Provincial government launches public consultation on Ontario Place redevelopment

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Ontario government announces 3 companies will redevelop Ontario Place
WATCH ABOVE: Catherine McDonald has more on the provincial government's plans for Ontario Place – Jul 30, 2021

It has been a month since the provincial government announced three companies would take lead roles in redeveloping the iconic 155-acre Ontario Place site and officials are looking for feedback on the project.

In a survey released by the government on Monday, it asked residents about what features will be of most interest, what amenities should be in public spaces, what heritage features are most important, what ways people will access the site, and what types of science-related programming should be at the site.

The public consultation website said the findings, which will be released in late 2021, will “inform the ongoing planning and redevelopment of the Ontario Place site.”

Global News asked specifically how the feedback would be incorporated given that three large sections of the site will be divided among private-sector companies, but Ontario government representatives weren’t immediately available for comment.

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Those with the grassroots organization Ontario Place for All previously called on the government to keep the site publicly accessible and to host public consultations before changes are made.

They also wanted the area’s Indigenous heritage acknowledged and the site to be integrated into Exhibition Place, as well as existing recreational infrastructure.

Located south of Lake Shore Boulevard West and Exhibition Place, the iconic attraction site opened in 1971 but was shuttered in 2012 due to falling revenues and tight provincial finances. At that time, the government said attendance fell to about 300,000 from a peak of around 2.5 million.

The Cinesphere was renovated in recent years and continues to operate year-round, showcasing films. Also, a 240-slip marina is open for use between May and October. More recently, the site has hosted festivals and drive-in events.

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The Budweiser Stage, a 16,000-guest venue used for concerts, was also not subject to redevelopment and continues to be operated by Live Nation. Government officials previously said they intended to maintain three hectares of parkland.

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Trillium Park was opened at Ontario Place in 2017, five years after it had closed, and was connected to the city by the William G. Davis recreational trail, named after Ontario’s premier the year Ontario Place first opened.

All of the above amenities were set to be preserved under the plan announced on July 30 by Premier Doug Ford and other provincial government officials. They also confirmed there wouldn’t be any residential development or the building of a casino on the property.

The plan called for Live Nation to expand Budweiser Stage’s summer capacity to 20,000 people and create a 9,000-person venue during the winter season.

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Écorécréo Group announced it would build an all-season adventure park for families, including aerial obstacle courses, ziplines, climbing walls and other activities.

Therme Group released plans for year-round health and wellness facility with amenities such as pools, waterslides, botanical spaces, sports performance and recovery services as well as a public beach.

Provincial representatives said they are looking at partnering with the Ontario Science Centre to bring science-related programming to the Cinesphere and pods.

As for what comes after the public consultations, Ontario government staff were set to undertake an environmental assessment for the entire property in early 2022. Ultimately, the site is expected to be redeveloped sometime between 2027 and 2030.

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— with files from The Canadian Press

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