Province Announces Ontario Place Redevelopment
New partnerships will help make vision of a world-class, year-round destination a reality
TORONTO — The Ontario government has announced details of its plan to revitalize Ontario Place into a world-class destination. Three successful participants from the 2019 Call for Development process Therme Group, Live Nation and Écorécréo Group will help deliver an exciting, inclusive and family friendly experience that will play a key role in the province’s post-pandemic recovery, both as a tourism destination and as a display of Ontario’s strong cultural identity. The government also outlined the next phase of consultations with stakeholders and community members.
Details were provided today by Premier Doug Ford; Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries; John Tory, Mayor of Toronto; Chief R. Stacey Laforme of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation; Robert Hanea, CEO of Therme Group; Wayne Zronik, President of Business Operations at Live Nation Canada; and Jean-Philippe Duchesneau, Co-Owner of Écorécréo Group.
“As we mark the 50th anniversary of Ontario Place this year, there is no better time to bring this iconic destination back to life,” said Premier Ford. “By taking this first step with our world-class development partners, as well as the City of Toronto and Indigenous communities, we will deliver a renewed Ontario Place that provides year-round entertainment for all ages and interests. As we continue to engage and consult with the community, Ontario Place will realize its full potential as a long-term economic generator for the people of Ontario.”
The transformation of Ontario Place will include three new major attractions:
• Therme Group is building Therme Canada | Ontario Place, a family-friendly, all-season destination offering something for all ages, including pools, waterslides, botanical spaces to relax, as well as sports performance and recovery services. Outside, people will enjoy more than eight acres of free, publicly accessible gathering spaces, parkland, gardens and beaches.
• Live Nation is redeveloping the existing amphitheatre into a modern, year-round indoor-outdoor live music and performance venue that will attract world-class artists and events. Protecting the iconic amphitheatre lawns, the new venue will have an expanded capacity of 20,000 in the summer and close to 9,000 in the winter, offering a unique indoor-outdoor experience with operable exterior walls to accommodate events, rain or shine.
• Écorécréo Group is building an affordable, all-season adventure park for all ages. This new, environmentally friendly attraction will include aerial obstacle courses, net-based aerial adventures, ziplines, climbing walls, escape rooms and many other activities. Écorécréo Group will also operate Segway, quad-cycle, canoe and kayak rentals at the site.
The province actively searched for the best partners from around the world to work with on the redevelopment of Ontario Place. Potential development partners on this unique opportunity were assessed against four primary areas of consideration: alignment with the government’s vision of a world-class, year-round destination; concept viability; delivery certainty; and costs and benefits to the province, as well as public feedback and input provided through consultations conducted by previous governments. This fair, transparent and open process was designed and facilitated by Infrastructure Ontario and its advisors (KPMG and Colliers) to provide flexibility for interested parties to propose unique, yet financially viable and sustainable, development concepts.
“When Ontario Place opened in 1971 under the leadership of Premier Bill Davis, it was designed to reflect all that we, as Ontarians, embodied: our heritage, our diversity, our creativity and our future potential. Ontario Place holds a special place in our hearts and minds thanks to the countless family friendly events and activities that have been enjoyed there over the past 50 years,” said Minister MacLeod. “Our government remains committed to redeveloping Ontario Place in a sustainable way – respecting our historical and natural features while at the same time showcasing Ontario as the world in one province – a true reflection of our diversity and multiculturalism, while also showing respect for the rich traditions, cultures and heritage of First Nation, Inuit, and Métis peoples. A modern, new Ontario Place will attract local, provincial and international visitors, and create unforgettable memories for a new generation.”
As the redevelopment moves forward, public input will be critical to support the planning and development of the site. Mark Saunders, Special Advisor for Ontario Place, will continue to engage with the City of Toronto, Indigenous communities, project stakeholders, businesses and community groups that have interest in the Ontario Place site to ensure all perspectives on these important proposals are recognized and considered.
Starting in August, the government will launch the next phase of engagement through Ontario.ca/OntarioPlace, providing an opportunity for all Ontarians to share how they would like to experience a redeveloped Ontario Place. Virtual public information sessions will also be held in the fall with planning and development consultations related to the site-wide environmental assessment, heritage, and site servicing to follow later in the year. The redevelopment website,Ontario.ca/OntarioPlace, will be kept up to date with the latest information about planned public and stakeholder engagement.
Across the site, public spaces will be enhanced and brought up to modern standards with new parks, promenades, trails and beaches. Key heritage and recreational features of the site will be retained and integrated into the redevelopment, including the Cinesphere, the pod complex, the marina, Trillium Park and the William G. Davis Trail. The province will also work with the Ontario Science Centre to explore opportunities to have science-related tourism and educational programming at the Cinesphere and pod complex.
A redeveloped Ontario Place will not include casinos or condos and the land will not be sold. Ontario Place will remain open to the public 365 days a year, with free public access and a waterfront experience that can be enjoyed by all.
