STANDING COMMITTEE ON GENERAL GOVERNMENT
COMITÉ PERMANENT DES AFFAIRES GOUVERNEMENTALES
Monday 9 December 2013 Lundi 9 décembre 2013
The committee met at 1508 in committee room 2.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Okay, I’d like to call the meeting to order. I’d like to welcome the members of the committee.
Today, we have two delegations that will be presenting before us. To the previous motion that was passed by committee, we will start with a five-minute opening statement, followed by 20 minutes of questioning, and then followed by 10 minutes of questioning for each party. I think time might be of the essence towards the end. I don’t know if there’s any discussion from the committee members if they want to move down from the 10-minute rotation to five—or we can consider that maybe after the first delegation. What is your preference?
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Chair, I just wanted to say that it’s possible that the Tory MPPs think that the recess was also for Mandela, because that’s how I had understood it, that it was going to be for both Mandela and the Huronia apology. So I’m just wondering—
Mr. Paul Miller: No, we agreed to 3 o’clock.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Okay. I just wanted to clarify in case—
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): For the record, I did have a conversation with MPP Jackson, and it was clear that at 3 o’clock, we would be reconvening.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Having said that, it is my great pleasure to welcome Mr. David Whitaker, president and chief executive officer of Tourism Toronto. Welcome, sir, and we apologize for the delay. I’m sure you’re a busy, busy person.
Mr. David Whitaker: I contributed to the budget. I had a salad downstairs.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Excellent. We thank you for that.
Mr. David Whitaker: I’m aware of the time frame, and I’ll try to stick to my part and also welcome an opportunity to answer any questions.
Just for the record, again, my name is David Whitaker. I have the privilege of being the president and CEO of Tourism Toronto, also known as the Toronto Convention and Visitors Association.
I’ll just say up front that a lot of people, especially if they’re not that familiar with us, wonder sometimes whether we’re a city department or a governmental agency. We’re probably kind of a lot of things. We are a separate, non-profit organization and association with an outstanding board of directors.
We are primarily funded two ways. We are RTO number five in the new regional tourism organizations province-wide, through the ministry, representing the cities of Toronto, Brampton and Mississauga. That’s our RTO region. We have a contract with the ministry for some critically important funding. In the coming year, it will be just under $10 million.
Then the bulk of our funds come through a contract with the Greater Toronto Hotel Association. There are about 70 hotels that are members of that contractual relationship, so oftentimes I say that we’re representing those 70 hotels. As you can appreciate, heads in beds; overnight visitors; events that attract visitors; conventions that we solicit; public relations around the destination; creating buzz for the destination; our work around the world, especially in key source markets for attracting international visitors; and our work primarily in the United States to bring Americans across the border for overnight visitation is kind of our mandate.
We’re known for a lot of things. We book very high-profile events. When the big Microsoft convention was in town last year, and the 15,000 people who were here for the Microsoft convention—that’s a big part of what we do. We have a relationship with the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, a provincial asset that we work very closely with.
We are quite proud that—in fact, we had the privilege of working behind the scenes—and by the way, we like working behind the scenes—to help organize the initial bid for bidding on the Pan Am and Parapan Games. I had the privilege of working with David Peterson at the time—a small working group. As you can appreciate, our primary focus was organizing the hotel blocks for hotels for that event, as well as really putting on a great show, in terms of the bid book and presentation and the kinds of things that we love to do to put our best foot forward.
I’m aware of your interest in and the focus on the subject of the day, the Pan and Parapan Games. I’m happy to answer any questions, especially in the context of our work. We’re not officially members of the host committee.
I do have with me Andrew Weir. Andrew is our vice-president of communications. He’s our primary point person working with TO2015 and also working with Steve Harlow and some of our other great partners here at the province, on the provincial staff side, to really just keep the ball rolling as things start building up. Like I said, I’ll perhaps stop—
Mr. David Whitaker: —and be happy to answer any questions. I didn’t know if that was a heckler, or—is that a common thing?
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): I’m not sure. Well, thank you very much. Would you want Andrew—I didn’t get his last name—
Mr. David Whitaker: Andrew Weir.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Weir. He would be more than welcome to participate if there are any questions, perhaps, that he could answer as well. It’s your choice.
Mr. David Whitaker: I answer the easy questions, and then I have Andrew here to—
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): If you would like to have him come forward, that would be fine.
Mr. David Whitaker: Sure.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): I don’t think the committee would object to that.
Okay, what we’ll do is we’ll start with the government and we will go with the opposition and then the third party. You have 20 minutes: Ms. Damerla.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Thank you, Chair. Thank you so much, Mr. Whitaker and Mr. Weir, for coming down today. We apologize for making you wait some time. It’s all for a good cause. I hope you had a good lunch.
Mr. David Whitaker: It was the best salad I had all day.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Okay, that’s good to know. I’ll pass it on to the chef.
Mr. Whitaker, I’m going to begin by saying that you’re an expert in tourism, and one of the reasons we brought you here today is to get your sense that—these games are probably among the biggest games ever held in Ontario—for that matter, even in Canada, because I know that the Pan/Parapan Games are going to be bigger than the Winter Olympics.
Given the scale of the games, I wanted to get from you a sense of the tourism potential of these games, and, in your opinion, if you could guesstimate, what that might mean for Ontario’s GDP, what it might mean in terms of revenues for our hotels, our entertainment district, our travel. Once they come here, hopefully, they will also go to Niagara Falls and all of those other things. So I just wanted to get a sense of (a) what you are doing to promote the games and (b) your sense of what the economic value of these games is to the province.
Mr. David Whitaker: I’ll answer that question in the two parts that you posed it—first, in terms of the impact, the economics of the games: As you can appreciate, we focus initially and almost primarily on room nights. That’s just such an important barometer for us when we evaluate the number of people who actually travel here—near and far, but who travel here and actually consume a hotel room. As you can appreciate, over 250,000 people are directly employed in the tourism industry. Filling our hotels has a lot of side effects. Not only is that beneficial to the hotel per se, but those visitors, then, of course, are dining in our restaurants, taking public transportation, accessing other parts of the city.
So as I led this conversation in my opening remarks, having over 25,000 hotel rooms consumed in and of itself makes it one of the largest events you could host in a city. We only have about 40,000 hotel rooms in the entire GTA, so having those 25,000 rooms consumed has a direct, obvious economic impact.
In our visitor research, a visitor who stays here for a three- or four-day event, as in this case—it can get close to almost $1,000 per visitor in terms of their hotel stay, their meals; everyone loves to shop when they’re visiting. So you can appreciate that 25,000 times $1,000 goes a long way in terms of the direct economic impact.
I would tell you, with much respect, that what gets me more excited than—because there are dozens and dozens of events that we could attract that host 25,000 rooms: big conventions like Microsoft, for example. But what gets me more excited is the profile that this event can give us, especially in the target audience that we’re talking about. I talk about the 10 million overnight visitors who come to Toronto and the GTA—
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Sorry, did you say 10 million?
Mr. David Whitaker: Ten million a year.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: A year.
Mr. David Whitaker: Annually. About six million of those are from Canada, and that’s a pretty stable number; about two million—it has been an up-and-down number, dependent upon the economy—from the United States; then it has been about one million to two million from our major markets, whether that’s Asia, Europe etc.
South America has tremendous potential—South and Central America, Mexico, Brazil, Chile. Those are real opportunity markets for us at Tourism Toronto. Currently, we’re receiving maybe close to 200,000 overnight visitors from South and Central America, and it’s growing pretty strong, but we feel that number has tremendous potential to grow. Brazil is a great example, and Mexico—before the visa change, we were receiving almost close to, in the good old days, 100,000. The visa change knocked that down for a variety of reasons, but we’re growing again.
So we feel at Tourism Toronto that South America, which is directly a corollary to the Pan Am Games—of the 41 countries, an overwhelming percentage and the big countries that are involved are what we call Latin American countries: Mexico and then, of course, South and Central America—and the Caribbean. Of course, we have our own relationships in the Caribbean. But these games are critically important to them. There is a long history of passion and involvement, especially as a lead-up to Brazil hosting the Olympics.
We see the Pan Am effort as a platform, really, to engage with Central and South Americans, and we’re already doing that. We just, in fact, a few weeks ago during the PASO events, brought in—and Andrew does this work for us. We brought in 30 journalists from some major publications throughout the key markets—like I said, Brazil, Chile and Mexico—not just writing about the games, but writing about why we’re one of the best cities to be considered to host these games.
David Peterson coined the phrase, “Where every game is a home game.” We remember that from the under-18 World Cup, when we had the FIFA World Cup here, the under-18. When Argentina was playing Chile, the stadium was full of Ontario’s Argentinian and Chilean community. We know the diversity of our community can be a great backdrop. So our ability to connect our diversity, especially in terms of the South American, Central American and Mexican community that’s here, and the ability to have that connection culturally and other aspects with Central and South America is a great forum for us. It extends well beyond the direct impact of the games. It gives us a forum to talk about our diversity. It gives us a forum to talk about our own cultural relationships with those markets.
So the economic impact is both direct, the 25,000 room nights, the exposure, which—in fact, we are making a lot of efforts to build that exposure well before the games. But it’s not just about promoting—and there are others who are going to focus on the athletics of the games. That’s not going to necessarily be our expertise. We’re promoting Ontario and southern Ontario and this province as the ideal place and why cultural diversity matters and why this relationship extends beyond the pitch, the field, the track.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Now, have you been involved with any other marquee events, like TIFF, the Grey Cup, the Honda Indy, and marketing them?
Mr. David Whitaker: Yes. I mean, I think perhaps people sometimes think maybe we—and I don’t want us to take too much credit. We try to market everything we can get our hands on to market.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: So, based on your experience with something like Caribana or TIFF, would you be able to speak to the increase in the number of tourists that takes place in Toronto because of events like this?
Mr. David Whitaker: You know, in my work, I try not to make too many projections that I don’t necessarily have my hands around. Because of our mandate and our contractual relationships, we focus on those 25,000 hotel rooms that are going to be consumed. We focus on the journalists who are coming, because of the stories they are going to write and already are writing about our destination and about our province. An article in a major Brazilian newspaper—there could be a $50,000 value to that article if we had to buy advertising in that same publication.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: I did some quick math. Based on your numbers, one can expect, just from the hotel industry, to generate about $25 million; 25,000 hotel rooms times $1,000—
Mr. David Whitaker: But, again, it’s 25,000 hotel rooms, not necessarily 25,000 people. Okay?
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Yes.
Mr. David Whitaker: So each group is about—you know, there could be some double occupancy in there etc.
But I think, based on the $1,000 per party visit, your math is absolutely a good focus, in terms of the hospitality impact. Like I said, beyond that is really the value of us and our profile in this source market. A lot of folks are talking about whether it’s our international banking or international trade—even the mining industries, for example. Our relationship with South and Central America has tremendous potential to grow. The theme of this event, the Pan/Parapan Am Games, in Central and South America is a great platform for us to establish all kinds of linkages that are going to well exceed and live beyond the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Now, any big event like this has a multiplier effect well beyond the obvious, which are the hotel rooms or the public transit or the cabs. It trickles right down to that hot dog vendor at the corner of the stadium. So, tell me, what is this going to mean for small business in Ontario, especially the GTA, as we host these games?
Mr. David Whitaker: I think it’s probably safe to assume that—you look at the modules or you look at where the events are for that on-the-street impact that you’re talking about. Clearly, it extends around the footprint of the hotels, and there again it’s hotels in Hamilton and hotels in downtown Toronto and hotels in Mississauga—it depends on where the events are; right?—North York etc. So those are kind of those hot spots where the events are happening, where the fans will be congregating, where they’ll leave after and before an event to grab that hot dog etc.
But we also know that when people attend events, they’re not just here for that event; they’re here to have fun. That’s why I think one of the things when we look at hosting—
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Sorry. Chair, I’m having trouble hearing because there are many conversations.
Mr. David Whitaker: I think that when we look at hosting these events—again, through the work we do with the journalists as well as the buzz of them going back home and saying, “Wow, I can’t believe Toronto. I’ve never been there before. What a great city.” There’s value to the word-of-mouth promotion, where people who have a great experience are more apt to return in the future. Maybe they were here because they were affiliated with the track and field team from their country; maybe the next time they come back, they bring their family or they make linkages that make us an ideal visitation—
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Can you speak to some of the partnerships you may be trying to forge in advance of the games to help promote them?
Mr. David Whitaker: You know, I’m not sure we’re the lead organization, to your question about—I know that TO2015 has a whole partnership program, and they’d be more well versed to talk about that than I am.
I know as marketers—I have to tell you, I can’t tell you how important these journalists are who we’re working with, to have them come. We can’t put words in their mouths, but when they come and see the city and the community and the province, it sells itself.
We also are going to do an awful lot of social media. That’s the new world we operate in, so getting buzz and getting chatter and getting conversations, not just about the games but about why we’re an ideal city to host these games—again, using that platform of diversity that has been so successful for us. All of that will go into the mix.
We don’t have a dedicated marketing campaign just for the games, nor do we have a—TIFF is as much a celebration of our city as it is a celebration of our film industry, and it’s hard to draw the line between one and the other; not that that’s what you were suggesting. But it really is an overall destination sell and feature.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Just moving on to what’s particularly special about the way these games have been planned—the legacy piece. One of the challenges, as we all know, is that you can build all these very, very large stadiums, but then the games are over and they’re a shell of themselves. We’ve seen that happen, and this government has been very, very careful to make sure that whatever we build for the games will be used long after the games are gone and will be of use to our citizens and will not become the proverbial white elephant. A lot of thought has gone into that. Would you like to comment on where you see the legacy piece and how that might help you promote Toronto?
Mr. David Whitaker: Well, most of you don’t know me well—I like to joke a bit, so I will profess and wear my Argos hat, because I’m not necessarily a Hamilton CFL fan. That facility is going to have a life after the event, of course.
Mr. David Whitaker: I knew I’d get a reaction from the Tiger-Cats.
To have a world-class, by standard, by spec, swim facility—it’s going to be a facility that will be used not only to improve our own performance in games, but it will help us attract other swim-related events in the future.
The same thing at York University, that facility—we just had the Ontario Summer Games recently, a great collaboration with the province, the ministry and with the city of Toronto.
Most sporting events need facilities. They need that track. They need that pitch. They need those facilities. If you don’t have the facilities, you’re not going to be able to compete with other parts of our country that have superior facilities. So facilities are a big part of what we’re doing in terms of sport tourism.
So to your point, you’re absolutely correct. These enhanced and improved facilities will allow us to solicit and bid on other sporting events in the future. And just like the Pan Am Games—maybe on a more amateur level and a localized or even a Canadian level—with that come teams, come coaches, come fans, come parents, comes economic activity.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: The other thing we’ve done really well with these games is—in the past, the tendency was to centralize all of the venues in one place—we’ve made sure that we have distributed them across the GTHA, so that going forward the benefits of the various sporting complexes are distributed amongst taxpayers, as well as the fact that each city now has a marquee piece to market, bring sports. So it’s not just Toronto-centric, but, as you mentioned, this—
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Oh, sorry.
There’s Mississauga and Hamilton. There are all sorts of places that are going to benefit from these games.
Mr. David Whitaker: You’re absolutely right. In fact, the visitor doesn’t necessarily have the boundaries that we sometimes live with ourselves. A visitor doesn’t know they’re leaving Mississauga, coming to Toronto, then going to Markham or down to—even when they go to Niagara Falls, they kind of think of that as our—and quite frankly, as we market it, it is our Niagara Falls.
You’re absolutely right: The regional approach provides an opportunity for the entire southern Ontario region to benefit.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: The other thing that’s very surprising—and we can all take credit—is the fact that, so far, the games have been on time and on budget. I just want to hear, from a marketing perspective, from a tourism point of view, how important is it that games and the infrastructure that goes with it comes on time, on budget?
Mr. David Whitaker: That’s an area that I’m not necessarily an expert at. But to your premise, which I’m aware of—it’s almost that you’re better off with what you have than what you don’t have. What we don’t want is to have stories written about how we weren’t able to be on time, that things weren’t done, that there’s chaos. I remember the Commonwealth Games, recently—I can’t name the city in India that was hosting the Commonwealth Games—story after story about how they weren’t ready, and that has an impact. Even in Vancouver, there was an effort by England as they were getting ready to host the next—I think it’s more of a country rivalry.
