On-Site Magazine

Preparing for Pan-Am

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August 1, 2012 by Andrew Snook

As swimmers, archers, boxers and thousands of other athletes from 41 different nations make their necessary preparations to compete at the 2015 Pan American/Parapan American Games in Toronto, thousands of construction workers are performing their own prep work to ensure the nearly 40 new and existing venues for the Games are ready to go across the Greater Golden Horseshoe area.

One of the largest projects being prepared is the CIBC Pan and Parapan Am Games Athletes’ Village, which is being built on an 80-acre site near the Don River in Toronto’s Waterfront District.

The $514-million design/build/finance contract was awarded to Dundee Kilmer Developments by the Province of Ontario and is being constructed by EllisDon Ledcor PAAV Inc. Construction of the village will consist of various facilities to serve as temporary homes and training areas for athletes, including: an 82,000-sq.-ft. YMCA facility, a new George Brown College student residence building, 787 units of market housing and 253 units of affordable rental housing (all of which will be used as temporary accommodations); offices, administrative and ancillary facilities.

Site preparation for the Athletes’ Village began September 2011 and has gone relatively smoothly to date. Although the site was relatively clear in terms of existing structures, there was more going on beneath the surface than initially anticipated.

The biggest challenges were encountered during the reconstruction of Cherry Street, such as issues with existing utility lines not being where they expected to find them and having to adjust their work accordingly.

“We have a situation with an existing 600-mm water line that was put in place in 1902. [It’s] an existing cast-iron water line we have to work very close to and work around, and watch our own construction,” says Tim Dittmar, construction manager with EllisDon.

Fortunately, the City of Toronto has been cooperative when the contractors require shutdowns, so it hasn’t created serious problems or delays. 

Jesse Zuker, project manager with Infrastructure Ontario, says the installation of services in that area can prove challenging.

“It’s quite a dense spaghetti of underground infrastructure,” says Zuker. “Some of which is being installed while the old infrastructure remains in place; so you can have it done and switch it over. There’s certain timing and logistical challenges associated with that congestion and that sequence.”

There are also several old, abandoned private utilities that are being discovered as the roads are being torn up. These required additional planning and specialized contractors to be brought in for the utilities’ safe removal.

“These contained nasty stuff, like old gasoline pipes, diesel pipes, ammonia and a creosote line,” explains Zuker.

Warm winters
The start of the early works began when the site was turned over to the contracting firm back in September, which allowed for a lot of the deep underground municipal works inside the main site to begin. Thanks to Toronto’s unusually warm winter, crews were able to continue working uninterrupted, putting them ahead of schedule.

“[It] allowed them to have their interior road system pretty well back to the sub-base, sub-grade level, so we could use it for access roads; which benefited the bringing in of materials and getting the work done,” says Dittmar. “Now the design teams are working very hard to keep up with the pace of construction.”

Gold and green
All of the buildings being constructed in the village will be built to the LEED Gold standard for new construction and be equipped with green roofs along with various other green features. The roads will feature Silva Cell technology, which supports large tree growth. On a larger green scale, Zuker says Waterfront Toronto has applied for LEED Gold for Neighbourhood Development.

Keeping the project organized
With so many different sites to prepare for the 25-day, multi-sporting event, the key components of the Athletes’ Village were broken down into teams.

“We’ve tried to pair up our construction teams with different architectural groups for this design-build project,” says Dittmar.

The vast project has been divided into five groups: the main strategic planning team, the general superintendent, the lead safety people, accounting and administration and the design-build managers. The project is also broken down into four construction teams: municipal works, the George Brown student residence and YMCA facility, the affordable housing blocks and the market housing blocks.

“Our main administration team co-ordinates the four different groups together,” says Dittmar. “We use a detailed scheduling system to schedule the different blocks and their interface with the municipal works.”

Legacy use
Once the Games are complete, the Athletes’ Village will be handed back to EllisDon Ledcor PAAV Inc. by TO2015 for the site’s  final conversion, where the finishing touches will be put into the suites and some of the common areas will be converted back to their end-use requirements. When the construction work is complete, the village will be transformed into a mixed-use neighbourhood that will include: affordable housing units, new condominiums, a YMCA facility and George Brown College’s  first student dormitory that will accommodate 500 students.

The Games
The 2015 Pan American Games will take place from July 10 to 26, 2015 and the Parapan American Games will take place from August 7 to 14, 2015. For more information on the Toronto 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games, visit: www.toronto2015.org

Sidebar: Budget Breakdown

> The overall budget for the 2015 Games: $1.441 billion

> Contribution from the Government of Canada: $500 million

> Contribution from the Province of Ontario: $500 million

> Funds allocated to the renovation and construction of venues: $674 million

> Funds allocated to the operation of the Games: $767 million

> Investment by municipal governments, universities and venue owners: $288 million

> Portion of budget estimated to be collected through sponsorship, ticketing and other revenue measures: $153 million

Additional sidebar:
The design/build/finance contract for the Athletes’ Village also includes: the construction of West Don Lands infrastructure, roads and public spaces—including the reconstruction of Cherry Street and Eastern Avenue and a new streetcar route on Cherry Street; as well as the site preparation work needed to support all the Games’ temporary facilities set up by the Toronto 2015 Pan/Parapan Am Games Organizing Committee (TO2015). The site will be handed over to TO2015 in January 2015.

The Games are expected to attract more than 250,000 visitors to the Greater Golden Horseshoe region.

The construction of the Athletes’ Village is expected to
create 700 new construction jobs and support 5,200 jobs in total.