City councillors split on possibility of Toronto Olympic bid ahead of deadline

The Olympic rings are seen ahead of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at the Laura Cross-Country Ski and Biathlon Center on February 5, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. Julian Finney/Getty Images

TORONTO — The deadline for an Olympic bid is fast approaching and some councillors are heeding caution on the possibility of Toronto stepping into the fray.

On a brief break during at Monday’s budget meeting, Budget Chair and City Councillor Gary Crawford says he is cooling to the idea of a Toronto 2024 Summer Olympics bid.

“I’m not saying no to it at this point, but I’m just cautiously stepping back,” said Crawford, adding that an official bid could cost up to $60 million.

“I’m a little nervous. That’s a lot of money spent. I cannot commit the city funds from that perspective.”

The deadline for the bid is September 15 and Councillor James Pasternak said that he has discussed the topic with the Mayor John Tory, but was not yet committed to a decision.

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“I have chitchatted about it very briefly,” he said, adding that there seems to be a new confidence among Torontonians after the success of the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games.

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READ MORE: Toronto mayor ‘nowhere near’ decision on whether to bid for 2024 Olympics

“Torontonians have to ask themselves are we willing to wait another 30-40 years to finish unfinished transit projects and meet the  affordable housing goals or are we to get in an Olympic bid with a bi-national partner and get those projects done in the next 10-12 years,” Pasternak said.

“Those are the questions Torontonians needs to ask themselves.”

READ MORE: Toronto councillor suggests bi-national 2024 Olympic bid

Pasternak has openly supported the possibility of a shared Olympic bid.

“Across the river, Buffalo is a small city but has major sports infrastructure that we might be able to leverage. New York state is particularly wealthy and could share some of the risk,” Pasternak said.

“It is the prerogative of the mayor to send that letter and draft it … I would have preferred council coming back in August for a special meeting to debate it.”

Councillor John Campbell said he is opposed to an Olympic bid, adding that the successful Pan Am games are similar to a “high school track meet” when compared to the Olympics.

“Rarely do the Olympics produce the sort of ongoing positive benefits with a positive financial outcome for the city,” Campbell said.

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“I don’t think, in this council, that there is going to be much of an appetite to go forward with an Olympic bid.”

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