As the Province of Ontario looks to re-develop Ontario Place, a mostly shuttered cultural, recreational, and entertainment hub located on Toronto’s central waterfront, a number of residents, politicians and fans of the site want to make sure it’s done right. The Province has begun an Expression of Interest process, seeking proposals from the private sector for concepts that could transform the beloved site.

Helicopter view facing east over Ontario Place, Image via Forum contributor Norm Li

Ontario Place first opened in 1971 following the completion of three man-made islands and architect Eb Zeidler's Pod-and-Cinesphere complex. While it was originally designed to promote the province of Ontario through programming and exhibitions, the lands slowly changed into a publicly-owned theme park for families, featuring a water park and amusement rides. After declining attendance, the park was mostly closed by the provincial government in 2011. The Cinesphere re-opened with a new projection system in 2017 as a stand-alone attraction, while the outdoor amphitheatre has continued to operate for concerts, a marina as been maintained for pleasure craft, and seasonal shows have taken over parts of the grounds.

The Cinesphere at Ontario Place, image courtesy of Forum contributor NBGtect

The parameters for the redevelopment proposals have very few stipulations; the Ontario Place islands, mainland, pods and Cinesphere are all areas that the province is open to changing. Any changes to Trillium Park, completed in 2017, will need to be replaced in a 1:1 fashion with new parkland dedicated on the site. Residential redevelopment will not be considered.

Trillium Park at Ontario Place, image by Forum contributer ponyboy

Mid January, Spadina Fort-York councillor Joe Cressy put forth a City Council motion to establish a subcommittee that will consult with the public regarding their thoughts, feelings, and visions for the redevelopment of Ontario Place. The hope of the committee is to gather public input to present to the Province, offering up the people's vision for the future of Ontario Place.

The first meeting of the subcommittee will take place on Tuesday, March 5th at 5:30pm, City Hall Committee Room 1. Members of the public are strongly encouraged to attend and register to speak at the meeting to share their views. Click here for more information on attending the committee meetings and/or to register to speak.

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Related Companies:  Urban Strategies Inc., Zeidler Architecture