Bravo, Toronto. Bravo.

Sitting here watching the closing ceremonies of Pan-Am 2015 I can’t help but feel extreme pride in what our great City has accomplished. An event that started with little fan fare and loads of unjustified skepticism ended with over 80 Pan Am records set including over a million event tickets sold and the largest sponsorship revenue in the history of the Pan American Games in which CIBC played a huge role.

Many locals spent their time complaining about the HOV lanes and the money spent on the games and so on but many many more decided to take a look at what the games were about and made the decision to embrace this massive event. Host cities sacrifice a lot to get involved in these games. We sacrifice City resources and our sanity as we try to commute across town to get to our homes and jobs but one thing we must realize is that we’re all in this together and Toronto as a City is a better place after all is said and done.

It’s easy to get frustrated when sitting in traffic wondering why we have to have this stupid HOV lane but those lanes helped the athletes get to their competitions on time so they can compete at the highest possible level. The past 16 days were not about us. They were about bringing 41 different nations together to compete, celebrate, and elevate. Driving by the Athletes Village and seeing the various flags hung from the balconies was so damn inspiring. Walking around downtown and seeing the athletes sporting their colours and looking at our City in wonder made me realize that Toronto is really a beautiful place that we take for granted every single day (that’s changing now).

It was surprising to find out that these games required over 23,000 volunteers to be successful and even more surprising to know that over 60,000 Torontonians applied! How good does that feel? Warms my damn heart. I love seeing and meeting people who care about Toronto and do things every day to make it a better place. I’ve spent a lot of time surrounding myself with people like that and found dozens more over the past two weeks.

So now the Para Pan Am games will start and once they’re gone what do we have? Well, we’ll have millions of dollars worth of Olympic quality sporting infrastructure all within Toronto City limits or very close by. We have facilities that the youth of today can take advantage of and who knows, one day these facilities, sponsorship dollars, and attention may get them on the big stage in future Pan Am and Olympic games. This is a good thing. So who cares if Kanye is performing or if it’s Drake or whoever. The closing ceremonies both opening and closing did a great job of showcasing what Canada and Toronto are all about so let’s recognize that and do things that make our city better every day.

Saad Rafi, CEO of Pan Am 2015 Toronto said it best: “We built you the podiums but you lifted us a little higher”

See you in Lima, Peru and perhaps we’ll see the World again in 2024 when we host the Olympics! Now time to sit back and enjoy the rest of the ceremony!