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 The CIBC Hamilton Pan Am Soccer Stadium where Jim Paterson (Pan Am Legacy Trails co-ordinator for Trans Canada Trail Ontario), Jane Murphy (TCT’s national director of Trail) and Michael Goodyear (Trail development manager, Eastern Canada) pose with the TCT banner. Tom Omorean

The CIBC Hamilton Pan Am Soccer Stadium where Jim Paterson (Pan Am Legacy Trails co-ordinator for Trans Canada Trail Ontario), Jane Murphy (TCT’s national director of Trail) and Michael Goodyear (Trail development manager, Eastern Canada) pose with the TCT banner. Tom Omorean

The TCT will connect sports fans to venues for the Pan Am/Parapan Am Games

Hurdlers pushing the limits of human capability, sprint canoeists paddling for gold as if their lives depended on it, and the best soccer teams in North, South and Central America leaving it all on the field. All this excitement and much more is coming to Ontario this summer.

This July and August, Ontario will welcome over 10,000 athletes and officials for the TORONTO 2015 Pan/Parapan Am Games, the largest multisport games in our country’s history.

At the Pan Am Games from July 10 to 26, some of the best athletes in the Americas will show us their skills. And, at the Parapan Am Games from August 7 to 15, para-athletes from 28 countries will be competing in 15 sports – and vying for a spot at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

Thanks to the $3.5-million Pan Am and Parapan Am Trails initiative launched by the Government of Ontario in 2013, sporting spectators will be able to access many Pan Am/Parapan Am Games venues using Canada’s national Trail. “Extending our trails system and connecting more communities is a great way for the excitement of the Games to live on well beyond 2015,” said Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne.

This provincial funding will help create a continuous 2,000-kilometre trail system in Ontario, one that will link to four major Pan Am/Parapan Am Games venues. A portion of this investment will help bridge over 250 kilometres of gaps in Ontario’s portion of the TCT, thereby connecting communities from Ottawa to Windsor and Fort Erie to Huntsville. “The Trans Canada Trail is absolutely thrilled to receive this support,” said Deborah Apps, TCT’s president & CEO, “which is bringing us a great deal closer to realizing our goal of developing a national recreational Trail.”

There will be many opportunities for spectators to use the TCT as a healthy, active mode of transportation during the Games. In Palgrave, for example, the TCT’s Caledon Trailway leads directly past the OLG Caledon Pan Am Equestrian Park. Caledon’s own equestrians, many of whom ride on their local section of the TCT, will be watching the competition closely.

The CIBC Pan Am/Parapan Am Athletes’ Village, where these exceptional competitors will eat, sleep and train during the Games, is also located on the Trans Canada Trail – indeed, the TCT’s Waterfront Trail section runs directly by both the athletes’ village and the CIBC Pan Am Park, which is a cluster of five competition venues and an open-air site that will feature free live performances from artists across Canada and the Americas.
The TCT’s 80-kilometre Waterfront Trail begins in Toronto’s Beaches neighbourhood and hugs the shores of Lake Ontario past Lake Shore Boulevard West. Sixteen kilometres of this Trail section have been resurfaced for smoother road-cycling, race-walking and marathon-running during the games.

On the western side of the harbour, there will be open-water swimming, waterskiing and wakeboarding competitions at the Ontario Place West Channel venue, while on the eastern edge, spectators can watch a wide range of sailing and windsurfing events at the Sugar Beach venue, just steps away from the trailhead of TCT’s brand-new Pan Am Path.

The aptly named Pan Am Path is one of many TCT sections that have been developed thanks to Pan Am and Parapan Am Trails funding. Another new Trail section will link the City of Hamilton’s existing section of the TCT to the new CIBC Hamilton Pan Am Soccer Stadium, where Canada will face off against Brazil, Mexico and other top teams in men’s and women’s soccer. A lane of traffic has been removed to make space for a two-lane bike path along Cannon Street, leading to the new Games venue. Post-Games, this stadium will become known as Tim Horton’s Field, home to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats CFL football team.

Like the stadium itself, the TCT bike path leading directly to the facility will become a lasting legacy of the Games, benefiting the people of Hamilton for years to come. In fact, this may be the ultimate legacy of the Pan Am/Parapan Am Games: a fully connected TCT network leading to recreational facilities for the communities of southern Ontario.

View full report online at globeandmail.com.