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Commonwealth Games pitch lands on a divided council

The Hamilton 2026 Commonwealth Games committee has submitted to council a 22 -page document promoting the games, but lacking financial specifics or even a clear “ask. “The report acknowledges that detailed financials are not possible to provide until the size of the federal and provincial contributions is known. However, the document insists that Hamilton will not be asked to pony up any new money for facilities beyond what might already be in the city’s capital budgets. “The expectation is, based on the Pan Am experience, that beyond any existing City capital commitments by the City that might be applicable, any new venues proposed as part of the Games sport program or infrastructure improvements to existing facilities would be funded by senior levels of government, through Games generated revenue or private sector contributions.” The report suggests that there are private sector partners lined up who will take on some of the financial risk. The report calls for games that will be somewhat scaled down from previous games in terms of number of participants and events.

The document checks all the boxes in terms of appealing to various segments and interests in the community including COVID19 recovery, social housing, diversity, inclusion and equality. The document says, “After considerable analysis, we feel confident in saying that there is unlikely to be any single initiative or event on the horizon for Hamilton that approaches in any meaningful way the magnitude and range of positive impacts that the Commonwealth Games can deliver—starting immediately and extending well past the 2026 staging of the Games themselves.”

The report arrives at a time when there has been skepticism expressed by some councillors and also from members of the public who submitted more than a dozen letters to council opposing the games as well as a petition. A number of councillors have also said the financial fallout caused by the current pandemic is not the time to be planning major events. If council does allow the bid to proceed to the next stage it will be a close vote.

The full report is here.

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