Pan Am Games costs edging up, opposition warns

Ontario's opposition parties are concerned about what they say are the rising costs of the Pan Am Games, which Toronto is set to host in 2015.

Total Pan Am price tag pegged at $2.5 billion

Tourism and Sport Minister Michael Chan said Wednesday the Pan Am Games are projected to be on budget. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Ontario's opposition parties are raising red flags about what they say are the rising costs of the Pan Am Games, which Toronto is set to host in 2015.

Both opposition parties accused the Liberals of being cagey about the costs of the games by speaking mostly about a $1.4 billion budget. That was the amount earmarked for the TO2015 organizing committee to deliver the games, and did not include almost $1.1 billion in additional costs, mainly to be borne by the province with some contributions from municipalities.

During Wednesday's question period at Queen's Park, PC Pan Am critic Rod Jackson accused Michael Chan, the minister responsible for the Pan Am Games, of failing to properly control the costs.

"The games will likely cost more than double the $1.4 billion you've been talking about," said Jackson. "Minister, you've lost control of the games."

Chan denied the costs are out of control, saying the Tories "have never had anything positive to say" about the games. "These are the Pan Am Games, not the political games," Chan said.

The largest portion of the extra $1.1 billion is $700 million to build the athletes village in Toronto. The province hopes to recoup $65 million when the units are turned into 253 affordable rental apartments, an 8,000-square-foot YMCA and 500 residences for George Brown College students after the games.

These are the Pan Am Games, not the political games- Michael Chan, minister of tourism, culture and sport

Chan also confirmed that although all three levels of government are pitching in to pay for the games, it's the province that will be on the hook for any cost overruns.

Provincial officials also revealed the security budget for the Pan Am Games is $206 million, a fraction of the $900 million spent on security at the Vancouver Olympics, but cautioned the figures are not final "and are likely to change."

The Progressive Conservatives said the security costs being quoted seem way too low.

About 10,000 athletes from 41 countries are expected to take part in the 2015 Pan Am Games at 34 different competition venues in 14 different municipalities. The games take place July 10 to 26, followed by the Parapan Am Games Aug. 7-14.

With files from The Canadian Press


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