Councillor optimistic for Pan Am Games to boost Scarborough image

The city’s approval of Toronto’s bid to host the 2015 Pan American Games is a morale boost for Scarborough residents, says Councillor Glenn de Baeremaeker.

Having the games hosted in Toronto will be an advantage for youth in the city, the Scarborough Centre councillor said.

“I just think it’s a fabulous initiative,” de Baeremaeker said. “In Scarborough we would get an Olympic-calibre swimming pool built at U of T Scarborough.… Even after the games are done there’ll be dozens of new athletic facilities for young people.”

The proposal would equip the University of Toronto, Scarborough Campus, with a $170-million athletics complex, including the Olympic-size pool, a second 52-metre pool, a 10-metre diving tank, a field house, a training gymnasium, and spectator seats.

De Baeremaeker said having the approved bid would also improve infrastructure needs in Scarborough. Funds would be poured into the TTC’s Transit City initiative to build a light rail transit system along Eglinton and Sheppard avenues and extend it to Scarborough campus, while replacing the current Scarborough Rapid Transit.

“Long after the games have left, you’ll have all that infrastructure,” he said

However, he said an immediate impact on Scarborough residents would be more emotional and psychological, given the often negative image of Scarborough presented to non-residents by the media.

“I think the main impact for local residents is that surge of pride in celebrating who we are,” he said. “Scarborough rocks. It’s a fabulous place to raise a family and go to school, and it has fantastic parks. I think the image of Scarborough is wrong. We are a wonderful, vibrant, beautiful community filled with beautiful people.”

De Baeremaeker said he is optimistic about Toronto’s chances of winning over the Pan American Sports Organization because of the region’s stability and diversity. He notes the diverse nature of Toronto reflect the spirit of the games.

“We already have the entire United Nations in our city. I can’t imagine a single country that will come to Toronto and have no connection to their home country. We want to host the party that the rest of the world will come to.”