Pan Am Problems in Toronto

The committee responsible for planning the 2015 Pan American games has come under fire recently after reports of one and two dollar costs being expended to taxpayers. But executives have claimed they are still way under their $709-million budget.

Except the $709-million being spend on the athlete’s village isn’t included in the the $1.4 billion budget. It’s easy to nickel-and-dime the taxpayer for a two dollar coffee here and a one dollar parking charge there and stay under budget when one of the largest expenses in preparing for the games isn’t even included in the budget.

In the same breath Kathleen Wynne defended a $7-million bonus package for 64 executives, calling it a necessary cost to be competitive with all the other cities that were competing to host the games. She even admits that the bonuses may seem “out of whack” compared to other tax-funded projects, but reiterated that the province needed to be competitive.

Now Pan Am games chairman David Peterson has changed his tune, saying the recent backlash about TOR15’s careless expenses has been a “learning experience,” but reiterated to the Toronto Sun that it’s still important to remember the long-term effects the game will have on the country and city.

“We can’t change the 91-cent parking ticket (expensed by him) but what we can change is to get the dialogue focussed on what these Games mean,” he told the Toronto Sun, “The legacy these Games are leaving behind, on how Canada is viewed by the world.”

Right, because we all remember the legacy of the 1999 games that were hosted in Winnipeg.

The idea behind bringing the games to Toronto was to prove the city is capable and ready to host the Olympics sometime down the road. It worked for Rio de Janeiro, who hosted the Pan Am games in 2007 and will host the 2016 Olympics, so it’s not a terrible idea on paper. That supposed legacy will be a major selling point for Toronto in making their bid.

Except Toronto won’t be able to host the Olympics until at least 2024, over 10 years from now. By then, the sports complexes currently being built and renovated for these games will probably become outdated again, meaning even more money will need to be sunk into revamping the stadiums and sportsplexes to Olympic standards.

For comparison, the budget for the Vancouver Olympics, which did not require many upgrades and renovations, came in at $1.8-billion, the budget for the 2012 games in London, over $10-billion. Even if Toronto wins the Olympic bid to host the games 10 years from now, get ready for at least another $2-3 billion to be sunk into hosting the event.

Leave the Pan Am games to countries and cities that don’t really have the chance to host the Olympics, instead of dropping over a billion dollars for the prospect of possibly hosting the Olympics 10-20 years down the line.

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