Calgary has bowed out of the bid for Expo 2017, leaving Edmonton as Canada’s lone city in the hunt for the international fair.
Citing the need for large cash injections from both provincial and federal governments, council opted out of the Expo run but approved the West Village redevelopment project, said Mayor Dave Bronconnier.
“The Expo and West Village combined project would result in a net deficit of somewhere between $380 million and $1 billion,” he said, adding as a standalone project West Village could see a return of between $72 million and $470 million.
“Council approved a redevelopment plan for West Village, but that will not include hosting an Expo as we are not prepared to ask taxpayers to cover a potential $1-billion shortfall.”
While Bronconnier expressed disappointment in deserting the Expo bid after months of consulting, he is excited about a “kick-start” to the city’s west end that will shape Calgary’s future over the next 25 years.
“This is some of the most valuable and strategically important land in Calgary, downtown, right on the Bow River, right next to a new LRT station,” he added.
The area, located between 11th Street SW and Crowchild Trail, and the Bow River south to the CPR tracks will become home to 12,000 residents and become a mixed-use community under current plans.
Scott Hennig of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation applauded the city’s move to scrap the Expo bid.
“The City of Calgary seems to understand what the City of Edmonton does not, that hosting Expo 2017 could cost taxpayers of that city billions of dollars,” Hennig said.
Ward. 12 Ald. Ric McIver said he believes the city should have stuck with its Expo bid.
“I think it just looks like we weren’t serious now, and that is unfortunate.”