On-Site Magazine

Advisory panel: Turn Ontario Place into a mixed-use facility

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July 26, 2012 by Andrew Snook

Ontario Place
Ontario Place

The final report on the fate of Ontario Place was released today and the message is clear: park it, all year round.

Turning Ontario Place into a multi-use site that features waterfront and parkland for the public to enjoy was one of the recommendations in the final report released by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport’s advisory panel on Ontario Place Revitalization.

It states that the revitalization of the 155-acres of land-water lot property should include: a combination of public park spaces, gardens, urban plazas and interpretative nature paths; as well as areas for public art and community play – such as splash pads, skating rinks, and residential units. It also suggests exploring ways to include the Cinesphere and pods into the land’s revitalization.

John Tory, chair of the Ontario Place Revitalization Panel, presented the report at Queen’s Park.

Tory states in the report that the recommendations take into consideration financial realities and responsibilities and that the new Ontario Place will need to leverage a wide range of pubic and private partnerships to ensure it is financially sustainable and operates efficiently.

Attendance at Ontario Place steadily declined over the years, since opening in 1971.

The report suggests having a central gathering area that would operate 365 days a year, to change Ontario Place from an amusement park summer destination to an all year round destination. The report suggests that the meeting place be similar to the original Forum, which would be used for concerts, theatre performances, local festivals and community fiestas. Also suggested is the use of some of the land to develop a hotel or resort that would function as a tourist destination.

One type of development not recommended is the building of “a wall of high-rise buildings,” that prevent waterfront views and disconnect Ontario Place from the rest of Toronto.

The report recommends only using a small portion of the land (10 to 15 per cent) for residential development; and any buildings that are constructed must demonstrate design excellence, sustainability principles and be sized appropriately.

There are 18 recommendations in total in the advisory panel report.

To read the full advisory report, click here.

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