Make decision on Edmonton EXPO bid, Ottawa urged

The Alberta government joined the city of Edmonton Wednesday in calling on the federal government to make a decision about EXPO 2017.
Premier Ed Stelmach gestures as he speaks to reporters in Edmonton Wednesday. ((CBC))
Alberta's premier joined the city of Edmonton Wednesday in calling on the federal government to make a decision about whether to back Edmonton's bid to host EXPO 2017.

Edmonton is the only city in North America vying to host the world fair. The city's bid isn't official until the federal government commits to holding the event here.

The decision on who will host EXPO 2017 won't be made for another year and a half, but officials say they need a commitment from Ottawa soon in order to prepare a bid package.

"We can't move to the next level unless all three levels of government are supportive," Premier Ed Stelmach said. "I would think that if we go without federal government support then our bid would not be successful."

Stelmach said that Alberta officials are tying to put some pressure on Ottawa.

"There's conversations with senior officials, our MLAs are talking to MPs and I'm hoping that this can be worked out at that level ... but [we]won't take it to a higher level until we get some feedback from senior officials."

In a speech Monday to the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce, Mayor Stephen Mandel also called on Ottawa to back the city's EXPO bid. 

City officials believe the longer Ottawa delays, the more it could hurt Edmonton's chances of winning the bid.

The city of Edmonton has committed $500,000 to the EXPO bid this year. The provincial government has promised $10 million over the next three years.

If Edmonton wins the bid, the cost of putting on the world's fair is estimated at $2.3 billion.

The International Exhibitions Bureau, which awards the event, will vote on the 2017 Expo's location in the fall of 2012.

Astana, Kazakhstan and Liege, Belgium also want to host EXPO 2017..