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Counting down to greener games

Renee Tratch
Digital Writer, theweathernetwork.com

Tuesday, July 8, 2014, 7:59 AM -

In one year thousands of athletes and spectators will descend on Toronto for the 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games

Game readiness often implies on time and on budget, but as we hit the one-year-to-go mark, here’s a look at efforts to make the games greener. 

The 10 new facilities among the 30 venues across southern Ontario have been described as “legacy investments” as they will remain a permanent fixture after the Games. Among them, the CIBC Pan Am/Parapan Am Aquatics Centre and Field House at University of Toronto Scarborough campus. As the Games’ largest new-build, it boasts some big sustainable stats: solar panels, geothermal wells, a green roof (covering 30 per cent of the building) and 100 per cent of its irrigation will be met by non-potable rainwater from underground cisterns.

Downtown, the previously unused area in the West Don Lands will be home to the Athlete’s Village. Led by Waterfront Toronto (who was already developing the area when the Games were awarded to Toronto) in partnership with Infrastructure Ontario, the village will be converted post-Games into the Canary District, a modern, accessible, pedestrian-friendly and sustainable neighbourhood. The area’s re-development, specifically Corktown Common on the east side, includes flood protection for the downtown. Check out the transformation via webcam and an aerial view of the area pre-construction:

The Ontario Ministry of Transportation is looking at ways to minimize the extra vehicular traffic and the fumes that come with it (Some 200,000-plus visitors are expected in the Toronto and Golden Horseshoe Area for the Games). One focus is on encouraging sustainable and active travel choices. 

Most events will be reachable by public transit and many with extra bike facilities. For locations such as Minden Wild Water Preserve or the Caledon Pan Am Equestrian Park, a temporary expansion of the High Occupancy Vehicles (HOV) network will be open to Games vehicles, emergency vehicles, public transit and high occupancy vehicles. Spectator event tickets will include public transit. 

The Union Pearson (UP) Express, the rail link between Toronto Pearson International Airport and downtown Toronto, is scheduled for completion in time to carry the Games’ first guests. It is expected to remove 1.2 million car trips to and from Toronto’s downtown core and Toronto Pearson annually. A refresher on its promises: 

There has been some pressure on Metrolinx, an agency of the Government of Ontario, to electrify the diesel trains. Thus far a series of concrete platforms have been built in to allow for the electric trains in the future. Organizations such as the Clean Train Coalition, representing communities along the corridor, are urging UP Express to electrify the link at the outset rather than later. Currently, Metrolinx is undertaking an Environmental Assessment study on the diesel-to-electric conversion of the 25 km-track. 

Another route to unite the downtown core and the inner suburbs is also taking shape. This one involves a more active mode of transportation. The Pan Am Path, an 80-km multi-use trail, will connect current trail systems travelling through Games’ key sites from Brampton and Mississauga in the west to the Rouge Park in the east. The path will feature art installations, cultural activities and mini-celebration events to showcase the vibrant communities that exist along the route.

Pan Am Path from Pan Am Path on Vimeo.

On July 11 and 12, 2014, Toronto and the surrounding host communities Ajax, Burlington, Caledon, Hamilton, Markham, Milton, Mississauga and Oshawa are all hosting special festivities to celebrate the one-year countdown.

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