By Steven Del Duca, Kristyn Wong-Tam and Ralph Lean, published in the Toronto Star.
A 2011 global index of 130 major city-regions conducted by the prestigious Economist magazine ranked Toronto the world’s fourth most liveable city, yet our continued prosperity and sustained liveability will only occur if we keep working in a focused and strategic way.
As we know, the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, which were completed on-time and on-budget, stand out as a true Canadian success story that showcased our nation to the world.
Monumental Opportunity for the GTA
Now a similar opportunity knocks for the GTA: hosting a world’s fair, or Expo as it’s commonly known. An Expo is a global event that unites people, instils pride and is a major catalyst for jobs and economic growth. It could present the same transformative infrastructure and city-building opportunities as Expo ’67 did for Montreal and Expo ’86 did for Vancouver.
Major Expos are held every five years. Shanghai’s Expo 2010 welcomed an astounding 72 million visitors, Milan is now building Expo 2015, and the final bids for Expo 2020 are currently being evaluated.
ExpoTO2025 would create a legacy of new transit, environmental cleanup, affordable housing, and community improvements #TOpoli
While 2025 seems a long way off, a formal bid to the governing Expo body, the Bureau International des Expositions, must be submitted on May 1, 2016. Once a city is chosen, an eight-year period of planning, design and construction would begin in earnest, unleashing significant economic development for the region.
Yes, we have been down this road before. A prior Toronto Expo effort collapsed in 2006, when the needed agreement of all three levels of government could not be secured. A future bid must have the support of the province, which helps underwrite it (as it did with the Pan-Am Games); from the city, which helps with planning, organizational, and site issues; and from the federal government, which pitches the bid on our behalf, nation-to-nation.
Expo 2025 would be an economic generator that would attract investment to the GTA, clean up the Port Lands, build infrastructure, boost tourism, create jobs, and show the very best of our region, province and country.
An Expo could build a dynamic legacy for Toronto for decades to come — a legacy of new transit, environmental cleanup, affordable housing, social and community improvements, and inclusion. It has too much potential benefit for us to simply take a pass.
Steven Del Duca is a past co-chair of the Greater Toronto Regional Economic Summit. Kristyn Wong-Tam is Toronto city councillor for Ward 27, Toronto Centre-Rosedale. Ralph Lean is a senior counsel with a Toronto law firm.