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New plans revealed for Ontario Place park

Posted by Chris Bateman / March 21, 2014

toronto ontario placeA team of landscape architects have unveiled the latest plans for a narrow sliver of former waterfront land close to what used to be Ontario Place, and there are several notable changes from the interim version of the park presented earlier this year.

The serpentine strip that's being turned into a new waterfront park runs from the foot of Ontario Place Blvd., down the back of Echo Beach, and out round the back of the old water slides. When the park was open the area was used for parking and equipment storage.

In January, the province and Waterfront Toronto, the two groups leading the development of the park, called for public feedback on their latest draft. The suggestions, gathered over the last three months, called for improved connections to the water and better recognition of local First Nations heritage.

ontario place mapMany of the people that provided input said they wanted the as yet unnamed park, which is made up of areas that sound like levels in a Sega Genesis video game, to include multi-use trails, space for food trucks and other public events, and forested areas. Facilities should be geared towards walking, cycling, and hiking, they said.

As it currently stands, visitors will enter the park through an artificial ravine, which was not included in the previous incarnation of the park. On the rocky walls, carvings will use patterns and textures from traditional First Nations moccasins; overhead, a part of the looping park trail crosses the ravine on a suspension bridge.

toronto ontario placeA looping, 980-metre multi-use trail will pass through the upper portion of the park, which contains high hills and forest, and a waterfront boardwalk with public seating and rocky outcrops that protrude from the beach into the water.

There are some nice touches: Some trees will be planted and grown in deliberately unusual shapes as visual landmarks and fire pits will be allowed - encouraged even - on a rocky section of beach with panoramic views of the city skyline. There's even a "romantic garden" for being romantic and a lookout for looking.

toronto ontario placeThere is enough space, planners say, for about 3,500 people in the 7.5 acre park at one time: Flying kites, getting married, riding bikes, and eating from food trucks.

There's always a risk, however, that creating a park from scratch, adding sculpted hills and looming canyons where there was previously a sea of concrete, could result in something that feels contrived or artificial. It's hard to get a sense of what the park will look like when it's fully realized, but its best features could end up being ones that weren't planned. In short, it will be what people make of it.

The final design for the park will be unveiled and locked in place this summer. It's expected to be open a year later in time for the Pan-Am Games in 2015.

What do you think of the latest designs? Is anything missing?

toronto ontario placeChris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.



Fedora Man / March 21, 2014 at 11:38 am
Interesting plan, but will this really become a destination? What about the wind that might blow my fedora away?
Dead Fish / March 21, 2014 at 11:38 am
Porter Jet-View Park.
NotThatDave / March 21, 2014 at 11:38 am
Looks great, estimated completion date after 2015...yeah its going to be 2016 or 2017 #ThisIsToronto after all.
Gonzo / March 21, 2014 at 11:42 am
They should fake it like central park in NYC. Everything from the rivers and ponds in central park are fake (and can be turned off) - the rocks were all shipped in too.

But what they got was a painting inspired wonder - that's what we need.

Not just looking at the space and seeing where we can put a path or a rock beach, let's make it look like something amazing and idillic.

sweet - I spelling idillic right on the first try. Eat it spell check.
IDYLLIC replying to a comment from Gonzo / March 21, 2014 at 12:00 pm
No, you didn't.
gabe / March 21, 2014 at 12:16 pm
Looks interesting. Nice to see the new thinking. Major question: where is the accessible transit hub included in the drawings? Without wanting to sound seems like a missed opportunity to plan any new space in our city without a transit plan in mind. And there is certainly enough realestate down by the water to accomodate transit.
iSkyscraper / March 21, 2014 at 12:36 pm
Am I missing something or are they doing a really bad job of explaining the phasing? Presumably this is a first toe in the water and that five or six phases will follow later with more park, buildings, possibly private development, etc. This is, after all, a huge area and long-term phasing is how big parks like Brooklyn Bridge Park get built:

From what I see this first bit is just fine, though I would lose the rock walls (graffiti target if I ever saw one). Good water access, lots of green. However, it lacks programming such as a playground (a HUGE traffic generator) or any sort of facilities (pavilions, bathrooms, etc,). I'm sure all that will follow in future phases but they really need to do a better job of explaining that if they want coherent feedback.
iSkyscraper / March 21, 2014 at 12:39 pm
You guys forgot the survey link for the new plans:
jameson / March 21, 2014 at 12:39 pm
There isn't any real estate over here, the only transit service is for the Exhibition and other special events.