“We are committed to working with the City of Toronto, Indigenous communities and organizations, and other key partners to make this vision a reality and to guide collaboration and future development of the Ontario Place and Exhibition Place sites,” said Minister MacLeod. “Our government is committed to engaging and keeping the public and stakeholders informed. As we move forward, public input will be critical to support the planning and development of the site. More information about upcoming consultations related to redevelopment planning will be provided later this summer.”
• Redevelopment is expected to create over 3,600 construction jobs and staff positions once the attractions open to the public, with approximately five million visitors expected annually.
• The Ontario Place site is a unique waterfront site, made up of approximately 155 acres of land and water, and served as an iconic cultural and tourism destination for all Ontarians between 1971 and 2012.
• The government launched a Call for Development on May 28, 2019 and received submissions until September 24, 2019.
• Currently, more than one million people visit Ontario Place every year.
“I’ve said publicly many times that I want to see something spectacular here at Ontario Place and I believe this ongoing process will deliver that. I welcome the fact that the proposals being unveiled today respond to many of the things City Council had asked for including that Ontario Place should be a year-round destination. The City of Toronto looks forward to continuing to work with the Province as these proposals are developed and we look forward to a genuine and thorough engagement of the people of Toronto and beyond.”
– John Tory
Mayor of Toronto
“Working with our partners and stakeholders, we are excited to be playing a part in the future of Ontario Place, and opening up new opportunities for people to connect with the waterfront. We chose Toronto to be our launching point in North America because of the unique culture and vision of the city and Ontario Place, and we are committed to carrying on its legacy with renewed family entertainment, public parks, and well-being and cultural programming.”
– Robert Hanea
CEO of Therme Group
“The Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation are pleased to be working with Ontario in the spirit of partnership to bring Ontario Place back to its rightful place as a cherished and celebrated part of our Toronto waterfront. We have been very encouraged by the willingness of both Ontario and development partners to see this project as more than just a tourist destination, but as a celebration of this place and its history and cultural significance. The Mississaugas of the Credit see the redevelopment of Ontario Place as another significant and visible opportunity to provide education and promote reconciliation. And as the Treaty First Nation, we take seriously our responsibilities to ensure that all Indigenous voices are heard, respected and reflected in what will surely become an iconic development not only for Ontario, but for Canada and the world. “
– Chief R. Stacey Laforme
Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation
70 per cent of Ontario Nonprofits Unable to Access Pandemic Relief
Toronto, ON: COVID-19 government measures have failed to reach Ontario nonprofits and charities, with seven out of 10 organizations not receiving any provincial supports, and only 35 per cent benefiting from federal programs. Almost two-thirds of nonprofits reported an increase in demand for programs and services, while half reported pandemic-related losses in revenue.
The new data comes from a bilingual survey conducted by L’Assemblée de la francophonie de l’Ontario (AFO) and the Ontario Nonprofit Network (ONN) to understand the impact of the pandemic on the nonprofit sector one year after the crisis began, with nearly 3,000 nonprofit organizations responding.
Rural, remote and Northern nonprofits were especially impacted. More than one third of these organizations have budgets under $500,000.
The impact of the COVID-19 crisis has not just been financial, with 61 per cent of nonprofits having lost volunteers since the beginning of the pandemic. Faith groups, arts, and sports groups were among the most affected.
“This is a critical opportunity for governments to invest now. Nonprofits will play a central role in rebuilding and recovery. We are seeing collaboration, new ideas and emerging technologies by organizations. But we are coming to an enormous cliff this year, and so far there is no bridge after existing programs, like the wage subsidy, end”, said Cathy Taylor, executive director of ONN.
The good news: nonprofits have gotten creative to continue serving communities, such as repurposing kitchens for mobile food programs, using telephone trees to reach isolated seniors, providing pre-loaded phones with wellness supports for Indigenous youth, and much more.
“With the province moving into step three, Ontarians will expect nonprofits to be there – from minor sports and recreational programs, to seniors drop-ins, to arts programs and much more. We know needs will continue to grow, such as health and social services and mental health supports,” said Taylor.
The survey report includes six policy recommendations:
1. Offer a new round of Small Business and Nonprofit Grants, echoing the call by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce
2, Ensure recovery efforts focus on organizations and communities that need the most support
3. Introduce a broad-based microgrant program for volunteer-only nonprofits to help those organizations largely left out of government measures which focused on those with paid workers.
4. Target new funds to nonprofits and grassroots groups serving communities that suffered the most during the pandemic, including Black and other racialized communities; First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities.
5. Provide permanent sick days by amending the Employment Standards Act.
6. Continue to invest in and increase access to high-speed internet.
Extend the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS).
As a sector, Ontario nonprofits receive less than half of their revenue from governments, which means they can leverage these public investments – via business activities, donations, and volunteer contributions – into programs and services that directly benefit the people of Ontario.