ontario place toronto

10 things Ontario Place could be instead of a casino

Ontario Place is on the cusp of big change. The publicly-owned piece of land on Toronto's west waterfront has made some strides the last few years toward becoming the public green space our city needs, but if the Ford government stays its course, it might instead be home to a slew of commercialized mega projects. We can do better than that, Toronto.

Here are some ideas for what could go in Ontario Place instead of a casino.

Organic food garden

It's possible to grow food in urban areas, in fact, many cities around the world are already doing just that. Look at Grignon Energie Positive in Paris, or the Biostädte in German cities: Ontario Place has more than enough acreage to do the same thing. 

Transit museum

The Toronto Transit Museum Association has been trying for years to find a permanent place for their historic TTC relics. With the 100th anniversary of the TTC coming up in 2021, there's space for us to take our love-hate relationship with the transit system to the next level.

Wild bee sanctuary

There's already been a push for more bee sanctuaries in the city thanks to the David Suzuki Foundation's BIMBY Project, so why not turn a part of Ontario Place into an apiary? We can educate the kids about bees, save pollinator populations, and get some honey while we're at it.  

Giant greenhouse

You only need a few acres to fit some giant biomes in what could potentially be one of largest greenhouses in the world. Just like the Eden Project in Cornwall, our piece of land could potentially house thousands of plant species, with massive enclosures simulating rainforest and Mediterranean-climate environments, plus an outdoor garden.

Environmental education centre

Let's look to the Robert Bateman Centre in Victoria for inspiration on a building dedicated to educating and researching our native ecosystems. Using art as a way to inform the public about nature could help boost Toronto's number of art galleries too.

Yard games park

Among the other attractions that could go in Ontario Place, an area to play popular outdoor games like bocce (it's made a comeback), badminton, and cricket (maybe revive the idea of the GTA Cricket Stadium) could be a way to bring people the the waterfront. 

Restaurant row

There isn't much by way of food at Ontario Place right now other than the Vista Eatery, meaning it's hard to make the renovated Cinesphere a proper dinner-and-a-movie destination. Some restaurants and cafes on the East Island could be a good idea—maybe Vegandale could move here instead.

Arena theatre

The Budweiser Stage and Echo Beach bring music lovers to this part of the waterfront to see their favourite musicians, so why not give local acts a place to play too? The old Forum was an intimate theatre in the round experience that could be revived to a degree; Toronto needs the venues.

Outdoor roller derby

Remember when Ontario Place was a place that both kids and adults actually wanted to go to? An outdoor skate park could be a nice addition to the year-round ice skating rink that exists there already. Just imagine: skate rentals, DJ nights, and that amazing skyline view—I'd go there.

Shipping container market

They're flexible, they're fun, and they don't have to stick around forever. Modular shipping container markets like the one coming to Front and Bathurst this summer are great incubators for small businesses, and with the help of local artists, can look really cool.

Lead photo by

Tanya Mok

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