What you don’t want are stories about, “They weren’t ready,” because it speaks to our capacity; it speaks to our leadership, quite frankly; and it speaks to our ability to host events—having a reputation for being able to host events like a big Microsoft convention, one of the biggest film festivals in the world, athletic events. Whether it’s security, whether it’s ease of operation, the sense of arrival, the sense of welcome—all that goes into the reputation that a destination has.
So I’m encouraged to hear that things are on track. That’s important because having them not be on track and not being prepared has a lot of negative consequences that really speak to the entire reputation of the entire community. I would never want that, of course.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: One of the things that I really liked about these games is that we always say the Pan/Parapan Am Games. We don’t just say the Pan Am Games. We’ve been very, very careful about making sure that we always say the Pan/Parapan Am Games because this is probably going to be one of the most accessible games ever. That is really important. It shows an evolution of Ontario as a society as well. I just wanted your thoughts on making these the most accessible games ever. Does that give you something extra to market our city?
Mr. David Whitaker: Absolutely. In fact, it goes beyond just the Parapan Am Games, I think, and—to the Legislature’s credit—some of the great work that we’re doing as a province in being accessible and providing equal opportunity, and equal access is something that we all should be quite proud of. There’s an opportunity to really promote that during the games themselves.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Chair, how much time do I have?
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Two minutes and 51 seconds.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Okay. It’s been really great talking to you. We’re going to have to sum up. I just wanted to say, if you could just sum up for us what these games mean for you, as somebody who is in the trenches promoting tourism for Ontario. What are these games going to mean?
Mr. David Whitaker: Again, what I would hope you would expect of us as one of your servants, if you will, or one of the people you entrust—and a lot of our partners entrust us to be great marketers and great promoters. We’re trying to make sure that we take full advantage of the games well in advance of the games. That’s, like I said, introducing our destination, our province, our great communities—southern Ontario—to an important audience that we think has great growth potential. Many of these journalists that we just brought here, for example, the 30 journalists from some of the leading publications in South America, they would not necessarily have accepted our invitation of, “Hey, just come up to Toronto, we want to talk to you about our great nightlife or our great restaurant scene or our great arts and culture scene.” They may, but clearly the interest that the Pan Am Games have is a great hook to get them interested in us as a destination, as a community, as people, as a country and as a province. I see that as kind of the advanced buildup for the games.
You mentioned the legacy piece, having improved facilities to help us bid on other sporting events down the road—tremendous opportunity. I love the fact that now dozens of things that may not even be related, whether it’s Union Station, the train link—all of a sudden, everyone’s saying, “We’ve got to get all this ready before the Pan Am Games.” That has been a great stimulus in itself, quite frankly, for getting a community to say, “We want to be the best. We want to be organized. We want to have facilities that are top-notch.” We’re focusing on everything from transportation to infrastructure to the look and feel of the community, right? Getting a community to take great pride in being great hosts has a lot of residual effect. Creating a reputation where, “Hey, this was one of the most successful games of all times, in terms of sponsorships, in terms of organization.” That builds our reputation for hosting and bidding on other major marquee events in the future. So it can really be a coming-together stimulus, if you will.
At the end of the day, in my business, filling 25,000 hotel rooms has huge economic impact to our hospitality industry.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Thank you so much. You tied that up so well.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. We’ll move to the official opposition: Mr. Jackson.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Thank you very much. I just have a couple of quick questions for you, Mr. Whitaker, and thank you very much for coming today. I know some of these things are difficult for you to answer, perhaps, because you’re pretty much in charge of executing some of the directives that you’re given, and maybe less involved in the grand scheme of things. But today, there has been some concern among local and provincial advocates for people with disabilities that the games aren’t doing enough to accommodate—ironically, given the fact that it’s the Pan/Parapan Am Games—people with disabilities. I’m not talking about the athletes; I’m talking about the tourists that are actually going to show up and watch these games. Can you tell me what your organization is doing or what kind of focus you have on making sure that those with disabilities who come to see the games are going to be accommodated to the best ability of this—
Mr. David Whitaker: Well, you were kind in setting up the question by saying that’s an area that I might not have a lot of direct involvement in, and I don’t. I’m not sure how I can answer a question of something that I’m not necessarily involved in and directly working on.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Okay.
Mr. David Whitaker: Now, having said that, I don’t want to evade your question. I want the GTA, Toronto, southern Ontario to be the most hospitable, welcoming place in the world to all visitors. Whatever barriers there are to people with disabilities, I want to make sure we follow the law and the standards. I know our hotel community operates under some very strict standards, our restaurant community, our public and performing arts facilities etc. I want us to be a world-class city in meeting the standards. I’m not aware, with much respect, that we’re falling below those standards.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Okay. Is it fair to say you haven’t received any directives from the organizing committee or from the secretariat on goals to achieve or certain standards to achieve specifically with respect to the Pan Am Games?
Mr. David Whitaker: I’m going to pause for a second, because Andrew has been more involved. I’m not sure if we’ve received directives.
Mr. Andrew Weir: Well, the organizing committee has made it clear that it’s a commitment and a priority. I’m not sure we’ve gotten down to the level of all the specifics of what is expected of whom yet, particularly because our area tends to be on the marketing side, not on the developing venues and creating some of the infrastructure side. I know a lot of that work is active right now, but our work tends to come in in the later phases, when it comes up to actually marketing this product.
We’re certainly well aware that it’s a priority, but it hasn’t yet come to us as something for us to be involved in. That would normally come soon, but we wouldn’t have expected it yet.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Okay. Thank you.
Mr. David Whitaker: But I want to reassure you, we stand ready. We want to be making sure that we don’t come up short in that area. We would be very willing to try to play a role there.
Mr. Rod Jackson: That’s good to know. Thank you.
The one thing I know that other games have found, whether it’s the Olympic Games, the Pan Am Games or the Commonwealth Games, whatever world event we have—there has been a constant issue that seems to go unnoticed, I think, by a lot of the organizers. That is that we’re going to experience a higher-than-normal volume of tourists in Toronto, but at the same time, there’s still going to be the regular stuff that’s going on in Toronto, the regular—
Mr. David Whitaker: The cool stuff.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Yes, there are all kinds of things that are still going to be happening. The same sort of tourist influx is going to happen anyway. A lot of times in London, they experienced this; they weren’t ready for the multiplier effect. So they had all the people coming for the games and then all the people who are just going to come there anyway because it’s a world-class city, like Toronto is. What are you doing to prepare for that situation?
Mr. David Whitaker: Again, not that I’m suggesting this was your point or your premise, but we are routinely hosting major conventions all the time. I mentioned Microsoft, where we brought in 16,000 Microsoft executives from all over the world. We do that kind of quietly and effortlessly, whether it’s a major medical convention, a major pharmaceutical convention or a teachers’ education thing. We routinely, in the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, which is one of the best-run facilities in North America, quite frankly—and as a provincial asset, you should be very proud of that facility. That’s our job: to host these big events.
We just announced the other day the NBA All-Star Game. I’m a big basketball fan. It’s hard to be a basketball fan with the Raptors sometimes, but I’m a big basketball fan.
Mr. Rob Leone: They won last night.
Mr. David Whitaker: Good. I went to bed. It was a west-coast game; I couldn’t stay up late.
But the NBA All-Star Game, bringing 17,000 fans for that event—I was questioned a lot: “Oh, gosh, our streets are already crowded enough.” In fact, I sometimes think that the visitors who come—because again, it’s the shuttle system that they’re going to be on—are not necessarily in their cars, driving all over the Gardiner. Some of the challenges that we face in terms of volumes, our own frustration, my own personal frustration with traffic etc.—conventions and organized events actually help mitigate that, because they’re not necessarily the people who are causing all the traffic jams. So we have a good history. I think Toronto can be very proud and the province can be very proud of our ability to host big events.
Now, is everyone in this room aware that congestion and traffic, the challenges that we all face, are a big issue, just like they are—New York is going to host the Super Bowl. There’s a lot of discussion about how they’re going to be able to pull that off with all the traffic problems of New York. What a good problem to have, in terms of thousands and thousands of visitors. But that’s the essence of great logistics. In fact, my colleague and someone I have tremendous respect for, Steve Harlow, is going to talk about some of those logistical plans later on.
Our ability to pull that stuff together and plan for it gives us the reputation of being a big-event city. We’ve always been that way, and some of the big events that we’ve had here—there are the grumbles when we close Exhibition Place and have the Honda Indy race there. It depends on what side of the fence you’re on, whether you love that event, or it’s an inconvenience for you; or a marathon that’s used for a wonderful charity but still closes my street on that weekend, and I want to go to the mall. The balance of all these things, the logistics, is really the key, I think, in terms of not having the scenario that you’re talking about, which is crowds and too many people.
But if we weren’t going to host the Pan Am Games, I must reassure you, we would have been bidding on four or five other things that weekend and that month to bring to this community. We’re constantly bidding on—for example, our goal each year is to bring 500,000 room nights. That’s our performance goal. If we don’t win that bid, we’ll go after that event. It’s to fill this community, those 40,000 hotel rooms I talked about, and our convention facilities. It’s to fill them up with activities year-round.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Good. Sorry, we have a finite amount of time. I’ve just got another question for you that I want to get in before we pass it on to our colleagues over here. You’re the present chief executive officer of Tourism Toronto, right?
Mr. David Whitaker: Yes, sir.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Do you have a specific budget that has been given to you through the Pan Am secretariat, through the province of Ontario, to help promote the Pan Am Games through Tourism Toronto?
Mr. David Whitaker: We have not received, nor would we necessarily be asking for, a budget. We have a marketing budget already.
Mr. Rod Jackson: So you’re operating completely on the city of Toronto taxpayer, the one taxpayer.
Mr. David Whitaker: It’s not the city of Toronto. Essentially, we’re funded two ways. I mentioned—and again, I apologize; I might have said that before you walked in.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Perhaps, yes. I’m sorry.
Mr. David Whitaker: That’s okay. We have a contract with the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport that generates just under $10 million. We have a contractual relationship with the province, with the ministry, as a region, RTO number 5. The other 60% of our funding comes from a contract with the Greater Toronto Hotel Association, a destination marketing program. We have about 70 hotels. We’re like a giant advertising agency/PR firm for these 70 hotels. They pay us to fill their hotels.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Okay, I got you. Thanks. Sorry that I missed that at the beginning.
Mr. David Whitaker: It’s okay.
Mr. Rod Jackson: For the provincial portion of it, the part that you get from the ministry, who do you answer to for your budget on that? Who watches that? Who oversees that?
Mr. David Whitaker: Well, two answers: One is that the contract itself has a series of reports and documents. There are quarterly, semi-quarterly, annual and even post-annual reports. It’s very thorough reporting. You can appreciate the documentation that goes with that.
Mr. Rod Jackson: All public?
Mr. David Whitaker: I’m not sure. I’d have to refer it to the ministry. These are reports that we fill out for them. They’re not directly attributable to the Pan Am Games.
We’re a non-profit organization. Our annual budget is approved by our board. I’m very proud of our governance. We have an outstanding board of directors, an audit committee. We’re pretty well vetted through a variety of standing committees in our board.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Do you receive that ministry money, the same amount every year? Do you apply for it? How does that come to you?
Mr. David Whitaker: It’s a contractual relationship. We’re just completing the second year of a two-year contract. We’ll be talking soon about future contracts. It’s part of the annual budgeting process that we work with the ministry.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Are you required to break that down? In other words, does the ministry require you to use that budget for anything specific, or is that up to your discretion as a—
Mr. David Whitaker: It’s a combination. Again, I want to make sure I answer your question or don’t miss your point. It’s a combination of putting a marketing plan and a budget together and presenting that. It’s also a very thorough review within a collaboration. They’re actually working, to their credit, on collaborating so that Niagara and Toronto and Markham and even Ottawa—in some of the things we work on, especially internationally, there’s a lot of encouragement to coordinate and collaborate together.
It’s a very thorough marketing plan. Then we have a whole series of reports where we report on our activities, and we’re audited, and those kinds of things. It’s a public audit. We’re very comfortable with the documentation process. I’m not sure if that’s to your question—
Mr. Rod Jackson: No, it is; it answers my questions. Thank you very much. You answered my questions.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Mr. Leone.
Mr. Rob Leone: Thank you very much. Sorry, I also missed your opening, so I apologize for that. Do you know the signage that we see along the roads: Is that something where Tourism Toronto is going to be directing traffic and directing people to different venues? Is that what you’re involved with?
Mr. David Whitaker: We’re not involved in that. I am aware of the TODS program, as I believe it’s called. We’re not directly involved in that. We have filled out surveys. They routinely survey us—
Mr. Rob Leone: Is that program going to be responsible for signage for the games?
Mr. David Whitaker: I would not be aware of that. It’s not our program.
Mr. Rob Leone: Okay. That was the only real question I had with respect to that. The other thing that I had was with respect to those reports that you were talking about, which you report back to the ministry. Did any of them contain elements that related to the Pan Am Games?
Mr. David Whitaker: Not that I’m aware of. I mean, when we hosted the 30 journalists, I’m not sure we said, “These 30 journalist were here to write about the Pan Am Games.” That’s what the hook was to get them here.
Mr. Rob Leone: Right.
Mr. David Whitaker: But as I said earlier, we’re really featuring using the Pan Am Games as a hook to sell the totality of the destination.
Mr. Rob Leone: So when you’re hosting 30 journalists, is that paid through a hospitality budget through Tourism Toronto? How does that work when—we’re trying to sort it out. Your hook is Pan Am, but not necessarily. It’s about promoting Toronto, I would assume.
Mr. David Whitaker: Correct.
Mr. Rob Leone: So is it through your hospitality budget that that reception would be paid?
Mr. David Whitaker: We’re not in the business of receptions. I mean, we fly journalists here. We have a contract with air carriers; we have a special rate that we can apply based on our volumes. We’re flying in people from all over the world. We work with our host hotels. Oftentimes, they’ll host. It depends on the journalist. If it’s a big-time journalist, they may agree to host them for free because it’s an honour to have that journalist in their hotel.
Mr. Rob Leone: Promotional.
Mr. David Whitaker: Yes. For some of the other journalists, we have a special rate with the hotel. We’ll pay a discounted rate or what have you.
Mr. Rob Leone: I just wondered to what extent it actually happened in the tourism world. We hear, and obviously it made the news, that all these lavish receptions were held by Pan Am execs. I wondered, how could we compare those? I wondered if you had any comparisons. Now you’re telling me that that’s not typically the way Tourism Toronto works or operates, so you’re probably not going to be able to answer my question.
I’m curious as to the comparisons of major sporting events that you might have been involved with. Again, I’m going to ask the question, but I don’t think you’re going to be able to answer. How do we compare in terms of the scope of these things? Because Pan Am in itself is a big draw; it’s a major, world-class event. Yet we’re spending obscene amounts of money—to some people it seems to be obscene amounts of money—to host people who are going to naturally come here anyway. Do you have any comments on how it compares to other—
Mr. David Whitaker: Well, I’m heartened by the fact that you suggested I’m probably not going to be able to answer that question, because it’s just not my area of expertise.
Mr. Rob Leone: Right, okay. That’s fine. Thanks.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Okay, thank you very much. We will move to the third party. Mr. Miller.
Mr. Paul Miller: Good morning, Mr. Whitaker.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Morning?
Mr. Paul Miller: Good afternoon. It has been a long day. Anyways—
Mr. David Whitaker: We’ll hold the Hamilton Tiger-Cats remarks—
Mr. Paul Miller: Yes, I hear you.
You’re obviously promoting the private sector as well because you’re representing hotels and receptions that people have during the Pan Am Games in all the venues they’ll have the ability to take in.
You know, one of the biggest concerns and why there has been this big investigation in the Pan Am Games is the concern of the taxpayers’ dollars. The government at this point is saying that they’re on time, that there are no costs. Well, I lived through Expo 67 and the Olympic Games in Montreal, and all the way through Mayor Drapeau of Montreal was insisting that everything was hunky-dory and there would be no overruns. Well, they were paying for that 20 years later, and I hope that’s not the case here. I hope your organization, through its marketing, will be able to alleviate some of the cost to the taxpayers with the influx of tourism dollars. Certainly, I’ll be watching that closely.
Could you detail some of the contracts that you have with TO2015 or other persons or organizations representing the Pan/Parapan Am Games?
Mr. David Whitaker: Yes, and again, I’m glad that Andrew is here because he’s kind of my direct liaison. We don’t have, to my knowledge, any contract with TO2015. We have a memorandum—
Mr. Andrew Weir: Memorandum of understanding.
Mr. David Whitaker: A memorandum of understanding.
Mr. Paul Miller: Okay.
Mr. David Whitaker: You want to talk, maybe, about what that is?
