The City of Toronto Bidding and Hosting Strategy for Significant Special Events was adopted by Toronto City Council on June 7, 2016. See full report and background information.

The City of Toronto Bidding and Hosting Strategy for Significant Special Events provides a framework for managing and evaluating Category A and B event opportunities in Toronto. Objectives for the Strategy include:

  • Position Toronto as a preferred host for significant events and conventions that have or could have a notable international profile.
  • ­Implement a proactive approach to developing, promoting, and incentivizing competitive event bids.
  • ­Respond to event bid opportunities as efficiently as possible in order to maximize the impact and legacy of the 2015 Pan American / Parapan American Games.
  • ­Identify dedicated resources to support competitive event opportunities that provide a high return on investment for the City.
  • ­Work closely with partners to increase the development of expanded event hosting capabilities in Toronto.

This Strategy is intended to apply to Category A and B special events, as defined in the City of Toronto Standard Definitions for Special Events. Other event categories, including Mega, C, D, and E, fall outside of the scope of this Strategy due to their size. However, the Strategic Hosting Principles outlined below can apply broadly to special events of all sizes, and may be considered as a tool for event organizers to consider as part of future growth strategies.

Taken together, the Strategic Hosting Principles form an evaluative framework, as summarized below.
Strategic Hosting Principles for Category A and B Events

1) Start from a Position of Strength

Does the event have the necessary support from other government partners?

  • Strong – Yes, all partners have pledged support.
  • Medium – Event has secured some government support, and has a strong likelihood of additional investment.
  • Weak – No, or limited government support.

Does the event demonstrate the potential to secure support and commitments from the private sector, including corporate sponsors and/or philanthropic donors?

  • Strong – Private sector support has been secured, and there is considerable potential for additional partnerships.
  • Medium – No support has been secured to date, but there is considerable potential for private support.
  • Weak – No corporate support and there is limited potential for private support.

Does the event engage the local community in a meaningful way and respond to their interests and concerns?

  • Strong – Actively engaged through a range of strategies.
  • Medium – Engaged in limited way with plans for more.
  • Weak – No community engagement to date.

In cases where an event is led by a third party organization, does the event organizer demonstrate sufficient capacity to successfully execute the proposed event?

  • Strong – Organization has strong governance and proven track record of hosting successful Category A or B events.
  • Medium – Good governance, but limited track record of hosting A or B events.
  • Weak – Limited capacity has been demonstrated.

Is there a high degree of confidence in the success of a bid?

  • Strong – Understand process, strong concept and confident of success; or, bid has been secured.
  • Medium – Understand process, and somewhat confident of success.
  • Weak – Lack of clarity about process and no certainty of success.

2) Optimize Toronto as a Host City

Do the investments in both the bid and hosting concept have public value?

  • Strong – High degree of public value.
  • Medium – Some degree of public value.
  • Weak – Limited public value.

3) Advance Key City-Building Priorities

Will the event advance key City-building priorities and goals as articulated in City Council-endorsed strategies, including the City of Toronto Strategic Actions, 2013-2018; Creative Capital Gains, the City’s cultural plan; and Collaborating for Competitiveness, the City’s economic development plan?

  • Strong – Achieves two or more Council-endorsed strategies.
  • Medium – Achieves one Council-endorsed strategy.
  • Weak – Does not contribute to any Council-endorsed strategies.

4) Responsibly Manage Hosting Costs, Resources and Risks

Do the City and its partners have confidence that they can manage costs/resources and avoid or mitigate risks associated with hosting the event? Does the event have a guarantor?

  • Strong – Plans are in place to ensure all costs and risks are well managed.
  • Medium – Plans are in place, but one or more risks have yet to be resolved or addressed.
  • Weak – No plans currently in place.

5) Generate benefits and legacies for Toronto

Will the event generate broadly-shared benefits and will it leave a meaningful legacy for local communities after the event has ended?

  • Strong – Will deliver a range of benefits and leave positive long-term legacies for communities across Toronto.
  • Medium – There will be some benefits, but more short-term or focused on a specific stakeholder group.
  • Weak – No meaningful community benefits or legacies.

Evaluating Event Bidding and Hosting Opportunities
To date, requests to support a Category A or B event bid or hosting opportunity have been managed on a case-by-case basis. This Strategy addresses this gap by proposing a new assessment framework for third party-initiated opportunities, which represent the majority of Category A and B events. An overview of the assessment and delivery framework for Category A and B events is illustrated below.
Assessment and Delivery Framework for Third-Party Initiated Events

Step 1: Initial Assessment

Following receipt of a request from event proponent, staff will conduct an initial review to ensure eligibility as Category A or B event, and follow up with proponent for additional information as needed. Requests should be received a minimum of 8 weeks ahead of a review deadline.

