PanAm Games: the face of Toronto will change

When the winning candidate for the 2015 Pan-American Games is announced Friday afternoon, there will be more at stake for Toronto then just sports glory.

Improvements to the city’s infrastructure also hang in the balance.

Sports facilities would be the immediate beneficiaries of a successful pitch, in particular there will be five sites that will be created to accommodate the PanAm Games that officials believe will leave a lasting legacy in Toronto:

• The Canadian Sport Institute Ontario will provide interdisciplinary training, sport science, state-of-the-art equipment, sport medicine and advanced coaching.

• The Pan American Aquatics Centre, at the University of Toronto Scarborough, featuring a dive tank and twin 50-metre pools, will be the premier aquatics facility in Canada.

• Two additional 50-metre training pools, one located on each side of the Toronto region, are also part of the venue legacy.

• Pan American Stadium in Hamilton will create the capacity for hosting world-class competitions and also have an extensive community legacy.

• The Pan American Velodrome, at Hamilton, will be the only indoor 250-metre cycling track in Canada and one of only two in North America.

(View a complete *.PDF on all the facilities included in the bid.)

“I wish we had more facilities when I was growing up because we were kind of limited to certain places to go and work out,” said Priscilla Lopes-Schliep, a bronze medallist in the women’s 100-metre hurdles at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, raised in Scarborough.

“This is going to help bring more opportunity for the younger generation. Once the Games have taken place and the facilities are there, it’s going to enrich those kids and help with other events.”

According to the bid’s organizing committee, there will be other long lasting benefits for the people of Toronto.

Bob Richardson, a spokesman Toronto’s bid committee, told CBC News the games will improve the city’s social infrastructure.

Public transit will be expanded in Scarborough, making it easy for fans and athletes to attend events at the Pan American Aquatics Centre.

This would be a shot in the arm to the Greater Toronto Area’s public transportation system, one already undergoing extensive expansion as part of the Toronto Transit Commission’s TransitCity initiative.

Plans for the athlete’s village call for an 80-acre site in the city’s waterfront district alongside the Don River. According to the bid’s website:

“The secure perimeter of the Village will enclose an 18-acre park featuring running and cycling trails, a recreation/fitness centre, a 400 metre track and a 50 metre pool.”

At the completion of the games, the residential buildings will become a diverse and ecologically sustainable residential and mixed-use development.

“We’re building 8,500 units of housing in the Toronto port lands,” Richardson said to the CBC.

Some of that development will be offered as affordable housing on what the organizing committee describes as “a previously underutilized site.”

All of these projects are pending the approval of the 2015 Pan American Games bid itself, and even then may be subject to change.

Toronto is competing against Lima, Peru, and Bogota, Columbia. The winner of the bid will be announced Friday, after 5 p.m. ET.