Mr. Andrew Weir: Sure. It essentially outlines the areas where we’ll collaborate. It outlines how we will work with them to promote the games. A lot of it is focused, as David said, on the media, so we’ll have a presence in the media centre. We’ll work to do a lot of advanced promotion.
David has alluded to this: A lot of the key Pan Am markets like the US, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and Chile are priority tourism markets for us already. So a lot of what the memorandum of understanding covers is that we’re active in these markets and they have an interest in a presence in these markets; how do we bring our activities together with theirs? So it really covers a lot of what we’re doing, what they’re doing, bringing them together, and that’s essentially what it outlines.
Mr. Paul Miller: Okay.
Mr. David Whitaker: Mr. Miller, I just want to add, with much respect, tomorrow, for example, we’re hosting a meeting at the Westin hotel. We’ve got a 150 hoteliers, so we’re bringing our hotel community together, just as an orientation. We’ll do this dozens of times. We do this for the Grey Cup; we do this for every big convention—just giving them an opportunity to be aware of what’s going on, how they can be prepared. We need to make sure that there are multiple languages, there’s capacity for people who aren’t—
Mr. Paul Miller: So, basically, you guys are in the marketing business and promotion. That kind of sums it up, doesn’t it?
Mr. David Whitaker: Yes, marketing, promotion and hospitality.
Mr. Paul Miller: Okay. Is Tourism Toronto licensing any of the Pan Am/Parapan Am Games mascots and other memorabilia? And what are the terms of those contracts, if you have any?
Mr. David Whitaker: To my knowledge, we don’t have any.
Mr. Andrew Weir: We have no licensing agreement with that.
Mr. Paul Miller: Nothing? Okay, that’s good. What other financial incentives have been negotiated between Tourism Toronto and TO2015? Any other incentives other than your memorandum of agreement? Nothing?
Mr. David Whitaker: No. Mr. Miller, maybe I’d want to know more. I think the answer is going to be no, but I’m not sure of any financial incentives or what you might be alluding to. But we have no—
Mr. Paul Miller: Okay. I won’t get into it any deeper until—if anything happens.
There’s going to be a big financial—but the parliamentary assistant mentioned that it’s going to be a great thing for Ontario, and there’s no doubt about it. However, she mentioned that they had reached out to all major parts of the province, and I don’t think that’s quite accurate, because I believe the fifth- and sixth-biggest cities in Ontario have gotten nothing; that would be Windsor and London. So I’m not quite sure they reached to southwestern Ontario for some of the events, which would have been nice. That didn’t happen.
Certainly in Hamilton, we’ve got the soccer, which is a huge thing, and the stadium. There have been some discussions with myself and the tradespeople in Hamilton that they don’t believe—these are their words—that it really is going to come in under budget. There are some electrical problems, electrical contracting problems, wrong tendering and that, and I’m dealing with that right now. So they’re going to have something to say probably in March or April, if things are still not on budget. The government keeps announcing that everything is hunky-dory, everything is on budget, but that’s not what I’m hearing. It remains to be seen where it will end up, and it certainly doesn’t fall under your auspices.
I appreciate the fact that promotion is a huge part of any large games, Olympics or you name it. You guys play a critical role in the establishment of return dollars to our province. I really know that plays an integral part of the entire games, and I’m very happy that you take an active role.
I know Toronto is doing quite well. Do you ever deal with the economic development from Hamilton or do you deal with any of the other ones? Do you sit down and talk to them? Because we have hotels in Hamilton, too, whether you believe it or not.
Mr. David Whitaker: Mr. Miller, again, just because of the geographic boundaries that we’re ascribed to, our representation is the city of Toronto, the city of Brampton and the city of Mississauga. That’s our region.
Mr. Paul Miller: That would be a no.
Mr. David Whitaker: Yes, sir. Now—
Mr. Paul Miller: How do you coordinate? I’m just curious. I understand your geographic area, but how do you coordinate something of this size without contacting other cities that are going to play a critical role in this? And how do you coordinate—do you know what I’m saying?—transportation from your hotels to Hamilton? And obviously we have a challenge there with the QEW. They were talking about closing a lane or whatever they were doing. This could create some problems. You don’t have any discussions with them on how to get the people who are staying in your hotels to Hamilton because soccer is going to be a major event, and I’m sure there will be a lot of people that stay here who are going to go there. Have you talked about how you’re going to transport them to Hamilton?
Mr. David Whitaker: Well, to my knowledge there is a transportation program. Again, I’ll—
Mr. Paul Miller: Sort of.
Mr. David Whitaker: Again, I apologize. You can appreciate—
Mr. Paul Miller: Well, I’ll talk to the next gentlemen about that.
Mr. Andrew Weir: You’re asking about two things; one is the transportation infrastructure. As you can appreciate, TO2015 has a team. They’re working on that. Where we are collaborating very closely with our partners in Hamilton and Niagara and the Durham region and elsewhere, anywhere that’s hosting the games, is on marketing the broader destination and how we make sure that visitors that come to Toronto don’t just stay in Toronto. Even we have an interest in making sure that the visitors, especially the ones from further afield, are getting around and experiencing the destination.
Many of the visitors that we will receive during the games, in fact, may come from other parts of Ontario. Many of Hamilton’s visitors will no doubt come from Durham and Ottawa and Windsor and elsewhere. So we’re working very closely, through Ontario Tourism marketing partnerships and with the other tourism organizations like ourselves that have an interest in the games. So there’s a lot of collaboration at that level. I think you’re—
Mr. Paul Miller: So you are, actually. You said you weren’t but you are.
Mr. Andrew Weir: On the marketing side—
Mr. David Whitaker: No, Mr. Miller, you said I wasn’t; I didn’t get to answer the question before you said I wasn’t.
Mr. Paul Miller: Go ahead; feel free.
Mr. David Whitaker: I talk about this RTO unit, the regional tourism organizations—there are 10, basically, and three in the north territory. We, in fact, had a meeting last week. The Ministry of Tourism routinely brings the RTOs together. We have a monthly conference call, and we just had a quarterly face-to-face.
Mr. Paul Miller: So if I had said RTOs, I would’ve been safer then, right? You’re tricking me.
Mr. David Whitaker: No, I’m not tricking. We work very closely. We coordinate, and we talk about way-finding; we talk about big events.
What I’m kind of excited about—and Mr. Miller, again, I think this may not get to your question, but I want to get it out there—it’s not just going to be the Pan Am Games. There are conversations about food festivals and art events and some of the programming that can be done in other provincial assets.
I met with David Ames from—
Mr. Paul Miller: David is from Hamilton.
Mr. David Whitaker: —and we just met to talk about some of the programming that they’re going to do at the parks.
Trust me, the tourism industry wants to take full advantage of having the games here and to make sure that it’s more than just athletic events; that it’s a celebration.
Mr. Paul Miller: Okay. Look, any event of this size is going to have its problems. Has Tourism Toronto assessed any possible difficulties that may arise for your members during the games—and how have you been able to work on these issues and straighten them out before 2015? I know you meet regionally on a regular basis, but there must be issues that are stifling you a little bit. I’m not hearing anything from your organization about problems.
Mr. David Whitaker: Well, I’m assuming that this won’t be the last time we have this conversation. It’s a long time before the games. Some of the, perhaps, more major issues like being on time—
Mr. Paul Miller: Transportation.
Mr. David Whitaker: —and transportation. Those are yet to be hashed out. I know they’re working on them, and you need to get a higher comfort level that they’re being worked on. I trust you to do that.
Clearly, the fact that many people who will be coming here won’t be speaking English or French as their native language—that’s an issue that I know I’m promoting a lot. Making sure people can find their way around—and one of your colleagues, earlier, asked a question about signage. We need to make sure that people who speak Spanish, people who speak Portuguese—some of our colleagues from the Caribbean—have the ability to find their way around. Way-finding is so important, and you have my commitment that we’re going to make sure we work on that.
At some point, security will be a big discussion. I’m sure some of those conversations are already taking place, and you might want to talk to the 2015 committee about their security plans.
Mr. Paul Miller: Speaking from a humble position, are your organizations—your hotels and your hosts—making it fiscally responsible for people who might be financially challenged, who are coming from other countries? Have any of your hotels made any kind of special arrangement for groups that may be—I’m sure in some of these countries, they’re financially burdened and struggling. You’re not going to get some of them staying in the suite; you’re going to have them want a single room. Have you made room for these people? Or are all your hotels and all your facilities going to be just top buck and for the people who have the money?
Mr. David Whitaker: Mr. Miller, I almost never say the word “all,” as you can appreciate. In fact, that’s one of the discussions we’re having with our hotel community. Our individual hotels are contracting directly with teams, with countries, with organizations, so supply and demand often takes care of that.
The benefit of the greater Toronto area is that we don’t just have Shangri-Las and Ritz-Carltons and Four Seasons. We also have Holiday Inns—and I’m not insulting the Holiday Inn by calling it a budget property—Comfort Inns and Days Inns etc. We have dormitories; oftentimes our universities work with us on some of the housing.
Mr. Paul Miller: This is a question I always ask when I travel: Do you feel that your rates for the groups that you mentioned will be unreasonably raised during the Pan/Parapan Am Games? In other words, in that two-week period, are we going to go up 30% for a room, 25%? Or would the great group rates remain the norm?
Mr. David Whitaker: I’m very confident that we have a system in place that avoids gouging—
Mr. Paul Miller: That’s a good word. I didn’t want to use it, but go ahead.
Mr. David Whitaker: That’s why those contracts are being negotiated now, because you do work in the environment of supply and demand and competition. I’d like to say that we can control everything, but we work very hard to make sure that gouging—and to my knowledge, even with the Toronto International Film Festival, which is one of the most highly sought rooms in town, we have a great reputation of making sure, because gouging doesn’t help anyone. It doesn’t help the destination’s reputation.
Mr. Paul Miller: Well, that’s good to hear, because, certainly, I guess groups will be monitoring that to see—
Mr. David Whitaker: And we’ll monitor that, of course.
Mr. Paul Miller: Oh, I hope you do, as an organization, because we certainly want to make everyone have the ability to be accessible to the games, no matter what their income is.
Mr. David Whitaker: And we’ll commit to you that we’re going to do everything in our power, and we’ll keep an ear open, if we can be of any assistance.
Mr. Paul Miller: I appreciate that. I’m thrilled that you’re taking an active role and that you’re working with the other economic development committees throughout Ontario to make this a successful games.
I certainly will be watching, because I’ve seen some horror stories before of the final result of the costs and the legacies that are left. According to the government, everything’s hunky-dory. Well, I’ll be watching, and I hope we do come under budget and the facilities are used after. I believe the term “white elephant” was used.
I have seen that happen in Montreal around the Olympic stadium, in which the roof fell in, as you know. There were all kinds of things that went wrong there. All the venues around the Olympic stadium are not in use, and that was a huge cost to the Canadian taxpayers and Quebec. So I’m hoping that they will be utilized to the fullest. And I hope that you would, after the two-week period—naturally, you are in business and promotion—encourage continued regional tournaments and continue to bring people back to the facilities that the taxpayers of Ontario built so that we can certainly justify their use afterwards and continue to support tourism in Toronto and all across our province, because you can spend a heck of a lot of taxpayers’ money, if they sit there not in use. It’s a pretty scary thing, and it becomes an albatross.
I’m very happy that you’re working hand in hand. All I can say at this point is I hear nothing but good things from the government, and I don’t want to cast a shadow over their—actually, you should hire the parliamentary assistant as one of your promoters. She’s quite good at that. I hope it comes true, what she’s saying, because she seems to have agreed with everything that’s gone on so far and thinks everything’s hunky-dory. Well, I’ll see you next year, and we’ll see where we stand.
But thank you, gentlemen. I appreciate your efforts. We will certainly be watching.
Mr. David Whitaker: If I may, and through the Chair, I would just commend all of you, because I’m not necessarily counting colours. We all have a tremendous opportunity. You all are, obviously—based on your questions, your goal is our goal of having the most impactful, most successful games we can. I appreciate the rigour. I admire the role that you’re playing on both sides in this discussion, if you will. It will assure us that we come together and have one of the most outstanding events that this whole province can be quite proud of, and I look forward to sharing in that success with all of you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you. That takes us to our next round of questioning, which is up to 10 minutes, depending on what’s being said.
Mr. David Whitaker: I should have saved that for the end. I thought I was done.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Ms. Damerla. Oh, sorry; Ms. Hunter.
Ms. Mitzie Hunter: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. I’d like you to comment on the impact of big events on big cities. I believe earlier your example was on New York hosting the Super Bowl, and specifically around preparation and logistics management and how that helps host communities manage games of this size and scale.
Mr. David Whitaker: Like I said, we often refer back to when we hosted the FIFA under-18 World Cup. That was a great example of hundreds, if not hundreds upon hundreds, of volunteers, the city of Toronto coming together with provincial staff, with other municipal governments etc.—everyone collaborating on a unified goal.
Big events bring organizing committees and organizing groups together. Everybody gets under kind of the same tent, if you will. The by-product of just collaboration, you can’t put a price tag on. Sometimes, these are the times where we can take our badges off of what company or association or municipality or government we work for, and all collaborate. So just organizing—the capacity to organize—is really critical.
Earlier questions about our examples of where a community or a destination have failed—you don’t want that, because if you get that kind of reputation, it spreads. Everyone will be talking about us if we don’t pull these games off, quite frankly. What a daunting challenge, but what a wonderful challenge. Because when we pull it off—and, quite frankly, we’ve had a great track record, not Tourism Toronto per se, but this community. Most folks will tell you that the last Grey Cup was one of the best Grey Cups ever—not the game itself, even though Toronto won that game; it was the festival, it was the week-long celebration etc.
When we host, effortlessly, big conventions, like Microsoft or like a major medical meeting or any of the dozens and dozens of big conventions we host, that matters to people, because it shows our capacity—and there are a lot of unsung heroes: city staff, provincial staff who are working on all the logistics. Logistics is just like ballet, symphony, piano: You have to practise to get really good. The more we have the ability to host and organize big events, the better we get at it, everything from the policing of them to the way-finding to the volunteer recruitment to the awareness.
It’s also a great by-product that people become aware of what the economic impact of hosting a big, big event can be, because, of course, it takes major commitments to bring these—and then sponsors get excited, right? Some of the great sponsors that Toronto 2015 has already announced or who they’re soliciting, those corporations want to be affiliated with a successful event. Scotiabank doesn’t get involved with all the things they get involved with—the marathons, the carnival, Nuit Blanche—for that event to be a disaster. When that event goes off well, it makes Scotiabank look good as well, using that as an example.
The ability to organize, the capacity to host big events often distinguishes a big city from a smaller city that might covet that event, but just does not have the administrative or organizational capacity to pull that event off. It gives you a reputation. It gives you a standard of excellence that we all want to strive for.
Ms. Mitzie Hunter: Thank you very much. Talk a little bit about the capacity that is required to coordinate some of the logistics as they relate to easing congestion and, perhaps, even communicating with the people who live here in terms of what they can expect during the games. What’s your thinking as we prepare around those lines?
Mr. David Whitaker: I would take a moment and put up my own personal experiences, or yours perhaps, and that is when you get up on that Saturday to go to the store and the street is closed, and you had no idea that that walkathon, that marathon was happening, and you’re frustrated; we’re all frustrated. So it’s about education, right? It’s about, “Oh, I know the Gardiner is going to be closed next Saturday” or “I know the subway”—I take the subway every day, and the TTC does a pretty good job now of announcing that this weekend, it’s going to be closed for some of the repairs etc. Education, community awareness is critical.
We play a big part in getting the word out, if you will, and so does the city. The city of Toronto, I have to tell you, has an outstanding special events staff. Harold Mah, he’s one of the best in the business. I do want to acknowledge him and the work that they do. They’ve had a lot of experience, whether it’s TIFF, the carnival, Nuit Blanche etc. etc. etc. They’re sometimes our greatest salespeople, because planners are just like anyone else: They want to know, do you have the capacity?
I remember when David Peterson was leading our effort to bid on this, we cited some of the other success we had, like the FIFA under-18, because the event planners themselves want to know they’re coming to a community that—there has been a lot of discussion in Russia about the winter, and again, that’s just typical. Something tells me the Russian government will get its act together in the end, but that’s great anxiety: Is this community going to be able to pull this off? It’s an appropriate question, and we can’t ask that question of ourselves enough—and we just continue to challenge ourselves to make sure that we’re prepared for that and think of every possible scenario and every possible challenge.
