Should Toronto pay for a $1 million study as a first step toward bidding for the 2024 Olympic Games?
It's a question the city's economic development committee will tackle next week. Submitting a bid will cost more than $50 million, a price tag that might leave councillors wary after Toronto lost bids in 1996 to Atlanta and 2008 to Beijing.
A report by Ernst and Young says the city needs to act now if it's serious about pursuing the 2024 Games.
Bob Richardson, who was chief operating officer for the 2008 Olympic bid and was one of the organizers for Toronto's successful 2015 Pan-Am Games bid, appeared on CBC Radio's Metro Morning Wednesday. He agreed civic leaders need to decide now if they they're serious about bidding.
"I would be cautious at this point," he said. "There's a lot of homework that needs to be done."
Richardson also said Toronto civic leaders need to consider whether the city has a legitimate shot at winning and if submitting a bid is in line with the city's priorities.
Toronto first needs 'good political leadership' Richardson says
He also said Toronto needs "good political leadership" before entering the competition.
"We had that when we bid for the Pan-Am Games," he said.
That prompted host Matt Galloway to ask if Richardson thought Mayor Rob Ford — who will seek re-election after a scandal-filled 2013 — would be an impediment to an Olympic bid.
This is how he answered:
"I, as somebody who has worked on these projects, would not want to take the international buffoon show on the road," said Richardson. "You need to have decent political leadership and if you don't have that, I wouldn't do it. I'm not going to name names, I'll just leave it at that."
He said that while the cost of hosting an Olympics can be staggering, the economic benefits and new infrastructure can often be worth it.
Richardson said Toronto would need a new athletes' village (the Pan-Am athletes' village will be condos by 2024) and a large new stadium.
Galloway asked if it's worth spending millions on venues that may get little use after the two-week Games wrap up.
Richardson said Vancouver came away with a dedicated airport rail line and was able turn the skating oval into a community centre.
"If you do it smart, it's worthwhile. If you do it dumb, it's not worthwhile," he said.
Ford and Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly have both said they'd prefer to first see how the Pan-Am Games fares before spending $1 million to study the ins and outs of submitting an Olympic bid.