If Toronto is serious about making a bid for the 2024 Olympics, it needs to invest $1-million to do the necessary groundwork this year and should assume that none of the facilities under construction for the Pan Am Games are suitable for reuse, a new consultant’s report says.
The report, to be considered by the city’s economic development committee next week, says “an immediate mobilization of resources” is needed if Toronto wants to bid on the 2024 games, beginning with a $1-million “pre-application” study to consider the pros and cons of hosting the Olympics and to gauge the support of higher levels of government and corporate sponsorship.
A formal bid would cost $50-million to $60-million, with the cost of hosting at $3.3-billion to $6.9-billion, the report said.
In an election year when Toronto faces big-ticket demands for social housing, transit and infrastructure, bidding on the games would likely be “a real tough sell,” predicted Michael Thompson, chair of the economic development committee.
“We are going to really have to examine whether it is appropriate or prudent,” Mr. Thompson said, noting that $1-million would be just a first step.
Mayor Rob Ford said he wants to wait and see how the 2015 PanAm Games work out before committing the city another bid.
“Right now, I’m a little skeptical about putting in a million dollars after I saw our failure for our last Olympic bid,” Mr. Ford said. “If you’re asking me right now today, I’d say no. Let’s see how the Pan Am Games go and we’ll take it from there.”
Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly had a similar response, saying he wants to see how well the region does in holding the Pan Am Games. “I would like to see how we handle that, see what benefits flow from it, and then I think we’d be in a better position to pronounce on that bid,” he said.
While some may see the Pan Am Games as a test run, the feasibility study prepared for the city by Ernst & Young says Toronto could not count on using any of the facilities for an Olympic Games. Many of the venues under construction might not be suitable because they were not designed to Olympic standards, it states, and are too scattered across the Toronto region.
Organizers for the Pan Am Games responded by noting the facilities are “on time and on or under budget.”
“We’re focused on delivering the best Pan Am and Parapan Am Games ever held,”a statement from the games’ organizers said.
With a report from Ann Hui