Clearly, increasingly, transportation, traffic and congestion are becoming a bigger part of our vernacular here in the GTA. It affects us as individuals. It affects us as government. It affects us as a host destination. I’m encouraged by the train link from Pearson to Union Station. I’m encouraged by the massive improvements of Union Station. Although one could argue whether that has anything to do with the Pan Am Games, clearly, that deadline is being used as a stimulus for infused enthusiasm, if you will.
We’ve still got a long way to go. We’ll bring 10 million people to this community. I wish we brought 12 million people to this community, and that’s one of our goals long-term: Are we going to be able to host another million people and make sure that our restaurant capacity and our venue capacity—it’s a good-news, bad-news scenario. But if you’re not in this game of big events and big promotions, then you’re just another destination—which is great, but my job is to make sure that the greater Toronto area and, quite frankly, all of us in southern Ontario and in Ontario in general, is one of the best-organized, because a great place to visit is a great place to live and work and play. The more we can improve our capacity to be hospitable and organized—it has corollary benefits to all of us, in terms of transportation and coordination etc. Like I said, symphony, ballet, piano lessons—the more we practise the better we get, and the better we are in the future.
Ms. Mitzie Hunter: Okay. I just have one question, and then I’ll turn it over to my colleague. The Pan/Parapan Am Games are the second-largest event of its type in the world, and my understanding is that 300 million viewers will tune in and will be spotlighted and focused on the greater Toronto and Hamilton area during the course of these games, which is a tremendous opportunity to showcase the brand of Toronto and how very special this region is.
What are some of the international opportunities, partnerships, that you foresee could be developed as a result of hosting these games?
Mr. David Whitaker: Well, as I had earlier commented, we’re already engaging with media and journalists—lifestyle journalists, tour and travel journalists and promotions—about why we’re so excited about hosting the games: the fact that we have this diversity that we enjoy in the different neighbourhoods, in the different communities. Whether it’s Salsa on St. Clair or—for every demographic, it seems like we’ve got a festival, and our ability to distinguish ourselves and bring attention to that is a key opportunity.
But it goes well beyond just hosting this event. It’s tying it to the uniqueness of our destination, whether it’s the cuisine, whether it’s art and culture. Like I said, Mr. Harlow talks about some of the vision they have for making sure that all of our partners get excited about exhibits, about events and about programming. It becomes a festival of itself, a Toronto festival, if you will, or an Ontario festival. I wear the Toronto hat mostly, so I apologize.
You know, it’s a celebration of ourselves, and that’s when events really hit the sweet spot. It’s not just a great event for the visitor—but, you know, we’re all visitors. When we go to New York, we all want to do what the locals do. When we go to South Beach—well, not all of us—we want to do what many of the folks in South Beach do.
Tourists and visitors want to come and experience a real destination. They don’t want to experience a manufactured or artificial destination. Our ability to showcase what makes us so unique and makes us so real, using this event as the hook, has a residual effect well beyond and well in advance of the games, if we do our jobs right.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. We’ll move over to Mr. Jackson: 10 minutes maximum.
Mr. Rod Jackson: I’m going to hit the rewind button just a little bit, because I thought of a couple other questions based on our conversation before. Can you tell me what the number is that you receive from the ministry in that contract that you have?
Mr. David Whitaker: If you don’t hold me to the dollar amount.
Mr. Rod Jackson: I won’t; I promise I won’t.
Mr. David Whitaker: It’s roughly $9.9 million annually.
Mr. Rod Jackson: And that’s part of your contract that you have—
Mr. David Whitaker: Currently.
Mr. Rod Jackson: —whether or not the Pan Am Games are—
Mr. David Whitaker: Correct, correct.
Mr. Rod Jackson: So outside of that.
Mr. David Whitaker: Just in context here, that’s out of a total budget of about $26 million.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Okay. So your total budget is $26 million.
Can you explain to me what kind of relationship you have with the organizing committee and/or the secretariat? Explain to me your relationship, if any, with them.
Mr. David Whitaker: I’ll start with what it isn’t. We don’t have a seat per se on the board or anything like that. Andrew—again, I’ll have him add some additional comments—is our assigned staff person, if you will, to work in co-operation with the staff from TO2015. I’ve challenged him with everything from making sure that we’re good listeners, “How can we help?”—as well as being a resource.
That said, we’re not taking the lead per se from TO2015. We’re doing what you would expect us to do as a destination marketing organization: We’re targeting to get that buzz, that story, that excitement about everything I’ve been talking about, the diversity of the destination, the potential we have, and using this as a real hook to sell and feature and distinguish southern Ontario and, in general, RTO 5, in our role.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Again, I don’t expect you to have an exact number on this, but what would your estimate be—what percentage of that $9.9 million would you be using to help market the Pan Am Games through this—
Mr. David Whitaker: I think it’s going to vary from—again, two years in advance of the games is probably not as much as it’s going to be in the year of the games.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Understood.
Mr. David Whitaker: In fact, we haven’t even put our 2015—we just finished putting our 2014 budget together for next year.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Right.
Mr. David Whitaker: We operate on a calendar budget. Invariably, we’ve assigned so that our PR—we have in-market representation in South America, and we’re constantly pitching journalists. Our goal is to have 650 journalists come and cover the city. That’s a performance goal we have.
Sometimes we’re pitching them on the WorldPride event next summer, and sometimes we’re pitching them on the new hotel, the new luxury hotel. Sometimes we’re pitching them on the hot new chef or the cool new event. We often now are using the Pan Am Games as “Oh, wow, yes”—you’re hosting an event that is so targeted to Central and South America. We’re using that as a hook to have another discussion with people about why we’re so excited about hosting these games.
I can’t necessarily give a dollar amount. We have the contracts; we have the people. It’s the story that we’re using to tell a different story than we told—you know, next summer it’s all about the WorldPride event that we’re involved in and hosting. I’m trying to think of some other major marquee events over the years. Whatever it takes to get someone’s attention to talk about Toronto, we often use that as a hook. It’s not that we are hiring dedicated staff or spending specific contractual dollars to talk about it. It’s a conversation with journalists, with meeting planners, with tour operators, with consumers through social media, getting buzz about the destination. It’s hard to put a dollar amount on how much I spend on getting people to talk about our great restaurant scene, and how much we spend on getting people to talk about our great arts and culture scene.
We have the tools in place. It’s just the variety of stories that we’re trying to use to cut through the clutter, to get people’s attention on the GTA.
I’m not sure I’m answering your question. I apologize.
Mr. Rod Jackson: I didn’t expect you, to be honest, to have an exact percentage. I thought that on the off chance you might, I might be able to get that out of you.
I agree with you: I think you’re doing a good job at promoting the city and promoting the games. It’s something that should be positive not just for Toronto but certainly for Ontario, and Canada, frankly, and that’s what everyone wants it to be.
However, as my colleague from the NDP alluded to, there are problems that come up inevitably. One of the things we suspect, from past experiences with other games, is that there are transportation issues. We know that Toronto, without the Pan Am Games, has some transportation issues. What do you perceive as being the transportation issue during that time? That has to be a big piece of tourism. That’s something people are concerned about. I am, whenever I travel. One of the first things I look at is how I’m going to get there, and how I’m going to get around once I’m there.
Mr. David Whitaker: Two things, and one thing is I totally agree: It has got to be a number one priority, a top priority. I apologize. In not getting a lot of time to prepare for this—I was invited on Friday—or not knowing the questions, I haven’t spent a lot of time on that specific issue. I’d be more than happy—I don’t know how the process works, but I’m sure you’re going to ask that question of a lot of people.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Hopefully.
Mr. David Whitaker: We’re not in charge of transportation, but we don’t want it to fail.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Do you have regular contact with the Ministry of Transportation, or any of the people from the organization, about transportation?
Mr. David Whitaker: I’m not sure that that’s our role. I know that when we bring big events to the city, like Microsoft with 17,000 people—I keep using that because it just recently happened, last summer. We work in that primary context with the city of Toronto special events department, with this colleague Harold Mah that I refer to. He then disseminates that information to his intergovernmental relationships. But that’s just not in my bailiwick of coordination, if you will, in terms of the administrative control over transportation.
The key to any transportation challenge is awareness of events, like I said, whether it’s a street closing for a party or a marathon or a walk. We often have corporations that will close Bremner and use the Roundhouse or have an event that causes people to congregate. Again, there is permitting that has to take place and there’s coordination.
I think our law enforcement, including the province, are some of the best at what they do. We’re constantly hosting these types of festivals and events, whether it’s closing the Danforth or—you know, the different street festivals and events. We do really, really well at that. I’m not aware of failure in that area.
But I totally agree with you and applaud you. This has to be a number-one concern, and I don’t think anyone in this room would disagree with you—the logistic coordination of transportation. We can’t have athletes missing their start times, of course, we can’t have fans missing the events that they’re passionate about, and we can’t have sponsors feeling that we’re running a discombobulated, uncoordinated event. It won’t help us in our future reputation.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Are you in a position to field complaints from tourists from time to time?
Mr. David Whitaker: Yes, occasionally. Most tourists don’t know what the Toronto Convention and Visitors Association is. What we more routinely get is that a tourist would write a very unhappy letter to a hotelier. To the credit of those hoteliers, they often send us the letter, because they know that if they don’t respond, they’re probably going to keep going up the ladder, if you will. We’ve got a great relationship with the Greater Toronto Hotel Association because we want to have a reputation of being sensitive and responsive.
I would be honest with you: We don’t get flooded with criticisms. We get the occasional letter here and there.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Okay. I can understand that.
Mr. David Whitaker: TripAdvisor, by the way—
Mr. Rod Jackson: Pardon me?
Mr. David Whitaker: TripAdvisor is the greatest. In fact, I have a dedicated staff person. Among the many things they do is constantly monitor TripAdvisor, because that’s where people are telling their complaints and telling their stories.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Are you involved at all in measuring what sorts of jobs events like this might create for Toronto? It’s in the context of all the different special events that happen.
Mr. David Whitaker: Well, first and foremost, we want to keep the current 230-something thousand—I don’t know the number—
Mr. Andrew Weir: About 315,000.
Mr. David Whitaker: —about 315,000 men and women who are currently working busy. Hotels empty out every night and every week, and you have to just keep replacing that. Like I said earlier, if it weren’t the Pan Am Games, we’d be bidding on another major meeting for that time frame.
A thriving, growing hospitality industry keeps close to 300,000 people gainfully employed on a daily basis, and you have to keep refilling the hotels. It’s not just one event. It’s not just the Pan/Parapan Am Games. It’ll be the whole year’s worth of events and the whole decade’s worth of events. It never stops. At these hotels, people check out. We’ve just got to keep replacing them.
Success breeds success. Our ability to fill the city with events, programming and visitors—you’ve seen, for example, the amazing construction boom in the last four or five years. We led North America in growth in hotel inventory in three of the last four years. That speaks volumes of this great province. Hoteliers, big companies around North America, are investing. The Four Seasons, Shangri-La, Ritz-Carlton, Thompson, Trump, Le Germain and on and on: They’re investing in our province because they see the success we’re having. A new hotel opening means more jobs for staff, bellmen, staff in the restaurant, administrative staff etc.
If you look at the fact that we led North America in growth in hotel inventory because of new investments—I mean, you’ve got to appreciate it; look at all the construction that’s going on in our community, including hospitality. That’s going to add jobs, add vitality, add buzz, add brand reputation. It’s a thriving industry that builds on itself.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Okay. Thank you very much. We’ll move on to the third party with Mr. Miller.
Mr. Paul Miller: Thank you, Mr. Whitaker. I’m thrilled with your promotion of Toronto.
The parliamentary assistant and the members, I’ve got to remind you: There’s more than just Toronto here. I’ve been hearing all about Toronto. Let’s not forget Durham, York, Peel, Halton, Hamilton and Niagara. Those are very important parts of the province as well. Ontario doesn’t end in Burlington.
I must say I’m a little disappointed that I haven’t heard anything going to southwestern Ontario. That would have been good, too. You’re doing a great job with Toronto, but we certainly want to promote the other venues, because one of the major venues is the Hamilton stadium, where the soccer—which is one of the main events—is going to take place. I’m hoping you’ll work hand in hand with the other—what did you call them? What are they called, regions?
Mr. David Whitaker: RTOs.
Mr. Paul Miller: RTOs or RTs. If you can work with them and promote all the venues from all the areas, not just Toronto—
Mr. David Whitaker: I respect your comment, sir.
Mr. Paul Miller: —because believe me, there are a lot of people out there who want to feel part of the Pan/Parapan Am Games, and they don’t want it to be centralized strictly for Toronto. We’d like it to be felt that we’re part of the show, too—just a little point to get in.
In reference to your comments about the 60/40 split, you said it was $9 million or something that you got from the ministry to promote?
Mr. David Whitaker: Yes, $9.9 million.
Mr. Paul Miller: Okay. Whatever. Close enough, $9 million to promote. Do you give breakdowns on how that’s spent, whether it’s billboards, TV commercials in other countries, advertising? What do you use that $9 million for?
Mr. David Whitaker: It’s public information. There’s very thorough reporting. In fact, it’s tonnes of paper work—appropriately so, I guess—about our programming, our metrics. We have performance metrics. We have our own goals as a non-profit.
Again, my bosses are 21 men and women who are my board of directors, and they hold us to the same high standard as you would expect. I hope you can appreciate that. They’re industry leaders. If you look at our website, we’ve got one of the most talented boards I’ve ever had the privilege of serving for.
We have performance metrics as an organization. We have the same performance metrics that we report. In fact, we’re working with the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport on a whole new series of benchmarking performances that go well beyond just hotel rooms and traditional marketing programs. They’re talking about economic development—
Mr. Paul Miller: My question was: I would have access, as a citizen, to the breakdown of the $9-point-whatever million—
Mr. David Whitaker: That’s correct.
Mr. Paul Miller: —and where it’s going, who’s spending it and what it’s for? Because we did have a bit of a nightmare with the lattes, the parking tickets and the things that happened in another part of the Pan Am process. We certainly don’t want that to happen with the $9-something million.
Mr. David Whitaker: I respect that.
Mr. Paul Miller: You guys are really promoting Toronto, so we want a nice, clean slate there. Do you think there would be any problem in that area? Every dollar will be accounted for?
Mr. David Whitaker: We have a very thorough, rigorous set of policies and procedures—
Mr. Paul Miller: So that would be a yes?
Mr. David Whitaker: I’m very confident in our oversight. I’m very confident in our ability to conduct ourselves.
Mr. Paul Miller: That’s good. As you’re working with all chains, all motels and hotels, all people who are in the hospitality industry in the city, would that include restaurants? Have you got members who are restaurants? Do you have a membership that everyone pays into yearly to be a part of your marketing group?
Mr. David Whitaker: Two primary categories: The hotel relationship is a direct contractual relationship with the Greater Toronto Hotel Association—
Mr. Paul Miller: And they all pay for that?
Mr. David Whitaker: I mentioned that 70ish number.
Mr. Paul Miller: Okay.
Mr. David Whitaker: We have about another thousand—and very much like a board of trade, we have a membership category. It’s dominated by tourism interests, so an attraction—of course, all the major attractions, I’m confident to say—
Mr. Paul Miller: Would that include the big players, like Wonderland and all that? Would that include them?
Mr. David Whitaker: Canada’s Wonderland is a member of Tourism Toronto, yes.
Mr. Paul Miller: Okay.
Mr. David Whitaker: Now, Niagara Falls would not be, because—again, not to challenge you, but that’s a different region, so—
Mr. Paul Miller: They have their own region, yes. That’s fair.
Mr. David Whitaker: Okay. I just wanted to make sure you’re comfortable with that.
Not every restaurant would be a member of Tourism Toronto. It would be a restaurant that’s in the—
Mr. Paul Miller: A chain, maybe?
Mr. David Whitaker: Well, it would be in the heart of it all, right? They see their own visitor activity. Oftentimes they’ll call us, saying, “Hey, we see all these visitors. How can we get more?”
Mr. Paul Miller: If you have visitors to the city and you have a problem somewhere with one of your hotels or a restaurant or something, what kind of complaint mechanism, other than your website—do you have someone who deals directly with complaints? What mechanism do you use to satisfy the person who’s complaining, as well as maybe defend the member who may have been taken down the wrong road unnecessarily?
Mr. David Whitaker: Two things. I want to make sure I’m thorough with your question. I will tell you, I’m very encouraged that in a given year—and I’ve been at the helm for six years—we’re talking a handful of letters each year that I receive, or that have come my way. I’m encouraged that it’s not an endemic problem.