Step 2: Consideration by Event Bidding and Hosting Advisory Panel

A new Bidding and Hosting Advisory Panel, comprising of senior City management and up to two external members, will assesses the request using the Strategic Hosting Principles. The Panel will meet at regular intervals, with special sessions as needed for time-sensitive opportunities

Step 3: Decision to Support

Using the Panel’s expert advice, a final decision to allocate funding or institutional resources in support of an event is made by the General Manager, Economic Development and Culture. This decision is dependent on availability of funds and will require consultation with the Deputy City Manager and Chief Financial Officer as well as Council approval, if it exceeds divisional resources. If applicable, City and proponent enter into formal funding agreement.

Step 4: Interdivisional Working Group

A working group with representation from key City divisions is formed to coordinate the delivery of municipal services during the event. Working group collaborates with event organizer to streamline client service and resolve issues as they arise.

Step 5: Evaluation

Following the event, the third party organizer will submit a final report and budget to the City, including performance metrics to measure impact of investment.

Identification, Assessment, and Development of City-Initiated Bids
A similar framework can also be applied to City-initiated bids, or event opportunities without a formal bid. While it has been rare in the recent past for the City to lead a bid for Category A or B events, the adoption of a proactive approach to event bidding is encouraged to attract and secure events that best support the City’s economic, social, cultural, and infrastructure development goals.

Examples of Category A and B Event Bids
Examples of Category A and B events for which the City could consider placing a bid in the future are listed below. This list is intended to be representative of the different types of touring events, and includes cultural events, sporting competitions, and gaming championships. Consideration would need to be given to the value of each event in relation to the Strategic Hosting Principles, as well as funding availability.

  • Call of Duty Championship – Gaming championships for “Call of Duty”, drawing 10,000+ participants to host city.
  • Chess Olympiad – Biennial international chess tournament.
  • Commonwealth Games – Summer multi-sport games for Commonwealth countries.
  • Commonwealth Youth Games – Summer multi-sport games for youth from Commonwealth youth.
  • Deaflympics – Multi-sport competition for deaf athletes.
  • FEI World Equestrian Games – Eight World Championships in one event.
  • FINA World Aquatics Championships – World championships of aquatic sports – including swimming, diving, synchronized swimming, water polo, and others.
  • Gay Games – Sporting and cultural event for the LGBTQ community.
  • IAAF World Championships in Athletics – All track and field disciplines and events.
  • ICC Cricket World Cup – World championships of cricket, and one of the most viewed sporting events.
  • ICC U-19 Cricket World Cup – World championship cricket tournament, for athletes under age 19.
  • IIHF Women’s World Championships – World Hockey championships for women.
  • Juno Awards – Presented annually to Canadian musical artists and bands to acknowledge their artistic and technical achievements in all aspects of music.
  • Operalia Competition – International competition for young opera singers.
  • Rugby World Cup – Men’s rugby union tournament with the top international teams.
  • World Curling Championships – National men and women’s teams compete in world championships.
  • World Lacrosse Championship – Men’s world championships. Canada is current world champion
  • World Police and Fire Games – Led by police and fire departments, these international multi-sport games are for police and firefighters.
  • X Games – Annual sports event controlled and arranged by broadcaster ESPN.

Strategic Growth Funding for Toronto-based Annual Events
In exceptional cases, the City may consider requests for support from existing Toronto-based Category B events that will deliver a significantly expanded edition of the event, with demonstrated potential to have impact on a global scale through increased tourism and attendance, international media exposure, and spin-off benefits for local business. An example of one such expansion is Pride Toronto’s hosting of the 2014 edition of WorldPride in Toronto.
These enhancements would generally be expected to result in the re-classification of the event as being in Category A. Such funding would be offered on a one-time basis only.

Measuring Success
Category A and B events have the potential to deliver a strong return on investment for the City through direct economic impact, increased tourism, an enhanced global media profile, and social and cultural legacies. To assess the ongoing impact of Category A and B events, Economic Development and Culture will track the performance of City-supported events using a number of key performance indicators. For third-party events receiving financial support from the City, these metrics will be included as part of their final report.

Measurements of success will be developed to align with the Strategic Hosting Principles. Examples of such metrics include:

  • Start from a Position of Strength
    • ­Number of new corporate partnerships created as a result of event
    • ­Funds leveraged as a result of City support
  • Optimize Toronto as a Host City or Region
    • ­Detailed analysis of media impact, with metrics such as number of feature articles, media impressions including print, digital and social media, etc.
  • Advance Key City-Building Priorities
    • Number of City Strategic Actions supported by event
    • Metrics related to cultural impact, including number of artists engaged, new works commissioned, etc.
    • Metrics related to social development, including number of participants in community outreach programs, etc.

