Pan Am cost to be shared

BRYN WEESE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:54 AM ET

If Southern Ontario gets the 2015 Pan American Games, officials say Toronto won't be on the hook for cost overruns, including security.

That's because municipalities across the GTA and Hamilton regions that would host the events are only being asked to pay for capital facilities, not operating costs.

The province is signing the construction agreements "so they'll be responsible for any overruns," said Toronto Councillor Adrian Heaps, the city's liaison with the province's bid committee. "We are not on the hook, that would be enshrined into any agreements."

The total budget for the 2015 Pan Am Games is estimated at $1.4 billion.

Earlier this week, it was announced Toronto would be spending about $49.5 million towards the nearly $200-million cost of new athletic and aquatic facilities, including a $170 million Olympic aquatic-athletic centre at the U of T's Scarborough campus.

Also, to move athletes and spectators to the campus for aquatic, diving and other indoor athletic events, Mayor David Miller said the city would also fast track the Scarborough-Malvern light rail transit line included in its Transit City plan.

Heaps said the city will benefit from the Games because Toronto is only financing things that were already on council's "to do" list anyway.

"We were always spending this money on recreational parks facilities, but we could never afford a $170-million aquatic centre, neither could U of T by itself," he said, noting the city and university are each paying 22% of the new centre's costs.

"With this formula, it allows us to get the thing built, if we get the Games, and it also forces on the agenda other projects like our Scarborough-Malvern transit line."

But one issue that has some critics worried is security costs. Liz Borowiec, a spokesman for the bid committee, said she couldn't disclose the cost estimates because they were part of a "confidential cabinet document," but that they were included in the $1.4-billion budget. Borowiec said the OPP would be in charge of the Games' security but would use municipal forces as well.

But Kevin Gaudet, of the Canadian Taxpayer Federation, said security costs will skyrocket, as will capital costs, and that Torontonians will be left holding the bag.

"At the end of the day, cost overruns are going to be assumed by one level of government or the other and there is only one taxpayer."


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