Former mayor Rob Ford has added his voice to the growing opposition against a potential Toronto Olympic bid, telling CP24 that the city’s simply doesn’t have the money to stage the multi-sport games.

One day after releasing a statement in which he slammed the Olympics as “a bottomless black hole” that would cost the city billions, Ford joined CP24 for a one-on-one interview in which he questioned the city’s preparedness to host and pay for the games and slammed what he called the “secretive” process surrounding a potential bid.

“We are not ready, we don’t have the money and the taxpayers should not have to pay for it. Regardless of if it is the federal government, the provincial government or the municipal government (paying the bill) it is just one taxpayer and it comes out of the same pocket,” the Etobicoke North councillor said. “If the taxpayers want to have a 10 per cent property tax increase to cover these games go ahead but I won’t be supporting it.”

In January 2014, the city's economic development committee under Ford voted against studying the possibility of going after the 2024 games but the recent success of the Pan American Games and changes to the International Olympic Committee bid process intending to make it less costly have helped to revive the debate.

Time is of the essence, though, as a Sept. 15 deadline to submit a written expression of interest to the IOC is now just days away.

Speaking with CP24, Ford said he is “trying to” to sit down with Mayor John Tory to share his concerns ahead of that deadline but has not yet been able to schedule a meeting.

Ford also criticized Tory for refusing to hold a special meeting of council to decide whether or not to submit the expression of interest, as some, including Coun. Anthony Perruzza, have called for.

“We have no idea what the mayor is doing. The councillors, the staff, we are all running around saying ‘What is the mayor doing?’ I guess he is having his private meetings, which I completely disagree with,” Ford said. “He should be consulting with his council. He is one vote of 45 and it is going to have to come to council and what is he going to say then? ‘Oh yeah, well for the last four weeks I have been meeting with people.’ He could at least come out and say ‘OK, I am meeting with A, B and C.’ That would be fine. It’s absolutely wrong to be secretive, though, especially being the mayor. That’s not leadership.”

Tory has previously said that council will ultimately be asked to vote on whether or not to submit an Olympic bid but will not get an opportunity to vote on the expression of interest due to time constraints.

The mayor has also said that he has been informally consulting members of council throughout the process along with business leaders, government officials and other community leaders.

“Putting in this letter is pretty minor in the grand scheme of things but when it comes to the games themselves, we don’t have the money,” Ford told CP24 on Friday. “We are billions of dollars in debt and we need hundreds of millions dollars in infrastructure money. Do you want your roads paved or do you want the Olympics?”

Others have raised concerns

Ford is just the latest voice to raise concerns about an Olympic bid.

Last week Coun. John Campbell told the CBC that a Toronto bid would be an “albatross” while Coun. James Pasternak suggested that the emergence of Los Angeles as a candidate city may leave Toronto on the outside looking in.

On Thursday, city council in Mississauga also voted against supporting a Toronto bid.

“We had a very successful Pan Am Games in Mississauga but it didn’t give us the economic generating effect that we thought it would, though it did generate a lot of traffic,” Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie told CP24 on Friday. “I just don’t think the benefits (of the Olympics) would outweigh the costs.”

Crombie said she met with Tory to discuss a potential Olympic bid last week but came away from the meeting feeling that there wasn’t enough time to do a proper analysis of the business case for partnering with Toronto.

Crombie also said that philosophically she and members of Mississauga council just don’t want to spend taxpayer money on something as frivolous as an Olympic games.

“If there are investments to be made we want to invest in our transit, in our infrastructure and affordable housing and not large stadiums and Olympic sized pools,” she said.

Though there is increasing opposition to an Olympic bid at city hall, the Canadian Olympic Committee is continuing to push for one and on Friday the organization held a meeting, where members voted unanimously to support a bid should Mayor Tory sign off on one. n

“We have always been crystal clear in our intention to lead, advocate and prepare for a possible 2024 Toronto Olympic bid. This is simply the latest step in that process,” COC Spokesperson Carl Vallée said in a statement provided to CP24. “Today’s vote recognizes the tremendous opportunity a bid would represent for a world-class city like Toronto and for the future of sport in Canada. ”

A report prepared by Ernst and Young in January, 2014 estimated that the cost of submitting a formal bid to host the Summer Games would be between $50 and $60 million while the cost of hosting the games would be between $3.3 and $6.9 billion.

So far Los Angeles, Budapest, Hamburg, Paris and Rome have expressed an interest in hosting the 2024 games.

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