Expo hopes dashed

It took a marathon, five-hour-long session to put an end to Toronto’s bid to host Expo 2025.

“I will tell you right now that I am not going to take money out of what we need for transit and housing to support an Expo or just about anything else for that matter,” said Mayor John Tory.

princes' gates by Paul Bica, large stone archway lit in blue and orange light at night
princes’ gates by Paul Bica is licensed under CC BY 2.0

On Oct. 26, Toronto’s Executive Committee met to evaluate a feasibility study about hosting Expo 2025 in Toronto. If approved, the Expo would have been located in the Portlands near the waterfront.

Instead, the committee voted to abandon an Expo 2025 bid.

Expos are world events that showcase developments in a certain area, allowing countries around the world to come together and share innovations. They are held in different places around the globe every five years.

The study raised several concerns, including the cost of floodproofing the area. This, and other infrastructure projects would mean an up-front cost of $1.91 billion from all three levels of government.

The floodproofing is a project that must be completed in the future, but incorporating it into the Expo bid would risk time constraints and going over budget. On the other hand, the Expo bid could be the push that Toronto needs to get the stalled project underway.

The Expo feasibility study was presented by the World Expo Canada Bid Corporation. John Campbell, the president of Reno Advisory Services led the presentation.

Campbell made it clear that the study was merely designed to assess the facts surrounding the case. It was not intended to inspire any decisions by the council.

“Our mandate really was to make sure that you as political decision makers had the best information in front of you to make that second decision about ‘should it be done,’” said Campbell.

Sandra Pupatello, a former MPP was also there to represent the Expo Corporation. She has been to Expos in other parts of the world and recognized their merits.

“From an economic development perspective, it is the only event in the world that provides this level of opportunity in economic development and trade. That’s why I believe it needs to be looked at seriously,” said Pupatello.

The committee spent five hours on the Expo debate alone. Many deputations were heard from nearly 40 members of the public who came to share their opinions. Despite the committee’s ruling against pursuing the bid, nearly all of the speakers were in favour of the Expo.

Noah Crampton is a masters student who voiced his thoughts on the bid. He recalled the inspiration it gave his mother when she attended Expo ’67 in Montreal, and said it would bring similar effects.

“If you frame it in the right way and have a leader like Justin Trudeau championing it, it’ll have the best public response – to bring in young people towards this bigger project,” said Crampton.

The only councillor who voted against abandoning the bid was David Shiner, representing Willowdale. He said he’d support the bid as long as the city’s commitments for housing and transit weren’t compromised.

“I don’t want to stop it,” said Shiner. “But I don’t want to say that we’re in for it, because we can’t afford it. And I don’t want it to replace anything else we have.”

Despite the committee’s decision, Mayor Tory made it clear that the city will be open to other opportunities should they arise. After the vote to abandon the bid, Tory put forward a motion to consider future bids. It passed by a wide majority.

The next available Expo bid will be for the year 2030.

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