Milton is racing to bid for the permanent Pan Am indoor cycling facility turned down by Hamilton council.
The council for the booming town of about 90,000 decided Monday make a pitch for the controversial velodrome after receiving a letter from Pan Am officials last week offering a last-minute chance to bid on the venue.
That letter was quickly delivered to several municipalities last Wednesday after Hamilton council effectively turned down a chance to build the 250-metre track by offering only $5 million towards the project, which Infrastructure Ontario estimates could cost up to $45 million. Pan Am cities are expected to pay, or find partners to help cover, about 44 per cent of new venue costs.
“We think it could be a really good fit for us, if all the pieces fall together,” Councillor Mike Cluett said Tuesday. “But it is a really, really tight timeline … and I think the general feeling is if we can’t reduce the impact on the taxpayer, it probably won’t happen.”
Cluett said the town is putting together a basic “expression of interest” by the Oct. 20 Pan Am deadline, but noted the “real work” involves trying to find other funding partners for the pricey project before Nov. 30 — the date Games officials have set for a host municipality to sign a binding agreement.
Councillors are tentatively looking at setting aside six of about 150 acres of town-owned land already slated for a research park partnership with Wilfrid Laurier University and Sheridan College.
Cluett said staff will go first to the academic institutions to gauge interest in shared project-funding. But private sector funding, he said, will be “the main focus.”
“Milton is growing so fast and the number of companies that want to be here is huge,” he said. “We think we have an opportunity (with the velodrome) to tap into that.”
This isn’t the first time Milton has stepped up with a Pan Am rescue offer when Hamilton appeared ready to drop the ball.
The town also offered a stadium site for the Games during the long-running argument over where the new home of the Ticats should go.
Mississauga councillors are expected to decide whether to bid on the velodrome in a meeting Wednesday.
From CHCH News