Diane Cummins, Victoria track and field medalist at the 2007 Pan Am Games
Toronto is making a bid for the 2015 Pan Am Games. And no one is talking about it.
I’ll confess that I wasn’t sure what the Pan Am Games were, so I dropped by Wikipedia. I found out two things: Canada has hosted the Games twice and inexplicably Winnipeg was the host city both times; and, that there’s a reason for my ignorance – American and Canadian media don’t pay much attention.
The Games don’t seem to be taken seriously by many nations in the Americas, most sending B teams. It’s like the Summer Olympics for people who won a few ribbons in high school but then got married, got a mortgage, got a gut and started wearing polo shirts and chinos (a winter version has been tried and met with spectacular failure).
It’s one thing to lose your financial shirt hosting the Olympics despite best projections (or having a rash of men getting pregnant as was the case following the Montreal Olympics) but to dump a pile of money into an event no one pays attention to seems like a recipe for crushing debts. Mayor David Miller, seeming only slightly enthused, wants guarantees from Ontario and the feds to make sure Toronto doesn’t take a haircut hosting the Banal Games.
Adding to the city’s excitement over bidding for the Games, Toronto decided to cap its contribution at less than $50 million. The province and the feds are similarly excited, reducing their contributions from $1.7 billion to $1.4 billion.
Meanwhile, Toronto wrestles with infrastructure in need of fixing, half of Ontario children living in poverty residing in Toronto giving Toronto the unfortunate appellation as “the child poverty capital of Ontario”, many community centres and pools under the specter of being shutdown due to lack of funding, needing more social housing, and we don’t get any of Harper’s infrastructure bucks unless we front half the cash (a great deal for municipalities without any money…) and we’re talking about $50 million on Games few care about?
No wonder the reaction has been tepid. I’d rather spend the money on something that will enhance the livability of my city; not on a squash tourney played by two dudes whose Olympic dreams were crushed so they settled for the Pan Am Games.