TORONTO – In 1971, the year of its opening, it was Ontario premier Bill Davis who said: “The vision and scope of Ontario Place gives promise of our vast potential.”
During the decades that followed, the vision of Ontario Place – one that included famous landmarks like Canada’s first waterslide, and the iconic domes of the “Cinesphere” IMAX venue – became inextricably linked with that of urban Toronto.
Indeed, it was not long before the park became a beloved summer destination for families from all over the GTA. The reputation was earned thanks, in no small part, to the park’s wealth of outdoor recreational space.
When they decided in 2010 to develop a brand-new plan for Ontario Place’s vacated grounds, Ontario’s Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport were faced with a unique challenge: to preserve elements of the park’s legacy, while honouring its original purpose as a fully public space. (That means no residential development, period.)
Towards the end of February, 2015, construction finally began on a park and waterfront trail – the 7.5-hectare first phase of a multi-component revitalization that will eventually offer a diverse mix of public attractions. Further planned additions to the site include:
- A “canal district” waterfront promenade, including retail and dining properties that will likely be among the city’s hottest commercial real estate opportunities.
- A “celebration common” area for festivals and cultural events.
- A learning and research-focused “hub for culture, discovery, and innovation.”
MPP Brad Duguid, Ontario’s Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure, believes the revitalization will have a positive impact not only on the availability of waterfront recreational activities, but also on building the city’s economy.
“The revitalization of Ontario Place is part of the government’s economic plan to invest in people, build modern infrastructure and support a dynamic and innovative business climate,” Duguid said in a statement on February 24.
According to the same statement, released via Infrastructure Ontario, the revitalization’s first phase will allow public access to this stretch of Toronto waterfront for the first time in more than 40 years. That’s great news for homeowners in nearby neighbourhoods, like Liberty Village and Fort York, where high-density residential development has put green space at a premium.