Letter from David Crombie to Mayor Tory and members of the City of Toronto Executive Committee

By: David Crombie, former Mayor of Toronto,  May 23 2016

There comes a time in the life of every major city where one must look ahead and envision where we want to be in the long-term … how will we achieve prosperity, and also new and expanded opportunities for our children, youth, and citizens.

That is a key reason as to why I support efforts to further explore a Toronto bid for Expo 2025.

As we all know, and also felt and experienced first-hand, there has been an unmistaken positive energy and “buzz” created by our hosting the Pan Am / Parapan Games. Toronto can do it, and do it well: a world event executed superbly, on time and under budget, generating enormous citizen involvement and pride and bringing about a concrete legacy of investment. It’s a spirit and a legacy that Expo could achieve as well.

As you know, I have spent much of my life seeking to improve our waterfront, and the full regeneration and revitalization of this very special and unique area of our watershed, and our Greater Toronto Region. Collectively, we want to do it and we want to do it right.

We have an excellent Waterfront / Port Lands site available for Expo, one that would actually be unique in the world amongst other Expo bids. A 2025 bid could, in fact, help be a catalyst (with hard and fast deadlines) for needed infrastructure, transit, and flood protection … all things that must also occur before major re-development (regardless of what it is) goes in there.

This flood proofing is also critical to the mayor’s SmartTrack initiative & for the Premier’s RER (Regional Express Rail) station and is needed for the future Port Lands re-development and acceleration that Council wants to see happen, and that it unanimously supported in 2012.

You may also be aware that a few years ago former provincial Finance Minister Greg Sorbara completed a comprehensive report on tourism in the province “Discovering Ontario: A report on the future of tourism” calling for a doubling of the tourism revenues by the early 2020’s.

An Expo in Ontario would significantly advance efforts towards that target and would boost Ontario’s tourism standing, profile and jobs in a meaningful and concrete way.

As the economic studies have shown, Expo would significantly boost jobs & be a key economic driver, and would recoup the investment made to the various treasuries to the tune of $5.4 billion. Furthermore, Queen’s Park will be out of a deficit situation post-2018, when the major Expo investment and work would begin.

We also do not have to re-invent the wheel here: much prior work has been done (for our prior Expo 2015 bid) including studies, financial analyses, budgeting, revenue projections, attendance, site issues, community consultation, organizational framework, and budgeting, etc …). It has given provided a solid foundation, one that we can now build on.

Finally, in terms of competing cities (and nations) Expo 2025 is winnable. There is no single leading contender. At this point, other than Toronto, only Paris (France) and Osaka (Japan) have discussed a formal bid with the BIE. There has been no Expo in North America since Expo ’86 in Vancouver and the BIE would like to come back to North America again. With the United States not a member of the BIE Toronto would not be up against a major U.S. city.

Toronto also has one huge advantage that Paris and Osaka do NOT: of the current 169 member-nations making up the voting members of the Bureau des Expositions, Toronto is the only 2025 bid city with a community here from virtually every one of these 169 member-nations. We have community leaders who can be activated, organized, and energized to help influence leaders in their countries of origin.

Finally, we now have a new tri-level political alignment: a Prime-Minister, Premier, and a Mayor who respect and talk to each other. I hope that you will support efforts to proceed to the next stage, in collaboration with federal and provincial partners, and that you not shut the door to Expo at this point in time. It is important, of course, that we ensure that any existing and long-term commitments towards funding for transit and housing be protected and maintained.

Expo is major job creating economic project, one that aligns with the priorities of the Govern-ment of Canada, the Province, and City in the areas of: arts and culture; infrastructure; transit; waterfront revitalization; the environment; trade, investment, and re-engaging Canada again in the global community. It is worthy of your further exploration.