York wins gold for Pan Am Games agreement, says Globe

The first gold medal of the 2015 Pan American Games goes to York University – for striking while the iron was hot, wrote The Globe and Mail Aug. 24.

Games organizers confirmed Monday that the suburban Toronto school will be the site for the cornerstone track & field meet and University officials confirmed the signing of a letter of intent to stage the events.

The York cluster of venues, a hub of sport facilities at Toronto’s north end, was previously slated to include tennis and rugby. It already is host venue of a major professional tennis tournament, the Rogers Cup, the Tennis Canada offices, and has held international rugby events in the past. The 2015 Pan Am rugby tournament was moved to York from Fletcher’s Fields in nearby Markham.

While approvals need to be confirmed in September by the Games directors and partners, becoming the official location for three events could bring millions of provincial and federal dollars in new construction.

“It’s a great story for York and for the Games overall,” said Ian Troop, chief executive officer of the 2015 Pan American Games organizing committee. Troop intimated that York had always coveted the track & field meet but was unable to push it in the bid process because the school was in the midst of labour negotiations. “But York was willing and waiting to participate.”

Troop stopped short of saying Hamilton’s intransigence on the stadium was the major factor in the move to Toronto, but several factors came to play in York’s favour.

York already boasts a good indoor facility for athletics, and that sat well with Athletics Canada and officials with the Own the Podium athlete funding program. There was also a Rugby Canada assessment of Fletcher’s Fields as a rugby site for the Games, and it was deemed to be better used as a practice location, while games could be played at the University. Third, Toronto FC’s BMO Field switched from synthetic turf to a natural sward, which wouldn’t hold up to Games soccer matches and many practices. And there’s the top-notch tennis centre.

Toronto 2015 will present recommendations on its full venue plan to its board of directors in September. The board approval will then be submitted to Games partners for their approval.

“Accelerating the review of these venues moves us an important step closer to on-budget and on-time Games readiness,” Troop said.

“In pursuing these discussions, the University will be guided by a clear set of principles, including alignment with the University’s future needs and the efficient use of its land, and the needs of our community neighbours,” said Mamdouh Shoukri, York’s president & vice-chancellor.

York spokesperson Keith Marnoch said the agreement to be the tennis venue for the Games was signed “a while back, and we kept a close eye on things and were able to offer world-class facilities.

  • The 2015 Pan Am Games track & field stadium is moving north and east of its original site, wrote the Toronto Star Aug. 24.

The Games organizing committee announced Monday that a letter of intent has been signed with York University after plans to stage athletics in Hamilton fell.

If the recommendation is approved on Sept. 30, York will build a new stadium with 5,000 permanent and 5,000 temporary seats. It will likely be constructed on the north part of the Keele campus.

York will also host rugby and tennis during the Pan Am Games.

Ian Troop, CEO of the Games committee, said York’s long-standing affiliation with high-performance athletics was one of the main reasons for its selection. Another was its ability to host multiple events.

York spokesperson Keith Marnoch said the University’s existing football field will likely be adapted for the rugby tournament.

The University has signed a letter of intent with the Pan/Parapan American Games organizing committee to negotiate an agreement for the construction of a facility that would meet International Association of Athletics Federations standards, and, following the Games, would be available for use by the University and surrounding communities. The letter of intent also indicates that the Pan Am Games organizing committee and the University may discuss hosting additional events on York’s Keele campus.

“We are thrilled about this development, as it is a tremendous opportunity for York University, as well as the broader community,” Mamdouh Shoukri, York president & vice-chancellor, said in a release. “In pursuing these discussions, the University will be guided by a clear set of principles, including alignment with the University’s future needs and the efficient use of its land, and the needs of our community neighbours.”

With the TTC’s Spadina-York University subway extension projected for completion in 2015, an on-campus subway station would provide access to these new facilities.

  • While the city remains embroiled in a battle over its stadium location, York University is being awarded the marquee Pan Am events that were stripped from Hamilton weeks ago, wrote the Hamilton Spectator Aug. 24.

The Pan Am Host Corporation announced yesterday York will host track & field – regarded as the premier events of the Games – and rugby. The north Toronto university was already scheduled to host tennis.

Nick Bontis, a McMaster University business & marketing professor, called the York announcement “horrible news for Hamilton”…. He says it’s a clear indication York University’s Pan Am star is on the rise while Hamilton’s is falling. York has been rumoured to be one of the locations that could host a stadium should Hamilton fall through as a venue.

  •  “Currently we’re positioned to deliver, what we think, is a world-class site,” said York spokesperson Keith Marnoch, in The Canadian Press Aug. 23.

The University is “thrilled about this development,” Mamdouh Shoukri, York president and vice-chancellor, said in a release.

The decision comes after Pan Am organizers decided last month to move the track events to Toronto from Hamilton for several reasons, including having the track venue closer to the athletes’ village, wrote the Press.

  • Rugby, planned for Fletcher’s Fields in Markham, will also move to York’s Keele campus with the original site serving for training, wrote the Toronto Sun Aug. 24.  
  • York University, already a venue for tennis at the Toronto 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games, is in discussions with organizers regarding the construction of a stadium on its Keele Street campus that would host track & field events during the Games, wrote the North York Mirror Aug. 23.
  • The track & field story was also reported on CBC-TV, Global Television and CP24-TV, and AM640 Radio in Toronto,  100.5 KRUZ FM in Peterborough and AM900 Radio in Hamilton, Aug. 23.

Is Vaughan MP running stealth mayoral campaign?

Questions are being raised about longtime local Liberal MP Maurizio Bevilacqua, who many sources claim is poised to run and who appears to be running a stealth campaign [for mayor of Vaughan], wrote the Toronto Star Aug. 24.

Though undeclared, he has been anything but quiet, flooding his Vaughan riding with campaign-style pamphlets, newsletters and fridge magnets and making oblique pronouncements that appear to point to the MP’s mayoral intentions.

As an MP, he must step down before declaring himself in the running and must officially enter the race before he can raise funds or campaign openly.

It’s not illegal to send out pamphlets, points out York University Professor Rob MacDermid, a political scientist in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies.

Council taking proactive police approach

When Sussex, NB, agreed to sign on with the RCMP for police services, the municipality, like most others in the province, was faced with a tough decision because of the broad new policing standards outlined in the Grant Report, which was sanctioned by the province, wrote the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal Aug. 24. The new criteria set out by Professor Emeritus Alan Grant of York’s Osgoode Hall Law School aimed to create a uniform level of police service throughout New Brunswick by May 2002.

On air

  • York student and Miss Universe contestant Elena Semikina was featured on Global TV’s “ET Canada” Aug. 23.
  • Gregory Chin, a senior fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation and a political scientist in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, took part in a panel discussion about China’s growing economic power, on TVO’s “The Agenda” Aug. 23.