For 40 years, Ontario Place brought smiles and joy to multiple generations of kids and adults. The theme park opened in 1971 to much fanfare and excitement in the wake of Montreal's Expo '67. With outdoor music venues, water features and the Cinesphere—the world's first permanent IMAX theatre—the park drew large crowds. The park began to lose its luster in recent years however, and with declining attendance the Province of Ontario shuttered the park in 2011 in hopes of spurring on a new vision for the iconic space.

Ontario Place, Province of OntarioOntario Place looking east

Today Michael Chan, Minister of Tourism, announced the first phase of the revitalization plan. At the east end of the site, on 7.5 acres of the 96 acre total, a new park and waterfront trail will be constructed in place of parking lots. This will make the eastern shores of Ontario Place more accessible. 

When completed, the new trails will connect with the extensive 780 kilometres of existing waterfront trails along Lake Ontario and the Saint Lawrence River. When asked about the scale of the park Chan said, "it will be a moderate park."

Ontario Place, Province of OntarioEastern parking lots to be redeveloped at Ontario Place, image from Google Maps

The government is now asking for input on what the public would like to see in the new park and will send out a request for design proposals in July. The province is hoping the new park will be ready to show off for the Pan Am Games in 2015, providing "access to one of the most breathtaking views of the shore and the skyline."

The new park and trail come on the heels of 18 recommendations developed by former MPP John Tory. The report envisioned the site with new parks, entertainment, shops, workplaces and residences, which will comprise no more than 10-15% of the entire land. While there had been concerns that the site may include a casino, Chan was quick to reassure that, "a casino will definitely not be happening at this location." While it is not known when the next decisions will be made, the rest of Ontario Place is not expected to reopen before 2017.