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What to expect during the Pan Am Games

Church Street will be closed on July 10-26 weekends

The fun never ends in Toronto’s Church-Wellesley Village this summer. Just as this year’s Pride festivities wind down, the neighbourhood — along with the rest of the Greater Toronto Area — will host thousands of international guests for the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games.

Which streets will be shut down? Where will traffic be more snarled than usual? What patio should you be sitting on to find the ripped athlete of your dreams? We have those answers, and more.

The area surrounding the Village will be busy during the games. For all three weekends of the Pan Am Games, from July 10-26, Church Street will be closed from Alexander Street to Gloucester Street. As well, Jarvis Street is part of the games route network, which means it will be used to shuttle athletes, media and spectators to the various Toronto venues.

The most significant venue adjacent to the Village is the Mattamy Athletic Centre on Church and Carlton Streets, which is playing host to basketball and wheelchair basketball. Organizers expect huge crowds, which will mean more pedestrians and more people using the TTC. However, there’s good news if you are planning on buying tickets for basketball, or any other event — TTC fare is included with  your ticket.

The 519 will become Pride House Pavilion. Pride House TO is a coalition of 15 different organizations working together to make the games the most inclusive in history, according to organizers.

LGBT athletes, spectators and allies can take part in events and find support services at the 519. The ballroom upstairs will become a licensed lounge where people can go to watch the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games.

The opening of the Pride House Pavilion will necessitate that some of the 519’s regular programs move to other locations for the duration of the Pan Am Games. “We’re still trying to figure out what specific ones,” says Barb Besharat, a staff team member at Pride House TO. “A couple of our bigger meal programs will be [moved], but they are going to be within a five-minute walk of here.”

Any programs happening in the building will be part of Pride House’s programing and will be open and free for anybody.

During the weekend Church Street closures, the street will be taken over by a variety of activities, and at least three bars on Church Street and Maitland Street are looking to extend their patios, pending approval.

Barbara Hall Park will also be included in the festivities. It will be shut down during the three weekends of the Pan Am Games to become a licensed “celebration zone.”

image by Mary Marin / iStock / Thinkstock

The Integrated Security Unit (ISU), a combined task force of several regional police services including the Toronto Police Service, will oversee security during the Pan Am Games.

Cheryl McNeil, the Toronto Police Services’ business and community liaison for the Pan Am Games, told Daily Xtra that residents can expect a similar police presence to the one at Pride.

However, sex worker advocacy group Maggie’s Toronto raised concerns earlier this year that sex workers may get caught up in police sweeps. Last year, area residents also protested against the deployment of Toronto Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy (TAVIS) officers in the area before, during and after WorldPride. McNeil says that she is unaware of any plans for TAVIS deployment in the area during the Pan Am Games.