Etobicoke has been named one of seven "core destinations" for sporting events at the upcoming Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games.
Ian Troop, CEO of the Toronto 2015 Pan/Parapan Am Games Organizing Committee (TO2015), announced Friday, May 11 that the Etobicoke Pan Am Complex will see Centennial Park serve as the site of the BMX cycling and archery events, while the bowling competition will be held 'nearby.'
Troop also stressed the important role the Etobicoke Olympium will play as a training facility for Pan Am swimmers - and all the renovation work to be undertaken at the aging facility in preparation for the Games.
"It was built in 1975 and hasn't had a major renovation since. And because of the Games...it will be brought up to snuff and be a fantastic facility once again, serving future generations like it has so well the past," he said at the news conference at Corus Quay. "It's a great example of Pan Am legacy building and action."
Work at the Olympium - a multi-sport facility that features an Olympic-sized pool, a leisure pool, a gymnasium, and a fitness centre - will include renovations to the existing pool, as well as improvements to the mechanical and electrical systems. It will then be used as a training site for Pan Am aquatics athletes competing in events including swimming, water polo, diving and synchronized swimming.
While the specific details as to the exact locations and scale of the BMX and archery facilities in Centennial Park are as yet fairly scant, Romana Marconi, chair of the Friends of Centennial Park Conservatory, is nevertheless "totally devastated" by the announcement of her park being officially named a Pan Am venue - especially for a BMX course.
Marconi and other supporters have waged a year-long battle against the proposal to situate the proposed $15-million, seven-acre BMX facility in the northern edge of the 500-acre park, near what's known as Toboggan Hill - a site approved by city council back in February 2011.
"It appears nobody is listening and no one seems to consider the value of parkland. Once it's gone and all used up, there is no more available," she said, arguing Centennial Park is already home to a host of sports venues - including six baseball diamonds, a go-kart track, a wading pool, a ski hill and chalet, and a park stadium - and that actual open green space in the park is quickly diminishing.
"The concept of using valuable parkland for this type of a facility, when I think there are more industrial type of areas where they could put something like that is just baffling," she added. "My concern is losing the park and the aesthetic quality of it."
Carlene Siopsis, communications advisor for Toronto 2015 Pan/Parapan Am Games, said Games organizers will be making more specific venue announcements and updates in the near future, which will address some of the questions surrounding the scope of the Centennial Park BMX facility.
Meanwhile, the other Pan Am "clusters" unveiled last week include: Toronto Pan Am Park at Exhibition Place, which will host more than a dozen sports, including cycling, triathlon, squash and rugby; University of Toronto (Scarborough) Pan Am Complex, which will host aquatic sports such as swimming and diving, as well as pentathlon; Mississauga Pan Am Complex, which will serve as the Games' centre for combative sports; Markham Pan Am Complex, which will host water polo, badminton and table tennis; University of Toronto (Downtown) Pan Am Complex, which will host field hockey, roller sports and handball; and York University Pan Am Complex, which will host athletics and tennis.
TO2015's clustered approach to the footprint of the Games, Troop said, was all in an effort to maintain "regionality."
"We think that making sure that every region has a passion and an ownership and an involvement is so important to what these Games can be," he said. "So regionality remains an underpinning of these Games."
Etobicoke Centre MP Ted Opitz called Etobicoke's inclusion in the Games' set of clusters "fantastic news."
"It will bring economic prosperity to our region and our country," he said in a statement.