November 19, 2013 (Milton, ON) – The Milton council has adopted a funding plan for the Mattamy National Cycling Centre (Milton Velodrome) currently under construction for the Toronto 2015 Pan/Parapan Am Games (TO2015). While the motion to adopt the plan passed 8-2 on November 11, some members of council objected to the short notice they were given to study the plan. Pedal reached both the Town of Milton and Greg Mathieu, CEO of Cycling Canada for comment.
The plan sees the TO2015 Legacy Fund providing $735,850 annually to Milton to cover the operating costs during the facility’s first three years of operation. It is unclear what funding will extend beyond these three years, but the Legacy Fund sits on some $70 million that is expected to last a minimum of 20 years and is destined for the velodrome as well as other new facilities in Toronto. Milton council has already committed to funding $17 million of the estimated $56 million cost of the velodrome.
“It will be beyond 2016 that they will need to go to the Legacy Committee to present their case annually based on operational realities that have been confirmed over the first three years of operation,” explained Mathieu. “There is no way of knowing what the amount requested or allocated will be at this point.”
“The funding is for the first three years (2014-2016) of operation as there is a sense that each of the three legacy facilities will have a ‘settling’ out period once the respective owners take over and operate each of the venues with the Games year being an anomaly that is built in to the equation (i.e. loss of facility access for extended period),” continued Mathieu.
The Toronto Star published an article in late October reporting the velodrome to be over budget but then quickly printed a retraction, stating that the velodrome is indeed currently on budget.
“We were surprised to see that comment given the role Infrastructure Ontario plays in the design, build and finance process,” commented Mathieu. “There has been a lot of misinformation from various sources that seem bent on finding negatives to the wonderful story that is the hosting of the Pan and Parapan Am Games. This is an incredible opportunity that has been given to Toronto and the Golden Horseshoe to acquire much-needed sport and recreation infrastructure. Retractions seldom gain the same prominence as erroneous statements.”
Milton Community Services Director Jennifer Reynolds clarified that because the facility will unlikely be open during the entirety of 2014, the Town wouldn’t likely use the full allocation (of $735,850) until after the Games.
“The two other facilities that will also benefit from the Legacy Fund are the aquatic centre at the University of Toronto (UTSC) and the CIBC Pan Am/Parapan Am Athletics Stadium at York University,” Reynolds told Pedal. “There is a formula for distribution of funds depending on high performance use of the facility, capital costs, and maintenance costs. We worked in tandem with Cycling Canada to estimate high performance use.”
Reynolds said she understood why some Milton councillors expressed frustration that they only received details of the funding plan last week and presumably did not have sufficient time to study it. “This was not received well by all our council,” she stated. “Staff was able to study the plan longer, but had to keep it confidential [in advance of a November 12 press conference in Toronto].” Meanwhile, Mayor Gord Krantz admitted that the federal and provincial governments are “calling the shots” but promised his council is being transparent and up-front on the deal as reported by Inside Halton.
Milton officials are also frustrated that a request was declined for their town to have a say in how legacy funds are dispensed. The deciding committee is currently has representation from the federal and provincial governments, the Canadian Olympic Committee and the City of Toronto. Milton had requested a seat on this committee.
There has also been some speculation that the Milton Velodrome – once completed – will draw cyclists away from existing velodromes, but Mathieu contests this notion: “Given that track cycling is a facility-specific sport, unlike road cycling, it is our view that the number of riders entering and staying in track cycling will increase substantially in Ontario over the initial years of the Milton facility being available. It is analogous to the Olympic Speed Skating Oval in Calgary in the sense that there are more speed skaters trying to get to the highest level and more users of community-based facilities all around the country. This is value-added and should not detract substantially from any existing facilities in Ontario.”
“The Toronto 2015 Games will be a game-changer for Canadian summer athletes,” said Curt Harnett in a press release. The four-time Olympian, three-time Olympic medalist in cycling is the chef de mission for Canada’s TO2015 Pan American Games team. “Not only are they providing much needed sport infrastructure in Ontario, but today’s announcement means these venues will continue to offer our athletes the world-class facilities and conditions they deserve,” he added.
The velodrome is scheduled to be substantially completed, which means usable, by August 31, 2014 with two events including the Canadian Track Championships scheduled for October. Reynolds estimated that construction will be about 50% complete by January, 2014. The Pan Am Games are scheduled for July 10-26, 2015 while the Parapan Am Games are scheduled for August 7-14, 2015.