Ontario Place revival could include bids for urban spa, convention centre amid concerns over ‘backroom’ deals.
For Immediate Release – September 24, 2019
Ontario Place for All is calling on the provincial government to lift the veil obscuring it’s plans for Ontario Place. Today is the deadline for developers to submit their proposals for redeveloping the waterfront park, and Ontario Place for All believes the public has a right to know what the future could hold for the award-winning attraction.
“Everything is being done behind closed doors,” says spokesperson Suzanne Kavanagh. “While the government has been holding discussions with developers, it has refused to meet with us or listen to our demands that Ontario Place remains a jewel in Toronto’s system of public waterfront parks.”
Under the terms of the government request for submissions, developers could tear down the Cinesphere, the Pods and the recently built Trillium Park. There is no requirement for the successful developer to keep any part of the park open to the public. Ontario Place could be turned into a gated entertainment community, accessible only to those who can “pay to play”.
Ontario Place for All is calling on the Premier and the Minister to share the developers’ proposals with the public and get their feedback before moving forward. The public needs to have a say in what is going to happen to this iconic park, which already attracts more visitors than the CN tower.
In May, Toronto Council unanimously endorsed a set of principles that align with those put forward by Ontario Place for All and called for a fully transparent process that is responsive to the broader community interests.
“Ontario Place represents 155 acres of exceptionally valuable publicly owned land,” says Joe Cressy, speaking today as the City Councillor for Spadina-Fort York. “We only get one chance to revitalize these lands and it is critical that the public has a chance to review all private proposals before any decisions are made”.
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On Saturday, August 10 at 2:00pm on the southwest end of Ontario Place a few people interested in water access in Toronto are gathering to view and discuss the potential for a new swimming access point at Ontario Place. This is a fun, informal gathering for the people and organizations who want to dream together about restoring swimming access to Ontario Place.
Lake Ontario Waterkeeper has been sampling the area and posting results to Swim Guide each week this summer. We’ll be meeting at the location you see in Swim Guide, so if you want to join us open the app or visit the website, find the Ontario Place beach, and follow Directions to find us. We’ll also provide a demonstration of our sampling process, for those who are interested.
This area is a beautiful spot, with a feeling that you’re miles away from the city. Paddleboards, canoes, and kayaks can pull up right on the shore. Our sampling results this summer show that this is some of the cleanest water in Toronto.
The site has so much potential, but it doesn’t meet the criteria for an official beach in Toronto (yet!). The water is not as accessible as it should be and some debris/ fill may make water entry and exit hazardous for swimmers. Ontario Place is discouraging people from swimming there, even though increasing numbers of people are flocking to their new favourite “secret beach.”
Imagine what it could be in the future. With re-engineered water access, like the Pier we helped to create in Kingston, this could be an iconic destination for people seeking nature in the heart of our city.
The goal of the discussion is to bring to life the imaginations of Toronto and Ontario residents to see what this location could become. We saw this happen in Kingston last summer with Breakwater Park and we know it can happen here.
Your attendance will make a difference. Join me and other interested waterfront lovers, if you can.