The government has unveiled a plan to renovate Ontario Place, which recently turned half a century. The renovated park should become a year-round centre of entertainment and active recreation for people of all ages and interests. The government at this stage promises that there will be no casinos or condominiums, and the land will not be sold to private business.
The redevelopment of Ontario Place will be carried out with the participation of the Government of Ontario, the City of Toronto and three private companies – Therme Group, Live Nation and Ecorecreo Croup. As noted by Ontario Prime Minister Doug Ford, Indian communities will also become partners.
The Ontario Place restructuring plan includes three pillars, each of which is responsible for one of three primary business partners.
Theme Canada / Ontario Place is a sports, health and natural complex where glass-domed botanical gardens and swimming pools will be adjacent to the beaches on the shores of Lake Ontario and various sports facilities.
Live Nation is an indoor entertainment complex with a capacity of up to 20 thousand spectators in the summer and up to 9 thousand spectators in the winter.
Ecorecreo Croup is an all-season adventure park with obstacle courses, climbing walls, cable cars and other fun outdoor and indoor attractions. In addition, kayaks, canoes, bicycles and even segways can be rented here.
The Ontario Place renovation plan includes the preservation of a number of existing elements: the famous panoramic cinema Cinesphere, the artificial island pod complex, the harbor, park and a walking trail. Developers are expected to maintain the existing Budweiser Stage and 7.5-acre Trillium Park.
Access to the park will be made even easier following a transport reconstruction planned by the Ford government. As the coastal zone plays an important role, the government already has the Ontario Line in its plans, which includes a subway stop in or near Ontario Place.
No exact date
The tricky part is that the promised restructuring of Ontario Place does not contain any details on when it is scheduled to start and finish work on this project. Apparently, the preparatory period – consultations, environmental expertise, and so on – will end in 2023.
Recall that the Ontario Place recreation and entertainment park was opened in 1971 and for many years has remained one of the most favorite places among residents and visitors of Toronto. But over time, due to administrative inertia, the park began to lag behind the requirements of the time and the requests of visitors. If in the seventies about 3 million visitors were coming here annually, then by the beginning of the last decade – a little more than half a million. The main reason for the closure of Ontario Place was the prohibitive costs of staffing the public sector in Ontario.
What else do we know about future development
Mayor John Tory, who is looking forward for this upgrade, is opposed to casinos. He believes that the city should be involved in discussions about its future. At the moment, while the issue is being resolved in a pandemic, everyone can use a convenient live online casino.
Former Prime Minister Davis said he wants Ontario Place to be family-friendly: “It would be a shame and a disservice if commercial gain replaced the public interest on the current Ontario Place site.”
There is also evidence that there are disagreements between the provincial government and the city leadership. The Ontario government made the announcement for Ontario Place without the City of Toronto. And this despite the fact that Toronto owns part of the land on which Ontario Place is located.
Some politicians and entrepreneurs are trying to promote the casino issue, arguing that Ontario Place has brought losses and was subsidized for many years. The number of subsidies in different years ranged from 1 to 3 million dollars. Opening a casino, on the other hand, will solve the financial issue by providing a stream of taxes, which is good for the city and for the province. But at the moment the chances of opening a gambling complex are very small. So, being on the territory of Ontario Place, it will be possible to play only in the best online casinos in Canada virtually, but not at real gaming tables.
Also, the government of Ontario said that it is still possible to submit ideas for reconstruction. But they will reject any proposals that require subsidies or investments from the state. The renewed park should be profitable.