Infrastucture Ontario were the hosts today at a topping off ceremony for the Pan Am Village in the West Don Lands. The event marked the completion of concrete pours on the buildings that have been built to host athletes and officials during the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games to be held in Toronto during the summer of 2015. Eight cranes have towered over the site, one that will be again transformed into Toronto's newest neighbourhood, the Canary District, in 2016. Those cranes will start to disappear from the sky soon as most work moves to the interior of the buildings.

Dignitaries, with David Peterson at centre, gather to sign the last beams at theDignitaries, with the Hon. David Peterson at centre, gather to sign the last beams at the Pan Am Village, image by Craig White

Speeches were made by several officials involved in moving the Pan Am Games and Village forward, including the Hon. Michael Chan, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport; Peter Wilson, Vice President of Project Delivery for Infrastructure Ontario; and the Hon. David Peterson, former Premier of Ontario and now the Pan Am Games Chairman. Amongst other officials on hand were Meg Davis representing Waterfront Toronto and Councillor Mark Grimes representing the City of Toronto. The point was this; the village is on budget and ahead of schedule thanks to the cooperation of many in three levels of government and the work of developer DundeeKilmer, builder EllisDon Ledcor PAAV, and the design teams. It's been a huge job, and construction manager Tim Dittmar of EllisDon Ledcor PAAV was singled out in particular for coordinating the massive effort to get the site serviced and get all of buildings up while maintaining the quality of workmanship, meeting the budget, and bettering the schedule.

A pair of steel beams to be installed at the top of the elevator shafts in the Pan Am Village's tallest building—a residence during the games which will later be turned into market condominiums—were chosen to mark the ceremonial event, giving officials, construction works, and the media in attendance the chance to leave their mark in the building.

The last beams at the Pan Am Village, signed, image by Craig WhiteThe beams, signed, image by Craig White

This is the last the beams will be seen however; they were soon whisked away and attached to the crane which hoisted them to the top of the future Canary Park Condominiums. They will be installed at the top of the elevator shafts of the building. Maybe someday an intrepid reader will open the lid in an elevator at the penthouse level, and… DO NOT DO THIS AT HOME!

The last beams are hoisted skywards Canary Park condominiums, TorontoThe last beams are hoisted skywards by the crane atop Canary Park, image by Craig White

The beams arrive atop Canary Park condominiums, Pan Am Village, TorontoThe beams arrive atop the structure, image by Craig White

After the beams were sent skywards, Ken Tanenbaum of developer Dundee Kilmer, construction manager Tim Dittmar of EllisDon Ledcor PAAV, and Peter Wilson of Infrastructure Ontario hosted a quick visit to the construction site.

Ken Tanenbaum, Tim Dittmar, and Peter Wilson host the Pan Am site tour, TorontoKen Tanenbaum, Tim Dittmar, and Peter Wilson host the site tour, image by Craig White

This was our first chance to get a look at the pavers now being laid that will form Toronto's widest sidewalk promenade. Prominent in the photo below are the deep silva cell pits where trees will be planted next spring. Waterfront Toronto is aiming to replicate the spectacular success they have had with the maples lining the Water's Edge Promenade at Corus Quay where the silva cells have allowed the trees to thrive. A very special plan to populate the neighbourhood with a variety of tree species is in the hands of Michael Ormston-Holloway of The Planning Partnership, and we plan to bring you a detailed story of the greening of the area when warmer weather returns.

Pavers being laid for the Front Street Promenade in the Pan Am Village, TorontoPavers being laid for the Front Street Promenade in the Pan Am Village, image by Craig White

Here's the intended look for Front Street, with the trees looking 2020-ish, maybe sooner?!

Front Street landscaping, image courtesy of DundeeKilmer and Waterfront TorontoFront Street landscaping, image courtesy of DundeeKilmer and Waterfront Toronto

Known variously as the West Don Lands, the Pan Am Village, the Canary District, and at one point Ataratiri, the area is transforming quickly. The City of Toronto had intended regeneration to come for years. While an attempt to kickstart that during David Peterson's time as Premier stalled (pollution remediation technologies at the time were too expensive to allow the work to proceed—advances have since allowed more economical and more thorough clean-up of former industrial lands), it took the Pan Am Games to get everything going full steam ahead.

Plan for the Pan Am Village and eventual Canary District, TorontoPlan for the Pan Am Village and eventual Canary District, image courtesy of DundeeKilmer

Enough buildings are being built during this phase to host the games, but more development will continue afterwards. In the image above, Blocks 12, 13, and 16 have not yet started, and will not before the games. Further phases—the buildings shown in white—will follow later.

Corktown Common, indicated on the plan above right, was the first component of the area to open, which it did to great acclaim this past summer. Just west of it, across the new extension of Bayview Avenue, are the Canary Park Condominiums, a 437-suite market condo project designed by KPMB Architects for DundeeKilmer. To open after the already substantially sold Canary District Condominums, Canary Park is just now taking registrations.

Canary Park Condos from Corktown Common in late November, TorontoCanary Park Condos from Corktown Common in late November, image by Matthew Borrett

The initial build-out of the area also includes two affordable rental residential buildings, a new YMCA to serve the neighbourhood and surrounding areas, and the first dedicated George Brown College residence. We will be back (often, we expect!) to cover more milestones at the site, but in the meantime, there is a lot of material on UrbanToronto for you to peruse already, which you can access easily via our dataBase files, linked below. Each has a multitude of renderings, facts, and contact information and links to earlier stories. Associated with each dataBase file are one or two threads where people are discussing these projects in the UrbanToronto Forum. You are welcome to join the conversation there, or leave your comments and questions in the space provided on this page.