Pan Am facilities to boost Toronto socially

Byron MacDonald’s eight-year wait has paid off.

In 2001, MacDonald wanted Toronto to win the 2008 Olympic bid so major projects could be bumped up the queue line.

Now eight years later, the former Olympian and head swim coach of the University of Toronto’s swim team is thrilled to see the Golden Horseshoe win the rights to host the 2015 Pan American Games for that same reason.

MacDonald said the new Pan Am facilities such as the aquatic centre at U of T Scarborough, and the Velodrome in Hamilton won’t just help athletes, but everyday people.

“Whenever you win [the right to host a set of Games], there are two different reasons to celebrate, one is on the athletic side, and one is on the social side,” MacDonald said.

As a result of Toronto winning the Pan Ams, projects such as the expansion of the TTC’s Scarborough-Malvern LRT line will begin sooner than originally expected so it is built in time for the Games.

Also, the athletes’ village at the West Don Lands area will turn into affordable housing after 2015.

“The reason I wanted Toronto to win the Olympic bid [in 2001] is that it would have forced us to push up the social agenda and get things built faster.” MacDonald said.

“We’re going to get new facilities built which we desperately need, and the [Scarborough-Malvern] LRT line will connect to the U of T Scarborough campus and bring a lot of traffic to that neighbourhood.”

Toronto’s bid was chosen over ones submitted by Bogota, Colombia, and Lima, Peru.