Toronto Ontario Place | ?m | ?s | Infrastructure ON


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May 1, 2007
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Hamilton, ON
Revitalizing Ontario Place - Proposals

As part of the tourism study that came out today, a number of proposals have been put forward for revitalizing Ontario Place, including some that they want to see happen immediately. The most interesting are opening year-round, and with no admission charge.

From the report:


At the moment, Ontario Place is a prime example of an attraction not meeting its potential. It’s a symbolic attraction for this province and it needs attention.
“When we first began some years ago to consider the concept of a major new provincial development adjacent to the C.N.E. [Canadian National Exhibition], it became apparent that…there was a need in Ontario
for something akin to a spiritual home, a touchstone of stability, a place where people could come, see and reflect upon the society that has been created in Ontario…In short, we wanted a place to re-affirm our identity as Ontarians and Canadians,†Premier John Robarts, Remarks at Ontario Place Countdown Reception, November 3, 1970.
Over the years, a series of studies have been completed on Ontario Place Corporation. These studies explored ideas for the site that included a mixed-use district, a full merger with Exhibition Place, free admission to the grounds, as well as options to make Ontario Place a year-round destination. Other ideas have included moving the Ontario Science Centre to Ontario Place or developing the site as an urban entertainment centre.
With 96 acres of parkland including water lots and waterfront, it is clear much more could be done. Ultimately, Ontario Place could be a large public provincial square surrounded by entertainment, dining and shopping.
A new vision for Ontario Place could help it become a place that is accessible for all people and recapture its original mandate to highlight the best that Ontario has to offer. Now is the time to revitalize Ontario Place and have it become the flagship of a new era in Ontario tourism by the 150th anniversary of Confederationin 2017.

Next Steps

• Develop a new vision for Ontario Place that will showcase the province’s distinctive personality.
• Create a long-term master plan for Ontario Place, with future consideration for the surrounding area to create a renewed cluster of tourism attractions on the Toronto western waterfront.
• Establish a provincially led body to oversee the development of the master plan, under the Ministry of Tourism.
• Offer free access to the public to the grounds. (Ticketed admissions to some entertainment areas should be maintained.)
• Open Ontario Place’s doors year-round as a first step toward a new Ontario Place.
• Develop a series of pedestrian/cycling trails linking neighbouring sites and residential areas.
• Develop a transportation strategy that would allow easier access for visitors to reach Ontario Place from downtown Toronto.
• Aim to have a revitalized Ontario Place become the flagship of a new era in Ontario tourism by the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017.
• Ontario Place would be, once again, a symbol of the province of Ontario and be a significant draw for visitors.
• The entire west lakeshore region would be easily accessible from Toronto.
• Ontario Place would fully deliver its legislated mandate to operate as a provincial exhibit and recreational centre and develop programs designed to enhance the image of the province.
Ontario Place is a rough gem. I used to be embarassed about it, but increasingly there is something so Canadian (in a good way) about a government-built cheesy provincial propaganda theme park. And that architecture! When I was a kid, way before I was cynical, I thought those Eb Zeidler pavillions on stilts coming out of the water were the most futuristic things ever. Back then I imagined that I was being escorted to the Deathstar when I was walking to the Cinesphere. I remember that on a field trip back in Grade 5 my friends and I ran down the corridor singing the Darth Vader theme song.
They could start with redeveloping those hideous parking lots and building a branch of the Fleet streetcar ROW down Lakeshore.
Those buildings soaring over the water aren't exactly the kind of thing you come across in every city. I really think that this should be done along with some kind of plan to turn the Ex grounds into a more vibrant area.
They could start with redeveloping those hideous parking lots and building a branch of the Fleet streetcar ROW down Lakeshore.

It most definitely needs direct TTC access the most, whether it be bus or streetcar.
It most definitely needs direct TTC access the most, whether it be bus or streetcar.

Seeing as the Bathurst streetcar loops over to fleet and the Exhibition, it would be an easy task to run a connection over to Ontario Place along Rememberance drive. It's maybe a kilometer overland to the site.
Here is a funky electric bus they run in Newcastle. Something like this could be cool.

I'd like to see something Nautical where people could pull up in private boats or take a Water taxi (like in Baltimore)from the Toronto Island or Queens Quay.

A Solar Panel array atop the Atlantis Buildings would modernise the look of the site and reduce energy needs.

Just a few ideas...
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I've always loved the unique, futuristic architecture of Ontario Place and wondered why it was never developed to it's full potential. It seems to be ignored by the government and Torontonians. Not surprising, as there is not much there beside the Cinesphere and Molson Theatre. The government has allowed it to deteriorate slowly, year by year.
It could be an amazing site for large festivals and shows year round. It does need better transit, and YES, those parking lots need to be redeveloped. Ontario Place needs a major attraction like an aquarium, museum or art gallery. A new Ontario pavilion would be great too. It's about time we realized what a gem that place could be. It's already a visually stunning place. It would also be a great place to showcase new technology, as well as green technology. (housed in an iconic waterfront building, of course)
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Though I am quite the leftie, I cannot see that the government needs to run an amusement park. I would strongly support the privatization of Ontario Place, with really strong guarantees in place to ensure that some of the buildings (Cinesphere, Atlantis Pavilions, Goh Ohn Bell Pavilion) be preserved, absolutely in their current state.

Not sure what could be done with it, I think it would definitely need something new (an aquarium? - though if that happened I would certainly miss our annual announcement). I would prefer that it not be a gated facility, but that it earn its keep from access to the various things inside. Imagine how wonderful it would be to be able to go there just to stroll. The grounds are in many places quite beautiful.

I also strongly agree with Towered that the mainland side of Ontario Place should be developed. Having parking lots abut waterfront is so incredibly stupid and wasteful. There is a need for parking, but hide it and put something along the shore.
I definitely agree that any redevelopment of Ontario Place will have to take place along with a redevelopment of Exhibition Place.

Offer free access to the public to the grounds. (Ticketed admissions to some entertainment areas should be maintained.)

I like this idea very much, since the admission is one thing that seems to deter many visitors to Ontario Place, especially given the lack of good attractions there. It would be better if Ontario Place is seen as part of the park system on Toronto's waterfront instead of an amusement park that is off on its own.
The only reason I go to Ontario place is for the Molson amphitheatre. Good for concerts, hard to get a taxi from though.
Unless the public transit access to Ontario Place is improved I doubt that even free admission will attract many more people. I think that the original plan for the Waterfront West streetcar was to have it go along Lakeshore and thus serve OP but I think it is now going to run far further north, alongside the railway tracks ; the goal is now to provide fast service to downtown from the west end of the City.
Ontario Place has some of the most heritage-worthy fiberglass terrain in the Province - and nature has encroached on the artifice quite charmingly over the years.
There used to be a full time restaurant and disco there back in the day. A lot of corporate functions and proms took place there too.

Perhaps a more intimate full time music venue would bring the crowds back nightly. After all, business is all about the right kind of promotion.
Even before revitalization, Ontario Place needs to figure out what to do with the building on stilts. They are absolutely stunning and unique, and are completely unused. There is only a restaurant there. The strictures really need to achieve their true potential, and they have a LOT of potential. I don't know what could be done for transit, I personally don't mind walking across exhibition place to get to Ontario Place, but it would be more convenient to have it closer. the parking has got to go, and removal of admission would really help make it a valuable part of our park system.
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