hosting the World Cup? It’s something sports fans should watch for and keep in mind when they go to the polls in October.More