Ontario Place for All has released “A Better Idea,” a proposal for a new way to approach the revitalization of Ontario Place. Given the recent addition of the Science Centre to the site, the new proposal leverages the Ontario Line at both ends, connecting the natural features of the Don River Valley and Lake Ontario, while revitalizing Ontario Place, enhancing and expanding the mandate of the Science Centre, while building affordable housing.
“We wanted to put forward an alternative idea that would work for everyone,” said Ken Greenberg, Ontario Place for All steering committee member. “It’s clear that the current proposal is a bad idea. Instead of just saying no, we wanted to spark a dialogue about what is possible for our waterfront. We believe this is a Better Idea that would protect and revitalize our shared assets of Ontario Place and the Ontario Science Centre.”
“A Better Idea” preserves the architectural history and revitalizes these buildings for today while also investing in green space. The proposal includes a lakeside Science Centre experience, a satellite of the existing Science Centre at Ontario place focused on water, the natural environment, climate change, doing real science and education.
The West Island, instead of becoming a glass-enclosed MegaSpa, would be a park for all to enjoy, with improved connections to the Exhibition and the new Ontario Line and improved trails and access to nature. This plan is cheaper for Ontario taxpayers as well. Leveraging the stunning existing mature tree canopy, this transformed public waterfront park can be achieved at significantly less cost, estimated at approximately $70 million (based on an extrapolation with inflation from the costs for Trillium Park), as opposed to the current estimates of $650 million for the new underwater parking garage and site remediation.
“We want to get people thinking about what we as Ontarians want for our future and our kids’ future,” said Norm Di Pasquale, co-chair of Ontario Place for All. “We can do better and invite the Province, CIty, and Ontarians to talk about what would work for everyone.”
We know from examples around the world that investing in public green spaces is good for the economy, not just the environment. Forward-thinking cities from across North America are investing in these spaces and reclaiming their waterfronts for public use. These investments have long-term rewards and benefit a diverse community while commercial uses typically create short-term improvements at the expense of long-term benefits. In this case, the MegaSpa will benefit foreign owners and the Province of Ontario has signed an unprecedented 95-year lease with this unproven group.
About Ontario Place for All
Ontario Place for All is a grassroots organization that wants to ensure Ontario Place redevelopment follows core principles of waterfront revitalization.
Our Core Principles:
- Ontario Place must be for ALL and kept publicly accessible.
- There must be a thoughtful, comprehensive public review before any changes, with a full and robust public consultation that:
- conforms to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report’s call for informed, respectful, and meaningful consultation with Indigenous peoples over economic development
- recognizes the diverse communities that use and contribute to Ontario Place
- Public interest, not commercial interest must drive the new vision.
- Future plans must:
- acknowledge the waterfront’s Indigenous heritage and incorporate meaningful Indigenous consultation
- maintain Ontario Place as part of Toronto’s waterfront park system.
- be integrated with the revitalization of Exhibition Place.
- celebrate Ontario.
- be guided by a collaboratively developed Conservation Management Plan that sustains Ontario Place as a recognized cultural heritage landscape.
Photo: Maksim Sokolov (maxergon.com), CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons