Feds consider Pan Am bid

PETER ZIMONJIC -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:12 AM ET

OTTAWA -- While the federal Conservatives consider a $620 million share of the bid for the Pan American Games, opposition MPs are hopeful the government will throw its weight behind the contest.

The Ontario Liberals' business plan for the 2015 Pan Am Games calls for the seven cities and regions in Ontario's Golden Horseshoe region to host the event.

Ontario's plan estimates the games will cost $1.77 billion and proposes the cities, the province and the federal government split the bill three ways.

"The secretary of state just received the business plan from the province of Ontario (Monday)," said Idee Inyangudor, policy advisor to Helena Guergis, secretary of state for Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Sport.

'GOING FROM THERE'

"She's looking forward to reviewing the plan and going from there."

Some 10,000 athletes attend the Pan Am Games which are open to countries in the Americas. Held every four years, the last event was hosted in Rio de Janeiro in 2007 and the next will be in Guadalajara, Mexico in 2011.

According to the Ontario government's estimates, the games will mean a boost of more than $2 billion to the Ontario economy from 2010-2015 and create more than 14,000 jobs.

Margarett Best, Ontario's minister of Health Promotion, whose ministry is spearheading the bid, says the games are worth the cost because they will leave behind sporting infrastructure as well as an economic dividend.

"Investing in the Pan Am Games would be a much-needed investment in sport which is critical to active living," said Best. "The province can't expect people to engage in physical activities without the facilities."

The enthusiasm for the Pan Am Games was shared by the federal Liberals, who agreed Ontario needs a sporting infrastructure boost as well as an economic kick.

"(The Golden Horseshoe) is an area where the morale is very low, people are losing their jobs and things are bad for them," said Hedy Fry, Liberal critic for sports. "I think this could inject some work ... some infrastructure into the area."

The games were also lauded by the NDP.

"This would provide employment and there would be a lot of sustaining jobs that would remain after the games so it certainly is something we should be doing," said NDP sports critic Wayne Marston.

BENEFITS

There are those, however, who not only question the merit of the Pan Am Games to Ontario but also the calculations used by the Ontario Government to estimate the costs and benefits.

Kevin Gaudet of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation says government estimates for large capitol projects are always well off base and that it is highly unlikely Canada will earn back more in revenue than it puts into the games.

"They never get their costs accurate," says Gaudet. "If you look at the Vancouver games they have massively underestimated the costs.

"This would be a total waste of money."


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