A pile to shovel through

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:11 AM ET

It is one thing to announce plans to build a stadium. It is quite another to go through the process to make it happen -- and in only six or so months.

Before the shovels can be put in the ground in the spring of 2005 on the proposed $70-million York University football/soccer stadium, permits must be obtained, site plans drawn up, public tenders offered to prospective builders and official funding put in place by the federal ($27 million) and provincial ($8 million) governments.

Joe Volpe, the federal minister for Ontario and the Greater Toronto Area, said discussions already had begun among various political bodies concerning permits and the like prior to the Oct. 18 announcement confirming the project shift to York University from the University of Toronto.

'VERY POSITIVE BASIS'

"The only permits they need are for construction of the stadium," Volpe said. "They've got virtually everything else in place and the two area councillors are committed 100% to make this thing happen. I can't imagine that they couldn't see that go forward. In fact, one of them already talked to the commissioner of planning in the city.

"I expect things will move on in a very positive basis."

York president Dr. Lorna Marsden does not perceive any significant problems.

"I think we have really good relations with the city (of Toronto). At least I hope we do. We intend to," Marsden said. "I can't think complexity and I certainly hope there won't be complexity because we're in a tight guideline here."

The York University Development Corporation already has begun the "proof of concept process" and that's expected to be completed in the next 45 to 60 days. During this time the needs of the Argos, the Canadian Soccer Association and other users will be defined to put together detailed stadium specifications, costs, acquisition of permits and approvals so the project can be prepared for the public tendering process.

"Until we actually go through the (proof of concept) process we won't have the detailed implementation schedule, but certainly our objective is to get in the ground as quickly as possible and get this thing ready for '06," York's vice-president of finance, Gary Brewer, said.

As a reference point for major stadium construction at York, the new national tennis centre took about 11 months from the time of its announcement to the time construction began.

The stadium opened a year later.


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