On July 10, 2012, Toronto began its three-year countdown to the Pan Am/Parapan Am Games, slated for 2015.
“Toronto is proud to be the official Host City of the TORONTO 2015 Pan American and Parapan American Games,” said Toronto mayor, Rob Ford.
“Today’s three-year countdown festivities at Nathan Phillips Square were just the beginning of Toronto displaying its diverse culture, talents and passion for sports to the world.”
Woven into Canada’s largest ever multi-sport Games is a commitment to diversity, arts and culture. “From the very beginning, when the bid to host the 2015 Games was first envisioned, it was very clear that TORONTO 2015 was going to be about more than sports and athletic achievement,” said TO2015 chief executive officer, Ian Troop.
“These are the ‘People’s Games.’ They will involve and engage our diverse population and enable them to tell their own stories.” Canadian-born to Jamaican parents, sprinter, Anson Henry, who was at the countdown launch, is hoping to compete in Pan/Parapan Games.
He is also hoping to compete at this year’s London Olympics. “At the trials you want to be in the top three to secure a position to run the relay or 100m.
There is a standard of 10.18 to run and I was just outside of it,” said Henry who will run at another trials event. Henry is no stranger to competitive sports and has been to two Olympics – Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008.
“Ultimately, you have to think big, you have to dream big. Talent is one thing, but the mind set is another thing and you can’t be without either one if you want to make it to the Olympics and flourish,” said Henry.
Visitors enjoyed music and culture from 41 Pan American countries and two cultural projects were unveiled. The first was a street project called, ‘Play Me I’m Yours’, which is described as an international phenomenon in Sao Paolo, New York, Paris and London and involves 41 pianos being placed in accessible spaces across Toronto for the general public to sit down and break out a tune, but only for the month of July.
The Pan Am twist to Toronto’s ‘Play Me I’m Yours’ is that these pianos are painted by local professional artists with roots in one of the 41 Pan American countries.
The second project is called, ‘Fresh Eyes,’ which displays giant photographs that capture the eyes of new Canadian citizens primarily from the Pan American nations for the month of July at City Hall.
The goal of the projects is to embody the diversity, creative energy and strong links to the Pan American and Caribbean culture. “In 2015, Ontarians will welcome the world and showcase our province’s unique culture and diversity,” said Charles Sousa, minister responsible for the Pan/Parapan Am Games.
The Pan/Parapan Games is likely to create more than 15,000 jobs, and the city is hoping to attract hundreds of thousands of visitors.
From construction to planning the Organizing Committee is on schedule with the construction of the “Canary District” that has been underway since January.
This new waterfront community in the West DonLands will create an additional 5,200 jobs and will welcome more than 10,000 athletes, coaches and officials.
The start of construction of the Pan Am Aquatics Centre, Field House and Canadian Sport Institute of Ontario in Scarborough will create 150 construction jobs.
Caledon Equestrian Park in Palgrave will be the official host of the equestrian events. The Games are also helping to accelerate the delivery timeline of the Air-Rail Link and Union Station redevelopment.