ExpandOverview

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.

ExpandAssessment Framework

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).

ExpandStrategic Hosting Principles for Category A and B Events

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 Actions, Creative 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.

Toronto Significant Event Investment Program

The Toronto Significant Event Investment Program (TSEIP) supports the City of Toronto Bidding and Hosting Strategy for Significant Special Events.

Completed applications received by Monday, September 18, 2017 at 12 noon will be reviewed and reported to City Council with recommendations by the end of 2017. Subsequent applications will be accepted and evaluated as quickly as possible, probably on a quarterly basis. Please note that grants cannot be made for events that have already occurred when the application is considered by Council.

Please carefully read the guidelines, strategy, and accompanying documents to ensure the event meets the parameters of this program. Applications will be scored against the criteria listed in the Application Guide and will also be examined by a peer review panel.

Application Guide - Events and Bids beyond January 1, 2018

Expand2.0 Eligibility Requirements

Applicants that fail to meet any of the Eligibility Requirements will be deemed ineligible.

2.1 Mandatory Requirements

To be eligible for TSEIP funding the event must meet all of the following mandatory eligibility requirements:

  • Applicant organization has legal not-for-profit or charitable status (established by or under legislation; federally or provincially incorporated; Aboriginal organizations) in Canada;
  • Applicant organization in existence for one year or longer as of the date of submission;
  • Applicant organization is not in default of the terms and conditions of any permits, fees, taxes, grant or loan agreement with any division, agency, board or commission of the City of Toronto;
  • None of the proposed expenses will be used for recurring costs to fund the applicant organization;
  • The event occurs, or has the majority of housing (e.g. hotel rooms), programs or activities, in the City of Toronto;
  • Event is open to the public, for free or by ticket;
  • Information provided in the application and related attachments is true, correct and complete (as verified by an authorized official).

2.2 Eligible Events

Events must qualify as Category A or B as per the City of Toronto Standard Definitions approved by City Council in October 2013 as a classification system that assists in the development of effective policies and operational practices in support of special events. Categories A and B are considered to be significant events, resulting in a strong economic, social, and cultural impact.

This program and policy generally does not cover "Mega International Events" as defined by City Council in the June 7, 2016 adopted report Implementation of the Mayor's Advisory Panel Recommendations for Future "Mega" International Event Bidding and Hosting in the Toronto Region [PDF]. Early stage feasibility studies for these events may be eligible. Mega Events are the top tier of event hosting, including the Olympics, World Expos, Commonwealth Games and FIFA World Cup. Required resources and funding strategies will be included for consideration individually as part of future budget processes.

Category A

Significant special events hosted in rotating jurisdictions on a cyclical basis, generating considerable economic benefits for the host region, and requiring substantial coordinating efforts from the host government.

  • Length: Could vary from a day to a month
  • Frequency: Not occurring annually or repeating within five years
  • Number of venues, roads or sites: Unlimited (usually many)
  • Attendance: Unlimited (usually over 200,000)
  • Out-of-town Attendance: Over 50,000 out-of-town draw
  • Quantity of City permits and/or approvals required: Unlimited (usually many)
  • Value of City services required: Over $100,000
  • City coordination required: Multiple levels of government coordination and/or City-wide divisional coordination
  • Measured Benefits: High economic and business benefit, utilizes 3 or more hotels, provides the City of Toronto with media/branding opportunities via television, radio, or print advertising

Category B

Non-recurring* special events of a slightly smaller scale as well as existing high-profile annual festivals. In the latter case, requests will only be considered if the event includes a major one-time enhancement that significantly increases the event's global profile and impact.

  • Length: Could vary from a day to a month
  • Frequency: often held annually
  • Number of venues, roads or sites: Up to 5 locations
  • Attendance: 20,000 to 200,000
  • Out-of-town Attendance: Minimum 25% out-of-town draw
  • Quantity of City permits and/or approvals required: 5 to 10
  • Value of City services required: Up to $100,000
  • City coordination required: Over 3 City Divisions
  • Measured Benefits: International, national and local media coverage, economic and business benefit, promotes the City of Toronto within the event's marketing campaign

* 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.

2.3 Ineligible Events

  • Events that seek to attract only a special interest audience or recruit new members (e.g. religious or political gatherings and workshops)
  • Trade fairs, events of a primarily commercial nature (e.g. consumer shows, symposia, conventions, meetings and conferences, seminars and clinics)
  • Annual Events that already receive funding through a City of Toronto grant program are not considered to be eligible for additional support unless a significant one-time enhancement is proposed.
  • Events that have received funding from the TSEIP program in the past 5 years, unless under "Contribution Level C New Events" (See Section 3.0)

2.4 Eligible and Ineligible Expenses

The value of in-kind expenses is not included in the determination of MSERF eligible cash operating expenses.