I want to share with you that I have a practice and a requirement that any complaint by a visitor who has written to Tourism Toronto comes to my desk. Now, what we do, of course, depends on the story and what has happened. We inform the member and we ask the member what they’ve done about it.
If it’s with the hotel community, the hotel association is a big partner in that, because no hotelier wants to have complaints go on—
Mr. Paul Miller: So you have ways and means to make it up to the visitor if you felt they’ve been wronged.
Do you take any of your members to task for—maybe they did wrong the individual who’s staying in Toronto. Have you ever had to expel anyone from your organization?
Mr. David Whitaker: The good news is, to my knowledge—and I’m pretty confident—in my time, we have not expelled anyone. I’m not aware of any atrocious lack of service. We do intercept surveys, working with Pearson, some of the rest stops and with OTMPC, and our customer service ranking is quite high. I’m really quite proud of that.
To your point, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t the invariable visitor who has a less-than-expected experience.
Mr. Paul Miller: Sure.
Mr. David Whitaker: You know, the world is changing now.
May I call you Paul?
Mr. Paul Miller: You may.
Mr. David Whitaker: Paul, the world is changing. Where, in the old days, you and I would write to the GM, and maybe he’d write us back—probably not—now you go online and you tell your thousand friends, “What a horrible experience”—
Mr. Paul Miller: Word of mouth can kill you.
Mr. David Whitaker: —and those thousand friends tell their thousand friends.
Mr. Paul Miller: The social media can hurt.
Mr. David Whitaker: Social media is the greatest watchdog for customer service that I’ve ever—and it’s great.
Mr. Paul Miller: And a few cameras, placed strategically, help.
Mr. David Whitaker: But it really has changed the dynamic of responding to and being aware of, in any institution: a restaurant, a theatre—any institution.
Mr. Paul Miller: I like your presentation. It has been very good. For a person who didn’t get the questions, you’ve done very well—and, of course, your able-bodied backup man there.
Mr. David Whitaker: He answers all the hard questions.
Mr. Paul Miller: And he answers the tough ones. But I’m hoping, as you progress towards 2015, that your organization will certainly—how would I put it?—in your media frenzy, you can certainly happily expose some of these other areas, because we’re very proud, in Hamilton, of what we’ve been able to accomplish. It is the city of waterfalls, and we’re hoping that you will include that to entertain your guests in Toronto, to show them some of the other parts of Ontario that are showpieces as well.
Mr. David Whitaker: I encourage you to look at the RTO, the organization that has been created.
Mr. Paul Miller: I got it, yes.
Mr. David Whitaker: I will tell you that our peer group of those 13 men and women, who are my peers, we meet—we have a monthly conference call. We meet every—
Mr. Paul Miller: Is Adams the—
Mr. David Whitaker: He used to be. Now he’s at parks.
Mr. Paul Miller: Who have we got now in your RTO from that area?
Mr. David Whitaker: At the moment—I’m going to have to go back and look.
Mr. Paul Miller: Okay. We want that guy to play a more important role, so you remember his name.
Mr. David Whitaker: I actually think it’s a woman, by the way.
Mr. Paul Miller: Or a woman, yes. Sorry. Okay. Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Well, thank you very much, Mr. Miller. I guess that concludes it.
Mr. Whitaker and Mr. Weir, we thank you very much for your presentation and for being here and answering some very detailed questions. You did a wonderful job. Thank you very much.
Mr. David Whitaker: We want to be a resource for all of government in the future, moving forward, in anything we can do where we think we can lean in and assist. We want this to be something that, at the end of the day, we’re all very, very proud of.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much for the offer. Thank you very much.
PAN/PARAPAN AMERICAN GAMES SECRETARIAT
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): It now gives me great pleasure to welcome Steve Harlow, assistant deputy minister of partner engagement and of the legacy division. Mr. Harlow, you will have five minutes, followed by 20 minutes of questioning from each party, and then we’ll see how much time is left. It could be up to 10 minutes, but it’s probably going to be a little bit less.
Again, it’s my pleasure to welcome you, and the floor is yours, sir.
Mr. Steve Harlow: I won’t be as good a salesman as my colleague Mr. Whitaker, who’s in this for a business. I’ve worked with him a lot over the past five years, and he really does a wonderful job.
I will provide some opening remarks. I have provided a copy of my remarks for the committee, so if you’ll allow me, I’ll read through the remarks and then turn it over to the committee.
My name is Steve Harlow. I have a dual role within the public service. I am the assistant deputy minister of the sport, recreation and community programs division of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. I am also the assistant deputy minister of the partner engagement and legacy division of Ontario’s Pan/Parapan American Games Secretariat. This is one of three divisions in the secretariat. I’ve held this role since February 2012.
My division at the secretariat is focused on maximizing the impact of the province’s investment on the games. One of my responsibilities in this role is to plan, design and coordinate the delivery of Ontario’s promotion, celebration and legacy strategy. This strategy was launched by the province in August 2013, with the government allocating $42 million over the next three years.
The strategy is designed to celebrate and showcase Ontario talent and to create a legacy across the province that extends beyond the games’ time. It aims to expand the impact, and opportunities for participation in the games, beyond athletes and spectators, for Ontarians and visitors alike.
The strategy includes plans to enhance support for live music, celebrations and festivals. As well, plans are intended to help keep kids active and healthy, encourage people to use Ontario trails, promote volunteerism during the games, support athlete and sport development from community/recreational to high-performance levels, promote business development opportunities in the Pan-Americas for Ontario companies and showcase Ontario to the world.
As part of our work, we are building our para-sport expertise and capacity to ensure legacy in this area. For both the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games, a variety of initiatives are planned to recognize accessibility and support para-athletes and people with disabilities before, during and after the games. One such initiative is the completion of 250 kilometres of gaps in Ontario’s Trans Canada Trail. All trail development consultations will address accessibility requirements under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
I mentioned that my responsibility also includes coordinating delivery of the strategy. With this, it means that the secretariat works across Ontario government ministries to develop programs that can build from the 2015 games. Programs that have been enacted since August include the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport’s Pan/Parapan Am trails initiative; the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment has announced plans for a Pan Am business forum, in partnership with the city of Toronto; just last week, the Ministries of Education and of Tourism, Culture and Sport, in partnership with Toronto 2015, introduced Pan Am/Parapan Am Kids for the province’s schools, camps and after-school programs. Some of you may have seen that featured in the Toronto Star today. In the new year and leading up to the games, programs will continue to be announced across various ministries and partnerships that support the strategy.
Another facet of my responsibilities includes working in partnership with the federal government and other partners to the games’ multi-partner agreement to design and operate the games’ $70-million sport legacy fund, which was announced on November 12. The fund is meant to ensure years of support for three new games’ venues, specifically: the aquatics centre, the velodrome and the athletics stadium, and is included in Toronto 2015’s operating budget.
Another of my responsibilities is to advise and consult with Toronto 2015 on its activities related to community engagement, festivals, ceremonies, volunteers and events to ensure programs reflect Ontario’s vision and expectations.
My division also is responsible for ensuring Ontario commitments and obligations pertaining to international protocol with the Pan American Sports Organization are met. Of note, this included the recent Pan American Sports Organization annual general meeting, which was held in October and which hosted 350 delegates, international media and the groups bidding for the 2019 games.
It also falls within my area of responsibility to ensure the province is recognized appropriately and consistently by Toronto 2015 as a games funding partner. As well, I am responsible for working with the organizing committee to increase general awareness, understanding of the games and the impact of the event.
With this I’ve offered a snapshot as to my accountabilities and responsibilities; I’m happy to elaborate. Thank you kindly for your attention.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. You went two seconds over. Wonderful job.
It’s my pleasure to pass it over to Mr. Jackson from the opposition to begin questioning. Mr. Jackson?
Mr. Rod Jackson: Thank you. Thank you very much, Mr. Harlow, for agreeing to come in and speak with us today. I do have some questions for you regarding some of the legacy projects. I think I have my head wrapped around it, but there is certainly some confusion about the different legacy projects that are out there. It seems to be that they come in a couple of different flavours.
For simplicity’s sake, I’m going to refer to your notes. We have the fund that’s meant to ensure the support of three new games’ venues—the aquatics centre, the velodrome and the athletics centre. What is the total of that fund, again—$70 million?
Mr. Steve Harlow: That fund is $70 million. It was originally set out in the multi-party agreement. The fund includes $65 million provided by the federal government as part of their $500-million contribution to the organizing committee for the games, and it includes $5 million as part of Ontario’s $500-million contribution to the games.
It’s the responsibility of the organizing committee to work with the partners to develop the terms, the conditions and the flow of funds that will be provided from that fund, one of which would go to the athletic stadium, one of which is the aquatics centre and one of which is the velodrome. Those were the three that were identified and agreed upon by all partners to the multi-party agreement in the original multi-party agreement, and it’s to maintain the operations and use of the facilities over time, for use by high-performance athletes. That’s the intention and the objects of the legacy fund.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Can you explain why other venues were not chosen? In other words, what was the selection process? For example, maybe the Flatwater venues in Welland and in St. Catharines for rowing, why weren’t they included? I guess what I’m getting at is that there are other legacy projects. Those other projects that are attached to the Pan Am Games, they’re going to have a life afterwards for those communities, some of them at huge cost.
The athletes’ village is one big one that is going to have a big life and a big raison d’être after the games at a huge cost—$709 million. I don’t think anyone is saying we’re not getting the value from it, but I think we want to really understand what the connection is there. But also the Hamilton stadium that is under construction, the Goldring Centre for High Performance wasn’t included. How did you end up with the winners and the losers in that legacy project?
Mr. Steve Harlow: I would refer back to the original multi-party agreement where the Canadian Olympic Committee, the Canadian Paralympic Committee, the city of Toronto, Ontario and Sport Canada, the federal government, all identified what were the facilities from a legacy perspective for high-performance sport that would be the beneficiaries of the fund. That was locked down, effectively, at the signing of all the parties, in 2009 when the multi-party agreement was reached.
All of the other municipalities signed a joinder, saying they recognized that those were the facilities that would be getting the funds from the legacy fund. I can’t speak to the details of how that agreement finally came into place by all the partners. The goal was, particularly from the Canadian Olympic Committee, if you look back to their original terms and conditions and interests from an athlete perspective, we don’t have an aquatics centre in Ontario that can train athletes. We don’t have a dive tank within the GTA. At the time of the bidding, there was one 50-metre pool, and apparently it was an inch too short for international competition. We don’t have a velodrome anywhere in Canada that meets spec, and not a velodrome in the northeastern United States. We certainly don’t have an athletic stadium that could meet spec.
I would note, as Mr. Miller would know, at the time of the bid, the documentation says that the velodrome and athletic stadium will be co-located in the city of Hamilton. That’s not what happened. So now you have a velodrome in Milton and a stadium in Hamilton, but the obligations of the MPA to fund those three facilities carried through to where those facilities ended up.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Okay. So the legacy fund is going to last 20-odd years? Is that right?
Mr. Steve Harlow: Recently the Toronto Community Foundation was awarded the job of managing the $70-million fund. It was done through a request for proposals that TO2015, the organizing committee, ran. The Toronto Community Foundation came in and they won the competition to be the fund manager. The board and then the province and Canada, which had approvals on the legacy fund plan, recently received that and gave the approvals.
The minimum projection is 20 years, with the potential for it to last as long as 30 to 40 years. Part of the interesting development on the legacy fund is that it has been designated as a potential charitable organization. So the Toronto Community Foundation, which has had a good record of raising funds, part of what they’re committed to do is to find ways to grow the fund over time to make the facilities and the funding last longer than the normal amortization period of 20 years.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Okay. So help me understand here, where do the rules separate between the Toronto Community Foundation and the Legacy Fund Allocations Committee?
Mr. Steve Harlow: The Toronto Community Foundation has been awarded and has won and will be the fund manager responsible. Each of the venues that are recipients of the fund will enter into a financial arrangement and a funding arrangement with the Toronto Community Foundation. The Toronto Community Foundation, by virtue of its award, has been given a matrix around which it has to allocate the funds for each of them. I can probably find it, but I think it’s about four-plus per year to the Scarborough College campus—I can’t remember the numbers, but I can get them for you, what each facility would get.
The Legacy Fund Allocations Committee, which will represent the federal government, Ontario, the Canadian Olympic Committee, the Canadian Paralympic Committee and the city, will ensure that questions about “Is high-performance sport actually using the facility?” will be advice, direction and steering given to the Toronto Community Foundation.
Again, I would say that the purpose of the fund is to offset the cost for high-performance sports and athletes and teams to use the facilities. Each year, each facility will send in their business plan about how they’re going to use it. If nobody shows up at the velodrome to use it for sport, and they only use it for community recreation, they would not be eligible for the same amount of allocation that was set out, because the purpose is to offset the cost of sport. The allocation committee’s job would be to advise the Toronto Community Foundation.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Okay. So the Legacy Fund Allocations Committee is going to be around for a while, I assume?
Mr. Steve Harlow: Yes.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Are they part of that $70-million number too? I’m assuming those people are paid to do that job—or are they volunteers?
Mr. Steve Harlow: They would be not paid. They would be appointed by the respective appointees: the federal government, Ontario, the Canadian Olympic Committee, the Canadian Paralympic Committee and the city. The persons who are appointed are not compensated. They’re to do on behalf of their appointee.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Thank you for that. That $70 million, $5 million of that is from the province?
Mr. Steve Harlow: Five million dollars of the total $70 million is part of the transfer payment with the organizing committee—of the $500 million.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Okay.
Mr. Steve Harlow: So it’s not net new; it’s part of the $500 million.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Okay. So it’s in that—okay. Good, thank you.
Mr. Steve Harlow: As is the federal government’s $65 million; it’s part of their $500-million contribution that they have given for the organizing committee.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Okay, good. Thank you very much for that.
I want to go back a little bit to the PCL, the promotion, celebration and legacy strategy, $42 million. It’s an interesting bit of an anomaly for me. There’s not a lot of detail surrounding it that I’ve been able to get out. We know it kind of includes the Pan Am trails, but that’s really all I can dig up. Can you provide me with a little more detail—where this money is coming from and where it’s going—and if possible, provide the committee with details of that $42-million budget for the PCL?
Mr. Steve Harlow: The government announced, as you know, in August, a $42-million promotion, celebration and legacy plan. In my remarks, I identified some of the comments that the government made at the time. To date, the government has announced and formally entered into agreements for trails to complete the 250 kilometres of the Pan Am trail. That represents about $3.3 million. It will also leverage funds from the Trans Canada Trail corporately.
They just recently announced the Pan Am/Parapan Am Kids program. That is part of the legacy fund and the $42 million that you’re asking about. Of that, the province invested about $3.3 million, the same number, but that’s what it is, associated with that fund. That is combined with money that education will have gotten, as well as the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport.
The MEDTE announced a contribution towards a business forum, Toronto Global Cities Summit. This matches the contribution that the city of Toronto announced in the summer around their Host City Showcase Program. I believe that’s around $150,000 that the MEDTE will be providing, and the idea is that that will be a legacy initiative and part of the $42 million.
There’s a number to come that are being finalized. There is a volunteer legacy component out there right now that the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration is leading. There is an expression of interest out on MERX for a certification system and a recognition system that, pending the results of that EOI and RFP, will have final costing numbers.
A number of the other pieces have not yet fully landed. Included in that, the city of Toronto has identified that Nathan Phillips Square will be a host site in their Host City Showcase Program in June. They announced that they will be providing funds, and they announced that they will also be seeking support from the provincial and federal governments. So that’s an example of where we might decide to provide support.
In Vancouver, when Ontario did a torch relay, Ontario provided support for the part of the torch relay that came through Ontario. If we were to do something similar here, it would come from that $42-million allocation. There are a number of moving parts that still have not been finalized with the $42 million. My expectation is that those should be finalized and completed over the course of the next three months, but the how and when of those decisions are purely within the governments to make. My job is to ensure that we’ve got the partners lined up and that we’ve got the program ready to be delivered as successfully as possible.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Would you be able to provide the committee with the overall strategy of the PCL as well as the best breakdown of the budget money spent and the money planned to be spent?
Mr. Steve Harlow: The planned strategy?
Mr. Rod Jackson: Yes.
Mr. Steve Harlow: I don’t have it. I could probably walk through it at a high level, but I could endeavour to provide it to the committee in written form. Is that what you’re asking?
Mr. Rod Jackson: Yes, that’s what I’m asking. I’m also looking for as much of a breakdown as possible on that $42 million.
