Expo bid receives cautious support

Alberta’s culture minister says the province is “cautiously supportive” of Edmonton’s push to land Expo 2017.

Alberta’s culture minister says the province is “cautiously supportive” of Edmonton’s push to land Expo 2017.

Lindsay Blackett says his department has requested more detailed information on the proposed bid.

That includes things like potential locations for the fairgrounds and an indication of public support.

The show of provincial support comes as a June deadline looms for the city to formally express interest with Ottawa in bidding on Expo 2017.

Edmonton must first be named Canada’s bid city by the federal government before moving onto the international competition.

But the city can’t enter the national competition without financial support from the province.

City officials believe it’s almost a sure deal.

“A funding commitment has not been received but is anticipated,” states a new report to city council.

This next phase of the bid process was initially expected to cost up to $4.5 million. The revised estimate is $2.3 million, with $1.3 million coming from the city and the rest requested from the province.

“The big question for Expo is what the province is going to do,” said Coun. Ben Henderson.

“We can’t go ahead unless we have the support of the province … We cannot do it by ourselves.”

There were some concerns raised this week when there was no mention of Expo in the provincial budget.

Blackett stressed that while the province may throw its support behind the next phase of the bid process, talk of funding the actual World’s Fair is premature, especially considering the current the state of the economy.

“There’s a huge difference between saying, ‘I support your bid to go try and I’ll give you $1 million,’ versus being on the hook for $1.2 billion or $1.3 billion if you win,” he said.

“But we won’t know that until we find out how feasible this is.”

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