Petition calls on Hamilton City Council to not commit public funds to 2026 Commonwealth Games

 

A petition calling on the City of Hamilton to not commit any public funds to the bid for and potential hosting duties associated with the 2026 Commonwealth Games is making the rounds on social media.

The petition, called ‘Tell Hamilton Council: “No public money for Commonwealth Games”!’, was launched last month in response to the city’s continued involvement in the bidding process for hosting the games.

While the commitment to host the 2030 Commonwealth Games prior to the global pandemic was questionable, it is even more so regarding the 2026 Commonwealth Games, the petition states.

The City of Hamilton is in a financial hole and has had to fundamentally reorder how it functions as a corporate entity in the face of an unprecedented global pandemic - the commitment of paid staff time and public dollars to this project must cease.”

At a General Issues Committee (GIC) meeting last month, councillors voted on a motion that would welcome a presentation later this month from organizers from the Hamilton2026 team, Commonwealth Sport Canada and the Commonwealth Games Federation on moving forward with a 2026 bid.

Initially, Hamilton was pitching to hold the 100th anniversary of the Games in 2030. As the city to hold the first edition of the Games in 1930, known then as the British Empire Games, Hamilton seemed a logical place for the 100th anniversary.

The bid pivoted to pitching for the 2026 Games back in May when the Commonwealth Games Federation asked the Hamilton contingent to consider a bid for 2026 because it likely wouldn’t be challenged.

The most recent projections for Hamilton’s COVID-19-related deficit land anywhere between $60 million to $122 million, which means that unless municipalities are able to secure enough emergency funding from higher levels of government, significant belt-tightening will be mandatory in the years to come.

The City is facing a deficit of millions and cuts have already been made and approved to vital services such as public transit,” the petition says.

Members of the community opposed to the city’s hosting of the 2026 Games, also point to Hamilton’s housing crisis as a cause that could use an infusion of funds to address.

In addition to the petition, there is a call out for Hamiltonians who are opposed to hosting the 2026 Games to reach out to their ward councillors to express their objections.

If a bid for the Games is successful, the City of Hamilton would have to commit to providing hundreds of millions of dollars to execute the 11-day event. Federal and Provincial grants would cover the rest of the more $1 billion the event is expected to cost.

Previous estimates peg the city’s obligation for a 2030 Games between $200 million to $300 million. With the pivot from 2030 to 2026, the overall cost of the Games drops by approximately $500 million, which should mean the city’s required input would be reduced.

Details for that are likely to be revealed at next Monday’s (August 10) GIC meeting, the date originally considered for the 2026 Games presentation, though the agenda for the upcoming meeting is yet to be released (as of publication).

As of Tuesday (August 4), more the petition has received more than 700 signatures.

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