The Gomberg for Mayor platform plank on the Olympics.
The 2008 Olympics: Playing games with Toronto tax payers.
The Olympic Games, if staged in Toronto, will be the biggest and most costly mega-project in the history of our city. The costs are not only measured in the billions of public and private dollars required to stage the Games, but also in social and environmental terms.
Although the Games last only about two weeks, the financial, social and environmental impacts will last for years. While all the people of Toronto will share in the costs, without proper planning, any benefits will not be shared equally.
If Toronto is to hold the Olympics it must set clear standards.
Therefore, if elected Mayor I would fight to ensure the following standards are part of Toronto’s Olympic bid:
1. Public participation: There must be public meetings on all aspects of the bid, including local neighbourhood meetings in areas next to proposed Olympic venues, and an ongoing independent watchdog for the Olympic bid and organizing committees. Above all, all committees must be fully and democratically accountable to the residents of Toronto.
2. Financial guarantees: There should be no tax increases associated with the Games. Therefore financial commitments must be established from all levels of government and the private sector. As well, corporate sponsors of the games must share the financial risks – not just residents of Toronto.
3. Social equity: The organizing committee should reflect the make-up of Toronto, including representation for gender, racial, cross-cultural, and abilities. After the Games, 100% of athlete housing should be converted into affordable housing, with 60% to social housing. Before and during the Games, measures should be taken to prevent harassment of homeless people. Tickets for events should be affordable to all Torontonians.
4. Environment: As part of Toronto’s bid, a detailed plan should look to not just protect air and water quality, but improve them. A full environmental assessment should include strategies for dealing with impacts, and a detailed waste disposal plan must also include an intensive recycling program.