City Staff Report Recommends Against Toronto 2022 Commonwealth Games Bid

Reporting From Toronto, Canada – A report by Toronto City staff assigned to review a potential bid to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games has recommended against the proposal due the costs and risks involved with the project.  The report, released a day ahead of a critical Tuesday meeting by the city’s Economic Development Committee, also cited a lack of federal and provincial support behind the potential bid.

Toronto, the centre of Ontario's "Golden Horseshoe" bid for the Pan Am Games
Toronto Skyline

“Staff have reviewed the opportunity to bid on the 2022 Commonwealth Games using the evaluation criteria set out by the Mayor’s Advisory Panel on International Hosting Opportunities,” the report released Monday by Mike Williams, the General Manager of Economic Development and Culture said.

“While hosting the Games has the potential to generate significant economic and tourism benefits for Toronto,” the report continued, “staff are recommending that Toronto not pursue a bid at this time.”

The findings will likely lead to a decision by City Council against bidding for the Commonwealth Games, the next meeting is scheduled for June 28.

A Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) team visited Toronto last Wednesday to discuss a possible bid that was first proposed by City Councillor James Pasternak and later frowned upon by Mayor John Tory who suggested moving forward with “great caution.”  City Council voted against fast-tracking the project and instead sent the suggestion to the Economic Development Council for review.

The report listed as concerns: lack of confirmed support from federal and provincial governments that likely wouldn’t be secured by the July bidding deadline set by the Commonwealth Games Association of Canada (CGAC);  no funding source from the city that would probably be required in the hundreds of millions of dollars; no community engagement has occurred, and cannot occur ahead of a bid; and no city resources are available to expedite a bid by an August deadline, and there is no budget allocated to outsource the work.

The report also points to funding that would be needed for capital investments including venue upgrades such as the Athletics Stadium at York University, and a Pan Am Village that could utilize college or university residences or be part of a social housing project – but these decisions may not be resolved in the shortened bidding time frame.

“While exact costs are not known at this time, staff estimate that operating expenses would be comparable to the 2015 Pan Am / Parapan Am Games, with City expenditures in the tens of millions of dollars.”

Toronto's City Hall during the 2015 Pan Am Games
Toronto’s City Hall during the 2015 Pan Am Games

“Given risks and constraints related to intergovernmental support for a bid and the financial impact of hosting the event on the City’s long-term fiscal plan, staff cannot recommend pursuing a bid to host the 2022 Games at this time.”

Durban, South Africa originally won the bid to host the 2022 Games bid unopposed, but was stripped of the event after failing to meet financial requirements.  Several cities are now interested in becoming a replacement host including Canadian city and 1998 host Victoria; Birmingham and Liverpool in Britain; Adelaide, Perth, Sydney and Melbourne in Australia and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.

Australia’s Gold Coast will host the 2018 edition of the Games.

A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. Robert Livingstone is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians.

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