On the back of the much-lauded opening of the 7.5 acre Trillium Park on the East Island of Toronto's Ontario Place, the Province of Ontario is gradually moving forward with further plans to revitalize the three artificial islands that form the once-popular entertainment hub. Inviting developers to present proposals reimagining the 15-acre West Island, the Province has issued a Call for Submissions for the design, development, and operation of new facilities. 

The West Island, image via IO / BFIN / Lord Cultural Resources

While the government's criteria for the scope and programming of new development are relatively open, the Provincially owned lands are to be kept publicly accessible—prioritizing permeability to the marina and existing trails—with the goal of attracting a "critical mass" of "local residents as well as visitors from further afield," the Call for Submissions notes. 

To lead the redevelopment of the waterfront site, the Province is looking for a long-term lease-holder to redevelop all or part of the 15-acre lot. Located at the heart of the Province's 155-acre Ontario Place property—83.5 acres of which are water—the site is home to part of the Eb Zeidler-designed theme park complex, including the iconic Cinesphere and elevated pod complex. Currently being upgraded to support newer IMAX technology, the Cinesphere and the 'floating' pods will be retained as part of any redevelopment.

Looking east across the West Island, image via IO / BFIN / Lord Cultural Resources

While the Call for Submissions allows adaptive reuse concepts for the pods and Cinesphere, the former theme park lands to the west can be either removed or adapted as part of a redevelopment scheme. As it stands, the shuttered West Island is occupied by a plaza, helicopter landing pad, and emptied concrete silos, with pedestrian infrastructure framing the water's edge. 

Envisioned as a destination to welcome all facets of Toronto's diverse population, the redevelopment is geared towards public attractions and amenities. As such, no housing, casinos, or new large-scale music venues will be permitted, while any commercial uses would likely be programmed to support and complement the public amenities.  

Aerial view of Ontario Place, showing the West Island, alongside the Centre and East Islands (l-r), image via IO / BFIN / Lord

Another broad priority for the redevelopment is the celebration of "Ontario Place's legacy as a showcase for creativity and innovation." As such, "submissions must support the theme/s of 'culture,' and/or 'discovery,' and/or 'innovation.'" 

Although the Province seeks a privately-led development to reinvigorate the site, the lands will continue to be publicly owned. The West Island's new operator(s) will sign a long-term lease, though an exact term has not been specified. Any commercial enterprise operating on the site is expected to be self-sustaining, though capital moneys from the Government could be directed towards cultural facilities and public realm improvements, with some operational funding also possible "for uses such as museums."

Skyline view from the East Island's newly opened park, image by Marcus Mitanis

A submission deadline of September 29th has been given, and we will make sure to keep you updated as more information becomes available. In the meantime, a full copy of the Call for Submissions is available here, along with the Province's official news release. Want to share your thoughts? Leave a comment on this page,  or join the ongoing conversation in our associated Forum thread.

Related Companies:  Urban Strategies Inc., Zeidler Architecture