Bid corporation pitches ‘legacy’ of affordable housing should Hamilton host Commonwealth Games

Hamilton's bid corporation for the 2026 Commonwealth Games says its potential legacy is thousands of units of affordable housing should the city host the Games. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Mark Schiefelbein

The new pitch to get Hamilton to host the Commonwealth Games is a “legacy” of affordable housing in the city, according to delegates from the bid corporation.

The general issues committee received another filing for the games in advance of a proposed September hearing likely to decide the fate of the city’s bid.

“We are looking at a very dynamic and integrated housing plan that delivers on the community need for more affordable housing units and supportive housing,” the corporation’s president P.J. Mercanti told the committee.

The proposal boasts the creation of 3,000 units of affordable housing, which would, in the short term, help house about 4,500 athletes before being turned over to the community following the Games.

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The director of projects and marketing at Indwell, Graham Cubitt, said 3,000 units is the minimum number the housing charity needed to be on board with the bid.

“This is a unique opportunity that I should say changed the paradigm of how affordable housing is funded and offers us as a community the opportunity to put forward a significant number of viable projects in order to meet our needs,” Cubitt said.

The presentation on Monday was an updated version of a previous pitch for the event after the Commonwealth Games federation asked the city to consider hosting the 2026 edition instead of the 100th edition of the Games in 2030.

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City staff in Hamilton are expected to proceed with their own fact-finding study on the viability of the Games in the coming months.

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The corporation also suggested the Games would be a timely solution for the city amid the negative financial effects of the coronavirus pandemic by attracting significant funding from senior levels of government and investment from the private sector, as well as stimulating tourism and hospitality.

Mercanti says the corporation will also begin a community consultation on venues over the next few weeks and said it’s possible that the Games may be able to operate with few new venues.

“There are venues that we can build or renovate there are venues that we can host games in tomorrow if need be so,” Mercanti said. “So I think the discussions that we have over the course of the next little while will drive what that venue plan will look like.”

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Mercanti said the corporation would also be potentially looking to the Halton and Niagara regions for suitable facilities already constructed to mitigate venue costs.

Upper Stoney Creek Coun. Brad Clark had all sorts of questions about the total capital budget of the Games in Monday’s meeting; however, Mercanti said no decisions on the cost of the Games’ physical assets have been made.

“We want council to provide its feedback and to provide us with some direction, hence the desire for there to be a bit more robust communication with the community and with council offices,” Mercanti said.

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City council had previously heard that the municipality would be responsible for up to 20 per cent of the $1.5-billion cost of the 2030 Commonwealth Games bid, but corporation spokesperson Lou Frapporti previously said the 2026 plan would be a “scaled-down” version of the original proposal.

He’s also indicated that private investment will further drive down the city’s costs.

The corporation is hoping to have principle letters from each of the three levels of government by the end of September in order to proceed with negotiations and discussions on a multi-party agreement to host the Games.

Should Hamilton host the Commonwealth Games, it would be the first time in 32 years the event has been hosted by Canada since the 1994 games in Victoria.

Ontario has not seen the games since its founding event hosted by Hamilton in 1930.


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