‘World class’ plans for Ontario Place’s future come at a critical time for our parks.
Ontario Place For All hopes you and yours are enduring these challenging times. Covid-19 and Black Lives Matter have changed all of our lives and promise to have an impact for years to come.
We are at a critical point for the future of Ontario Place. The Ford government has instituted a bit of a pause in its plans to develop the precious lakeside park and heritage site. It’s asked the three finalists to rework their proposals and has reached out to the Mayor of Toronto, promising that the City of Toronto will have a major say in what happens to Ontario Place.
Make sure Premier Ford, Minister MacLeod and Mayor Tory hear your voice. Send them a letter, your own or the one available below, demanding an open and transparent consultation process for the future of Ontario Place.
One of the lessons we have all learned from the Covid-19 pandemic is the importance of open public space where people can gather safely. It is clear that Toronto does not have enough park space, especially in the downtown, and cannot afford to lose any of what it now has to a private developer.
Now, more than ever, we need both the City and the province to consult with the public, open and transparently, about what they would like to see at a revitalized Ontario Place. The 155-acre site is owned by the public, and we should have a say in its future. Both Ontario Place For All and the City of Toronto have identified principles that should guide any additions to the site.
Ontario Place for All says, in light of the Covid outbreak, the provincial government should reconsider its plans to redevelop Ontario Place.
“One thing became crystal clear over the past weekend,” says Ken Greenberg, urban designer and member of the Steering Committee of Ontario Place for All (OP4A). “The overcrowding at Trinity-Bellwoods showed Toronto needs more park space. Unfortunately, a lot of the greenspace currently at Ontario Place could be lost under the government’s redevelopment plans.”
Committee member Cynthia Wilkey says there should also be some immediate improvements to the lakeside attraction, now that it has been opened for the summer.
“We think by building shade structures and adding safely managed food and refreshment trucks, the Ontario government could make Ontario Place a signature item on an agenda of helping people through the summer.”
Wilkey says it would bring much-needed relief to people who have been socially isolating for more than two months.
The President of Swim, Drink, Fish says Ontario Place should also bring the beach on the West Island up to standard and hire full-time lifeguards. Mark Mattson says Toronto is facing a critical shortage of beaches this summer.
“People can’t get to the four beaches on the Toronto Islands because there is no ferry service. That increases the urgency of using the beaches that we have.”
Mattson says Ontario Place has some of the cleanest water on the lakefront, and Swim, Drink, Fish will resume it’s testing for water quality next week.
Ontario Place for All is calling on the government to abandon its plan to allow the private redevelopment of Ontario Place.
“Amusement parks everywhere have been shuttered,” says Wilkey. “In a world that could see more virus outbreaks, open park space is a better investment.”