June 2016 – Article – EXPO 2025: Build It and 40-Million-Plus Visitors Will Come



That is what proponents of the Toronto EXPO 2025 bid believe.  Not only do they want to welcome the world, but unionized trades and contractors are ready to build all that is necessary to ensure the exposition’s success.

At present, a movement continues to galvanize the necessary partners – including all levels of government – for the support needed to proceed with the bid process.  The next hurdle was cleared earlier this month when Toronto City Council gave private sector proponents the green light to prepare a feasibility study.  The timeline is tight however, given the fact that the federal government is required to submit a bid letter this November – assuming the study supports moving the process forward.  The decision on who will host EXPO 2025 will be made by the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) in June of 2018.

In the meantime, it’s all hands on deck and full steam ahead!

As with the last EXPO bid by the City of Toronto in 2006 (for EXPO 2015 hosted by Milan, Italy), the Carpenters and Allied Workers Local 27 is taking a leadership role in the EXPO 2025 bid process.  Local 27 President Mike Yorke went to Milan last year to see first-hand how EXPO 2015 transformed the City of Milan.  He says upon winning the bid, “the Italians invested in infrastructure, mass transit, hotels and restaurants.”  In fact, the Milan EXPO is credited with taking the Milan area out of the recession.

That is the type of impact EXPO 2025 could have on Toronto, the Province, its construction industry, tourism and hospitality to name a few beneficiaries.

Yorke, who also is a Board Member for the Ontario Construction Secretariat (OCS), says “before any structures are built, a minimum $2-billion needs to be invested to build the necessary infrastructure including transit and other services.  Flood protection is required [for the Port Lands on which the EXPO is likely to be located], and as many as 50,000 housing units”.

The recent Pan Am Games provide insight into how significant a successful EXPO bid would have on the construction industry.

The Kilmer Group’s Ken Tanenbaum, the Vice Chairman of the firm which played a major role in building the Pan Am Athletes’ Village, says there was a spirit at the Pam Am job sites that “comes from diverse groups working together on a large civic project that inspires all citizens.”

“With an EXPO, you have a requirement to create a services pad on which you are going to invite the 169 members of the BIE to come and build their pavilions using Canadian lumber, steel and Canadian labour, possibly Canadian architects and engineers…so it really engages a wide spectrum”.

It is expected that EXPO 2025 will create 190-thousand new jobs over eight years.  That’s in the construction industry building the infrastructure, permanent structures and the pavilions that can be taken down after the EXPO and re-assembled elsewhere.  It also includes architecture and design, tourism, hospitality and manufacturing among others.

The Executive Director of the Residential and Civil Construction Alliance of Ontario (RCCAO) sees another advantage.  Andy Manahan says provincial legislation is in the works that will result in the creation of community benefit agreements.  “For multi-year infrastructure projects such as the development of the Port Lands, this is an opportunity to engage and channel local youth towards careers in construction.”

Manahan says “given the need for more apprentices in the construction industry, I see this challenge and the Expo bid as mutually reinforcing”.  He says the timelines work since many of the projects will be staged over an eight-year period.

The RCCAO is also one of 25 business organizations and leaders in the construction, design and infrastructure sectors that have formed a coalition to encourage Toronto Mayor John Tory and all of Toronto City Council to support the EXPO 2025 bid.  The coalition includes the likes of the Toronto and Area Road Builders Association, the Ontario Formwork Association, the Ontario Concrete Pipe Association, LiUNA Local 183, the Brick and Allied Craft Union of Canada and the Carpenters and Allied Workers Union Local 27.

“Planning and building EXPO 2025 would provide innumerable opportunities for the many union trades in our Province as well as their contractor partners”, says Sean Strickland, CEO of the Ontario Construction Secretariat.  “Our Board of Directors signed the Coalition letter at its March meeting and is pleased to join with other industry partners in fully supporting the process to develop a winning bid submission.”

The roadmap to a successful bid for EXPO 2025 includes some familiar ground given a similar bid for EXPO 2015 ten years ago. But supporters want to be better prepared this time.

The most important lesson learned from visiting the Milan EXPO last year was the need for “cohesion and collaboration from all three levels of government.”  Many sectors have already rallied behind this bid [trades, land development, hotel, etc.] to help create broad and industry sector support.  There has already been an amazing groundswell of support.

Yorke would also like Canada to rejoin the BIE as a member.  Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has already signalled that should Toronto decide to submit a bid, the federal government is “prepared to explore next steps.”

The construction industry is diverse and EXPO 2025 would provide a great boon to the various sectors to market their services and project expertise and skills.  Manahan agrees.  Because of their scope and size, “expositions tend to be good showcases on the world stage.”



Fred Lehmann
Communications Coordinator,


Katherine Jacobs
Director of Research,

Ontario Construction Secretariat (OCS)
180 Attwell Drive, Suite 360, Toronto, ON M9W 6A9
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