In 24 days, over 10,000 athletes and coaches from around the world will flood the Greater Toronto Area for the 2015 Toronto Pan Am and Parapan Am Games. Hosting such a large scale international competition requires a complex web of services, venues and people working in sync. With only a few weeks left to go, success looks ripe for the picking, on the podium and at the Pan Am and Parapan Am Athletes Village in Toronto’s West Don Lands.
On a tour of the village led by TO2015 Executive VP Allen Vansen, two-time Olympian swimmer Julia Wilkinson, and track and field Pan Am hopeful Kimberly Hyacinthe, we got a peek at the amenities athletes can expect at their home away from home.
After arriving in Toronto by land, sea or air, athletes and coaches will make their way to the Welcome Centre to be checked-in to their temporary digs. With visitors from over 41 countries pouring in, the atmosphere can be expected to be lively with a “symphony of different languages,” as described by Wilkinson, set against the flags of all participating nations.
The Welcome Centre will play double duty as well catering to ongoing needs of visitors, firstly as a cafe where athletes can watch the events live-streamed to them while grabbing an iced coffee or as a fully functional CIBC Banking Centre for taking care of their finances while here. The Welcome Centre will additionally include a Loblaws grocery shop, and salons to ensure athletes feel and look their best during their big matches. Lastly, the centre will provide a safe and convenient spot for families, friends, coaches and athletes to meet, while nightly entertainment will truly make the centre a “chill space.” Once the games are over up to 90% of all furnishings and fixtures are planned to be re-purposed to help make these games one of the greenest.
While the athletes aren’t competing, they are probably training. With state of the art training facilities provided at the future YMCA community centre, athletes are well poised, as Hyacinthe notes, to stay in top condition throughout and after the competition. High-tech equipment ranging from treadmills, to weight training and spin cycles will all be equipped with the Wellness Cloud digital platform, allowing teams to track athletic performance in the gym and on the go or use simulation software in training exercises.
In comparison to other athlete villages, Wilkinson noted that having these facilities at their doorstep greatly reduces the stresses of having to travel to auxiliary training grounds and is another way that the TO2015 team has made sure the village is a truly comprehensive and compact home away from home.
Between training and competing however, dining accommodations are of utmost importance. With room for 6,500 people, the dining hall at the Athletes Village will serve foods from all cultural backgrounds including custom requests. Serving so many over the course of the games means the dining hall comes packed with over 90,000 bananas, 50,000 steaks 20,000 litres of tomato sauce, and plenty of ice cream for those hot summer days. Continuing the theme of compact and comprehensive, the dining hall was placed adjacent to the bus mall so athletes can grab meals on the go when they might most need it before a big match.
The Village also includes a fully equipped polyclinic to treat any and all medical needs that might arise. Headed by Chief Medical Officer Dr. Julia Alleyne, this 20,000 square foot temporary facility comes equipped with and MRI scanner, Ultrasound equipment, X-Ray machines, dental offices and emergency rooms to ensure a complete package of healthcare services for emergency, acute and therapeutic care scenarios.
The state of the art equipment in the facility is also extended to its anti-doping station, where 40% of all testing will be done to ensure a fair games for all. For all 120 medical sites across the games footprint, telecommunications services will be provided to facilitate video calls, instrument report transferring and patient files. Once the games are over, the modular facility will be broken down and its fixtures and furnishings will be re-purposed where needed.
Relaxation is critical to keeping focused and succeeding in such a high stakes sporting environment, so athletes and coaches will be provided a very Ontarian atmosphere at The Cabin. With the use of warm wooden tones, hammocks and bean bags chairs, creating a very Muskoka flare, The Cabin bring a little bit of cottage country to the city for visitors to enjoy and chill out.
Across Front Street a temporary park sits filled with the iconic Muskoka chairs and tables. Once the games are over, this site will be redeveloped into a new mixed-use development to complete the "cupping" of the award-winning Corktown Common park.
All of the future condominiums and affordable housing suites in what's eventually to be called The Canary District, are currently subdivided to work as dorms for the athletes and officials. When preparing the units, comfort and convenience were made front and centre.
In selecting the beds to be used, the TO2015 organizing committee held votes on the mattresses and selected the winning entry, built at home in Canada, for use during the games. Judging by our two athletes’ expressions, getting out of bed might be the hardest part of the day. All apartments will also be furnished with artworks commissioned from students at local Toronto District School Board schools.
With final preparations nearing the finish line and the village ready for occupancy, the 2015 Toronto Pan Am and Parapan Am Games are on track to be a winner. UrbanToronto will keep you updated on the latest developments and inside looks before, during and after the games. Tell us what you think about the Athletes Village in the comment section below and join in on our Forum discussion by clicking the associated links in our database file.