Pan Am, Parapan Am Games break ground in Markham

Oct 9, 2012 | News

By Katherine Ward

Canadian athletes and government officials gathered north of Toronto Tuesday, to officially break ground on the new Markham Pan Am and Parapan Am Centre.

The facility will be equipped to host high-level competitions for water polo, badminton and table tennis sporting events at the 2015 games.

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Elements of its 15,000 square metre design include three gymnasiums and a 10 lane, 50-metre Olympic-sized swimming pool.

Michael Chan, Ontario’s tourism minister, said this type of structure will put the city of Markham on the world map.

“It will show the international community we are serious about world sport and serious about competitive sport,” Chan told Humber News. “In a city that is ready to grow from 300,000 people to 400,000 people, it will give the community a place to play, train and exercise.”

The multipurpose nature of the building has been a driving force since planning on the project began. The centre has been intentionally built next to a specialized athletic high school so that students can also benefit from the facility.

Frank Scarpitti, mayor of Markham, said this development is part of city council’s vision of a more interconnected community in a developing downtown core.

“This construction does not just stop with the Pan Am games,” he told Humber News. “We can provide opportunities for people to connect and not just create bunch of high rise buildings.”

But in the short term, athletes are excited for what this facility means for their sporting future.

“There are not many pools where we can play in Toronto,” Christine Robinson, a water polo athlete who competed in both the Pan Am Games and the Olympics, said to Humber News. “So to be able to showcase and train for our sport properly at home is really special for us.”

Michelle Li, best known for her badminton performance at the recent Olympic Games in London, agreed.

“Having this facility will bring more opportunities for me as an athlete and give the sport of badminton a chance to grow,” she said. “Because at the end of the day I want to bring home the gold, baby!”