This would be a great location for food trucks.
BillyO / March 21, 2014 at 12:50 pm
I think this is a great use of the lands available and I look forward to seeing it built. As other have pointed out though: what about transit?
G / March 21, 2014 at 12:58 pm
I like the sounds of the floating dock and rocky outcroppings because there's some surprisingly good fishing in that area. But I'm not sure how the fire pit will work out. It doesn't seem to be very close to parking and wood is heavy. I hope people don't damage the trees, looking for something to burn.
Todd Toronto replying to a comment from Gonzo / March 21, 2014 at 01:07 pm
You know how great the rock is in Yorkville Park?

Twenty years ago, the decision to spend money to ship the rock from Gravenhurst to Toronto was hugely controversial, because Torontonians like nice things, we just don't want to pay for them.

So, the grandiose plans for Ontario Place Park seem unlikely.
E. Toby Coke / March 21, 2014 at 01:16 pm
Is "Build a snowman, have a snowball fight" the only consideration given to winter?

That site is windswept and frigid for most of the year. I picture a chain strung across the "allee" saying No Winter Maintenance.

gonzo replying to a comment from IDYLLIC / March 21, 2014 at 01:19 pm
ah Fack!
Jon / March 21, 2014 at 01:35 pm
Metrolinx has expressed that it would like to help build this, the completion date has now been changed to June 4,2134. Can't wait!
Koko replying to a comment from Fedora Man / March 21, 2014 at 02:13 pm
Maybe you should stop wearing a fedora
Matt / March 21, 2014 at 03:00 pm
I am all for "greening" Ontario Place and ensuring that it remains a public space. But let's be honest. This strip, much like all the new green space parks and amenities along the city's shore, becomes a ghost land from October to April. Surely there can be a way to attract residents to these areas come winter time.
dog fiord / March 21, 2014 at 03:19 pm

this looks like the perfect spot for a GIANT ferris wheel....
Iron Sheik / March 21, 2014 at 04:50 pm
too bad ...coulda been a state of the art waterpark/aquarium with a gorgeous privately funded MGM casino/convention center on the CNE grounds. Now we get greenery that no one will ever use just like HTO park. Gooooo Adumb Vaughan!!!
Alexander Nieves / March 21, 2014 at 09:56 pm
This looks to be another big waste of money to do nothing. The big Water Front project has been going on for over 14 year and what is there to show? Only money in the pockets of the controlling "minds?" Who don't have a CLUE.
Eva replying to a comment from dog fiord / March 22, 2014 at 10:42 am
I'd fund it. Fuck yeah.
Aaron / March 23, 2014 at 12:19 am
Whatever they do there, please do not feed the ducks, geese and seagulls. Thank you.
Dan / March 23, 2014 at 02:04 pm
What about the Casino, so that people can actually get jobs....
yes man / April 10, 2014 at 03:11 am
Why do some people believe that transit should be incorporated in to this? A bus/street car to nowhere? Please. Transit does not have to be here at all.

I wonder who's waving cash in who's face for the condos? Someone is, and no doubt with this iteration of govt someone is already making promises to some developer.

The cinesphere should be turned in to a greenhouse. Something educational and natural resources themed should be placed on this land. Where the heck can people go to see where food comes from? What happened to the side of our government that used to make it a priority to promote agriculture and natural resources? Get some greenhouse and co-op/community garden space down here please.
Clayton / May 6, 2014 at 11:30 am
There is no mention of the existing marina (has it vanished?....There will be condo's built, this is a fact and their location will be priority One for all those involved with influence.
Debbie / June 24, 2014 at 11:30 am
I would love to see the playground of Ontario Place (or something similar) reinstated. The Cinesphere needs an updated look, but should be included, as well. We could look at what they have done in cities like Chicago, Atlanta and New York to make their waterfronts an appealing destination and take a page out of their books.
DeeDee / July 31, 2014 at 09:33 pm
What about parking?
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