August 19, 2015
Mayor John Tory
City of Toronto
100 Queen Street
Toronto, ON M5H 2N2
Re: Public consultation on major events and their ability to be a major catalyst for economic development and job creation for Toronto, and for the revitalization of the Port Lands
Dear Mayor Tory,
You have often spoken about jobs, trade and foreign direct investment, infrastructure, waterfront revitalization, public transit, housing, tourism, and the economic vitality of Toronto. These issues have been front and centre, and as such will be of important consideration throughout your mandate as Mayor.
In February 2014, City Council requested the Toronto Expo 2025 Steering Committee continue its Pre Bid Phase work to build public and private sector and intergovernmental support. The General Manager of Economic Development Culture was requested to report back in 2015 on “a Business Plan to address issues relevant to the public, other orders of government, and potential sponsors to gauge stakeholder support for an Expo bid and to provide Council with sufficiently detailed information to determine if an official bid should be prepared.”
With this in mind, I am asking that any public consultations about the 2024 Olympics bid also take into account what an Expo/World's Fair would do to redevelop the Port Lands and further the Waterfront’s revitalization. Specifically, how it can attract infrastructure investment, provide flood protection and environmental remediation, generate jobs, enhance economic growth, and promote cultural tourism for our city. Considerable work has been done with our two key waterfront agencies: the Toronto Port Lands Co. and Waterfront Toronto in looking at Expo 2025, a project with concrete deadlines and a realistic timetable – and a potential $13 billion economic impact that would benefit the city.
Given the background to this matter, I am asking for your consideration of the following:
1. ENGAGE IN BROAD PUBLIC CONSULTATIONS
I request that your public consultations be broad, inclusive and strategic when considering Toronto's long-term economic future. Such robust public consultations should consider the widest range of major project possibilities. The Olympics (in year 2024 or 2028), as well as Expo (in year 2025 or 2030) realizing of course that these two programs would need to be well spaced out, and that in each case an initial bid 'letter of interest' from Toronto would need to be submitted to the respective governing bodies 9 years ahead of the event itself.
For the record, my preference is for you to not submit a letter of interest for an Olympics 2024 bid until all necessary due diligence has been completed. I recognize from media reports, that the President of the Canadian Olympic Committee is using "the full force of his office" to push for Toronto's sixth Olympics bid. I appreciate the tremendous pressure that you may be facing by external lobbyists. I caution it would be unwise to circumvent, even when unintentional, the general public and City Council by not engaging all, fully and honestly in the debate, especially in the absence of an authentic and third-party reviewed Business Plan.
2. APPOINT A VOLUNTARY TASK FORCE
Furthermore, I suggest that you appoint a voluntary Task Force to both investigate and assess what the Olympics and Expo could accomplish for Toronto & the region, the province, and Canada. It should be a key advisory body composed of 15-20 informed and engaged business, political and community leaders. The Task Force would be asked to independently and realistically assess the bid processes, the lessons learned from all prior bids, the competing cities (and nations), and the proper spacing and sequencing of these two major bids. It would review the state of the existing facilities, the prerequisite intergovernmental and political commitments, and address the key question - how would any Olympics or Expo help accomplish existing city-building priorities in areas including:
• trade and investment;
• the environment / environmental clean-up;
• transportation and public transit;
• major infrastructure;
• GTA-wide economic development;
• arts and culture;
• opportunities for youth;
• new affordable housing;
• environmental cleanup of the waterfront;
• major expansion of our tourism base; and
• showcasing of our diversity and inclusion to the entire world.
I suggest that the Task Force be chaired by a local community-building organization and have it report back to you, as Mayor, by year-end.
In addition, I would also ask that city staff review hosting other major programs, such as FIFA and/or World Cup possibilities. Also worth considering again are the enormously successful World Youth Days that we hosted in Toronto in 2002.
3. ADOPT CORE PRINCIPLES TO GUIDE ANY EXPO OR OLYMPIC BID
Finally, it is important that any major global bid such as these should be guided by a clear set of Core Principles. I am proposing these Core Principles (see Appendix 1) to help guide the review process because they are sound, cautious, prudent, and fiscally responsible actions to take. They will provide greater clarity, public confidence, and general support for whatever global bids move forward.
I would appreciate knowing, and being involved with respect to your plans for community consultations post-Pan Am/Parapan Games, and look forward to hearing from you.
With sincerest regards,
Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam
Ward 27, Toronto Centre-Rosedale