Eligible - Event Bid

  • Bid Fees
  • Design and production of promotional material required for the bid, including the bid book and a bid-related video
  • Fees toward feasibility studies, surveys, economic impact analysis, etc.

Eligible – Event Hosting

  • Fees paid to artists, musicians, performers, celebrities, special guests, marquee athletes and speakers
  • Programming and production costs
  • Eco-friendly services
  • Accessibility services
  • Volunteer training
  • Audience surveys, research or economic impact studies
  • Translation costs
  • Event advertising, promotion and marketing costs
  • Venue and facility rentals
  • Site services such as security, sanitation products and shuttle buses
  • City of Toronto permits, services and fees


Applicants must demonstrate how any expenses associated with their event will promote City Priorities, increase tourist attendance and spending.

Ineligible – Bid and Event

  • Capital costs related to permanent structures and acquisitions (e.g. materials, labour, motorized vehicles, land acquisition, purchase of equipment for construction, etc.)
  • Travel and accommodations
  • Meals and hospitality, including receptions and sponsor hosting
  • Alcohol
  • Core administration and overhead costs such as rent, telephone and communication lines/services, computers, utilities, insurance, maintenance costs and any operational expenses related to an organizations ongoing activities
  • Permanent staff salaries and travel costs
  • Legal, audit and interest fees
  • Equipment
  • Taxes, including refundable Harmonized Sales Tax  or other refundable expenses
  • Budget deficits

2.5 One Application

The City of Toronto will only consider one application per event.

Expand3.0 City of Toronto Contributions and Investments

3.1 Contribution Levels

The maximum level of TSEIP funding support is as follows:

Level A – Hosting

Event Hosting for Non-recurring Category A or B events are eligible to receive towards eligible cash expenses a maximum of up to $500,000 or as approved by Toronto City Council.

Level B – Enhancing & Growth

Event Bidding OR Significant enhancements to existing Category B events OR existing events seeking transitional strategic growth fundingare eligible to receive towards eligible cash expenses a maximum of up to $200,000.

Level C – Developmental

New and start up events that have never been produced before and demonstrate significant potential for growth are eligible to receive up to $100,000 towards eligible cash expenses for the initial development of the event concept, including feasibility and other planning studies, and/or initial event execution.

Note: Successful bids and developed event concepts (Level B and C) receiving funding may still eligible for consideration for event hosting funding (Level A) in future years.

3.2 Contribution Conditions

Contribution Levels are subject to the following conditions:

  • Funding can be awarded over multiple years up to a maximum of three consecutive years, in respect of ramp up funding or other budgetary considerations.
  • The operating expenses described must be for the event itself, not for the operating expenses of the applicant organization.
  • The allocations, if approved, represent the City's total contribution to an event. Event organizers are expected to make use of the funds to cover the cost of municipal services for an event, such as permit fees, facility rentals, policing, and other City services. Additional in-kind costs will not be absorbed by the City.
  • Requests for the City of Toronto to become the primary organizer, guarantor or to undertake any open-ended guarantee will not be considered.  
  • A portion of funding, up to 5% of the total grant, will be held back until a complete final report as set out in section 6.4 below is received.

3.3 Contribution Priorities

Funding priority will be given to events that demonstrate:

  • Social Development - principles of social equity, social well-being and citizen engagement, as an important determinant of healthy communities and quality of life.
  • Economic Vitality - the health of the city's economy and includes such factors as diversified employment, skilled workforce, competitiveness, investment and affordability.
  • Environmental Sustainability - principles of environmental balance and the integration of environmental considerations in our social and economic activities.
  • City Building - City building views the city as a whole and focuses on investment in social and physical services and infrastructure which are fundamental to the city's quality of life.
  • Cultural Vitality – evidence of creating, disseminating, validating, and supporting arts and culture as a dimension of everyday life in Toronto.

3.4 Available Funding

The allocation of funding to Event Bid and Event Hosting projects will be determined by the number of applications received and the balance available within the Major Special Event Reserve Fund which funds the Toronto Significant Event Investment Program.

The City of Toronto cannot guarantee funding to all applicants, nor can the City ensure that the total amount requested by a successful applicant will be granted.  The decision to fund all or part of an applicant's request will depend on its alignment with City of Toronto strategic priorities, assessment criteria and overall demand for funds in the program.

Expand4.0 Application

4.1 Application Deadlines

Completed applications that are received by Monday, September 18, 2017 at 12 noon will be reviewed and reported to City Council with recommendations by the end of 2017.

Applications can be submitted at any time and will be processed as received provided funding is available within the Major Special Events Reserve Fund.

