Remembering Win­nipeg’s Pan Amer­i­can Games

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES - By Mike Moore

WE’RE at the mid-point of the 2015 Pan Amer­i­can Games and by all ac­counts the games are pro­ceed­ing suc­cess­fully and Canada is per­form­ing very well. There has been a lot of prepa­ra­tion for these games both in terms of ath­letes and fa­cil­i­ties and the end re­sults could lead to some­thing much big­ger. It was only 16 years ago when Win­nipeg hosted the 1999 Pan Am Games; up un­til now we are the only Cana­dian city to host these games twice (we also hosted the games in 1967.) There was tremen­dous ex­cite­ment and energy through­out Win­nipeg in 1999 and this town was alive with Pan Am fever. I have no doubt that Toronto is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing their share of ex­cite­ment too; how­ever, there is no way that this event takes over such a large metropoli­tan area like it did here in 1999. For Win­nipeg, the Pan Am Games were our Olympics. We hosted more ath­letes and sports than any other event out­side the sum­mer Olympics, more than the win­ter and games and con­sid­er­ably more than the Com­mon­wealth Games. Toronto, I sus­pect, is go­ing through the same ex­er­cise that Rio de Janeiro did in 2007; prove your­self by host­ing the Pan Ams be­fore we can con­sider you for the Olympics. It worked for Rio who won the 2016 bid. I have no doubt it will work for Toronto too. This year’s games in Toronto have an op­er­at­ing cost ap­prox­i­mately 20 times the cost for the Win­nipeg games. There will no doubt be a tremen­dous sport legacy, how­ever this col­umn is typ­i­cally about hous­ing. How did the 1999 Pan Amer­i­can Games im­pact hous­ing in Win­nipeg and the sur­round­ing area? For one, we were a bit of an un­known com­mod­ity in Cen­tral and South Amer­ica. Our games kick-started the Pro­vin­cial Nom­i­nee Pro­gram, pro­vided an im­pe­tus for north-south trade cor­ri­dors and en­cour­aged peo­ple to move here, thereby re­quir­ing more hous­ing. Neigh­bour­hoods im­proved via new ath­letic fa­cil­i­ties. The new base­ball sta­dium in­vig­o­rated down­town Win­nipeg and brought thou­sands of peo­ple to the area in the evenings and week­ends, not only then but for years af­ter­wards for Gold­eyes games. The eas­i­est move would have been to put ar­ti­fi­cial turf for a hockey field at the Univer­sity of Man­i­toba. How­ever, by lo­cat­ing it by Kil­do­nan East Col­le­giate, mi­nor football and myr­iad of other ac­tiv­i­ties re­ju­ve­nated the area. An ex­panded pool in River Heights, archery in Tuxedo, wa­ter-skiing in Transcona, cy­cling in Bird’s Hill, row­ing in Minnedosa, sail­ing in Gimli, cy­cling and eques­trian at the Red River Ex, five sports in Fort Rich­mond and five more in the heart of down­town all brought height­ened at­ten­tion to where we live. As I said ear­lier, I have no doubt Toronto will do an ex­cel­lent job with this year’s games, but in 1999, Win­nipeg was the cen­tre of the uni­verse.

Mike Moore is pres­i­dent of the Man­i­toba Home Builders’ As­so­ci­a­tion

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