Pan Am plan brings dirt, noise to site

By Anthony Marcusa –

A critical time is approaching for the development of the athlete’s village for the 2015 Pan Am Games—and residents of the West Don Lands are nothing if not vigilant about the fate of the development. But as they wait for the official announcement of the lead developer of the village, which is expected in August, they are maintaining their focus on how construction will alter their day-to-day lives.

At the May 30 meeting of the West Don Lands Committee (WDLC), Joe Lobko—a member of the planning, design, and compliance team at Infrastructure Ontario—and Waterfront Toronto’s Meg Davies gave thorough outlines on what they are doing to make life convenient and comfortable for area residents trapped by construction chaos for the duration of the project.

While the area can expect new parks, pedestrian walkways, retail opportunities, and architectural innovation once the dust settles, the area will be crowded and confusing for the foreseeable future.

“We’ve been thinking a great deal about how construction will work in the area,” said Lobko. “We’ve recommended Bayview south of River Square and Mill St. be closed, but Cherry St. will be a very busy thoroughfare.”

The main issue addressed concerning construction was trucks—especially a limit on staging and sequencing, and where and when trucks line up to prepare for the day. Trucks will be forbidden to use local roads and confined mainly to Cherry St.

Waterfront Toronto’s new West Don Lands construction liaison Tari Stork was also in attendance.

Area residents anticipated a need for a venue to provide feedback to developers about construction issues. A small committee led by Cynthia Wilkey has been formed to convey stakeholders’ questions and concerns directly to Waterfront Toronto. So far, according to at least one resident, “reaction has been swift and well done.”

“We want to make sure people know we are alive, that we are a community open for business,” said one member. “We don’t want to lose opportunities because it is busy.”

Lobko and his team continue to assure residents that the legacy project of the Pan Am games, including the new buildings and parks, will reflect the wishes of those who have been giving input over the past weeks and months.

“We want to deliver the West Don Lands plan that lots of people in this room have helped create, implementing every small detail and broad vision over a number of year,” said Lobko.

He went on to add about the proponents, “My impression is that they have all taken input and concerns very seriously, and I know they are doing their best. I guarantee you will love the result.”

The lead developer will take the reins immediately in September and will remain in charge until 2014, at which time responsibility for the finished product will be transferred to HouseCo, a group entrusted with creating all the temporary facilities needed for the games.

“We couldn’t be in hands that were more careful about this,” said Lobko. “We’ll be there until the end.”

“So will we,” said Wilkey.