During another blisteringly cold Winter day in Toronto, there are signs that Summer is just around the corner as the Province of Ontario officially marked the completion of the Athletes' Village. Two weeks ago, UrbanToronto toured the Canary District, Toronto's soon-to-be newest neighbourhood which will first be taken over by 10,000 athletes and Pan Am/Parapan Am Games officials. Representatives from the Toronto 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games Organizing Committee (TO2015) joined government dignitaries and project partners as Ontario officially handed over the site to TO2015 for final Games preparations.

Premier Wynne speaks about her excitement for the event, image by Marcus MitanisPremier Kathleen Wynne speaks about her excitement for the event, image by Marcus Mitanis

The event was held inside the new Cooper Koo Family YMCA. The facility is fitted with pools, a gymnasium and a running track that will serve more than 8,000 people. Set to open after the Games, the building will be used by the athletes upon their arrival. It's just one of an array of new structures that will host a variety of activities and uses both during the Games and following its completion. 

Games officials, partners, athletes and Premier Wynne, image by Marcus MitanisGames officials, partners and athletes join Premier Wynne, image by Marcus Mitanis

"The Athletes' Village will serve as a welcoming home for athletes at the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games and thanks to thoughtful planning, it will also leave a legacy that will benefit Ontarians well into the future," said Premier Kathleen Wynne. "I am proud of the role Ontario has played in bringing this project to life."

The 35-acre neighbourhood is part of the West Don Lands, an area just east of Downtown under Waterfront Toronto's revitalization portfolio which also encompasses the River City and adjacent TCHC developments. Planning work to transform the derelict industrial site began in 2003 and was approved by City Council in 2005, but it was the announcement of the Games which kickstarted the transformation of these blocks into what will soon become a bustling new neighbourhood.

That transformation has been managed by Infrastructure Ontario, with Dundee Kilmer coordinating the necessary designing, building and financing of the project. The post-Games neighbourhood has been dubbed the Canary District after the former Front and Cherry Street restaurant that served the dozens of hungry truckers once passing through the area. 

Mayor Tory speaks about the Village and the City, image by Marcus MitanisMayor John Tory speaks about the contribution of the Village to the City, image by Marcus Mitanis

"A significant city-building legacy of the Games, this new mixed income, transit friendly neighbourhood is a strong example of public-private partnership at its best," said Mayor John Tory. "Post Games, the Village will add a mix of new housing, including 253 new affordable rental units, to the City's housing stock."

Non-profit housing providers Fred Victor and Wigwamen Incorporated will be providing low-income seniors, veterans, people with physical disabilities, and the Aboriginal community with affordable rental housing in two new complexes. These Daoust Lestage-designed buildings are found in between a new 500-bed residence for George Brown College and the Canary Park Condominiums. The image below shows this arrangement, with the affordable housing buildings bookending this new street looking east at Canary Park Condominiums. 

Athletes' Village will soon be converted to housing, image by Marcus MitanisThe Athletes' Village will soon be converted to permanent housing, image by Marcus Mitanis

Designed to achieve LEED Gold standards, the Canary District will include a 40,000 square foot retail promenade along Front Street and 810 market housing units, some contained within Canary District Condominiums. The units will enjoy one of the most touted aspects of the community: the ultra-high-speed broadband network set to provide fast and unlimited internet service to thousands. The 18-acre Corktown Common has already attracted flocks of families, photographers, and nature lovers to the area. All of this will be accessible after the Games via the King streetcar, of which alternating cars will divert south along a revitalized Cherry Street. 

The key to the Village is handed to TO2015 officials, image by Marcus MitanisDignitaries pose as the key to the Village is handed to TO2015 officials, image by Marcus Mitanis

With only 140 days remaining until the Games commence on July 10th, the development has been built on time and on budget, an achievement heralded by the officials in attendance. As athletes from 41 countries descend on Toronto, the pressure is on to host an event and create a legacy that will make Torontonians and the Americas proud.

The Athletes' Village in its current state, image by Pan Am Games webcaThe Athletes' Village in its current state, image courtesy of Pan Am Games webcam

For more information about the Canary District, check out the dataBase files linked below. Want to get involved in the discussion? Visit the associated Forum threads or leave a comment in the field provided.