Pan Am fun begins early as costs double and city council freaks out

Pan Am fun begins early as costs double and city council freaks out

Toronto was pretty excited about winning the competition to host the 2015 Pan American Games, and why not? It wasn’t the Olympics, sure, but that just means one less hemisphere for a hypothetical mayor to hypothetically embarrass our city in. The problem with early jubilation is that reality usually rains on the parade. One of the it-would-be-funny-if-it-weren’t-serious issues was whether Hamilton would get its act together in time to build a new stadium for the games—something that was brewing for months and settled only last week. Now it looks like problems with the Games have moved down the QEW to Toronto itself, with Rob Ford and city council being handed a new, surprise bill for land cleanup in Scarborough. Guess what? It’s more than expected.

The Globe and Mail reports:

Up to $23-million of the extra cash is for cleaning up the soil at the future home of the Pan Am Aquatic Centre, which will be located partly atop the city’s old Morningside dump next to the University of Toronto’s Scarborough campus.

Mr. Ford’s executive committee was warned on Monday that if Toronto refused to remediate the site, it could lose the coveted swimming venue, likely to the Town of Markham, which is still lobbying for the Pan Am pool.

“It bothers me a lot. I was completely blindsided by this … we didn’t really have a choice,” Mr. Ford told reporters after the cabinet-like executive committee voted unanimously to pay the higher costs.

Meanwhile, Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday tried and failed to get the city to block a BMX bike course in Etobicoke. Holyday doesn’t want the city to spend money on a facility for a one-day event when there are other cities that would be happy to take the facility and leave Etobicoke with more green space. Of course, you just have to push that logic a little further before the whole thing sounds silly: both the Pan Am and ParaPan Am Games will last only about three weeks cumulatively, and then the city has to find something to do with all the new stuff we’ll have built: pools, bike tracks, stadiums.

So far, the collective reaction to the Pan Am Games makes us think that anyone who enjoyed the well-organized, totally not disruptive weekend when the G20 came to town is just going to love July 10 to 26, 2015.
As Pan Am costs double, Ford says no more surprises [Globe and Mail]
Pan Am flap at City Hall [Toronto Sun]
Etobicoke councillor puts the brakes on Pan Am bike course [Globe and Mail]
• Pan Am bike course survives challenge [Toronto Sun]