Bonni, HR Pro here, weighing in on the big question in discussion around the GTA. Should Toronto make a bid to host the 2024 Olympics?
From over in this corner, the answer is a resounding yes.
Back in 2001, the last time Toronto made a bid for hosting the 2008 Olympics, I was “on assignment” in Cedar Rapids, IA. I made my co-workers watch the announcement on a TV in a meeting room. I commented that I would go back there to be a part of it. Then. . .
“Beijing? REALLY? We were robbed!”, I said. To be honest, I was pretty mad.
Fast-forward to today and I agree the 2008 Olympics should have been in Beijing. They needed it. It changed a country and they did an outstanding job. I was at the Olympic Village in Beijing last Fall and indeed their city was transformed by the event, even if the progress is mind blowing to see in person.
So why should Toronto, who by Beijing, London and Rio standards is a little outpost in the hinterland, be the choice of an event of significant magnitude?
Well, I believe Toronto is the future of the best of North America.
Economic engine of Canada.
Some of the key infrastructure exists.
Safest large city in North America, by far.
And the Olympics can do for Toronto what they did for Beijing; enable it to be viewed as a world city in the way that it already itself believes it is.
It doesn’t matter that Metropolis magazine named Toronto 2015’s Most Livable City (Huffington Post). We need infrastructure changes. We currently have an expressway that is falling down. I repeat. Falling. Down. I recently took this photo to the right to illustrate how bad it is. We need a reason to fix it. Now. The Olympics are our opportunity to do this.
Imagine the usefulness of the eastern lands converted into another village in Toronto. When world cities are ranked for architecture, Toronto often ends up dead last. We have a whole area to do it right. Imagine our own Water Cube and Bird’s Nest, sans the smog.
Oh shut up about the HOV lanes during the Pan Am; it wasn’t that bad. Even better, we were possibly more efficient with people who did not need to be on the roads off of them. I myself made a pledge to have no meetings that required me to be on the 401 or QEW during peak hours and it worked out great.
And we aren’t starting from scratch. On the heels of a successful PanAm Games, some of the venues are built already.
Think of the jobs. Planners, construction, marketing, communications, hotels, airlines. HR will be busy! And we will be busy doing the very things we enjoy doing, supporting opportunity building.
It is a terrible shame that Montreal’s Olympics were such a financial disaster because that seems to be what anyone on the other side of this debate points to when talk of the Olympics arises. We have the right people, the right raw materials and are in the right time zone to make this work well.
Canadians are known for being passive aggressive about things that matter. This time, if you really want this, you have to speak up, or the starter’s pistol will go off and we’ll be left at the blocks, again.