Decisions on funding may take up to six months from the date of receiving a complete application to process depending on Toronto City Council schedules and deadlines. Please note that grants cannot be made for events that have already occurred when the application is considered by Council

4.2 Application Submission

Please contact Laura Jane Elkin at laurajane.elkin@toronto.ca to receive the Application Form and TSEIP Financial Form.

Completed applications may be submitted by mail, email or in person to:

Laura Jane Elkin
Supervisor, Event Support
Economic Development & Culture
Toronto City Hall, 9th Floor, East Tower
100 Queen Street West
Toronto, ON M5H 2N2

4.3 Application Requirements

All Applications must include the following forms:


All Applications must include the following attachments:

  • Proof of organizational status (e.g. Letters Patent, Constitution, By-Laws)
  • List of Board of Directors/Executive and Senior Staff
  • List of community partners, sponsors or other organizations involved with the event and the nature of partnership
  • Insurance Certificate for a minimum of $5 million legal liability naming the City of Toronto as an additional insured (if not available at time of application, must be supplied when executing the Funding Agreement)
  • Estimated Impact Study or Analysis for the event including economic, tourism and hotel benefits
  • Letters or confirmation of funding from other levels of government or the private sector
  • Most recent host organization Audited Financial Statement


Applicants are welcome to attach additional information such as a Business Plan or Feasibility Study to support their submission.

Expand5.0 Assessment and Evaluation

5.1 Eligibility Criteria and Completeness

City Staff will review the applications for completeness and to ensure they meet the Eligibility Criteria. Additional information and/or clarification may be requested where necessary.

5.2 Assessment Score

Applications will be evaluated against the Strategic Hosting Principals and assigned a score. The five categories are weighted as follows to develop a final score.

  • Start from a position of strength - 15%
  • Optimize Toronto as a host city and region - 15%
  • Advance key City-building priorities - 25%
  • Responsibly manage hosting costs, resources and risks - 15%
  • Generate benefits and legacies for all Torontonians - 30%

5.3 Strategic Hosting & Bidding Principals

Events must align and are scored against how well they meeting the Strategic Hosting Principals.

Start from a Position of Strength Strong Medium Weak
Does the event have the necessary support from other government partners? Consideration is given to the degree of support afforded to an event from other orders of government. There is an expectation that event bidding and hosting costs are shared between the three levels of government.

Yes, all partners have pledged support.

Confirmed.
Event has secured some government support, and has a strong likelihood of additional investment. 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?

Commitments from the private sector are essential to the success of significant events. Private support can take many different forms – including cash sponsorship, in-kind contributions of materials and services, unpaid media coverage, and more.

Public sector funding is also seen as "seed" funding from which private support can be leveraged. In such cases, consideration is given to an event's potential to secure private sector support.
Private sector support has been secured, and there is considerable potential for additional partnerships. No support has been secured to date, but there is considerable potential for private support. 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? Events should implement a thorough community outreach and engagement plan.

The City will carefully consider how the event organizer plans to reach out to local communities, and make recommendations for how to enhance engagement strategies when applicable.

Actively engaged through a range of strategies. Engaged in limited way with plans for more. 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? For events led by a third-party organization, consideration is given to the organization's governance structure, financial position, and track record in producing successful events of commensurate size. Organization has strong governance and proven track record of hosting successful Category A or B events. Good governance, but limited track record of hosting A or B events. Limited capacity has been demonstrated.

Is there a high degree of confidence in the success of a bid? Not all 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.
If the event has already been secured by a third-party organizer before the City is approached for support, greater weight will be given to the other criteria in this section.

Understand process, strong concept and confident of success; or, bid has been secured. Understand process, and somewhat confident of success. Lack of clarity about process and no certainty of success.
 Optimize Toronto as a Host City  Strong  Medium Weak

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

The City places 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. 

High degree of public value. Some degree of public value. Limited public value.
Advance Key City-Building Priorities  Strong  Medium  Weak
Will the event advance key City-building priorities, per Council-endorsed strategies such as City Council's 2013-2018 Strategic Actions; Creative Capital Gains [PDF], the City's cultural plan; and Collaborating for Competitiveness [PDF], the City's economic development strategy. This assessment method is updated as Council adopts new strategic plans or actions to further Toronto's growth. Achieves two or more Council-endorsed strategies. Achieves one Council-endorsed strategy. Does not contribute to any Council-endorsed strategies.
Responsibly Manage Hosting Costs, Resources and Risks  Strong  Medium  Weak

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?

The City and its partners must take steps to minimize financial exposure, and mitigate for other risks associated with the delivery of a 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 must be confirmed prior to the City providing additional support to an event.
Plans are in place to ensure all costs and risks are well managed. Plans are in place, but one or more risks have yet to be resolved or addressed. No plans currently in place.
Generate benefits and legacies for Toronto  Strong  Medium  Weak

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

When considering the legacy of an event, consideration will 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 under-served communities; or, its legacy may be raising the public profile of an athletic discipline or art form in Toronto.
Will deliver a range of benefits and leave positive long-term legacies for communities across Toronto. There will be some benefits, but more short-term or focused on a specific stakeholder group. No meaningful community benefits or legacies.

