Sudbury city council agrees to spend thousands more on 2021 Canada Games bid
'We need to look at this as a positive instead of a cost,' councillor Mark Signoretti says
Sudbury city council has agreed to use a maximum of $150 thousand from its reserves to move forward on its bid to host the 2021 Canada Summer Games.
"I look at this as a once in a lifetime opportunity," councillor Mark Signoretti said during Tuesday's vote.
"We need to look at this as a positive instead of a cost."
Staff estimate they will spend $85 thousand from the allocated $150 thousand to advance the bid, according to the city's director of economic development, Ian Wood. But an amendment was not requested during the meeting to formally reflect that.
The money will be used to do further planning on city owned facilities that would be used for the games. Staff will get a more accurate estimate of how much is needed to upgrade the venues, and they will decide if the investments are worthwhile.
Sudbury is in the running against Ottawa, Niagara, and a combined bid from Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge and Guelph. It was invited to move to phase two of the selection process after a technical review committee visited the city's sports facilities last August.
'We've got a lot of work to do here first'
Although she initially supported the city's bid, councillor Lynne Reynolds voted against it.
"This endeavour, Mr. Mayor, will not create any permanent jobs in our community nor will it leave one cent of revenue on our tax base," she said.
Reynolds said she is concerned that the city will not have enough hotel rooms or volunteers to host the games, and she would rather see council focus on other issues.
"It's time that our city starts looking at spending its money and filtering it through two things because we are a low growth, no growth community at this point and we have high unemployment," Reynolds said.
"We've got a lot of work to do here first."
The games need approximately 6,000 volunteers, but councillor Joscelyne Landry-Altmann noted that Sudbury was rated the fourth city in Canada with the highest volunteer rate in 2008.
"Things may have changed eight years later, but the heart of the city hasn't," Landry-Altmann said.
'We're going to have to pay for it come hell or high water'
Councillor Robert Kirwan supported the bid, but he cautioned the city should be prepared to spend millions of dollars on the event.
"I really think we are the front runners for this games. So if we're going to go forward, I want to, as a council, go forward saying we're going forward and, if we win it, we're going to pay for it come hell or high water," Kirwan said.
"If we can't raise the money outside of the municipality, we're going to have to dig into our reserves to pay it because the last thing we want to do is be the city that went bankrupt over the Canada Games."
The city estimates the event could have an economic impact of $165 million. At least 4,600 athletes and coaches are expected.
The competing cities have until the end of January 2017 to submit their final proposal. Sudbury's city council will discuss its submission at a meeting on January 10.
A selection committee from the games will visit the qualifying communities in February.