Pan Am Games chair lauds Toronto bid

Members of an evaluation committee were coy on Monday about Toronto's chances of hosting the 2015 Pan American Games, but nonetheless commended the bid committee's efforts to promote the city.

Anti-poverty activists say money could be better spent

Toronto is not only capable of hosting the Pan American Games in 2015, but the Olympic Games as well, the head of an evaluation committee said Monday.

Over the weekend, the five-member Pan American Sports Organization's (PASO) evaluation commission toured 18 local attractions and sporting venues, including the Rexall Stadium at York University, the Rogers Centre and the Hershey Centre in Mississauga. 

"They did a very good job," said the chair of the evaluation mission, speaking of the Toronto 2015 bid committee.

"This city could not only host the Pan Am Games, but it could also host the Olympic Games as well," Dr. Julio Cesar Maglione told reporters Monday evening.

But some Toronto residents are less than enthusiastic about the prospect of the Pan Am Games in Toronto. Anti-poverty activists held a small afternoon rally at the University of Toronto, united in the idea that public funds can be better spent.

"The poor get pushed aside. The marginalized get pushed aside," said Joeita Gupta, a member of the activist group No Games Toronto.

"The relevant priorities of the city get pushed aside, all to make room for fluff."

The Pan Am Games will bring together 10,000 athletes and officials from 42 countries. The estimated price tag is $1.4 billion for the games and another $1 billion for the athletes' village.

Bob Richardson, a spokesman Toronto's bid committee, said the games will improve the city's social infrastructure.

"We're building 8,500 units of housing in the Toronto port lands," Richardson told CBC News.

"There's not a lot of housing that's been built in the last 20 years. That would be a tremendous social benefit because, of course, it will be mixed housing."

Toronto's rivals in the battle to win hosting rights for the 2015 Games are Lima, Peru, and Bogota, Colombia. The evaluation commission has already visited those cities.

The final bid presentation and vote is scheduled to take place in Guadalajara, Mexico, in November.