Photo: Tom Page/Flickr
The possibility of Toronto hosting Expo 2025, also known the World’s Fair, skirted the chopping block — at least for now — as the City’s executive committee gave the green light yesterday to a privately funded study examining the feasibility of a bid, reports the Toronto Sun.
However, not everyone supports the idea of the city hosting the six-month exhibition, which takes places every five years: The Canadian Taxpayers Federation urged the committee to reject a bid proposal, citing spending concerns, and a city staff report also advised against one, reports CBC.
Panelists attending EXPO 2025: To Bid or Not to Bid, however, were singing a different tune.
At the event, hosted by non-profit organization Urban Land Institute (ULI)’s Toronto chapter, Expo 2025 received a number of glowing endorsements as host Sevaun Palvetzian, CEO of CivicAction, led the discussion centred on a Toronto bid and its implications.
Panelists included former Ontario premier David Peterson, former Toronto mayor Barbara Hall, Dr. Kwame McKenzie, CEO and president of the Wellesley Institute, an urban health think tank, and Andrew Grantham, one of CIBC’s senior economists.
From those in attendance, here are three big reasons to get behind Toronto hosting the World’s Fair in 2025.
A redeveloped Port Lands
Before the panel got underway, Kristyn Wong-Tam, councillor for Ward 27 and among the most vocal supporters of a bid, was on hand highlighting how the city’s waterfront could reap rewards from Expo 2025.
“This site of interest [for Expo 2025] is called the Port Lands… where there’s 880 acres of land sitting right there completely untouched — virtually untouched — not generating a lot of revenue, not bringing a lot of value to our city, and yet it is part of our central waterfront plan,” says Wong-Tam.
“The only way we’re going to be able to unlock the Port Lands is if we actually bring together the three orders of government to build out the infrastructure in a timely fashion,” the councillor adds.
When pavilions from the half-year event are taken down, Wong-Tam says 400 of the 880 acres that make up the Port Lands will be ready for redevelopment. Some of this land could then be sold to developers, she explains, adding that this would lead to annual tax revenues.
The health of the GTA
“We (the Wellesley Institute) work from the principal that 50 per cent of all our health is linked to the social factors in our society,” says McKenzie.
The doctor outlines how infrastructure that could come from a redeveloped Port Lands will benefit Torontonians beyond just getting them from point A to B.
“Increased transport means increased health, increased jobs means increased health, increased housing — especially affordable housing — means increased health, and increased government revenues… that means more money for health,” he says, citing property taxes from a developed Port Lands.
“So for me, if done correctly, this is good for the health of Toronto,” McKenzie concludes.
It’s a boon for the economy
“We’re very good at bringing those Americans into Toronto,” says Grantham. “We’re good at attracting those people, we’re not as good, at the moment, in terms of getting them to spend that money,” he adds.
Grantham came to this conclusion after looking at MasterCard figures from the time of the Toronto 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games. “They showed that Toronto had the fourth highest in terms of tourist visits. In terms of spending, though, what that data showed was that Toronto was sixth.”
The economist suggests an Expo, which would show off Toronto to visitors from beyond our border, will help sell the city and boost tourist spending.
“It (Expo) may not be broadcast like the Olympics worldwide, but it does attract a lot of international investors and a lot of international companies into our city,” adds Grantham.