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Photos: James Bombales

It’s been over three months since the closing ceremonies of the 2015 Pan Am Games and while the athletes, medals and fanfare are long gone, the site of the former athlete’s village has been abuzz with action ever since. After hosting over 10,000 athletes from 41 countries, the West Don Lands site is currently being transformed into the Canary District by Dundee Kilmer Developments Limited, with the first occupancies scheduled for spring 2016.

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The 35-acre, master-planned community is one of the Pan Am Games’ most visible legacies, and will soon become an eco-friendly, LEED Gold-certified mixed-use development. When completed, the community will house market-rate condominiums, affordable housing units, a YMCA recreational facility, and a George Brown College student residence.

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BuzzBuzzHome News toured the site last week with Jason Lester, Senior Vice President of Urban Development at Dundee Kilmer, for an inside look at the work in progress.

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We started our tour at the brand new Cooper Koo Family YMCA on the north west corner of the site. The 82,000 square foot complex is the largest YMCA in the GTA and boasts two pools, a running track, several gyms and workout rooms, and an accessible green roof with 20,000 square feet of meadow and 10,000 square feet of programmable space.

“The YMCA will offer fantastic programming, not just for the Canary District but beyond,” said Lester. “People who work and live at the Distillery District, Corktown, St, Lawrence Market, and even Regent Park can access the programs at this Y.”

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As we made our way towards the Canary Park Condos on the north east end of the neighbourhood, we passed by several of the retail and commercial spaces that will soon call Canary District home. Dundee Kilmer partnered with LiveWorkLearnPlay Inc., a leading international real estate development and advisory firm, to secure a diverse group of retailers including Dark Horse, Pizza e Pazzi, Tabülè and Fuel Plus, a café and health food store. The Running Room, Think Fitness Studio, OpusGlow Concept Spa, and a Gears bike store will also be setting up shop within the community.

“We have over 30,000 square feet of development leased,” said Lester. “All the restaurants are themed health and wellness given the original use was for the Pan Am athletes village.”

In addition, the majority of these retail spaces are scheduled to open at the same time as new residents begin to take occupancy. And, since the roads, sidewalks and other infrastructure are already built residents won’t be moving into a construction site.

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Another major component of the Canary District are the public art pieces found throughout the neighbourhood. The developer, in partnership with Waterfront Toronto commissioned a total of six public art pieces in the community including The Water Guardians by Jennifer Marman, Daniel Borins and James Khamsi, as well as Toronto Lamp Posts by Japanese artist Tadashi Kawamata. A third installation on Front Street, called the Garden of Future Follies by Hadley+Maxwell is currently in fabrication and is scheduled to be installed in spring 2016.

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The next stop on the tour was at the Canary Park Condos where we got to see the athlete dorms in the midst of being converted to residential units. This laborious task involves installing full-sized kitchens, tearing down partition walls, and replacing acres of temporary carpeting.

“There’s about 300 to 350 people that are working in the buildings for the conversion work,” explained Lester. “It all has to be done by mid-March to early spring since we expect to have over 2,000 people living here by early summer.”

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While inside one of the suites, we got a great view of Corktown Commons Park, situated on the east, between Canary District and the DVP. The 18-acre park offers a wide variety of activity areas including a multi-function Pavilion, dog runs and bike and pedestrian pathways that connect to the Don Valley Trail system and the Martin Goodman Trail.

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While at Canary Park Condos, we also had the chance to visit the two model suites available for prospective homebuyers to tour by appointment.

The 631 square feet “M” model features a spacious bedroom complete with a walk in closet, a functional den off of the foyer and large L-shaped kitchen with plenty of storage.

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The second model suite is a 1,300 square foot two-storey townhome with two bedrooms, three bathrooms and a main floor den.

Suites at Canary Park Condos start at $241,900 and feature nine foot ceilings, high quality engineered wood floors in main living areas, and quartz countertops in kitchens and bathrooms. A stainless steel appliance package with a slide-in range, hood fan, microwave and fully integrated refrigerator and dishwasher is also included.

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We wrapped up our tour inside one of the 14th floor penthouses where we were treated to sweeping views of Canary District and the Toronto city skyline beyond.

To learn more about Canary Park Condos visit the presentation centre at 398 Front Street East, open Monday to Thursday from 12pm to 6pm, weekends from 12pm to 5pm, or by appointment.

For more information, call 416 603 7587, or email info@canarydistrict.com.

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