City councillor wants Toronto to consider Commonwealth Games bid
Codi Wilson and Joshua Freeman, CP24.com
Published Sunday, March 26, 2017 12:24PM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, March 26, 2017 10:45PM EDT
A Toronto councillor wants the city to consider a bid to become the host city for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Ward 10 Coun. James Pasternak plans to table a motion at next week's city council meeting asking city staff to look into the feasibility of Toronto entering the bidding process.
"The big opportunity for us is that we just hosted the Pam Am Games and the fact that we’ve invested $2.5 billion in athletic assets and arenas and fields means that we could host the games for little extra cost," Pasternak told CP24 Sunday.
He added that he would not support a bid unless it made "financial sense" for the city.
"Transit and housing and other issues around the city are major priorities. The question is can the city manager come back with a plan that makes financial sense, that puts the city into the international spotlight, that makes sure that we realize tens of millions of dollars in tourist dollars and we boost the local economies. Unless we reach those goals, I don’t think we should proceed," he said, adding that the other levels of government would need to "come along as partners."
In terms of the actual cost for the bid, Pasternak said he would like to see the private sector "come to the plate."
"At this juncture, it is the city manager’s responsibility to see what the prospects are for bidding at this late stage and what a bid would cost," he noted.
The request comes less than two weeks after Durban, South Africa lost the rights to host the sporting event.
In a statement released on March 13, the Commonwealth Games Federation said the decision to find a new host city came after a detailed review was conducted on whether Durban’s proposal was consistent with the original bid commitments.
“It is with disappointment that the detailed review has concluded that there is a significant departure from the undertakings provided in Durban’s bid and as a result a number of key obligations and commitments in areas such as governance, venues, funding and risk management/assurance have not been met under the revised proposition,” the statement read.
Mayor John Tory said it is unclear whether Toronto would have enough time to prepare for this type of event.
"It’s not just a matter of saying, well we have a pool, we have a track, so let’s have a few people over to have some games. There is a lot involved in this in terms of security and other kinds of things," he said Sunday.
"Before I take any stand on this, I want to take a look at those things and be very careful about this."
In a further written statement released Sunday evening, Tory said he will advocate “great caution” in examining a possible bid.
“It is a time consuming, complex undertaking requiring years of preparation and unknown expense,” Tory said in the statement. “I believe any move to proceed with a bid on these games will require great convincing.”
He noted that his administration has developed a framework for assessing major hosting opportunities for the city so that Toronto neither rushes into a commitment that is too costly, nor misses a good opportunity.
In an interview with CP24 Sunday afternoon, Coun. Paula Fletcher agreed that council would need lots of information from staff before moving forward, but she said the idea is worth examining.
“I think we should look at it,” Fletcher said. “It would be just reasonable since we had the Pan Am Games and we have all of that infrastructure. Let’s see what it would cost and if we could actually pull it off.”
While the city would likely need to build new housing to accommodate athletes, Fletcher pointed out that the region has brand new aquatic and cycling facilities that could be used.
She also said that the Pan Am Games gave the city and the wider GTA a boost, with lasting legacy items like the ‘Toronto’ sign at Nathan Phillips Square.
“It brought everybody together because it wasn’t just in the City of Toronto; It was the GTA and we did that together as a region. There’s big benefit to that – thinking together as a region rather than separate cities.”
Fletcher acknowledged that as a national event, the city would need the support of the federal government if it wanted to go forward with a bid.
Councillors will consider Pasternak's proposal during next week's meeting, which begins on Tuesday at 9:30 a.m.