Pan-Am bid 'still strong'

BRYN WEESE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:05 AM ET

Toronto's push for the 2015 Pan American Games is still "strong" despite the feds and province scaling back their funding by $300 million, the bid committee's boss says.

And Toronto alone stands to gain $195 million worth of athletic facilities and upgrades if the bid is successful, with the city funding $49.5 million of it in its 2010 capital budget.

Former premier David Peterson appeared yesterday before the city's executive committee to discuss the bid, and particularly the games' athletic legacy in the city.

One of those capital projects announced yesterday is a $170 million aquatic/athletic facility at U of T's Scarborough campus, which currently has no pool at all.

It would include two Olympic-sized pools, 10-metre high diving platforms, and an indoor athletic facility for sports such as taekwondo, table tennis, basketball, and badminton.

The university and city would pay $37.5 million each for the facility, and the province and feds would split the remaining $95.5 million.

EXECUTIVE APPROVAL

The executive committee approved the city's full share of the games' cost yesterday, a decision that still must go to council for a final vote.

Also, since so much of the games would be played at the U of T Scarborough campus, Toronto Mayor David Miller said the city would fast track its Scarborough-Malvern light rail transit line included in the Transit City plans.

"The effect of it (a successful bid) is it moves Scarborough-Malvern (transit line) up in the priority list because it has to be built," Miller said, noting it would be added to the list of five Transit City dedicated streetcar lines expected to be build by 2015. "You can't run a major competition venue like a swimming facility without rapid transit access."

But while the U of T sports facility and the transit line would go ahead, other athletic facility and infrastructure projects planned for the games had to be "scaled back," Peterson said.

"We had to lighten up on some of the legacy things," Peterson told reporters after his presentation at City Hall. "Does it hurt the winnability? Well it doesn't help, but I think we still have a very good bid without this ($300 million). It would be a better legacy if we had the extra money.

"We still think we're going to have a good bid, which is the key to this, but we've had to pare it down," he said, citing the tough economic climate.

The games are a catalyst for projects municipalities would probably build anyway, Peterson said.

The vote on who will host the games -- Toronto, Lima, Peru, or Bogota, Colombia -- is expected in November.


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