City council has approved a $2.25 million decision to proceed with phase two of the bid to host the 2017 World Expo, a fair that could eventually cost the city more than $3 billion to run, CTV News has learned.

City council began debating Wednesday whether to forge ahead with its bid for hosting the World's Expo as part of their 2009 budget deliberations.

Around noon today, council voted in favour of going ahead with the bid. The committee will now approach the Alberta government for the other half of the funds needed to proceed with the bid.

Mayor Stephen Mandel said there is no turning back after this.

"This is the first step once we commit to this, let's not fool ourselves -- we'll be obligated to commit to the next steps," he said.

There are four phases to the bid in total, costing about $22.5 million.

While the next phases of the bid could cost millions, it's the price tag for the actual Expo that has some councillors concerned.

Coun. Ron Hayter said approving the project is a challenge when tough economic times are looming.

"How can we sell that to citizens when we have this cloud hanging over," he said.

Council ended up unanimously approving the cash.

The new report reveals it cost Vancouver $1.3 billion to host the Expo in 1986 -- making the price for a future expo about three times higher due to inflation.

If approved, Edmonton would need to secure funding from the federal and provincial governments.

 Lindsay Blackett, Alberta's Culture and Community Spirit minister, said initial conversations have taken place between herself and Edmonton Expo organizers.

"We haven't been asked specifically for any dollar amounts," she said, adding she was unaware the fair could cost upwards of $3 billion to run.

"That is a pretty large sum of money," she said.

The recent numbers come after a previous report recommended council move forward with a bid for the Expo in 2017.

The report argued the city has the capacity and track record to pull off such an event.

With a report from CTV Edmonton's Kevin Armstrong