Just three months after delivering her second child, former world number one ranked sprint hurdler Priscilla Lopes-Schliep didn’t mind leaving the newborn for a few hours and braving the cold weather to be part of an announcement that will benefit young people in some of the city’s designated priority neighbourhoods.
The Toronto 2015 Sports Legacy Fund, supported by the federal and provincial governments, was unveiled last week at the Aquatics Centre and Field House at the University of Toronto in Scarborough.
“For me, this can’t get any closer to home,” said Lopes-Schliep who became a mother for a second time a few months ago. “I was born at Centenary hospital up the road and I lived opposite this new centre before moving into the Malvern community. This is really exciting for me and I will love for my daughters to use these facilities.”
The Legacy Fund will be supported by a $65 million federal infusion and $5 million from the provincial government.
“It’s a significant step to making sure that future generations can use and access these facilities,” said Toronto 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games Organizing Committee chief executive officer Ian Troop. “This is a huge investment in high performance sport in Canada and it’s a huge investment in our athletes. Quite simply, it’s a game changer. This is the start of an incredibly new chapter in our sporting history. Our summer athletes have needed these world-class training and competition venues for decades. This is what the Calgary and Vancouver Games have done for our Winter Games athletes. Athletes here in Ontario and across Canada will have the option to train with the very best in the best facilities and on home soil. They wouldn’t have to give up been close to their families in their quest to be the best.”
The Legacy Fund’s first payments are expected to be made next year after the facilities are officially opened. The Aquatics Centre and Field House is scheduled to be completed next July and the Velodrome and track and field stadium next fall.
In the first three years, the Aquatics Centre and Field House is expected to receive nearly $4.1 million, the velodrome $736,000 and the track and field stadium $288,000. Future drawdown allocations will be determined by the Fund’s allocations committee – consisting of seven representatives selected by the federal, provincial and municipal governments, the Canadian Olympic Committee and the Canadian Paralympic Committee — based on annual business plans submitted by the facility owners.
The Fund is anticipated to last for a minimum of two decades.
“Legacy is the guiding principle of all of us working to make these Games a success,” Troop said. “There is the common legacy of 26,000 new jobs and many business opportunities. There is the social legacy of 20,000 volunteers and there’s the sporting legacy of course with 10 new venues and 15 renovated facilities, all tremendous lasting value for the community. The legacy of the People’s Games will live on for decades.”
Bal Gasol, the federal Minister of State responsible for Sport, said the Legacy Fund will help ensure Canadians can continue to use these facilities and benefit from sports programming well beyond 2015.
“Through this investment, our government is making sure that generations to come have access to these world-class facilities which will perhaps help create some of Canada’s future stars,” he said.