Mr. Steve Harlow: At this point, I would just note that any breakdown would purely be notional until details are finalized with specifics: responses to RFPs and final determinations. When the city of Toronto introduced their Host City Showcase Program—if they’re thinking of doing things that we were thinking of, how do we complement their work?—or if the city of Hamilton is going to do something, or if the city of Markham is going to do something, or if the community of Minden is going to do something. Part of what we want to do is make sure that we’re finding all the partners who are there to maximize and optimize the dollars that we have available and that have been provided.
To your one question, sir, I would say that the way the program funds have worked is that the funds are given to the Pan/Parapan American Games Secretariat, and then we enter into funding agreements with the line ministries to execute against the program. In the case of the Pan/Parapan Am kids’ program, education will ultimately receive the money to flow it. So there’s one promotion, celebration and legacy submission. Each ministry will have an allocation.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Where does the original money come from? What pot?
Mr. Steve Harlow: The original money was a net new investment that the government decided to make, as was announced earlier in the year. I believe that in the most recent financial estimates that the Ministry of Finance released, you saw an in-year increase for the Pan/Parapan Am Games, and that is specifically referencing the dollars that were made for this year’s allocation for the promotion, celebration and legacy.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Okay, so it goes right through your ministry. You’re responsible for that.
Mr. Steve Harlow: We’re responsible for getting the funds to the delivery ministry and then reporting on the results. We are looking to have a common metrics for results that we can report out in a regular way. How many kids have participated in the program? How many trails have been completed? Are we on track? What’s the result of the volunteer effort that we’re trying to advance? How successful have we been with the north-south business forum? The thinking is that the secretariat would be looking to be a central coordinating point for getting all of those inputs back to us and being able to demonstrate and measure progress, reporting out on those metrics.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Okay. How much time?
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): You have four minutes and 45 seconds.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Okay. For the legacy projects, how do you decide where that money is going to go? You’re probably right in the midst of that. How do you allocate that money? How do you decide what ministries are going to get it and what organizations will get it, or however you break it down? And what kind of community engagement process are you going through to get to the point where you decide that giving it to the Ministry of Education for the school program is the right way to go? Fill me in on that process.
Mr. Steve Harlow: We actually started the process in the secretariat in almost the first part of when I started my portfolio in 2012. There was a recognition that we were going to need to have a legacy initiative. We saw what the 2010 Vancouver Olympics did, as well as their promotion and celebration side. Under the direction of the deputy at the time, we undertook a fairly lengthy community outreach. We talked to groups like Participaction. We talked to groups like Parks and Recreation Ontario. We talked to groups like the Hispanic council community of Ontario—I can’t remember the exact name; don’t quote me on that one, please. We talked to Sport Alliance Ontario. We talked to CivicAction. We talked to about 20 different organizations and said, “Here’s what typical games legacy and promotion celebration activities are. Please let us know what your interests are, what you’re thinking and what you would be interested in from a legacy perspective.”
We then did some interjurisdictional analysis to see how other games’ organizing committees have done it. What has BC done? They set up a separate corporation called Legacies Now and gave it $32 million to go off and achieve some legacies independently. We then went out to ministries and said, “What are the kinds of things that you think could be attached to the Pan/Parapan Am Games that fit within objectives of the games?” So accessibility being one of them, “What can we do in accessibility from a games perspective?”
We took all of that outreach that we’ve done outside government and inside government and provided a number of options to government. Some of those will be much more expensive, some of them more—and out of that have come a broad number of pieces where the government said, “We’re really interested in having these things be the legacy or the promotion and celebration objectives.” As we finalized each one in being able to nail it down, get our numbers solid and get the partnerships in place, we’ve started to roll those out.
It has been an iterative process. It has evolved as we’ve gone forward. As new ministers have taken on the file, there’s always been—we want to ensure that their patina is on the objectives, so it will continue to be a growing process. But there has been external outreach and internal, and we’ve got very solid proposals that are getting tighter and tighter all the time.
We’ve also worked with our organizing committee, understanding what their pieces are that we could lever, and I would say volunteers is number one. They’re going to recruit 20,000 volunteers. How do we ensure the biggest callout for volunteers ever in Ontario so that from a public policy perspective, we are able to find a mechanism to capture that volunteer long after so that they can achieve things at local communities? Can we create something? We’ve seen that done very successfully in other jurisdictions.
That’s the best I can do to try to answer your question at this point. Each time we run down each one, if it’s implementable, if it can be done within the budget envelope—we have to check back in, and if the government says, “Yes, we’re ready to go with that one,” that’s what we proceed with, sir.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Is that it?
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Fifty-three seconds.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Are you responsible for oversight of that money after it’s been allocated?
Mr. Steve Harlow: I’m responsible for reporting back any anomalies or missing of performance targets or objectives. So if the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport has only built 100 kilometres of trail and they have 250 kilometres of trail to build, my job is to report that back, and they are held accountable for the delivery.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Okay. Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much, Mr. Jackson. We shall move to Mr. Miller from the NDP.
Mr. Paul Miller: Hi, Mr. Harlow. Thanks for coming in. I guess I’d like to start off with, could you define “partner engagement” and “legacy”? Are they two separate entities, or are partners always engagement and legacy?
Mr. Steve Harlow: Titles are not always the best things, but the way in which my division is split up is, I have a branch of four under one director responsible for—actually it’s called “partner engagement and promotion.” Her job, with her team of staff, is to find opportunities for different groups and organizations: How are they participating in the games? Are they engaged? We sit, as an observer, on 2015’s community advisory councils, on the aboriginal leadership partnership councils, on the diversity council. Part of our role under the MPA is that the organizing committee has a number of things they have to achieve—a diversity plan, a youth engagement plan. So my partner engagement side is finding if they’re achieving the targets and the things in a way in which we’re supportive of.
Also on partner engagement, to be clear, sir, it includes the province’s promotion agenda. So when you see the Ontario: Proud supporter of the People’s Games banner popped up, that’s an example of our area. It’s also responsible for 2015. Whenever they hold an event, they have to recognize us, as well as the federal government. Before this job, I never realized how important signs were and the locations of everybody’s recognition.
The legacy side is purely looking at what the legacy initiatives are, some of which we’ve talked about. It’s looking at the economic impact analysis of the games, and it is trying to understand what the other legacy pieces out there are that we’re not directly delivering but others are starting to do. We know that 2015 sponsors have started to affiliate themselves as wanting to have a legacy, so what are their plans? We know the city of Toronto has identified a number of possible legacy initiatives, so how do they fit with things that we might be interested in etc.?
Mr. Paul Miller: Would you explain to me who your target industries and businesses and persons are for the partner engagement and legacy option?
Mr. Steve Harlow: I would say on the partner engagement side of things that the key partners are the accessibility community, the aboriginal community, the GBLTQ community and I’ll call it the ethnocultural community. Those would be the ones that we probably have the greatest engagement with at a discussion level as well as—I should not ever forget; I apologize—the sport community. As I said in my opening remarks, I wear two hats. I’m also the ADM of sport, recreation and community programs, so I have a very active sport portfolio.
Mr. Paul Miller: What do you offer these prospective partners to entice their participation?
Mr. Steve Harlow: I think a couple of things. So one of the roles that we play with the organizing committee is—the organizing committee is much more mature than they were, but they’re not as deep an organization, with reach across all of government, to understand all the different not-for-profits: Who has capacity? What’s going on out there? So part of our job in the partner engagement is to help 2015 reach some of the groups that they want from participation at a festival, or they have a community tour. But they’ve come to us and said, “What are all the different festivals and events across Ontario? Can you help us expedite it so we don’t have to recreate the kind of expertise that you have?” So part of it is working with the organizing committee to minimize their efforts to try to reach the same groups.
Some of our ministry partners also have a good understanding of which community groups or not-for-profits have a better track record and are more successful, so making those connections for the organizing committee is part of what we’ve done.
Mr. Paul Miller: Did they pay for their opportunity to be part of your partner engagement and legacy?
Mr. Steve Harlow: No.
Mr. Paul Miller: Okay. If a company’s partnership has a naming right, for how long will that naming right continue after the games are finished? For example, we have Tim Hortons Field—yes, I believe it’s called Tim Hortons Field; Ivor Wynne is gone now—and I believe they paid $1 million a year to have naming rights on the stadium. What’s your involvement with those types of deals? I believe they cut the deal with the city of Hamilton, but do you oversee that? Are you involved in that in any way, shape or form?
Mr. Steve Harlow: I would say there are two kinds of naming rights. In any capital build that’s associated with the games, the funding partners, under the multi-party agreement, have to get permission from the organizing committee to name the facility, the permanent facility. The funding partner—if they’ve put capital into the project, as well as the municipality—has an approval right over those naming processes.
In the case of Hamilton, the government of Ontario put an investment in that stadium. It is the only facility that we have an approval right for, from a capital perspective, on the permanent naming rights.
Mr. Paul Miller: They have a 10-year agreement.
Mr. Steve Harlow: So Hamilton went to the organizing committee and said, “We would like to sell the naming right and call it Tim Hortons Field.” I’m not sure of the French translation.
Mr. Paul Miller: Right. So they participated and came to you for an endorsement.
Mr. Steve Harlow: The organizing committee came to us and would say, “We’re asking the federal government; we’re asking Ontario because of your rights under the multi-party agreement.”
Mr. Paul Miller: That offsets the community’s costs, too, as well.
Mr. Steve Harlow: I understand that.
Mr. Paul Miller: And that’s why they probably would work in partnership.
Mr. Steve Harlow: But the province of Ontario does not have any of those rights where we have not put capital dollars into a facility.
Mr. Paul Miller: How does the money flow from whom to whom, and what’s the origin of any financial agreement? We’ve mentioned the cities involved, with Tim Hortons and, of course, the organizing committee, and I’m sure the ministry is made aware of the naming rights.
I guess the funds would flow back to the city, and the city would be in control of the Tim Hortons deal to name the field, which is in the municipality of Hamilton. Does the ministry take part in any of that, in any shape or form? That’s a separate off-deal that the city has made with Tim Hortons that has been approved by the organizing committee.
Mr. Steve Harlow: The only thing for the organizing committee—or Ontario, or the federal government—where a capital investment is made is the appropriateness of the name. We do not have access to the details of the value for which it was sold, the terms and conditions or the length of the contract. That’s purely between the venue owner and the potential sponsor.
Mr. Paul Miller: So that wouldn’t show up on your books as operating costs; it would show up on the municipality’s and Tim Hortons’s, obviously.
Mr. Steve Harlow: Yes.
Mr. Paul Miller: Besides money, what is bartered, offered or gained from these partnerships when you become involved? I’ll give you an example: If they were given prime seats for a highly sought-after event, do they get the best advertising position, that sort of thing? Are there any trade-offs? If I’m going to invest in the velodrome, for example, and I’m a major sponsor—RBC or whatever—do you cut any deals with them for box seats? Or do you not play that—
Mr. Steve Harlow: The 2015 commercial contracts with any of its sponsors are purely between 2015 and that commercial sponsor.
Mr. Paul Miller: But they could do that.
Mr. Steve Harlow: Pardon me?
Mr. Paul Miller: They could do that, though.
Mr. Steve Harlow: It’s possible. I can’t speak to whether or not they could—
Mr. Paul Miller: Would they have to run it by you guys?
Mr. Steve Harlow: They would not have to run it by us.
Mr. Paul Miller: So they could set up individual partnerships for financial gain for the municipality or the company in reference to a private box—I’m just giving you an example—seats, preferential parking or whatever? That can be cut by the 2015 committee without oversight from the ministry?
Mr. Steve Harlow: If I understand your question—let me play it back, so I make sure I have it.
Mr. Paul Miller: Okay, go ahead.
Mr. Steve Harlow: Are you referring to permanent rights, or just related to the games?
Mr. Paul Miller: Permanent or temporary.
Mr. Steve Harlow: So 2015 would not have any permanent rights that they can give, only as it relates to the games.
Mr. Paul Miller: That’s a good answer, but what would be the involvement of the province after the games are done, and the facilities are built—Tim Hortons Field and the velodrome? Has the province got, in any way, shape or form, the ability to sell off its costs to a private organization to run it, to privatize it?
Mr. Steve Harlow: All of the facilities are owned by the municipality or the university, so the province has no ownership stake, right or interest.
Mr. Paul Miller: Okay, so they would deal with it.
Mr. Steve Harlow: There is a schedule to all of the agreements which requires the venue owners, going forward, to make those venues available for high-performance sport at a discounted rate, at a lower percentage than normal commercial rental rates. The purpose of that is to ensure that these facilities that were built for games, for future athletes and for future sport hosting can be used by the teams, by the athletes and by the sports going forward.
Mr. Paul Miller: Okay. Well, I’m going to hit a little closer to home now.
Mr. Steve Harlow: Okay.
Mr. Paul Miller: Your ADM position seems to be solely for the purposes of the games. How are the costs for your work and your staff’s work shown on the books in the whole Pan Am/Parapan Am concept? Where do you fit in? Is this regular ministerial duties? It falls under your regular paycheque? Are there any performance bonuses for your group or you if you come in under budget or come in on time with the dealings you have with these other organizations? There’s nothing there for you guys under your regular—
Mr. Steve Harlow: I am one ADM in a three-ADM division, part of the secretariat bound by the public service’s overall service contract—
Mr. Paul Miller: No additional performance regarding this file?
Mr. Steve Harlow: No.
Mr. Paul Miller: Okay. I saw in your presentation that you mentioned on page 2, “Programs that have been enacted since August include the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport’s Pan Am/Parapan Am trails and the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment’s Pan Am business forum, in partnership with the city of Toronto.” Where does Hamilton fit into this?
Mr. Steve Harlow: The Global Cities Summit forum is a forum that happens in Toronto in 2015. It is an application, a proposal, that the city made, and they’ve actually funded it. The province has previously participated and funded other Toronto Global Cities Summit forums, and the purpose of this one that MEDTE is interested in advocating is having the Global Cities Summit forum be a special one in 2015 during the games period, focused on the economic and business development opportunities—
Mr. Paul Miller: For Toronto?
Mr. Steve Harlow: The Toronto Global Cities Summit is the name of it, but it certainly should include and involve a broader group around the GTA.
Mr. Paul Miller: What percentage are we talking here that would go outside the GTA?
Mr. Steve Harlow: I would have to confer with my colleagues at the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment.
Mr. Paul Miller: If you find out for me, I’d like to know what my city is getting out of it.
Mr. Steve Harlow: I can do that.
Mr. Paul Miller: Also, “ ... Sport, Tourism and Culture, in partnership with Toronto 2015, introduced Pan Am/Parapan Am Kids for the province’s schools, camps and after-school programs.” Is that outside of Toronto too, or just Toronto?
Mr. Steve Harlow: Ideally, our target is 1.2 million kids across 4,000 schools across the entire province.
Mr. Paul Miller: The entire province.
Mr. Steve Harlow: Yes.
Mr. Paul Miller: So Hamilton certainly would fall under that auspice.
Mr. Steve Harlow: Hamilton would certainly fall under that auspice.
Mr. Paul Miller: Thank you. I guess my next question would be, do you have any direct involvement for the ministry with the Pan Am committee? Because one of the problems that we’ve faced on this whole exercise is the fact that they were setting up their own set of rules when it came to expenses, without real oversight from the ministry.
Obviously, it’s been brought to the minister’s attention about, whatever, the lattes, the parking tickets, all those horror stories you read about. What is the status of those things now? Have they re-examined their agenda? Have they re-examined their rights as a committee in reference to their dialogue with the ministry and you and your departments? Are they now following a new set of guidelines that have been imposed? Because the minister mentioned he was going to set down some rules. What’s the status of that?
Mr. Steve Harlow: So I think that the deputy was here earlier last week to talk about the status.
Mr. Paul Miller: He didn’t tell me a heck of a lot, but—
Mr. Steve Harlow: It’s not part of my area of focus. I’m sure that I can go back and ask.
Mr. Paul Miller: I wasn’t privy to that. I wasn’t on that committee, but I’d like to know because certainly there were some problems with oversight and accountability, which we have made quite public. I’d appreciate some information on that because I’d like to know that the ministry, on all departments and all sections, is working hand in hand with the organizing committee, as well as any other partners, whether they be from the private sector or anyone else that is involved in the Pan Am/Parapan Games. Certainly, we want to know that the tax dollars are being channelled and we’re getting a good bang for our buck, as opposed to legacy costs and waste. I would like to know where we’re at with that too, if you could find that for me.
Mr. Steve Harlow: I will do so.
