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Hamilton group bidding for 2030 Commonwealth Games says it’s about ‘city building’

PJ Mercanti, spokesperson for the Hamilton 100 Bid Committee, says several neighbouring municipalities have voiced an interest in being part of the 2030 Commonweath Games bid.
PJ Mercanti, spokesperson for the Hamilton 100 Bid Committee, says several neighbouring municipalities have voiced an interest in being part of the 2030 Commonweath Games bid. Ken Mann / Global News

The group tasked with putting together a plan to bring the Commonwealth Games to Hamilton will unveil more about its strategy to win the 2030 bid during the city’s general issues committee on Wednesday.

City staff will put forward a draft of a plan created by Hamilton 100 in the hopes of getting city council’s approval by the end of the week.

The draft outlines part one of a submission to Commonwealth Games Canada (CGC), which is required of any Canadian city interested in hosting the games.

Part one of the plans — which is supposed to establish the city’s capacity to plan and deliver a successful event — must be submitted to CGC by Nov. 22.

PJ Mercanti, president of Hamilton 100, is calling the plan a “10-year community-building exercise” which could bring brand new multi-sport complexes, affordable housing and upgrades to many of the city’s current facilities.

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“This is about city building, this is about community branding and getting Hamilton’s name out there in a major way,” said Mercanti.

“This is about potentially attracting investment into the community on an unprecedented scale.”

In August, Mercanti gave Commonwealth Games Federation CEO David Grevemberg and Commonwealth Games Canada (CGC) a tour of proposed venues over a three-day period to “explore” the emerging bid.

READ MORE: Commonwealth Games officials ‘explore’ what Hamilton has to offer in 2030

At the time, Grevemberg said the 70 nations and territories that make up the Commonwealth would select their 2030 host city in 2021.

The group is hoping to use the city’s connection to the games’ 100-year anniversary as potential leverage, since Hamilton hosted the first version of the games in 1930 when they were referred to as the British Empire Games.

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City council has not committed to pursuing the games, but has supported the draft proposal that was submitted to city staff on Sept. 27, 2019.

Construction in the plan calls for a massive overhaul of Bayfront Park which would transform that space into an island for triathlon events. The idea would also begin a much-needed environmental remediation of an area plagued by blue-green algae pollution.

Jasper Kujavsky, a Hamilton lawyer and consultant for Hamilton 100, says that part of the construction plan is an “aspirational vision” since it would serve two purposes.

“The park being restored in a way in terms of the natural flow of water and prevention of the formation of algae, that would be a very good thing for the harbour to experience,” Kujavsky said.

The plan also includes construction of three “multi-sport” buildings which would host badminton, squash and table tennis during the games.

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The largest: a 98,000-square-foot facility with a hard surface and 1,800 retractable seats, which would play host to table tennis during the games and be utilized for badminton, squash, table tennis, or basketball once the games are completed.

Also in the mix is a plan to build 500 to 700 residences in the city’s east end and downtown area to accommodate 1,500 games officials. Those residenes would be converted into affordable housing after the games.

Kujavsky says without the games, these projects would likely not be possible for the city since it would not have “senior governmental levels of funding,” which the province and Ottawa will contribute to a host city.

READ MORE: ‘Hamilton 100’ group pushes for 2030 Commonwealth Games bid

“The concept here is you have an opportunity to go forward and to create projects, environmental projects, affordable housing projects, other social impact projects under the umbrella of the Commonwealth funding proposal.”

Kujavsky doesn’t expect much pus back from the city when part one of the proposal is presented, since it doesn’t financially commit the city to any project at this stage.

“It ties them to nothing other than allowing us permission to submit a document by November 22nd,” said Kujavsky.

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“Council has the right at any time and for any reason to withdraw its permission. And it assumes absolutely no financial liability.”

If approved by council this week, part one will be submitted to CGC and, if approved, would put Hamilton 100 on to part two of a plan: a hosting proposal, which would be due sometime in March or April.

READ MORE: Edmonton confirms it won’t bid for Commonwealth Games

Brian MacPherson, CEO of Commonwealth Games Canada, told the city in August he estimates the cost of hosting the games would be in the range of $1.5 billion, with the federal government expected to pick up half of that.

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