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Para/Pan Am Games Sprung A Plan for Sport in Ontario: Game ON

Para/Pan Am Games Sprung A Plan for Sport in Ontario: Game ON

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4/8/2019

It was the late summer of 2015. Ontario had just hosted a major multinational sport event. Yes indeed, the Para Am Games took over the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) from July 10 to 26, 2015. Toronto needed a break from the whirlwind of events. Some citizens spent their past 16+ days in elation, anger, angst, and frustration. They needed to brace for what was coming next: the Para/Pan Am Games happening in August. People could finally rest when the games were over.

To say that the success of these games has been questioned is putting it lightly. Some have praised it and others doubt, criticize and hate it to this day.

Anytime there’s a major sport event that’s funded for by the government, there’s a debate. And sure, the debate is warranted since citizens are the ones that pay the bill. Would you want to pay for something you didn’t want? Likewise, would you want to pay for something you didn’t think would be a good investment? Whether there’s an economic benefit is big consideration when evaluating the legacy of sport events. But there are intangible ones too. That debate is for another discussion.

The Legacy for Sport Infrastructure

The TO2015 Legacy fund was created to ensure athletes get the best possible training facilities in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) during the 2015 Para/Pan American Games

  • The Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre in Scarborough (during Games-Time, referred to as the CIBC Pan Am/Parapan Am Aquatics Centre and Field House),
  • The Mattamy National Cycling Centre (during Games-Time, referred to as the Cisco Milton Pan Am/Parapan Am Velodrome), and,
  • The Pan Am/Parapan Am Athletics Stadium (during Games-Time, referred to as the CIBC Pan Am/ Parapan Am Athletics Stadium).
  • a multi-use facility that houses two Olympic-length 50m pools, the Wheelchair Basketball Canada National Academy and the Canadian Sport Institute Ontario;
  • An athletics stadium at York University that will soon include an enhanced high performance athletics centre for Canada’s top athletics athletes;
  • An internationally sanctioned competition shooting facility to support all Olympic disciplines, the most complete of its kind in Canada; and,
  • a permanent BMX facility designed and constructed to meet international federation (Union Cycliste Internationale) certification standard.

Part of the Legacy: A Plan for Sport

One result was the creation of a plan on paper for sport in Ontario. Plans are always great. One quote that I used to get me through University was this one:

“Failing to prepare is preparing to fail”

Legendary UCLA Basketball Coach John Wooden

I always like a plan. If you don’t know where you’re going how can you get there? Waze, the popular car navigation app isn’t always there to navigate your way. In fact, it never is there for you aside from finding your geographic destination. A business plan tells you what you intend to do. What your goals and objectives are. Also, what the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats are (a little SWOT anyone?). Finally, it gives a glimpse about where you see the business in the future. You use a business plan to get others on board with your idea.

So yes. John Wooden is correct. If you don’t have a plan, then your plan is likely going to fail.

When the Para/Pan Am Games were over, the Ontario government, led by the Liberal’s Kathleen Wynne digested and then decided they needed to plan to get sport more involved in the lives of Ontarians.

Who takes care of sport in Ontario?

The Ministry of Tourism, Culture & Sport (MTCS) in fact does. The minister at the time was Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) Michael Coteau. He and his team at the ministry carved a plan for sport at the request of the Premier in an effort to ride the coattails of the Para/Pan Am Games. They called Game ON (no pun intended). The plan was created by the Ministry of Tourism, Culture & Sport (MTCS). It was centred around improving amateur sport via more government dollars towards it.

The plan identified three priorities for amateur sport in this province: (1) Participation; (2) Development; and (3) Excellence. I strongly suggest you look at all the things the Liberal government planned to do for sport in this province. Some of what was planned came to fruition already such as hosting the following events:

  • 2016 FINA World Swimming Championships – CHECK
  • 2017 North American Indigenous Games – CHECK
  • Co-host of 2017 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship – CHECK

There are also other parts of the plan that happened too. Take increasing safety in sport for example. Rowan’s Law was enacted just recently to police concussion protocol for amateur athletes.

The Gauntlet

Game ON has its drawbacks. The first obvious one is the cost to execute the plan. These numbers are VERY difficult to find. It would be interesting to know precise dollar amounts for each item. Of course, some of the items are not easily measured. For instance, it is hard to measure if more Ontarians are interested in sport now versus before. Without having those numbers, it makes it very difficult to analyze the effectiveness of the plan. One must weigh the cost of each item to its potential benefit.

As a result of being elected on June 7, 2018, Doug Ford took over Kathleen Wynne’s premier job. Doug Ford represents the Conservative Party. This party does not like to spend money without knowing the potential benefit precisely. Conversely, the Liberal government believe more in spending money (without getting too political). Come on Mat, this is Sport Management!!! Why you gotta give us something on politics?

Because it relates directly to amateur sport in Canada. Especially since Ford’s first provincial budget coming out on Friday this week. It’ll be interesting to see if sport is touched on in any way, shape or form. So because you want to hear no more until we get that news, that’s all for now.

…but there is more to come. Stay tuned.