Walk Leaders Andrew Tenyenhuis and Scott Loudon
Text by: Rob Saunders
Photographs by: Rob Saunders
The summer of all summers is on the horizon. Toronto hosts the XVII Pan/Parapan American Games. The Summer Games of 2015, the most expensive in its history wield a significant footprint on the Greater Toronto Area. The show plays out in the Golden Horseshoe region, from St. Catherine’s, to Oshawa and north to Barrie, with Toronto as the epicentre.
Toronto is getting ready with the warmest of welcomes. Close to half of its 2.7m citizens are immigrants, tracing their origins from someplace else. The world is their city. The 41 nations of the Americas will compete on familiar turf, where cultural and community bonds befit the motto: “United We Play”.
Home away from home is the newly minted Athletes Village a neighbourhood now taking shape in the West Don Lands district. The centre with room for 10,000 visiting athletes and officials, is part of a novel new urban environment set within the Toronto waterfront makeover.
The West Don Lands, an 80 acre post-industrial heap is one of three precincts of the Toronto waterfront renewal, the largest urban transformation project in North America. This plan will enrich Toronto’s capacity for life, work and recreation by creating interconnecting spaces of parks with sustainable mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly urban zones.
True to this vision is Underpass Park, a Toronto first: a once derelict eyesore in the armpit of the Gardiner Expressway moulded into exciting recreational space. The possibilities of an urban oasis rising from the City seem limitless.
The Athletes Village, a vestige of the Summer Games is one facet in the master plan in the revitalization of Toronto’s waterfront. After the games, the Village will transform to a multipurpose venue. This energy efficient LEED certified complex will convert into affordable and market housing, George Brown College’s first student residence, and a YMCA recreational facility.
Indeed all the Games infrastructure projects, stadia and amenities, like the Pan Am Path (a system connecting 80km of Toronto’s walking trails) will form a heritage legacy. The living cultural and economic assets of summer of 2015 with continue to rebound long after the medals have been awarded.