Before and After: Pan Am puts pressure on Toronto...
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Jul 07, 2015  |  Vote 0    0

Before and After: Pan Am puts pressure on Toronto construction projects

Queens Quay and Union Station work finished ahead of Games

OurWindsor.Ca

Developers, politicians, and planners have promised to deliver projects wrapped in a Pan Am bow since Toronto was awarded the Games in 2009.

Pan Am bestowed presents on Queens Quay and Union subway station. But Games deadlines will come and go for Scarborough transit, the Billy Bishop airport, and City Hall.

Even so, Mayor John Tory has praised the Games for imposing deadlines and kicking construction up a notch.

“When you’re having a show… the show must go on,” Tory said at a recent tour of the athletes’ village.

“Human nature says, especially when it comes to government, that often times you postpone, you redecide you redebate, you do this, you do that, you study.”

Pan Am should have been the end of the line for debate over the Scarborough LRT, according to former mayor David Miller.

When the bid was awarded he hoped the province would be forced to build the line, in part to service a new aquatics venue, in time for the Games. But the province shelved funding plans and Rob Ford eventually axed the plan, along with all of Transit City, after taking office in December 2010.

Not all projects were completely shut down.

Pan Am visitors won’t be able to walk from Billy Bishop airport during the Games — they’ll have to continue using the ferry — but the pedestrian tunnel is scheduled to open late July in time for the Parapan Ams.

And revitalization plans at Nathan Phillips Square, including the new stage, skating pavilion and a larger Peace Garden, supposed to be done by now, are scheduled to be done by the end of the year.

On the bright side, Toronto could have worse problems than too much construction, according to Waterfront Toronto CEO John Campbell.

“These are problems of success. We’re not demolishing buildings, we’re building stuff which is great to see, the city growing.”

Queens Quay

Use the slider at the top to compare Queens Quay in 2014 and 2015.

When the stretch of waterfront reopened last month, Waterfront Toronto CEO John Campbell took a deep breath.

“What a relief,” Campbell said of his opening-day feelings. “Pride and relief.”

“It’s great to have that done for the Games. The intent was to put a new face on Toronto, and that’s what this street does.”

The project was mired in cost overruns and required a delicate balancing act across agencies, including the TTC and Toronto Hydro.

Toronto could have worse problems than too much construction, Campbell added.

“These are problems of success. We’re not demolishing buildings, we’re building stuff, which is great to see, the city growing.”

Union Station

Use the slider at the top to compare Union Station in 2014 and 2015.

Massive changes are underway at Union Station, with Metrolinx, the TTC and the City of Toronto all undertaking construction projects to change everything from the bathrooms to the shops to adding the airport train.

The project was approved before the Games were awarded, but Pan Am influenced the sequence of some deadlines, according to city spokesperson Natasha Hinds Fitzsimmins.

The TTC’s second subway platform and renovated concourse project was among the most noteworthy in terms of disruption, but after four years the finished work was unveiled last week.

“We made a commitment that the station would be ready in time for the Pan Am Games, and it is. But it’s also nice to have it done for our customers and the public,” said TTC spokesperson Brad Ross.

The project required major excavation on Front St., which Ross concedes caused “a lot of disruption, a lot of noise and dust for our customers and for businesses and people who live in the area.”

The disruption at Union Station won’t be over until the end of 2017, by current projections, with many jobs still in the works.

Among them, the post-Games closing and renovation of the Bay concourse, a flat connection replacing the stairs between the GO Train and subway stations, and a renovated Great Hall.

Finch West Station

Use the slider at the top to compare Keele and Finch in 2014 and 2015.

The Spadina subway extension should be grateful it was never intended to be finished for the Games. The project was recently revealed to be behind-schedule and over-budget, and is now due to be done by 2017, under a third-party manager.

That being said, all is not lost for Games-time travel around the new Finch West Station.

Work around Keele St. and Finch Ave. W. is being pared from July 10 to Aug. 15, to make life easier while the Games are in town.

Eglinton LRT

Use the slider at the top to compare Eglinton and Allen Road in 2014 and 2015.

The Crosstown LRT is one of the projects Torontonians will have to optimistically count under the “at least we’re building” category.

Slated for completion by 2020, the 19-kilometre line could come in handy if Toronto makes a bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics.

Canadian Olympic Committee president Marcel Abut has already suggested Toronto is ready for the challenge. Cities have until Sept. 15 to declare their intent to bid.

Toronto Star

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