November 12, 2012


Infrastructure is being constructed as part of the Canary District, that initially will be used as the athletes’ village during the Toronto 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games. The development also includes a mix of market and affordable housing, a George Brown College student residence and a YMCA recreational facility. The project will advance implementation of Waterfront Toronto’s precinct plan for the West Don Lands area.

Canary District construction takes flight

Thanks to mild conditions last winter and favourable weather over the summer, considerable progress is being made on construction of the Canary District in Toronto’s West Don Lands. The development initially will house athletes participating in the 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games.

“We’re basically developing eight city blocks,” says Tim Dittmar, construction manager at EllisDon Ledcor PAAV Inc., the company set up by the two construction firms to build the project.

“That includes all of the necessary infrastructure.”

Infrastructure Ontario and Waterfront Toronto are working with TO2015 to develop the section of the West Don Lands that will be home to the village. Dundee Kilmer Developments signed a fixed-price contract in January of last year to design, build and finance the development.

EllisDon Ledcor is Dundee Kilmer’s construction partner.

The project includes six buildings — a mix of “market” and affordable housing, a George Brown College student residence and a YMCA recreational centre, which will function as a training facility during the Games.

Once the Games are wrapped up, the buildings will be turned back to the contractors to remove temporary facilities that were installed to support the Games and to convert housing and other facilities used during the Games for permanent occupancy.

The infrastructure that is being put in place will accommodate the eventual build-out of the entire Canary District and the West Don Lands neighbourhood.

Road infrastructure work includes the redevelopment of Cherry Street and Old Eastern Avenue.

“When we started the project, those roads were turned over to us,” Dittmar said.

“We had to close them down, tear them up, and replace all of the utilities.”

Enbridge is running gas lines into the site while utility contractor Entera is undertaking work on behalf of Toronto Hydro. The Enbridge work is slated to be wrapped up this month. Entera is to complete its installations by mid-February.

Dittmar said getting the new road system in place was a priority, to allow trucks access to the various building sites.

In addition, “deep” infrastructure has been installed on the site — storm, sanitary and water lines.

On the buildings side, the YMCA and George Brown College residence are the furthest along, and on track for topping off next spring. Substantial completion on both projects is slated for January 2014.

The buildings are located at Front and Cherry streets.

A crane is scheduled to be erected on site in December, with a second in January, on the first “market” condominium building.

Excavation and drilling of structural caissons are well under way.

Construction of the second condo building is also under way, with a crane scheduled to be erected in November and a second in December.

The condo buildings are scheduled to be substantially completed in the fall of 2014.

Construction is proceeding “almost in parallel” on the affordable housing units.

Substantial completion is scheduled for December 2013 and January 2014.

“The buildings themselves are fairly simple,” Dittmar said.

“They shouldn’t present too much of a challenge in terms of construction.” The project is scheduled to be turned over to the TO2015 organization in January of 2015.

“Everybody from Infrastructure Ontario, Waterfront Toronto, Dundee Kilmer and especially the city has been very co-operative in allowing this project to move forward at the pace that we have set,” Dittmar said.

Currently, the EllisDon Ledcor venture has a staff of about 45 in its site office, drawn from both companies. In all, there are an estimated 250 personnel on site, including multiple electrical, mechanical and formwork subtrades.

“We’ve got a good team working here, which makes a big difference,” Dittmar said.

Dittmar, a professional engineer who joined EllisDon in the mid 1980s after stints at both Vanbots and Eastern Construction, expects the key challenges will arise once the development has been turned back to the contractors in September 2015.

During the conversion phase, temporary facilities that were put in place to accommodate the Games must be removed.

The list includes a polyclinic, fitness centre, sports viewing room, internet café, offices and various ancillary facilities.

In addition, many of the washroom facilities that were installed to accommodate the athletes will be converted. Kitchens and finished floors will be installed in the housing units.

Dittmar said all life-safety systems will be re-verified as well.

With the exception of the market housing units, this work must be completed by the end of March 2016.

“We’ve got a limited time period in which to do all this work,” Dittmar said.

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