The Pan Am Games have so far proven to be a polarizing experience for Torontonians: some have been attending every game, while others have spent the past couple of weeks banging their heads against their steering wheels while sitting in traffic. A recent article in the New York Times went so far as to describe the games as having landed “with a thud” in the “apathetic” city.
If there’s one effect brought on by the Games that should please the masses, it’s the major improvements and revitalizations the city has undergone to prepare for them. The Games have brought with them some much-needed new infrastructure including an improved Union Station and the brand new Union Pearson Express — two key elements of the city’s growing transit system which will remain well after the games end this Sunday.
While not all of the revitalizations and new developments were completed for the Pan Am Games alone, the event certainly couldn’t have hurt in speeding up construction schedules. Check out a few of the major improvements and new developments that the 2015 Pan Am Games prompted:
West Don Lands/Athlete’s Village
Built: 2012 -2015
Location: Front Street East and Cherry Street
Highlights: Designed by a team of world-renowned architects including Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects, architectsAlliance and MacLennan Jaunkalns Miller Architects, the West Don Lands revitalization will leave an indelible mark on the area and the city as a whole well after the Pan Am Games end.
Developed by Dundee Kilmer, the community features several sustainable components and boasts LEED Gold certification. Following the games, the community will serve as an eco-friendly, mixed-use development with market-rate condominiums (Canary District and Canary Park), a YMCA recreational facility, two affordable housing residences, George Brown College’s first-ever student residence building and significant and well thought out retail.
CIBC Pan Am/Parapan Am Aquatics Centre and Field House
Built: September 27th, 2012 – September 2nd, 2014
Location: 875 Morningside Avenue
Highlights: As the largest Canadian investment in amateur sport history, the CIBC Pan Am/Parapan Am Aquatics Centre and Field House has certainly made a splash in the city. With two 10-lane, 50-metre pools, dry-land dive training space and a diving tank, the centre is the only facility in the GTA that fulfills the most recent international competition regulations.
The facility is hosting fencing, modern pentathlon, roller sports and sitting volleyball at the Parapan Am Games. Moving forward, the Canadian Sport Institute of Ontario is moving its headquarters to the facility so they can provide world-class coaching and training to athletes.
Union Pearson Express
Built: Spring 2012 – June 6th, 2015
Location: Four stops at Pearson Airport, Weston, Bloor (High Park/Junction Triangle) and Union (Downtown)
Highlights: The Union Pearson Express has been a project in the making for a while. The idea has been circulating around the city since the 1980s, and now it’s finally become a reality.
The train travels between Pearson Airport and Union Station every 15 minutes and has a total of four stops — Pearson, Bloor, Weston and Union. The trip takes just 25 minutes, making the commute to the airport much more convenient for tourists and Torontonians alike.
Built: June 2010 – expected completion in 2017/2030 (ongoing)
Location: Bay and Front
Highlights: The Union Station revitalization has also been a long time coming. Work began in June 2010 and it’s still a work in progress today — although the new York concourse and Front Street Facade opened just in time for the Games. By 2030, Union Station is expected to have doubled in size and undergone several significant improvements.
Built: October 2012 – June 19th, 2015
Location: Queen’s Quay
Highlights: On June 19th of this year, the revitalized Queen’s Quay was completed after a long three years of noisy construction, TTC reroutes and one-way traffic.
The impressive improvements include infrastructure and utility upgrades, a new roadway, north side sidewalks, a new streetcar corridor and the implementation of the Martin Goodman Trail, an ultra-wide trail for cyclists and joggers.
Centennial Park Pan Am BMX Centre
Built: 2013 – 2015
Location: 256 Centennial Park Road
Highlights: After many quarrels and heated debates, the BMX Centre at Centennial Park was finally added as a Pan Am Games venue. The 3.2-hectare course will be fully accessible to the public after the games, providing a much-needed hangout spot for BMX enthusiasts from all over the city.