The group behind the Canadian Comedy Awards says it’s fine that Hamilton has turned down its bid to hold a festival here. It doesn’t want to now anyway.
The city’s general issues committee voted against holding the awards, and partnering to establish a Canadian Comedy Hall of Fame in Hamilton, on Wednesday. Councillors voted based on a staff report saying that there’s no measurable economic benefit to the city.
Tim Progosh, president of the Canadian Comedy Foundation, says the report is so upsetting that Hamilton is no longer welcome to bid on the festival anyway.
“We will have a bid process, but Hamilton will not be invited to participate in 2014,” Progosh said after the meeting.
He provided staff with measurable numbers showing millions in economic benefit from the festival and hall of fame, he said.
The report, he said, was “Machiavellian and sophomoric,” and full of inaccuracies.
He appeared at Wednesday's meeting wanting to speak, he said.
“We wanted to withdraw any offer to have the festival in Hamilton,” he said. “We still have interest here for the hall of fame because of the location, but certainly council proved their past mistakes are being taken out on us.”
Progosh made the bid to the committee on Sept. 5. The hall of fame, he said, would include a comedy club, as well as space to showcase personalities from film, TV and internet.
Hamilton was a natural location, he said, because of its rich comedy history.
The project would have cost the city $200,000 to $250,000 per year for the next five years.
In a report, city economic development staff said they couldn’t confirm the number of hotel rooms booked in Toronto and Ottawa when those cities hosted the annual comedy festival in the past.
Based on their investigation, staff said, councillors should take no further action on Progosh's proposal.
That was fine with Coun. Lloyd Ferguson of Ancaster, who wanted to see economic benefits.
“There’s no financial horsepower in it,” he said.