The site of the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games Athletes’ Village in the West Don Lands consists largely of old industrial land, lie within a floodplain and have multiple heritage buildings. Peter Wilson, vice-president of project delivery with Infrastructure Ontario, spoke at the annual Brownfields conference about the efforts underway to develop the site. Dundee Kilmer Development Ltd. is the consortium named as preferred proponent to design, build and finance the Athletes’ Village project.
While athletes will be pushing the envelope at the Pan American Games in Toronto in 2015, the developers and builders of the facilities they’ll be using are also hoping to score silver and gold.
The city’s West Don Lands, where the Athletes’ Village with accommodation, a fitness centre and other facilities will be located, consist largely of old industrial land, lie within a floodplain and have multiple heritage buildings.
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“A significant amount of work needed to be done in order to realize the redevelopment potential of the site,” Peter Wilson, vice-president of project delivery with Infrastructure Ontario, told delegates at the annual Canadian Brownfields conference in Toronto.
Wilson billed the Pan Am Games, which are tied in with the Parapan Am Games, as the largest multi-sport event Canada has ever staged, bigger in scale than even the Montreal and Vancouver Olympics, and said it’s been a significant effort involving the project’s many partners.
One hurdle has been the site’s location within the Don River floodplain. Planners and work crews needed to create a large landscaped berm to help protect the site from severe weather events.
“We needed a flood protection plan for a 500-year event,” Wilson said, recalling Hurricane Hazel, which wrought havoc across the city in 1954.
Add to that the fact that the low-lying land around the lake shore and mouth of the Don River housed manufacturing and other industrial facilities.
“There were some issues with solving groundwater impacts that had to be assessed,” Wilson said, describing what he called one of Canada’s largest risk assessments ever, leading to risk management measures that, when implemented, would permit redevelopment of the lands for the intended use.
Planned measures have not yet been confirmed but could include placement of clean fill and the installation of membranes and other sub-surface systems.
The area also contains numerous heritage buildings, including the now-closed Canary restaurant, which was built in 1859 to house the Palace Street School. In the 1890s, the building was converted into the Cherry St. Hotel.
Heritage buildings will be cosmetically improved for the Games and, afterwards, will be part of a future development proposal, Wilson said.
While the site will serve the short-term needs of the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games, the facilities are being designed for easy transformation afterwards to meet civic needs.
Housing for 8,000 athletes will be converted into a mix of market and affordable housing as well as student housing for nearby George Brown College. Roughly 20 per cent of housing will be designated affordable and there will be a small amount of retail space, Wilson said.
The new Don River Park, adjacent to the river, will provide 18 acres of open space.
The project largely involved a partnership with Waterfront Toronto, which is acting as master developer and is essentially the public advocate and steward of waterfront revitalization in the city.
Infrastructure Ontario, meanwhile, is serving as project manager responsible for delivering the Athletes’ Village and for its conversion when the games conclude. The agency will be involved from procurement through to final construction, including pre-transaction advice and analysis, negotiating with bidders, awarding contracts and otherwise managing procurement, implementation and delivery.
Dundee Kilmer Development Ltd. is the consortium named as preferred proponent to design, build and finance the Athletes’ Village project.
Wilson said Pan Am Games facilities, including those affiliated with the West Don Lands portion of the project, will be vying for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification through the Canada Green Building Council.
Buildings at other locations will be seeking a silver rating in the category for new construction, but the Athletes’ Village is shooting for LEED gold.
“We’re also looking at LEED neighbourhood (development) status,” Wilson said, noting that completion of the Village is going to result in a significant acceleration of development.
“The expectation is that it’s going to leverage other private-sector investment in the area. We’re starting to see some of that occurring already. It’s going to result in a really vibrant community.”