Economic development committee votes to indefinitely defer Olympic bid
Chris Fox, CP24.com
Published Monday, January 20, 2014 10:10AM EST
Last Updated Monday, January 20, 2014 5:42PM EST
Toronto has no interest in hosting the Olympics for now.
A debate over a potential bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics has been deferred indefinitely in a unanimous vote by the city’s economic development committee.
The 5-0 vote came hours after Mayor Rob Ford told reporters that the city is in no place to bid on an Olympic event.
According to a report prepared for the city by financial consultant firm Ernst and Young, bidding for the games would have cost up to $60 million and hosting the games would have carried a price tag between $3.3 billion and $6.9 billion.
“I don’t think it is a smart use of taxpayer money,” Ford said outside his office late Monday afternoon. “It should be shelved indefinitely right now.”
Toronto has made unsuccessful bids for the 1996 and 2008 Summer Olympics in the past and rather than taking a third kick at the can Ford said the city should focus on preparing to host the 2015 Pan American Games, which has been plagued by cost overruns and allegations of misspending.
If council had decided to further explore an Olympic bid, the next step would have been to direct staff to conduct a pre-application analysis of the pros and cons of hosting the games.
According to the report from Ernst and Young, that study alone would have cost about $1 million and would have to have been requested by January 2015 in order to allow time for reasoned debate ahead of a September IOC deadline for applications.
“There may come a time that we feel that it is important to showcase ourselves to the world through an Olympic bid, but I don’t think it is the time to do it,” Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly told reporters earlier Monday. “I think right now the important thing is to keep our eye on the pressing issues that face us as a city and that is gridlock, transit, infrastructure and coping with the consequences of the flood and the ice storm. That is what should occupy our time, our energy and our money.”
Kelly said he would be OK with an Olympic bid sometime in the future but he suggested that the 2028 games might be a more realistic target.
Ford, meanwhile, said it could be years before Toronto is in a position in which it is able to legitimately entertain the possibility of bidding on the games.
“Realistically I would say 15 years at least,” he told reporters at city hall.
Council will consider World Expo bid
While the economic development committee effectively ended any and all Olympic speculation on Monday, it did leave the door open to a potential bid on World Expo 2025, voting 3-2 in favour of sending the idea to council for further debate.
According to a separate report from Ernst and Young, the cost of bidding on World Expo 2025 would be in the range of $10 million to $15 million with the cost of hosting the event between $1 billion and $3 billion.
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