Mr. Paul Miller: Thank you, sir. Good presentation.
Mr. Steve Harlow: Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Well, thank you very much, sir. We shall move to the government. Ms. Damerla.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Chair, before I start, just so I can organize my questioning: In the second round, is everybody going to be apportioned about—I don’t think we’ll get the 10 minutes in the second round, right? So is everybody just going to get about six or seven minutes? Is that correct?
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): I think that that’s pretty accurate, yes.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Thank you, Steve, for coming. It’s a pleasure to have you, and you’ve been doing very well. I just wanted to start off a little bit, and you’ve already hinted at it, but perhaps you can recap about the responsibilities from the host jurisdiction perspective. From the technical briefing materials that I looked at, it looks like our government—that’s the provincial government—has been quite clear about our host jurisdictional responsibilities like transportation, security, promotion, celebration and legacy.
In fact, it has been public knowledge that the province is investing in the rebuild of the old Wynne stadium, now to be called Tim Hortons stadium, in Hamilton, the construction of the Goldring Centre at the University of Toronto Scarborough campus and the $709 million athletes’ village.
Mr. Harlow, in the original bid to land the games, was the organizing committee, TO2015, ever responsible for building and funding the athletes’ village?
Mr. Steve Harlow: The athletes’ village in the bid document, though I’m here to speak mostly on the promotion, celebration legacy—but the bid documents identify that the funding was outside of the 2015 organizing committee’s budget and was the responsibility of the Ontario government in the bid documents that was presented to PASO, the Pan American Sports Organization, and that the minister at the time announced.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: So from the get-go, it was very, very clear that the budget for the athletes’ village is distinct from the operating budget for the rest of the games.
Mr. Steve Harlow: I can simply say that the public bid document separated those two. I can’t speak to how people say what’s clear and not clear, but I can speak to what was put down in the bid book around the cost of the athletes’ village.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Given what was put down in the bid book in terms of the cost of the athletes’ village, do you find it a little confusing that Mr. Jackson and the opposition party say they’re shocked that the athletes’ village is not part of Toronto 2015’s operating budget, as recently as, I think, a couple of months ago?
Mr. Steve Harlow: I don’t know if I could comment, or whether it’s appropriate for me to comment, on other people’s shock or not. I would simply say that the contents of the documents were publicly available in the bid document, and I think the government, on a couple of occasions, has tried to articulate where the funding for different pieces is. I would note that those are elements that are outside of my area of accountability and responsibility. I’m focused on Pan Am legacy and promotion and celebration.
I do think that there is certainly a legacy component of the village that is my interest. How the village will be used post-games is very important. One of the interesting things from the legacy side of the village is the accessibility component. I know that was spoken to earlier by one of the individuals. We have talked with the accessibility community of recent on a number of occasions.
If you’re an accessibility advocate, I think that the village speaks to an opportunity where, if you take the same square kilometres that that village is in Toronto and drop that in any other section of the city of Toronto, it will be the most accessible place for anybody with a wheelchair or anybody with a disability, because the street cuts will be made, the street lights will work, the stop signs will work. That’s a legacy from the village perspective that I do have an interest in observing and working with, to ensure that that village is fully accessible and leaves a great legacy, post-games. I think that’s actually a really interesting legacy.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Actually, that’s very good information that I did not know. Well done.
Back in 2009, it looks like the estimated cost for the athletes’ village was about a billion dollars, but it is now $709 million. Would that be correct?
Mr. Steve Harlow: Again, that’s something that I think my deputy spoke to last time. I believe, from my understanding of the current estimates, that seems to be correct.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Thank you very much. We spoke about some of the host jurisdictional responsibilities that we have, such as transportation, security, promotion, celebration and legacy. Are these typical responsibilities in multi-sport games, for a host?
Mr. Steve Harlow: I would look back across the last several games that we used as a reference point over the past few years. Typically, games host jurisdictions do invest in promotion, celebration and legacy. They invest directly as part of their contribution to an organizing committee, to showcase their community and be recognized. In addition, they also focus on some of their own interests and objectives, and that has been true, dating back, as far as we can tell, to the last six to eight games operations that we have recent and current information on.
We certainly know that BC invested about $112 million in their promotion celebration. For anybody who was at the games in BC, there was a place called Robson Square that was effectively a BC ad, an experience for the visitors during the game to experience BC. They had the famous zip-line that everyone now refers to. They had rock-climbing walls. So they created space—
Mr. Paul Miller: It’s where they had the riot too.
Mr. Steve Harlow: They had a riot, I hear, which was not part of their program. But they did create a space and a place to celebrate BC. They had evening fireworks.
An anecdotal, not completely verifiable, fact because you can’t source it: Exit interviews’ evidence suggests that for every individual who attends a sporting event during a games, four people attend the festival or celebration or street-side activity across the games area—so not just in Toronto but in Minden, when the competition is there.
Mr. Miller has talked about the importance of soccer. In Hamilton you’re going to have probably seven days, eight days of competition. That’s going to be a lot of activity in Hamilton; whereas a place like Hardwood Hills will have one day of competition. What’s happening in Hamilton around those days of competition? The spectator who goes to the competition does something else. That’s something that I would talk with Neil Everson a little bit about, what Hamilton is planning and how it fits within the things. Markham, Ajax, similar; Welland, a flatwater kayak centre—what are they going to be doing for all of those competitions?
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Just coming back to the typical host responsibilities that we talked about, such as transportation, security, legacy: These types of investments are quite typical, would you say?
Mr. Steve Harlow: I think that history has shown that they are absolutely typical and it is part of achieving the host jurisdiction’s goals associated with the games. The organizing committee wants to hold a great sporting event and that’s their mandate. In hosting it, it gives you an opportunity to do other things, showcase yourself to the world, demonstrate your capacity, demonstrate your organizational skills, and to miss that opportunity would not be the greatest advice that I would give to people who were seeking my advice.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: And are the costs associated with these sorts of responsibilities—would it be perfectly logical that these costs be outside of an operating budget for the organizing committee?
Mr. Steve Harlow: Again, the research that we have would suggest that you give money to the organizing committee to do certain events. In addition, you make your own investments as a host jurisdiction in areas that are required. I would note in the multi-party agreement, there is a section in there that specifically references that Ontario will be investing in other areas outside of the games budget. I could find that clause for you, if you want, but there is a specific reference that says that beyond the $500-million contribution, Ontario will be providing levels of service as the host jurisdiction.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: So it was always envisaged that the costs associated with these typical host jurisdiction responsibilities would be outside of the operating budget in that clause. As well, would that be typical of what other jurisdictions have done, whether it’s Vancouver, whether it’s England?
Mr. Steve Harlow: The multi-party agreement was based on a model that Canada has used several times. When they’ve hosted, they’ve hosted Commonwealth Games; they’ve hosted other Pan Am Games; they’ve hosted Olympics. The original multi-party agreement that framed that out was based on the evolving model that the federal government has been able to share with other jurisdictions. Again, from a Canada perspective—I can’t speak to how things work in Guadalajara, Mexico; it’s a little different. But I can speak to how Canada and the provinces that have participated have typically operated. To that end, I would say that that is typical.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: So given that other jurisdictions have followed this system—we had quite clearly indicated that these costs would be any extra—any shock or outrage by the opposition as to why these are outside of the budget might be surprising.
Mr. Steve Harlow: Again, I don’t want to avoid the question; I just don’t think it’s appropriate for me to comment on the views of the opposition.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Fair enough. I just want to move on to another area that I know you are very closely associated with, and that is the legacy issue around the Pan Am Games and the legacy that the Pan Am Games will leave behind. As you know, our government has embraced the host jurisdiction responsibilities that come with landing the games. I think the additional investments that we are making, especially in our sport infrastructure, are wonderful, but the opposition parties, for some reason, don’t seem to understand that this is more than just about the games. It’s about Ontarians after the games as well, and that’s where the legacy piece comes in. We want to make sure that the investments that we are making are not just for the games but that they pay off generations from now in terms of the ability of Ontarians to use these facilities but also in terms of Ontario having the opportunity to host other sporting events, of a different scale perhaps, that could leverage these existing facilities.
The infrastructure projects and games are important to Ontario, as I said, so all this negative attention that unfortunately the opposition is creating—I’m concerned that the crucial aspect of the legacy piece gets lost. In your role as the assistant deputy minister in the partner engagement and legacy division of the secretariat, can you tell us about some of the legacy pieces the games will leave behind when they’re over?
Mr. Steve Harlow: Certainly. I would speak first to some of the facilities. I think, working closely with the organizing committee as they finalize the details around each of the facilities’ construction builds, that they’re making sure that they are thought about in terms of hosting future sport events.
We already know that the Milton people and the velodrome—they’re already looking at their long-term hosting opportunities for that facility. We know that certainly Hamilton will be host of a future Grey Cup at some point in time. That’s why it was built to the standard that it was, so that it could be able to host a future Grey Cup and not miss that opportunity for future investment. The Welland flatwater kayak centre will be one of the best in Canada for flatwater, and it’s already starting to be used.
I think sport—and again, I have to wear my other hat, which is promoting sport and sport development. But one of the things that has happened with the venues and the infrastructure that we’re building for the games is that they’re not solely—like some of the 1976 facilities that were referenced earlier. We’ve come up with a partnership where multiple users are owning and sharing the facility, and that’s not atypical. The University of Toronto’s Scarborough College campus: It’s a university rec centre. They’ll be using it X number of hours. It’s also a priority neighbourhood for kids who have issues. Part of the city of Toronto’s programming at that facility will be to provide opportunities for kids through their recreation community programming. In addition, it will also serve high-performance sport. It’s a new structure that has never been set up before. So that, in itself, is an example of how we’re trying to work with multiple partners to ensure the facilities last long, not just for athletes—but certainly for athletes—but for community groups, for local groups, and to create longer-term economic opportunities.
The one thing we haven’t done in detail as of yet—but I just started sitting down with my colleague from the city of Toronto, and I will be sitting down with Milton and Markham—is what are the long-term economic impacts associated with each of these facilities? What’s the revenue generation coming forward? We’ve done some analysis on the economic impact of the infrastructure and the tourism, but what’s the 20-year potential economic impact of these facilities, the jobs to maintain these facilities, the future tourism opportunities?
Mr. Whitaker is very eager to promote future hosting of competitions. They’re not going to be Pan Am. It could be a FINA World Aquatics Championship. It could be an under-17 athletics competition. There are a number of things—and it could be a future soccer competition. I know at one time there was interest in the Canadian Soccer Association collocating at the Hamilton stadium with a franchise. Is that part of the legacy?
So we’ve got a lot of work to do with our partners to help figure out and define and put them in a position to be successful around the legacy.
I also would offer that I think, through the organizing committee, that the government has a keen interest in the volunteers piece. I think it would be wonderful if we could create a scenario where every volunteer gets trained on accessibility training. We’re working with the accessibility Ontario directorate on that. We’re looking at how you maintain the momentum of a huge callout of 20,000 people wanting to volunteer for the games so that they get the skills that they get from this experience, and then they can come back and put on whatever organization, whatever festival, whatever sporting event.
We understand from the organizing committee that as much as they would like a pan-Canadian volunteer experience, the logistics are likely that 85% of the volunteers will be coming from across Ontario. They will be from Caledon. They will be from North Bay. They could be from Thunder Bay. So I think that’s a big legacy piece.
I would also suggest that from my understanding of looking at other games and organizing committees—and we’re seeing it happen a little bit right now in Sochi, although that’s maybe not the best one to compare ourselves to. There is a sense of pride and place, and that really, from what I’ve observed and learned, has to do with the torch relay. There will be a torch relay for the Pan Am Games and the Parapan Am Games, for that matter. The torch is something that touches lots of communities and gives people a sense of momentum and pride of who we are and showcases—although I don’t think we’ll be going on the moon like Sochi did with their torch, I think we’ll think of something that will recognize northern Ontario perhaps. But, again, I think a torch is something that can bring Ontario together, and we certainly know that the federal government is very interested in ensuring the torch isn’t only in Ontario and are looking at how they ensure that other parts of Canada are able to share in that piece.
Those are a couple of examples about what the legacy could be, and I would also suggest that there is a business side of it that should not be forgotten. Every year on the planet, there is an athletes’ village built for a Winter Olympics, a Summer Olympics, a Commonwealth Games, a Pan/Parapan Am Games and an Asia Pacific Games.
The village development that Infrastructure Ontario is currently responsible for is being held up as very successful to date. We’re at 60% completion, I understand, and the last beam was just signed. If, come 2015, that village has come in within the budget allocation and on time, that’s potentially, I would say, export market capacity to other games/hosting jurisdictions. Villages have typically been an area of high risk and high exposure. Rio, for those of you who follow this, is currently having huge problems with their village. We know in Vancouver, BC, they had some big challenges in terms of how they were able to deliver the village.
We’re not there today, but being optimistic, if we’re there by the time the village is built, and it’s done in a way that meets or exceeds standards, Ontario’s capacity and the builders and the suppliers that have been building it—that will be an interesting business development opportunity.
One of the most successful businesses from the BC Olympics was Karl’s tent rental company. Karl basically did all of the tent rentals in BC. He got the contract through a competitive competition. His business has grown from a very small business to a very big, successful business. I don’t know who Karl is for the Ontario games, but there are business opportunities for Ontario companies. There can be successes, and it will be interesting to see, post-games, who those companies are. I don’t know who they are today, but there will be successful companies.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Thank you for sharing that. Some very interesting examples.
How much time do I have left, Chair?
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thirty-five seconds.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: All right. So I’ll leave the rest for the next round of questioning. Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): It’s 5:32, so 28 minutes divided by three is nine minutes apiece.
We shall move to the opposition: nine minutes.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Thank you, Chair. If I could just go back a little bit, I want to talk a little bit more about the legacy—well, specifically about the velodrome. The legacy fund is significant over a long period of time, and I would venture to say that part of the reason there is going to be only one velodrome in Canada is because they’re extremely difficult to make profitable; we know that through experiences worldwide, even through the States where they have a significantly larger population and are much more focused on high-performance sports than we are.
I think it’s safe to say—and part of the reason Hamilton decided they didn’t want it is because it will be a challenge—everyone can recognize the velodrome will be a challenge. I’ll be really impressed to see if it doesn’t become a bit of a white elephant, frankly.
Can you explain to me, if there are costs associated with the velodrome over and above what the legacy fund provides over a period of time, who will be responsible for any of those operation cost overruns?
Mr. Steve Harlow: Once the facility is built, once it’s operational and once it draws down from the allocation that has been afforded from the legacy fund, the venue owners have assumed accountability and responsibility for operating costs for that facility. In the case of the velodrome, it would be the town of Milton that would be responsible for the ongoing operating costs. I believe they’re setting up a municipal corporation to manage the day-to-day operations of the fund. I believe that’s what they passed at city council recently.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Does this hold true for all the other venues too, whether they have cost overruns during the games or after the games? Because we know that there are significant investments being made by municipalities across Ontario for the games. It’s my understanding that although the province accepts any debt incurred and guarantees any cost overruns, in many cases we know the cost overruns are actually being passed on to the venues, which in many cases are the municipalities or organizations themselves.
Mr. Steve Harlow: The ongoing operating costs are the responsibility of the municipality. What they signed on to in the multi-party agreement is with respect to the capital costs. So their contribution is effectively fixed for the capital build; the operating costs are theirs going forward.
Two of the facilities—or is it all three?—will be operational as soon as this summer, and they will start to draw down from the legacy fund to deal with their portion of the operating costs. But the long-term operating costs—you are correct—are the responsibility of the venue owner, and there is currently no obligation on behalf of the province or the federal government to sustain those facilities going forward.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Do you have any familiarity with the MOUs for each venue, or no?
Mr. Steve Harlow: There is an actual agreement between the organizing committee and the venue owner. My colleague in the infrastructure side would be responsible for any oversight associated with that, but I do get to see what’s called schedule E, which is the assurance that the venue will be made available for sport and sport access going forward. This stems from a challenge that happened in BC, post-games, where one of the facilities that a considerable investment was made in by the federal government got turned into, effectively, a YMCA. Not that YMCAs are bad, but the purpose they invested in it was to maintain it as a skating surface, and it’s no longer used for that purpose. So there is a commitment on the owners to maintain these for use for sport.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Now just quickly on the Pan Am village: Although you don’t have responsibility for that venue, you seem to have some knowledge of it. Can you confirm that the cost is $709 million for the Pan Am village?
