Would the World’s Fair have been good for Toronto? PRO
Expo would have shone a global spotlight on city, says Brian Ashton
t’s Paris, February 2008. The Secretary-General of the Bureau International des Expositions opens the envelope, the hall falls silent and he reads: “The host city for the 2015 World’s Fair is . . . Toronto, Canada!”
The prime minister, premier and mayor leap to their feet in a raw display of victory and unity. In Toronto, the Rogers Centre is bedlam as GTA residents raise the closed roof. Finally, Toronto, always the bridesmaid, finds itself front and centre on the world stage. The 98 member countries of the BIE rejoice in the confidence that their choice will follow in the tradition of Montreal’s Expo ’67 and Vancouver’s Expo ’86. Both were hugely successful with Expo ’86 injecting $3.5 billion into the economy, and Expo ’67 considered to be one of the four best World Expos.
World Expos have often been called “the Economic Olympics” because such events can deliver enormous opportunities to cities, provinces and countries that host them. Toronto came confident to Paris knowing that a PricewaterhouseCoopers study estimated Toronto 2015 will generate nationally $13.5 billion in new
IGDP, 215,000 jobs, $8.4 billion in wages, and $5.3 billion in new tax revenues.
But World Expos are about more than just money. They challenge cities to meet their potential. They rob governments of excuses and set deadlines that must be met. Above all else, they create six months of a heady, dizzying outpouring of civic pride.
The BIE site selection committee marvelled over the chosen site for the fair. What is today a derelict, industrial wasteland would soon become Toronto’s newest waterfront community.
Plans are well underway for the futuristic grounds that will create irreversible momentum for waterfront renewal, cultural renaissance, worldleading innovation, stronger communities, better transportation and stronger environmental stewardship.
Businesses, big and small, across the Golden Horseshoe also cheer for Toronto’s win. They know that Toronto 2015 will deliver opportunities for business in virtually every sector of our economy. Whether to the Niagara wine region, or to Canada’s capital, people will come to explore. Tourism numbers will grow during the fair and continue after as Toronto’s international profile continues to reap rewards.
There will be opportunities for the construction industry to build nearly $5 billion in infrastructure. The hospitality industry will shelter, feed and entertain millions of visitors. Knowledge based industries like bio-science, information technology, manufacturing, and design will take up the challenge to showcase Canada in the 21st century.
Canada, Ontario and Toronto will never be the same. Toronto 2015 will put a global spotlight on the city. Today’s announcement starts a sevenyear global marketing blitz. Winning Expo 2015 is more than a six-month showcase and celebration; it’s about helping build a city/region in the years that precede the fair and providing a tremendous legacy for the years that follow. What a sight to savour — laughing children, awestruck faces, nations sharing — all on Canada’s doorstep. Too big a dream? It’s Toronto, November 2006. Toronto Mayor David Miller enters the room, Toronto’s media fall silent and the mayor announces: “Canada will not be entering a bid for Toronto 2015.” Toronto goes silent. Brian Ashton