Corp Comm Connects


Pan Am Games mean carpool lanes on Hwy. 401 in Durham

Oshawa organizers say they’ll comfortably handle crowd during boxing and weightlifting events
Feb. 11, 2015
By Reka Szekely

Oshawa residents were brought up to speed on plans for the Pan Am Games at a recent information session, including details on carpool lanes that will run into Durham along Hwy. 401 during the Games.

The Pan Am Games represent the largest athletic event in Canadian history, with more than twice as many athletes as the Vancouver Olympics. The games run from July 10 to 26 at 33 venues in Toronto and surrounding areas, including Durham Region.

Oshawa will host the weightlifting and boxing events at the General Motors Centre, while softball and baseball players will head to Ajax ballpark at Taunton Road and Audley Road. The Parapan Am Games follow Aug. 7 to 15 and events for the Parapan games will be held at the Abilities Centre in Whitby.

At an Oshawa information session on Jan. 28, residents received information about traffic and security plans for the Games.

The Ministry Of Transportation’s Jamie Austin explained that HOV lanes - known as carpool lanes - are planned for several 400 series highways in the GTA including Hwy. 401, Hwy. 427, the QEW and Don Valley Parkway. In Durham the HOV lane will run along Hwy. 401 eastbound until the Westney Road interchange in Ajax.

Existing HOV lanes will be used where they’re available and a new lane will be added to portions of the highways including an HOV lane running along the Durham portion of the 401.

The lanes will be open to people involved with the Pan-Am Games as well as regular drivers who have three or more people in their vehicle.

By encouraging carpooling and making the public aware of traffic changes related to the Games, organizers believe they can bring traffic volumes down by about 20 per cent to typical rush hour traffic levels during the busiest times.

To keep drivers off the roads, Pan Am organizers have reached an agreement with transit providers including GO Transit, the TTC and Durham Region Transit so that anyone holding tickets for an event can use public transit for free to get to that event.

In Oshawa, there will be buses running directly from the Oshawa GO station to the General Motors Centre. A similar service will connect the Ajax GO station to the baseball and softball facilities.

While there is parking available within walking distance of the Oshawa venue - including the Mary Street parkade - no such parking exists in Ajax which has accessible parking spots only. There will be a shuttle bus from an offsite parking lot for people who choose to drive to the venue.

More information about local road closures or changes, such as on-street parking changes, will be available closer to the Games.

Sergeant James Lamothe is the operational planning lead for Durham police for the event and is working with other police forces, including the OPP, on security for the Games.

He explained that much of the security within the venue will be conducted by security guards, but he does expect to see police involvement, including auxiliary officers.

“This is a sporting event, this is not a security policing event,” he said, adding residents will likely see more officers near the venue than on a regular day.

Sgt. Lamothe pointed out that the 2,500 people expected to take in the boxing and the 2,000 watching the weightlifting are significantly lower than the typical attendance at an Oshawa Generals hockey game, where it’s not unusual to see more than 5,000 fans.

He said venue security and police will take a “peek and poke” into people’s bags and they’ll pass through a metal detector, but generally speaking security won’t be stricter than a typical hockey game.

“At the Elton John concert we had upwards of 6,500 people with no real problems,” said Sgt. Lamothe, who points out big events at the General Motors Centre don’t usually cause traffic problems.

Beyond that, he expects the flow of people to be steady.

“Not everyone is going to arrive and leave at the same time,” he said.

He said he hopes Durham residents will check out the Games.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to come out and see high-level sport,” he said.

Staff from the General Motors Centre - which will be called the Oshawa Sports Centre during the Games - say they’ll be ready.

“It’s a special event but when you break it right down it’s like other events,” said Vince Vella, general manager of the General Motors Centre.

Julie MacIsaac, Oshawa manager of culture and central recreation services, said there will be numerous cultural activities during the Games and the City will be drumming up excitement.

Residents can expect to see orange and blue flowers in downtown Oshawa planters and local gardeners are being invited to join in and “paint the town Pan Am.”

Tickets for the Games are now on sale with at least one Durham event, the men’s baseball gold medal game, proving to be one of the top sellers.

For more details on the Games visit