York might be bypassed on the sport events side of the Pan Am/Parapan Am Games, but it did benefit indirectly in one big way – a Weston stop along the Union Pearson Express, said a community advocate.
“It’s been a huge windfall for us,” said Laura Alderson, co-ordinator of the Mount Dennis Business Improvement Area and vice-chair of the Weston Village Residents’ Association. “As a result of the stop in Weston, a number of businesses are interested in coming to the area.”
The Union Pearson Express travels between Union Station and Lester B. Pearson International Airport, with stops at Bloor GO Station and in Weston. The roughly $450-million line opened June 6 – just over a month before the start of the Pan Am Games July 10 – and takes 25 minutes to travel from one end to the other, with trains departing every 15 minutes.
While the line wasn’t built solely for the Games, it will help with transporting athletes, coaches and spectators to and from the airport and downtown.
“The Union Pearson Express is one of the biggest economic spin-offs (of the Games),” Alderson said. “The Weston (Community) Coalition was leading the charge and we demanded a stop. We were the only ones who got a stop in the entire city. Now, more developers are looking at Weston.”
As for spill-over traffic from the downtown due to the Games, Alderson doesn’t think York will be adversely affected, with business operating as usual.
And while it would have be “incredibly amazing” to have some events in York, at least the community will be able to participate by cheering on the torchbearers when the Torch Relay travels through the area Thursday, July 9, she said.
“Of course, we’re thrilled that the Pan Am Torch Relay will be coming through Mount Dennis on Thursday, when the torch will be carried by none other than blind hockey player Mark De Montis, founder of Courage Canada. That will be very special,” Alderson said.
The Pan Am Games run July 10 to 26, followed by the Pan Am/Parapan Am Games Aug. 7 to 15.