Bread Not Circuses voices concerns to IOC

The group Bread Not Circuses, which opposes having Toronto host the 2008 Olympic games, has met with the International Olympic Committee evaluation team.

The group raised concerns about housing and the environment during their meeting, which was facilitated by the Toronto Olympic Bid Committee.

Jan Borowy, who also made a presentation to the evaluation committee 10 years ago when Toronto was bidding for the 1996 Olympics, says the IOC members seemed more interested this time around. "The points that we emphasized were the points that they were most interested in hearing, around whether or not it's an open and democratic process, that this is about misplaced priorities," says Borowy. "Those are issues that I think caught their attention. We felt that they sat there and listened very carefully."

"Housing is an important issue that hasn't been addressed by the Toronto bid, as far as we can tell," says John Alexander, another member of the group. "We're concerned about the Portlands. Besides the fact that there are people living here, we're also concerned about the fast tracking of environmental assessments. I know the IOC has expressed, in recent years, real concern about the environment, making sure the games are environmentally friendly. And I think the fast tracking of the environmental assessment is a bad idea, to say the least."

Cathy Crowe, from the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee, was also at the meeting. "We've got a homeless disaster on our streets, and an inappropriate amount of spending already on this bid that should be going into opening up shelters and creating housing," says Crowe. "Right now, the city is facing big budget cuts, and selling off lands that could be used for the "Let's Build" program that we could be building housing on. There are other cuts to social services. We're fighting for a thousand more shelter beds. Apparently there's no money for those things, but there's money for the bid. So that's our message: that the city is no shape for the Olympics."

For more information on Bread Not Circuses' concerns about the Olympic bid, visit their Web site.

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