ontario place redevelopment

Doug Ford's controversial dream for Ontario Place is already falling apart

Ontario Premier Doug Ford's controversial plan to redevelop Ontario Place into a new "world-class destination" has hit a snag, as reports emerge that one of the three companies selected for the project has pulled out, leaving the future of the site uncertain.

The Globe and Mail reports that Quebec-based Écorécréo has walked from the Ontario Place project, with two senior sources in the provincial government confirming to the outlet that the adventure tourism provider is no longer involved in the sweeping redevelopment scheme.

Écorécréo was signed on to build the "Ontario Place Adventure Park," a themed area that was planned to include aerial obstacle courses, ziplines, escape rooms, and what the company described as "net-based aerial adventures," among other all-ages activities.

The selection of the company — along with Austrian spa and waterpark developer Therme Group and California-based concert promoter Live Nation — was announced in June 2021, though just 15 months later, Écorécréo is out.

Therme Group and Live Nation remain, meaning that Ontario Place's proposed waterpark and new concert venue are still on, but Écorécréo's sudden exit will likely have provincial officials scrambling to find a suitable replacement in time if they are to meet the projected 2024 construction start.

In a statement provided to the Globe, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Infrastructure confirmed that they are still working under the projection provided last summer, saying, "We don't anticipate any impacts to the project's timeline."

The spokesperson told the outlet that despite the setback, "repair work on the Cinesphere, pods, and bridges is proceeding on schedule this fall. Site servicing, including sewage, water, electrical, and gas is expected to begin in the spring of 2023."

Some see this snag as the last opportunity to rethink the plan. A waterfront advocate told the Globe, "I hope it's a trend," while one tweet openly wishes that the proposed $350-million spa and waterpark component follows suit and exits the project too.

Ontario Place's attractions have now been shuttered — some demolished entirely — for a decade, and much of the place has fallen into disarray or ruin since the park was closed in 2012 due to declining attendance.

Though upgrades like Trillium Park have injected new life into the once-thriving public space, Ontario Place is still a far cry from the optimistic wonderland it was upon opening in 1971.

Lead photo by

Jack Landau

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