Client interview - Infrastructure Ontario

Cranes and equipment don’t build projects. People do.

The Toronto 2015 Pan and Parapan American Games were a huge success for Canada. The foundation for that success and for a positive lasting legacy was the seamless delivery of five major international sporting venues, developed by Infrastructure Ontario, says John McKendrick.

What are you most proud of?

All five international sporting venues were ready in time and under budget for the Games. That makes us proud from a global perspective too. I am not aware of any other international sporting event where all components came in under budget. Over 1.1 million tickets were sold for the 51 sporting events in 15 municipalities across the Greater Golden Horseshoe and more than 1.4 million visitors attended.

What were the biggest challenges?

There were a few challenges at the start, including no benchmarks, very little data and accelerated timeframes. At the start of the process, Turner & Townsend helped us bring some reality and rigour to the budget. They brought comparison data from similar sporting projects internationally, in Australia and the UK, as well as data from University of Toronto stadiums and Queens’ athletics stadium.

What legacy do you leave?

Aside from the feelings of pride locally and nationally, the facilities we have delivered are great. We didn’t want to build white elephants and worked hard to make sure that all the venues were going to be useful and practical for the legacy owners. We added spaces for weight training, basketball and volleyball, and at the Velodrome there’s a walking track – it’s fantastic to go there today and see people walking round. Overall, these complex projects were challenging at times. But we did it and that is down to the people. Cranes and equipment don’t build projects. People do.