One of my least favourite recurring themes at Toronto City Hall goes like this: An outside group tries to get city council to approve a big, vague idea with the promise that details will come later.
It happens way too often.
We saw it when the Ontario Lottery & Gaming Corporation tried to win council approval for a downtown casino, despite being super-vague about revenue estimates for the city.
We saw it again with the debate over the Scarborough subway, where city hall was asked to vote on a plan without a defined route.
And we’re seeing a similar situation play out with the plan to fly jets out of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, where councillors are being pushed to take sides on the issue, even though basic information is still TBD.
But these examples pale in comparison to the current talk of the town, the vaguest of vague ideas: the notion that Toronto should rush to bid for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games.
It’s hard to pinpoint the most frustrating part of Toronto’s current Olympic flirtation.
It might be the way boosters tend to only talk up the supposed benefits of hosting the Olympics, ignoring costs and glossing over the recent experiences of host countries that have been left with huge debts. They’re like characters from the Jurassic Park movies, forever optimistic that every new iteration of their dinosaur theme park won’t end with tyrannosauruses eating hapless tourists.
Even if Tory and the Canadian Olympic Committee are truly ready to bid, eventually there will still need to be a council vote. And that’s going to be a problem, as several members of city council have thrown cold water on the idea.
Does anyone really think the IOC is going to be thrilled with a bid from a city with a divided council?
But still, I think my biggest frustration comes back to the fact that this Olympic talk is just part of the same old pattern. Again and again, to the neglect of day-to-day issues like transit service and housing, civic leaders in Toronto insist on taking up the torch for big and vague ideas. And then, almost always, the public gets burned.
Matt Elliott lives and writes in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter @GraphicMatt
This post was originally published at http://www.metronews.ca/views/toronto/torys-toronto-matt-elliott/2015/09/13/the-2024-toronto-olympics-just-one-more-big-vague-idea.html on 2015-09-14T00:00:00.000Z