Toronto’s Massive Overhauls Enhance Meetings Experience

District 28
District 28

As Toronto wraps up the PanAm and ParaPanAm Games this month, several new developments in preparation for the international athletic event will be left in its wake.

Union Station underwent a major overhaul that makes it easier for attendees to get around the city. Union Pearson Express debuted on June 6, connecting Toronto Pearson International Airport to Union Station. In a mere 25 minutes, attendees can now reach several of Toronto’s downtown hotels, tourist attractions and business centers by boarding the train—complete with power outlets, luggage space and comfortable seating.

This summer, Union Station also hosted an outdoor food market from July 6 to Aug. 28. Organized by Front Street Foods, the market featured approximately 30 vendors such as restaurants, caterers, bakers and artisanal food makers. It served as a key element in the Union Summer program, created to make use of the newly rebuilt outdoor plaza in front of the train station. Additionally, Union Station is undergoing its own revitalization project that will debut at the end of 2015. The $1 billion project will reopen with refreshed subway platforms and a GO concourse as well as a new basement retail level, glass-covered train shed and improved subway connections.

Attendees will also appreciate the other airport connector that opened this summer in the form of an $82.5 million pedestrian tunnel. The 853-foot tunnel connects mainland Toronto to Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport about 100 feet below Lake Ontario’s Western Channel, giving meeting attendees a convenient way to access the airport. In taking after the airport’s energy goals, all of the tunnel’s electricity needs are powered by 100 percent green energy.

For meetings, HangLoose Media opened a full-service production facility and event space in Toronto’s Studio District. The venue houses three full-service studios (4,300, 1,500 and 1,000 sf), camera and equipment rentals, online and offline edit suites and a 4K-ready screening room—ideal for production groups looking to get some work done. The 25,000-sf District 28 event space features massive white walls, two built-in bars, a kitchen and a significant amount of warehouse space for massive events—perhaps, a movie premiere or product launch—and serves as a blank canvas for meeting planners.

Historic theater lovers will also be excited about the $135 million revitalization of 120-year-old Massey Hall, currently undergoing a seven-year transformation. Available for rental, the 2,753-seat concert hall will remain open during the first phase of the project (to be completed in 2019), while the second phase will force it to shut down as the interior is redeveloped over an 18- to 24-month period.