People in Toronto have some big problems with the new Ontario Place plans
It's been an entire decade since Ontario Place in Toronto shuttered and fell into disrepair, transforming the waterfront attraction from the most fun amusement park in the area to an abandoned urban ruin.
While things like the iconic Cinesphere Theatre, Budweiser Stage, Echo Beach and Trillium Park remain in operation on the property, the remainder of the 155 acre space is in desperate need of an upgrade, which Premier Doug Ford and his government vowed to do.
There were talks of a casino, commercial complex, ferris wheel, waterpark, and much-dreaded condos, but details of a final plan were finally leaked last year, with the public now aware of the revitalization details in full, as per another new update released this week.
And, people aren't too happy about them.
The paltry amount of public space that will be left at Ontario Place is shocking and completely unacceptable. Only the areas outside of the red line are free. The pay-to-play concept here will exclude most Torontonians. Isn't Ontario Place supposed to be a place for everyone? https://t.co/2Qo5XqjHM8— Cindy Wilkey (@CindyWilkey) August 4, 2022
The blueprint is massive in scope: an indoor-outdoor performance venue, an all-season adventure park, and a wellness spa from Austrian-based Therme Group that will have tropical botanical gardens, pools and waterslides, a sandy beach boardwalk and more.
Among all of these luxurious amenities, many have noted, very little is free to the public, and would be welcome outdoor space for people to enjoy in such a dense metropolis.
Many are saying the revamp will render the space far too privatized and exclusive, especially with the inclusion of Therme's sprawling complex.
While Ford's plan is indeed horrible the process of privatising Ontario Place started under the previous Liberal government— trapdinawrpool (@trapdinawrpool) August 4, 2022
While many aren't opposed to the components of the plan themselves, they are wondering if there are better places in the city to put the facilities rather than on sensitive, coveted waterfront land that residents have been waiting years to use properly once more.
"It is perfectly apparent that the building could be anywhere," Spacing's John Lorinc pointed out on Twitter, with many replying that a land currently used for parking would be a far better option.
Waterfront for the People. Urgency to STOP privatization of Ontario Place in the West, AND movie studio boxes in the East. Destructively anti-urban, anti-people. Therme’s spa & studios are welcome, NOT on waterfront. @JohnLorinc @WaterfrontTO @Spacing #TOpoli #ONpoli pic.twitter.com/SP0R6SU1bO— Gil Penalosa for Mayor (@Penalosa_G) August 3, 2022
And though the goal to make the largely-unused park into an internationally-renowned attraction that is open year-round is fulfilled by this approach, people are wondering what aspects of the park that the public still use will be preserved, if any.
As one person summed up on Twitter today, "Ontario Place should be a place that everyone can enjoy. It should be flexible green space with affordable/free amenities."
Save the waterfront and park. Fancy spa for a paved paradise. Keep Ontario Place a real public treasure for us all. https://t.co/bMxHWKAfCY— Chi Nguyen (@RunChiNguyenRun) August 3, 2022
And many are, as usual, accusing Ford of helping divert money to his developer friends, to the benefit of a certain socio-economic demographic in the city but to the detriment of most.
But, at the same time, the developers will be investing $500 million in capital to the site, and aid in creating an estimated 3,600 jobs, drawing five million visitors a year.
For someone who railed against the "downtown elites" for years, @fordnation sure is catering to the rich with this Ontario Place revitalization. Sickening to think of losing so much free green space to build a spa and theme park and line developers' pockets. That's Dougie for ya!— Baxter19 (@Baxter1911) August 4, 2022
Some are also bringing up environmental concerns regarding the 10-year renovation of the site, which have been identified in public documents: risk to endagered species and their habitat, fuel and sewage spills, asbestos and other contamination, water servicing issues and more.
Though there was a call for some public input in the earlier stages of the revival, it doesn't seem too many people are excited about what's in store for the beloved chunk of prime land.
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