Generate Benefits and Legacies for Toronto
Projected visitor spending during event – Detailed breakdown of event attendance, with metrics such as the number of same day vs. overnight visitors, number of first-time visitors, geographic origin of visitors (e.g. number of visitors from outside Greater Toronto Area, outside of Canada, etc.)
In addition to tracking the success of individual City-supported events, it is recommended that the Strategy be evaluated as a whole once per Council term to identify areas of strength, and opportunities for improvement and growth. This evaluation will consider the cumulative impact of events support as part of this Strategy, and illustrate the legacy of the City’s investment.

Future Plans

The implementation of the Strategy, including identifying what events and how events are supported are in development.  This includes a process for utilizing the Major Special Event Reserve Fund (M-SERF).

This Strategy adopts the Strategic Hosting Principles proposed by the Mayor’s Advisory Panel on International Hosting Opportunities as an evaluative framework for assessing the merits of a Category A or B event bidding or hosting opportunity for which the City is asked to provide some level of commitment– including financial contributions, institutional resources, or political support. From time to time, the City is also asked to underwrite or guarantee the financial performance of an event. It is recommended that the City not undertake any open-ended guarantee due to the associated financial risks.

While the Principles were designed to apply to “Mega Events”, they can broadly be related to special events of all types and sizes. When using the Principles as a lens through which to evaluate Category A and B opportunities, there are several additional criteria which should be given careful consideration. A detailed explanation of the Strategic Hosting Principles as they relate to Category A and B events is included below.

1. Start from a Position of Strength

Support from Government Partners:

Consideration must be given to the degree of support afforded to an event from other orders of government. For Category A and B events, there is an expectation that event bidding and hosting costs are shared between the three levels of government.

Private Sector Support:

Commitments from the private sector are essential to the success of a Category A or B event. For smaller events, private support can take many different forms – including cash sponsorship, in-kind contributions of materials and services, unpaid media coverage, and more. It is important to note that many Category A or B events are likely to approach the City for support prior to securing commitments from the private sector, with public sector funding being seen as the “seed” funding from which private support can be leveraged. In such cases, consideration should be given to an event’s potential to secure private sector support.

Community Engagement:

As with any major City-building project, it is important for a proponent to implement a thorough community outreach and engagement plan. The City should carefully consider how the event organizer plans to reach out to local communities, and make recommendations for how to enhance engagement strategies when applicable.

Capacity of Event Organizer to Successfully Deliver Event:

An additional consideration for Category A and B events is to consider the capacity of the proponent to deliver a successful event. Most Category A and B events are led by a third-party organization, and accordingly consideration should be given to the organization’s governance structure, financial position, and track record in producing successful events of commensurate size.

Degree of Confidence in the Success of a Bid:

Not all Category A or B events involve a formal bidding process. If a bid process is involved, prior to confirming support for an event bid, it is essential that the City has a clear understanding of the bidding process and requirements, and have a high degree of confidence in the success of a bid before committing public funds. However, in many cases, a bid for a Category A or B event has already been secured by a third-party organizer before the City is approached for support. In such cases, or for events which have no formal bid, greater weight should be given to the other criteria in this section.

2) Optimize Toronto as a Host City

Assessing Public Value:

The City must place strong emphasis on the need for an event to create value for its constituents prior to committing financial or institutional resources. The City may consider a range of different factors when assessing public value – including, but not limited to, accessibility, relevance, spin-off benefits for local businesses and residents, the availability of free public events, potential for tourism, and more.

3) Advance Key City-Building Priorities

Alignment with Council’s Strategic Plans and Actions:

Council-endorsed strategic plans, including City Council’s 2013-2018 Strategic ActionsCreative Capital Gains, the City’s cultural plan, and Collaborating for Competitiveness, the City’s economic development strategy, offer a broad framework through which to assess whether an event contributes to current City-building priorities. This assessment method should be updated in the future as Council adopts new strategic plans or actions to further Toronto’s growth.

4) Responsibly Manage Hosting Costs, Resources and Risks

Mitigation of Risk:

The City and its partners must take steps to minimize financial exposure, and mitigate for other risks associated with the delivery of a Category A or B special event, including traffic disruptions, security issues, and the risk of negative public perception. In addition, some events may require a third-party guarantor to underwrite the cost of the event. In such cases, a guarantor should be confirmed prior to the City providing additional support to an event. It is recommended that the City not serve as a guarantor given the additional financial risks that this would entail.

5) Generate Benefits and Legacies for Toronto

Legacy of Event:

Unlike Mega events, few Category A or B events will result in new physical infrastructure. When considering the legacy of a Category A or B event, consideration should be given more broadly to the social, cultural and economic impact of the event. For example, an event may offer volunteer and training opportunities for underserved communities; or, its legacy may be raising the public profile of an athletic discipline or art form in Toronto.