Bread Not Circuses
Asking the critical questions about the Toronto 2008 Olympic Bid

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Updates February 20, 2000


Bread Not Circuses Coalition

 

Richard Milgrom Bread Not Circuses Coalition
To plan our city to suit a 16 day event that is still 8 years off is utterly absurd! Why is the Olympic stadium sited in the port lands? Because it is consistent with the theme of a Waterfront Games and therefore increases our chances of winning the Games? Why is the athletes' village isolated at Cherry Beach? Consistent with the waterfront theme, and the athletes want to be secluded. These are just two examples that illustrate the way the Olympic Bid is twisting the planning processes and shifting infrastructure priorities in the city ­ clearly, the ultimate authority to be please in the redevelopment of Toronto's waterfront is not the a representative body elected by citizens, but the IOC and their corporate supporters. We have heard repeatedly that this bid will be fiscally responsible, socially responsible, and environmentally progressive. However, the bid cannot lay claim to any of these labels. A few examples:


Fiscally Responsible:

  • The bid does not take into account billions of dollars worth of public spending (see list).
  • While some of these items may be worthwhile projects, there has been no public process to determine where our priorities should lie.
  • The much-touted Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) for venues has many exclusions, including cost escalations, overtime and GST (GST alone is about $48M)
  • Why does city council not see all the holes in the bid's financial plan? I suggest it is because Joe Halstead, the civil servant responsible for preparing the report evaluating the bid for council is also Vice-Chair of the TO Bid executive committee ­ is both proponent of the bid and evaluator, a clear conflict of interest. Mr. Halstead, however, insists that there is not need for an independent financial assessment. The report's analysis also lacks credibility because it relies on the statements of other Olympic Organising Committees (the same ones that bribed their ways to winning the games) to support claims of financial benefit to the city. No organising Committee would admit that the Games were a burden on the host city.

Social Responsibility:

  • The staff report to council was written before even the preliminary Social Impact Assessment was completed ­ risks in hosting the Games are not only financial.
  • Organisers claim to have been "exhaustive" in their community outreach holding 28 townhall meetings. These meetings were poorly attended (most had no more than 3 participants and many were cancelled). Despite having a multimillion dollar advertising budget, the placed advertisements of the meetings in newspapers only twice, and spent non of their funds on making the ads stand out (show example ­ exhaustive community outreach)
  • Organisers are yet to show how affordable housing can be produced (we are to have faith!) and the village design suggests a gated community with a private beach (the gentrification of Cherry Beach).
  • For city council ­ even if some affordable housing is created, there will be no gain without reinstatement of tenant protection and rent controls. Empty words about a Tenants' Bill of Rights will not suffice.


Environmentally Progressive:

  • While the Environment Committee of the bid has dome some good work they are only an advisory body ­ decisions about implementation will be made by the business minds behind the Games and environmental concerns are incompatible with conventional business concerns. One member of the Environment Committee has publicly states that the master plan is full of "weasel clauses".
  • To claim a progressive stance, the 2008 Games would have to far exceed the standards set in Sydney. But in public meetings, bid organisers have refused to establish environmental performance goals for the Games.

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Updated: February 20, 2000