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Community celebrates aquatics centre groundbreaking

UTSC Principal Franco Vaccarino, left, poses with officials and school children at the Pan Am aquatics centre groundbreaking. (Photo by Ken Jones)

Sport and government dignitaries joined the university and the community in celebrating the groundbreaking Thursday for the new Pan Am Games aquatics centre and field house being constructed at UTSC.

“This facility will further connect the university and the community,” said UTSC Principal Franco Vaccarino, speaking at the ceremony. “So much of the thanks goes to the students. You were the ones who boldly said yes to this facility just a few years ago. Thank you for your generosity. Thank you for your foresight.”

The Pan Am and Parapan Am Aquatics Centre and Field House will house swimming and fencing events at the 2015 Games. It will contain two Olympic-sized swimming pools, a diving tank, and dry-land training facilities, as well as flexible gym space and a track and fitness area.

Officials included federal Minister of Sport Bal Gosal, Ontario Minister Responsible for the Pan Am/Parapan Am Games Charles Sousa, Pickering-Scarborough East MP Corneliu Chisu, Scarborough-Agincourt MPP Soo Wong, Pickering-Scarborough East MPP Tracy MacCharles, and Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.

Also in attendance were a number of Olympic and Paralympic athletes who posed for photographs and signed autographs. Students, staff, faculty, and members of the local community, as well as students from nearby Military Trail Public School, joined the festivities.

The event featured live music, food trucks, bouncy castles, booths, games, and handouts including water bottles and swim goggles.

For more photos of the event click here.

 “I want to thank the people at UTSC who are responsible,” said Ian Troop, CEO of the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games Organizing Committee (TO2015). “I’m talking to the students of UTSC. You put your money where your mouth is. You’re helping to ensure a brighter future for this campus and this community.”

The overall project will cost $205 million. In 2010 U of T students passed a levy that will see their tuitions pay $30 million over about 25 years for the facility.

After the games are over, the facility will be owned and operated by UTSC and the City of Toronto, and will be available to students and the community.

“I think that the students are really, really excited about this,” said Abdalla Al-Baalawy, president and CEO of the Scarborough Campus Student Union. He took the opportunity to press for a commitment to a light-rail transit line that would connect UTSC with the TTC, which is especially important to ensure that people can get to the new centre.

“This is Scarborough’s chance to get what it deserves,” he says.

You can find out more about the new aquatics centre here.

© University of Toronto Scarborough