5.4 Peer Review Panel

The Economic Development and Culture Division will establish an annual Peer Review Panel of 3 to 5 members to advise staff on the merits of the applications, provide advice on the feasibility and quality of the event, and offer professional assessments of the organization's governance, financial capacity, community impact and legacy. Members of the panel must show no conflict of interest with applicants and represent a broad and diverse base of expertise and a professional knowledge of the events sector.

5.5 Report to Toronto City Council

Recommendations for funding are reported to and subject to Toronto City Council through the Budget Submission process or Staff Report.

Applicants will have an opportunity to make a deputation to a Committee of City Council regarding their application.

Expand6.0 History, Objectives and Reporting

6.1 City of Toronto Bidding and Hosting Strategy

In anticipation of the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games, the Major Special Events Reserve Fund (M-SERF) was created by Council in 2013 for  non-recurring expenses associated with bidding for and hosting major special events. In June 2016, City Council approved the City of Toronto Bidding and Hosting Strategy for Significant Special Events to guide priorities and evaluate requests from the M-SERF and to provide a framework for managing and evaluating Category A and B event opportunities in Toronto. See staff report and strategy [PDF].

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.

Objectives for the Strategy include:

  • Position Toronto as a preferred host for significant events 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.


A similar framework can also be applied to City-initiated bid or event opportunities without a formal bid.  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.

6.2 Acknowledgement, Oversight and Reporting

Applicants should be aware that the City of Toronto is bound by the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act R.S.O. 1990, c.M. 56, as amended from time to time, and that any information provided to the City in connection with their application may be subject to disclosure in accordance with the requirements of the Act.  Additionally, requests for funding may be presented through a public report to Toronto City Council.

Successful applicants will be required to:

  • Sign a Funding Agreement with the City of Toronto outlining the terms and conditions for receiving funds.
  • Carry at least $5 million commercial general liability insurance coverage for the duration of the Funding Agreement, and add the City of Toronto as an additional insured on this coverage before the Funding Agreement can be executed.
  • Sign the City of Toronto's Declaration of Non-Discrimination Policy Form
  • Report back to the City of Toronto within 90 days following the bid deadline or event on the use of funds, service deliverables and outcomes achieved. (See section 3.7)
  • Permit the City of Toronto to verify/audit information, at its expense (at the discretion of the City) to ensure that it is complete and accurate, and that funds were used for the purpose(s) intended.
  • Agree that if the funds are not used, or will not be used, for the intended purpose(s), specific services are not delivered, or intended outcomes are not achieved, the City has the right to recover the funds.
  • Obtain City of Toronto approval for any change to the proposed project (once funding is approved).
  • Acknowledge the City of Toronto's support with use of the City of Toronto logo, under the conditions for use of said logo, in electronic and print media as part of a visible campaign.


Events must comply with all applicable federal, provincial and municipal laws, legislation (e.g. zoning by-laws, labour, health and safety, animal welfare, accessibility, etc.)

City of Toronto Grants Policy

City of Toronto Grants are delivered in accordance with the City of Toronto Grants Policy [PDF].

The City of Toronto promotes and maintains responsible and accountable governance, where the interests of individuals and communities are balanced with those of the city as a whole.  Public participation is an integral part of the City’s decision-making process.  The City of Toronto Grants Policy is guided by five core values: accessibility, fairness and equity, openness and transparency, accountability, and responsiveness.

6.3 Working Group/City Representation

Successful events will be assigned lead staff and/or a working group with representation from key City divisions, agencies, boards and commissions to coordinate the delivery of municipal services during the event. The staff and/or working group collaborates with event organizer to streamline client service and resolve issues as they arise.

6.4 Final Report

Successful applicants will be required to provide the following material as part of the mandatory post-project reporting process:

  • Report on activities and programs including:
    • How event met objectives and goals of the project
    • How event met City Priorities
    • Legacies remaining to the community as a result of the event
  • Economic Impact Analysis/Report and statistical data including:
    • Event statistics ( attendance, participants, hotel rooms, etc)
  • An audited financial statement that accounts for event revenue and expenditures prepared by an accredited accountant external to the recipient.
  • A detailed statement of how city funding was utilized
  • Media and Marketing summary including the media value, gross impressions and reach of the campaign
  • A summary of all City of Toronto acknowledgements made using the City of Toronto logo associated with the event.
  • A sample of marketing materials (e.g. print, radio, television) related to the event.

A portion of funding, up to 5% of the total grant, will be held back until a complete final report is received within four months from the end of the event or as stipulated in the legal agreement.