Since the closing of Ontario Place in 2012, plans have been in the works for a long-term revitalization of the provincial government owned lands. Ontario Place was well loved by kids growing up in the city during the 70s, 80s and 90s, and for that reason and many more, the park holds a special place in the hearts of many Torontonians. As much fun as Ontario Place was, amusement parks are notoriously difficult to modernize, and after four decades the aging park was no longer turning a profit. After some careful planning and feedback from the public, plans are now moving forward on the vision to revitalize Ontario Place into a destination that will serve as a year-round cultural playground for Ontarians.

Conceptual aerial rendering of the revitalized Ontario Place, image courtesy of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport

Back in March, the Provincial Government, Waterfront TorontoLANDinc, and West 8 revealed that the first phase of the project would be an urban park and waterfront trail on the east side of the site, currently used for parking lots. Today, a press conference was held at the site of the former 'Sails' restaurant, overlooking the Ontario Place Marina, to update the public on the long-term vision for the 63 hectare site, with Michael Coteau, Ontario Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, on hand to unveil the plans.

Ontario Place will have several new features added while refurbishing many of the original Eberhard Zeidler-designed landmarks on the site such as the Cinesphere and the cantilevered pods. "Our government is committed to ensuring the future of Ontario Place continues to be a place for people of all ages to enjoy in every season. Ontarians have said they want year-round public access, a continuation of the rich legacy of live music and a desire for an innovative destination that unites land and water — we listened and we are moving forward. Our bold new vision for Ontario Place revitalization will deliver on expectations and ensure the public interest is protected", said Michael Coteau.

Michael Coteau, Ontario Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, image by Jack Landau

Made up of 63 hectares—28 hectares of land and 35 of water lots—Ontario Place was originally constructed on landfill added to the lake. Proposed changes to the manmade islands here will require an environmental assessment and further consultations with the public to finalize the design. Today's announcement provided an overall outline of what to expect at the revitalized Ontario Place, which focuses on increased public recreational space, such as passive green spaces, a waterfront trail, and a 'blue park' for water activities.

Rendering of the 'blue park' at Ontario Place

The blue park will be centred around the pods and Cinesphere, offering floating elements and surfaces as well as activities like swimming, canoeing and kayaking. This is Toronto though, and to help in making Ontario Place a year-round recreational destination, the blue park will double as a huge skating rink in the winter.

Winter rendering of the 'blue park' at Ontario Place

The plans also include a large open green space for open-air cultural activities called Celebration Common. This large, flexible space has been envisioned to hold festivals and community events. Celebration Common will be flanked by an urban park and waterfront trail as well as a new land bridge connecting to Lake Shore Boulevard to the north.

Rendering of Celebration Common at Ontario Place

A major element in the revitalization is improving connections between the park and the "mainland", including the construction of a landscaped pedestrian bridge that will extend across Lake Shore Boulevard, linking Ontario Place with Exhibition Place.

Rendering of planned land bridge connecting Ontario Place with Lake Shore Boulevard

A hub for culture, discovery and innovation is also being planned for Ontario Place, and the province is looking to partner with organizations on new facilities that will focus on learning and research.  

Rendering of Cultural Hub at Ontario Place

Most of Ontario Place abuts water, and given the already existing breakwaters and marinas, a canal district will be included featuring a waterfront promenade lined with stores and restaurants.

Rendering of Canal District at Ontario Place

The revitalization plans also call for the expansion of live music at Ontario Place, including continuing performances at the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre, as well as exploring ways to attract live music to the site year-round.

Map of the revitalized Ontario Place

The architect of the original Ontario Place, Eberhard Zeidler, was on hand this morning, sporting his Order of Canada pin, to witness the evolution of his original 1971 vision. Zeidler was pleased with what was announced.

Eberhard Zeidler at Ontario Place, image by Jack Landau

The first area of the revitalized Ontario Place to open will be the Urban Park and Waterfront Trail, set to open to the public in 2016.

For additional information and renderings, visit the Ontario Place dataBase file, linked below. Want to get involved in the discussion? Check out the associated Forum thread, or leave a comment in the space provided at the bottom of this page.

Related Companies:  LANDinc., Province of Ontario, Urban Strategies Inc., West 8, Zeidler Partnership Architects