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Bill Kelly: Commonwealth games for Hamilton is worth exploring

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.
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 Commonwealth Games committee told Hamilton City Council’s general issues committee that hosting the 2026 Games could be the economic catalyst to help Hamilton recover from the COVID-19 economic downturn.

I think the re-worked bid is worthy of further discussion and exploration.

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

To be sure, it’s a scaled-down version of the games, but one that reduces the potential cost for all involved.

I have to think that restaurants and hotels, and the hospitality industry in general, which has suffered immensely from the COVID-19 shutdown, would welcome the influx of international athletes and staff.

The Commonwealth group also re-stated that the games would be held, for the most part, within existing facilities, with the possible addition of a world-class swimming facility for the city and McMaster University.

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After all, the existing facility, the Jimmy Thompson pool, was built in 1930 for the original Games.

I’m also intrigued by the promise of approximately 3,000 affordable housing units that will be constructed for the games and turned over to the city when the games are completed.

Of course, there are detractors who don’t want Hamilton to host the games, but they are too quickly dismissive of the fact that the games will draw significant dollars from the federal and provincial governments, money that otherwise would likely never land in Hamilton.

READ MORE: Sports TV executive joins Hamilton’s pursuit of 2026 Commonwealth Games

The Hamilton City Council of a hundred years ago had the courage and vision to take a bold step to make Hamilton better during tough economic times.

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We can only hope that this City Council shows the same commitment to Hamilton’s future development.