TORONTO, Feb. 5, 2013 /CNW/ - A public meeting Monday evening at the
University of Toronto attracted a capacity audience of more than 125
people and imaginative new ideas on the future of Ontario Place.
"Ontario Place has been left behind but we can't go back and re-create
it," said Rita Davies, an urban planner and former head of Culture for
the City of Toronto. "The possibilities for Ontario Place are boundless
but however it changes it must be thoughtfully done."
Monday's meeting at Innis Town Hall presented the recommendations that
grew out of a Dec. 1 design charrette at which design and landscape
architects, urban planners, futurists and others gathered to imagine
what Ontario Place might be now that it has been shut down by the
provincial government, and how it may serve the social, economic,
academic and cultural needs of Toronto and Ontario.
The December design charrette was organized in response to the
recommendations of a special advisory panel, chaired by former
Conservative MPP John Tory, which called for the development of
condominiums and a hotel on almost half the land on which Ontario Place
currently sits. Participants at that meeting unanimously rejected the
idea of a casino at either Ontario Place or the adjacent Exhibition
Twelve recommendations for the future of Ontario Place were tabled at
Monday's meeting. They include:
Revitalization must include consideration of the entire length of the
waterfront from Ontario Place to the Toronto islands;
Make Ontario Place a centre for research, innovation, conferences and
Create three nodes of activity (business, culture and natural
environment) in a zero carbon community;
Leverage the architectural heritage of the current site;
Restore the original Forum amphitheatre and make Ontario Place a hub for
Bring Toronto's passion for food from all cultures to Ontario Place;
Stop planning for a casino at Exhibition Place;
Connect Exhibition Place and adjacent neighbourhoods like Liberty
Village to Ontario Place through improved public transit, cycling and
Engage neighbourhoods to the north of Exhibition Place to Ontario by
inviting residents to become involved in future planning of both sites;
Re-establish Ontario Place as a gateway to the city and create a softer
relationship with the waterfront;
Slow down the planning process for the future of Ontario Place and
Think big and imaginatively and pay close attention to the long-term
economic impact of reinventing Ontario Place as an iconic public space.
Monday's meeting featured a total of seven expert panelists. They
unanimously agreed that improving public transit to the site is
imperative to re-developing Ontario Place as a public space.
"In all the talk about transforming the place (by the government) where
is there any mention of public transit. I don't go there because I
can't get there by transit," said one of the panelists, Toronto Star
urban affairs columnist Chistopher Hume. He also told the audience that
the redevelopment of Ontario Place should be taken out of the hands of
Queen's Park and the city and be left with Waterfront Toronto, the
public agency responsible for the future planning of the lakefront.
The December design charrette and last night's meeting were organized by
the Martin Prosperity Institute (University of Toronto), the Design
Industry Advisory Committee and the Ontario Public Service Employees
"We're in it for the long haul," said OPSEU president Warren (Smokey)
Thomas. "Whatever final form it takes Ontario Place must be a place for
all the people of Ontario and not just for John Tory and his Bay Street
A final report from the design charrette will be released to the public
To learn more please visit: www.rethinkingontarioplace.com or follow the conversation on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/saveontarioplace.
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