Written by: Ranjita Padalia
The Pan Am and Parapan Am Games seemed to have brought life to Toronto and the GTA, causing all types of excitement. But with excitement come criticisms and hurdles that make the preparation and outcomes of the Games more intriguing.
Though the main goal of the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games serves the purpose of allowing almost 7000 athletes from Latin America, South America, the Caribbean, and North America to compete in the world’s third largest international multi-sport Games, it is also the goal of the organizers to attract and amaze countless attendees who choose to purchase tickets to watch these Games. Therefore, without a doubt, customer service plays a fundamental role in how successful the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games are in Toronto.
The overall cost to host the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games in Toronto was more than $2.5-billion, which is about a billion dollars more than the initial budget. Considering that $2.5-billion is more money than most will ever be able to experience in a lifetime, a budget with that size seems extensive, but once one acknowledges the individual costs of each project, constructing venues, and the overall running of the games, $2.5-billion seems like it makes sense. The organizers of the games and the Ontario government understand that they have to provide an exceptional experience to their customers, which is probably why the $2.5-billion, with $1.1-billion dollars coming from the government of Ontario, has likely been thought of as an investment in the future happiness of taxpayers.
The fireworks flying off the CN Tower was quite a sight to see, and though it is quite a memory for Torontonians and tourists to have, and I am sure they were likely expensive in their own right, there is a particular outcome of the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games that may stick with taxpayers for much longer- the infamous HOV Lanes.
It has recently been announced by Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne that some of the new HOV lanes could possibly stay in the form of toll roads. Though they were temporarily brought to Toronto to assist traffic during the Games and though many people have complained about the dangers they have faced due to drivers becoming accustomed to the new lanes, others argue that since many people have had to adjust, why put their efforts to waste and remove the HOV lanes? The Canadian Taxpayers Federation went as far as to criticize permanent HOV lanes as a money grab. Who will the customers of the new HOV lanes be? Possibly the more well-off of Toronto, depending on where the HOV lanes will be kept, thus keeping the Government of Ontario’s customers at a very exclusive level.
Of course, investments as large as the HOV lanes for the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games would not have been made unless there was a carefully thought out plan of the future uses and purposes of such large investments; the unspoken investor and customer, the taxpayer, need not worry themselves with such details, which is likely why the public have not been told of definite plans for Toronto’s future with its HOV lanes and new infrastructure due to this marvelous month-long event. But recently, Craig Greenham, an Olympic historian at the University of Windsor has stated that “Toronto is in the best position it has ever been to play host to the world” since Toronto’s investments have now provided pre-existing facilities to develop an acceptable space for future chances to hold other events, like the Olympics.
Will these investments fare well for Toronto, the GTA, and the customers served at the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games in the future? As Canadian citizens and Torontonians, I think it would be wise to listen to your customers’, anticipate their needs, and in the end, be defined by the experience that you provide for those that you serve.