Mr. Steve Harlow: I can refer you to the deputy’s technical definition. I can’t confirm that specific number, but if that’s what the deputy said in the technical briefing when he was here last, I would certainly think that he’s given you the accurate number.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Can you tell me how much money comes back to the province after the games are over?
Mr. Steve Harlow: I would not know that. That’s outside of my area; sorry.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Okay. I want to touch a little bit on—and hopefully you can shed some light on this—the estimated provision for GDP and jobs for the Pan Am Games. The estimation has been 3.7% for GDP and 26,000 jobs. Can you give us an idea of how many of these jobs are short-term, long-term? It’s great if we have 26,000 jobs through construction and through the actual operation between now and the completion of the games, but I’d like to know how many of those jobs are going to continue into the future.
Mr. Steve Harlow: The economic impact and the 26,000 jobs are all related to during the lead-up and the construction and the execution of the games. It was generated by a company called Centre for Spatial Economics, through a competitive tender process in terms of—that’s kind of the business they’re in, is generating economic models. It’s basically an input-output model. So what you do is you give them your inputs: What’s the type of facility that’s being built? Is it a hospital? Is it a school? Is it a rec centre? They take data points from thousands of comparables and say, “Here are the types of jobs that will be required to build, maintain and operate that facility during the construction period,” and then are able to generate construction trades numbers. The tourism numbers come from a TRIM, a tourism recreation impact model, but those will be the tourism jobs created to support the games’ delivery. So none of these speak to post-games jobs. It does take into account the number of jobs businesses will create in terms of whoever designed the logo. I’m sure they had a staff person involved in that. It’ll include those things, but that’s all leading up to, during and executing the games.
I don’t have any information on September 2015, but as I mentioned, that’s something that we’re actually interested in doing some work on with some of our municipal partners.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Great. So under the promotion, celebration and legacy strategy of I believe it’s the November 2013 report, it talks about developing employment supports, business supports and offering business development opportunities for Ontario companies. Can you give us an idea of where the benefits are coming from, when they’re coming, what skills are going to be used to promote it? Give me an idea of what this promotion costs, and explain it to me.
Mr. Steve Harlow: An example of the kind of things we’re looking at there is on the construction side. There’s a number of apprenticeship opportunities that we see on the construction side. Training, colleges and universities has responsibility for pre-apprenticeship training programs. How can they work with Infrastructure Ontario on the capital projects to develop pre-apprenticeship training programs over the last two years of the games?
Similarly, what are the business development opportunities for aboriginal businesses associated with the games? We’re trying to work to find those out.
We talked a little bit about the north-south business forum, the global economic, Global Cities Summit that the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment is doing. That would be an example of one where we’re trying to find opportunities to promote and create new business linkages. Those would be the ones I could offer right now today, sir.
Mr. Rod Jackson: Okay. How much time, Chair?
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): One minute.
Mr. Rod Jackson: One minute—it’s never enough time. I’m going to rush this. The announcement for the legacy plan for the Pan Am/Parapan Am Games said nothing about improving long-term accessibility for people with disabilities in Ontario, really. Can you assure us that there is a long-term plan for people with disabilities, legacy—
Mr. Steve Harlow: I can absolutely assure you that we’re very involved with the accessibility advisory council. I met with the lead of that about three times over the last two months. I would note that, for example, in the most recent Pan Am/Parapan Am Kids announcement, part of that will be educating teachers and providing kids with opportunities to participate in parasport, accessible sport. An example is, one of the programs that will be rolled out in schools is teaching kids how to play goalball. Goalball is a sport played by blind people. You wear a mask, and a ball is thrown, kind of like dodge ball, in a way, through a net. But able-bodied kids and disabled kids who are blind can play that sport, so it doesn’t create any barriers to participation. Coaches in schools will now know how to provide a sport so kids who are in a wheelchair won’t just be line judges. I’ve had the opportunity to actually try wheelchair basketball. It is unbelievably hard. Putting that as a program in there is one of the ways in which we can try to reach the accessibility community.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much. We’ll move to Mr. Miller from the third party.
Mr. Paul Miller: I noticed that the parliamentary assistant was a little concerned about the opposition understanding legacy costs. Let me enlighten her: I happen to have been, in 1967, at Expo 67 as a teenager. I also was there at the Big O for the Olympics in 1976. One of my friends competed in it, and I was in Montreal. I’m not quite sure you were around at the time. We did see a lot of legacy costs after the games that were really, really costly. The province of Quebec—it was 20 years before they caught up. We saw that, and that’s one of our biggest fears, as you can appreciate, in Ontario. We want the games to be successful; we certainly do not want to be stuck with some huge bills.
I know, for a fact, because I was in construction for many, many years, that after a facility has been used for the games, you have ongoing maintenance, you have renovation costs, and you have retrofits. Also, the community has to make it reasonable for the general public to access the facility, to be able to use it, to have fair prices for amateur teams or amateur people. Has this been taken under consideration for the legacy after the games? I know for a fact that some of these facilities, in many parts of North America, become very costly to maintain. They also become out of reach for the financially challenged people in our province who may not have the wherewithal to be able to go to these facilities and train and keep up with their dream. A lot of these kids are very talented and athletic, but they can’t afford it. Has your organization taken that into consideration?
Mr. Steve Harlow: First of all, I’d just like to note that I too was at the 1967 Expo. There’s a picture of me, though I can’t remember it. But I was there, sir.
But I would say that, as part of any municipality coming forward to put up their hand and say, “Yes, we want this facility,” what they need to demonstrate is, “Are you aware of the long-term operating, and are you aware of the obligations that you’re effectively assuming and that you’re going to need to make it available for sport teams going forward?”
In some cases, some municipalities said, “I wasn’t aware of that. I’m not prepared to go forward and proceed because oy, that’s a big cost.” Right now, you’re in a situation where every community that has decided to sign on has effectively signed on to what this means from a long-term operating perspective.
An example of that, I think, would be Ajax, in terms of the softball and baseball. Earlier, at a point in time, one municipality thought they were going to sign on to do softball and baseball. When they started doing their due diligence, it was, “Hold on a second. What’s it going to cost to maintain this? Do we have the support?” They said no, so the organizing committee had to go out and find a new host for softball and baseball.
The velodrome is another. The velodrome didn’t have a home for a long time. One municipality took a hard look at it. They had an individual who was a big, active cyclist and put up some of his own money from a corporate perspective, but they made that hard choice and that commitment that says they are going to look out for the interests of their constituents.
Mr. Paul Miller: Through my experience in sports—my family has been highly involved at different levels over the years—I’ve seen many times where facilities have problems after games. For example, when I boxed—boxing is very expensive, because you have to have the heavy bags and the light bags, you have to have the gym. It’s a constant cost, and it’s the same, whether you’re going to use it for floor hockey or anything. Hockey, too: A lot of arenas have gone by the wayside because they’re falling apart.
I guess my last question is, have there been any contingency funds established for the long-term legacy costs, if municipalities cannot?
Mr. Steve Harlow: The only fund that is available is for the legacy fund for those three designated facilities. In the case of the Ajax baseball and softball, neither the province nor the federal government has a separate pool set aside—no pun intended with “pool”—
Mr. Paul Miller: Right.
Mr. Steve Harlow: —to support those dollars. That’s municipal. In the future, if governments have infrastructure funds, like they had with RInC a few years ago, those are the kinds of ones that would be eligible.
Mr. Paul Miller: It’s certainly something to think about.
Mr. Steve Harlow: Absolutely.
Mr. Paul Miller: Thank you. Good presentation, by the way.
Mr. Steve Harlow: Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much, Mr. Miller. We’ll move to the government. Ms. Damerla.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Steve, that was a very interesting point, and I’m glad you brought it up—the point that municipalities had a choice. I know, for instance, that Mississauga took a pass on having a facility. Really, this has been a partnership. Municipalities are well aware of their future commitments, and they are all willing hosts of these legacy pieces. I just wanted to clarify that.
I’d like to now discuss the estimates committee process and the motion requesting documents. Are you familiar with that at all?
Mr. Steve Harlow: I was in the room during those discussions and recesses and all the rest that happened, but that’s fundamentally the corporate CAO’s area for managing.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Fair enough. I understand that your ministry delivered a number of documents to the Clerk a few weeks ago, as was requested by the estimates committee. Of course, we want to thank you and your colleagues for working so diligently to produce these requested documents, given the short timeline and the vastness, the breadth of the motion.
I just wonder how difficult it might have been to devote so many hours and resources into this endeavour for what is essentially—if you were around that day, you may recall—a fishing exercise, because repeatedly, you may recall, the government tried to pare down or narrow down the motion to something that was manageable on the idea that you build blocks. You ask for something; if you don’t find what you’re looking for or it leads you to something else, you ask for something more. But you don’t ask for the whole ocean from the get-go when you can’t drink it.
The last time I did a calculation, just based on the first dump of documents, it would take somebody five months, including weekends, reading eight hours a day—doing nothing but reading those documents for eight hours a day, seven days a week—to get through it. That just goes to show how frivolous that request was, quite frankly, given that that was just the first tranche and there’s a second tranche coming—
Mr. Rob Leone: Point of order, Chair.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Point of order: Mr. Leone.
Mr. Rob Leone: I believe she used the word “frivolous” when dealing with a matter of parliamentary privilege. I would ask the member to withdraw that.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): I don’t think “frivolous” would qualify. Thank you for the point of order.
You can continue, Ms. Damerla.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Thank you, Chair.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Anyway, if I can continue—but thank you.
I’m just wondering, as I’ve described the breadth of this motion, have you ever seen a motion this broad during your time as a public servant?
Mr. Steve Harlow: The question is, during my time, if I’ve ever seen a motion this broad—
Ms. Dipika Damerla: This broad, in terms of its request, which was essentially—
Mr. Steve Harlow: I would say that in the portfolios I’ve held over my time in the OPS, this is the first time I’ve ever been part of a request for document disclosure. So, as such, this would be, for me personally, the least and the most I’ve ever been asked, because it’s the only time I’ve ever been part of a process.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Fair enough. Okay. Were you aware of the attempts that were made at estimates by the government side to try and make the motion more helpful to the committee and more manageable for you and your colleagues?
Mr. Steve Harlow: I’m aware that those motions were put forward.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: And you’re aware of the opposition repeatedly voting down our suggestions?
Mr. Steve Harlow: I observed all of the motions and amendments, and amendments to the amendments, that transpired over those days in October. I can’t remember the exact dates but, yes, I was in the room during those occurrences.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Could you perhaps comment on the impact this motion had—that is, responding to this motion and gathering all of that information—on your work and the work of your colleagues producing these documents?
Mr. Steve Harlow: Producing these documents is part of my job as an OPS public servant. I organize myself, my day and my team to ensure that we’re able to continue to deliver against the objectives we were given, as well as meeting the requirements of the legislative committee. We find a way to get it done. The job of myself and my team, as public servants, is to respond to the directions of the minister, support my deputy, and respond to the committee in terms of its requests. We had to manage it, and we managed it.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: That’s wonderful. Moving on, I’m just curious: Given that it has been over two weeks now since the first tranche was given, have you received any questions? I mean, I haven’t seen any questions at all from the opposition based on those documents.
Mr. Rob Leone: We asked them today.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: No, based on the documents.
Mr. Vic Dhillon: Nothing relevant.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Nothing relevant; exactly—I mean, nothing that would say I want—you know, “This leads me to something”—
Mr. Rob Leone: Are you saying—
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Anyway, I’m not questioning you. Sorry, Chair.
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Order.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: The question is not to the opposition here. The question is to Mr. Harlow—
Mr. Steve Harlow: I have not received any questions directly from any member of the House. I have not received that, so I don’t know if other people have.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Well, it’s going to take them five months to get through that first lot, never mind the second lot that’s coming, so I don’t think we’ll be getting any questions any time soon. Thank you.
I just wanted to thank you for your insight on this. You know, it’s something that is troubling, the fact that such a broad motion was brought forward without enough thought as to what it means to the bureaucracy and what it means to taxpayer dollars.
I just want to move on to one other thing, and that is with respect to security costs, if you’ll just bear with me. One of the wonderful things about these games is the fact that they’re distributed quite broadly across Ontario, yet within a distance that would, hopefully, be manageable for most tourists. I’m going to guess that that’s the way it was organized. The games will have a footprint of 10,000 kilometres squared, including the GTHA.
We’ve spoken earlier about some of the transportation challenges. Now I’m just wondering, given the scale of the geographic footprint, if you could perhaps tell the committee today why the original bid numbers around security and transportation are different to what we have estimated now—the original bid numbers versus what has come out now.
Mr. Steve Harlow: I would just have to say that’s something I think that my deputy spoke to earlier and is not part of my day-to-day responsibilities, so I think it would best be answered by the people who have the expertise in the security and transportation budgets. I really can’t speak to the specifics on that matter.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Or let me put it another way: Would it be typical to—in that original bid, are you required to provide some numbers?
Mr. Steve Harlow: My understanding of the requirements of the bid process is that, absolutely, in any bid you need to put in an allocation for games-related security, and that was done in the bid. Since that time, the ministry responsible, with the rest of the secretariat, has been doing that work and finalizing the rest of the numbers, as the host jurisdiction responsibilities. But beyond that, I’m really not the expert to speak to it.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: Okay. How long ago was this bid book created?
Mr. Steve Harlow: The bid book was approved by all the parties and tabled to the Pan American Sports Organization in April 2009.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: In 2009. We are in 2013. The games are going to be in 2015. So it would be fair to say that six years before an event, if you are estimating transportation and security, at best it would be a guesstimate that you’re trying to put in the bid book because it’s at that point a guesstimate. It would be fair to say it would not be surprising that over time those numbers would evolve as you get closer to the games and you have a better sense of the final footprint.
Mr. Steve Harlow: I would again defer to transportation and security to determine if the numbers provided for the bid—but I think that’s what we’ve seen as atypical, but that’s one person’s perspective. But certainly, the people that are responsible for those areas would be able to speak specifically to the terms and conditions of any changes that have happened between the bid.
But from what we’ve seen, the original estimates are based upon what you know at the time of the bid, and things change. For example, when the bid was in 2009, golf was not on the Olympic program. The IOC determined that golf was on the Olympic program. It’s another venue. So how do you need to change? And it’s constantly evolving, constantly changing.
Things can change on the International Olympic Committee, and PASO is a partner of the International Olympic Committee. If, all of a sudden, the new doping rules say less urine samples, more EPO blood testing, there’s more EPO blood testing. That has to happen. So games is very evolving and you have to respond and adapt to whatever is happening in that world.
Ms. Dipika Damerla: So what I hear you—
The Chair (Mr. Grant Crack): Thank you very much, Ms. Damerla. That’s the time.
I would like to thank you, Mr. Harlow, for coming and providing your insight. Good job, and thanks again.
There is no other business to conduct. This meeting is adjourned. Thank you members. Thank you Clerks’ office, legislative research; you’ve done a wonderful job. Thank you.
The committee adjourned at 1758.
Monday 9 December 2013
Pan/Parapan American Games review G-439
Tourism Toronto G-439
Mr. David Whitaker
Mr. Andrew Weir
Pan/Parapan American Games Secretariat G-454
Mr. Steve Harlow
STANDING COMMITTEE ON GENERAL GOVERNMENT
Chair / Président
Mr. Grant Crack (Glengarry–Prescott–Russell L)
Vice-Chair / Vice-Présidente
Mrs. Donna H. Cansfield (Etobicoke Centre / Etobicoke-Centre L)
Ms. Sarah Campbell (Kenora–Rainy River ND)
Mrs. Donna H. Cansfield (Etobicoke Centre / Etobicoke-Centre L)
Mr. Grant Crack (Glengarry–Prescott–Russell L)
Ms. Dipika Damerla (Mississauga East–Cooksville / Mississauga-Est–Cooksville L)
Mr. John Fraser (Ottawa South L)
Mr. Michael Harris (Kitchener–Conestoga PC)
Ms. Peggy Sattler (London West ND)
Ms. Laurie Scott (Haliburton–Kawartha Lakes–Brock PC)
Mr. Jeff Yurek (Elgin–Middlesex–London PC)
Substitutions / Membres remplaçants
Mr. Vic Dhillon (Brampton West / Brampton-Ouest L)
Ms. Mitzie Hunter (Scarborough–Guildwood L)
Mr. Rod Jackson (Barrie PC)
Mr. Rob Leone (Cambridge PC)
Mr. Paul Miller (Hamilton East–Stoney Creek / Hamilton-Est–Stoney Creek ND)
Clerk / Greffière
Ms. Sylwia Przezdziecki
Staff / Personnel
Ms. Anne Marzalik, research officer,