The proposed cost of preparing for Hamilton’s Pan Am party is about $3 million and counting.
City staff surprised some councillors Wednesday by pitching an annual $710,000 planning budget between next year and the 2015 Games.
The money is meant to cover the cost of a four-person Pan Am office, including the hiring of a new director, and program planning that could encompass everything from cultural celebrations to tourism advertising to accessibility improvements.
The cash, earmarked in the 2012 capital budget, won’t cover the yet-to-be-determined price of providing a practice field and meeting rooms for the Ticats during renovations to Ivor Wynne Stadium. Several councillors expressed discomfort about the growing tab for an event that is shrinking its footprint in Hamilton.
“I’m trying to justify this type of expenditure and this size of office and hiring a new director to be in charge of it, and I’m having trouble with it,” said Councillor Brad Clark, who asked staff to report back on the cost of the Pan Am office to date.
“What we originally envisioned for Hamilton was six or seven events. Now we’re down to two … We’re getting to the point where we will be spending millions for a big party for a very small group of people.”
Councillor Brenda Johnson noted the latest estimated planning price tag doesn’t include other possible expenses, such as security.