Pan Am facilities benefit local athletes

Local sports clubs are thrilled about the prospect of using the new world-class athletics compound slated to be built at the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus.

“Everybody is excited and it’s overdue to have a facility in the area,” said Robyn Bate, head coach at the Scarborough Diving Club. “Most of us run out of high school pools, so for us to go from there to a full facility with a 10-metre [diving] tank and a 50-metre pool is unbelievable.”

Bate said the new facility will serve Scarborough and the rest of the GTA , as clubs travel from as far as Burlington and London to use pools in Toronto.

Bates adds that she feels the new complex will be important for the survival of aquatics in the city.  “I don’t foresee another pool coming around for years and years.”

Plans for the facility include two Olympic-sized swimming pools, as well as a running track and racquet courts.

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Although the complex’s main purpose is to serve the needs of the Pan Am Games, it is to be made available to the university and general public by 2014.

“We expect to start construction at the very end of 2011 or beginning of 2012,” said Laura Matthews, director of communications and public affairs at UTSC. “The intention is that the facility will be operational a year before the games will open.”

“It will serve many different groups,” said Matthews. “It’s going to be a great place for recreational athletes and people interested in a healthy lifestyle.”

A shared-use agreement with the city and the university will be written to help determine who gets access to the complex.

“We’ll look at scheduling for when the community can use the site and when U of T can use the site,” said Ward 44 councillor Ron Moeser, a supporter of the bid.

“There will be times when it’s open to both [the community and the students], there will be times when just students can use it and all those things will be decided based on the needs of the community and university.”

The cost for the public to use the facilities is yet to be determined, but Moeser would like to make it as accessible and inclusive as possible.

“A lot of it will be free,” he said. “For seniors, I’d like to make sure it’s free because they’ve made their contributions over the years.”