Feds won't back Edmonton's bid to host Expo 2017
The Associated Press
Published Tuesday, November 23, 2010 6:29AM EST
EDMONTON - The federal government will not support Edmonton's bid to host the world fair in 2017, prompting a stinging rebuke from the mayor, who charged the Tories are taking his city's electoral support for granted.
Federal Heritage Minister James Moore rejected the funding request in a letter to Mayor Stephen Mandel made public Monday.
Moore noted that the $706 million the city wanted from Ottawa didn't take the full cost of security into account and the true price tag to the federal government could easily have eclipsed $1 billion.
"That is a financial risk we are not prepared to take at this time," Moore wrote. "Particularly given our government's most recent budget, where we committed to 'aggressively review all spending to ensure value for money' with a goal of eliminating the federal deficit by 2015."
Estimates had pegged the total cost of Expo 2017 at $2.3 billion.
Alberta was supporting Edmonton's bid. Last week Premier Ed Stelmach said it is in the best interests of Canada to hold the fair in Edmonton and called on Ottawa to give an answer either way so that the city was not left hanging.
Mandel said he was "incredibly disappointed" at the federal government's decision and said the bid is dead.
"We think it would have been an amazing experience for our country...I think this is the most disheartened day I've had as an Edmontonian, as a Canadian, as an Albertan."
He also took aim at Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose, the member of the federal cabinet from Edmonton.
"She failed our city and failed the opportunity for this province to have an incredible celebration for the 150th birthday of our country to focus on the city that she's supposed to represent."
Mandel said Edmonton put in the bid at the request of the federal government and Ambrose, but not once did they get a phone call to talk about changing the bid.
"We don't believe they gave it a fair shot. We believe they will tell you that, but the fact of the matter is they didn't. They didn't care about Edmonton or the opportunity for our citizens."
Mandel, who easily won re-election just last month, noted that the only immediate federal commitment needed was $10 million to help with costs of the bid.
"The province guaranteed the capital costs, the federal government is talking about the massive cost it's going to be for security, and their own security people said it was not a risky proposition, but they're now concerned about all of Alberta and what might happen for security," Mandel said.
"The federal government didn't see fit that Edmonton was worth it...they're not going to invest in Canada at all."
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation praised Ottawa's decision.
"Citizens of Edmonton and the province of Alberta should be thanking the federal government showing leadership and saying no to a three-month party when governments at all levels are running deficits," said Alberta director Scott Hennig.
"The federal government is running up debt at a rate of $124 million per day, to say yes to helping fund a $2-$3 billion party would have been reckless."
The Tories won all but one of Alberta's 28 seats in the last election. The lone non-Conservative is NDP Linda Duncan, who holds an Edmonton riding.
"Having encouraged cities to put in bids, it is completely unfair that they would not follow up with federal support," Duncan said in a statement.