Ontario Place revamp likely to involve private sector
The man tasked with leading an advisory panel on the revitalization of Ontario Place thinks it is likely that the private sector will have a hand in shaping its future.
John Tory told CBC Radio’s Metro Morning that if the right partnership can be arranged, the private sector has the ability to help the province redevelop the site in a way that will make Ontarians proud.
"If you have the will, the private sector are very capable of coming up with high-quality, excellent, extraordinary developments that are sensitive to the environment, that are all those things and that create a lot of jobs," Tory said during an interview on Thursday morning.
And given the deficit issues the province is facing, Tory said he believes "the notion of a partnership is almost 100 per cent certain."
The panel Tory is leading is due to report back to the province in the spring, so that development can potentially move ahead later in the year.
The province announced Wednesday that it was closing down much of Ontario Place, due to mounting losses and dwindling attendance.
Only the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre, the Atlantis Pavilion, the marina and the parking lot will remain open.
'It shouldn't be like Coney Island'
The province hopes to redevelop the site over the next five years.
Whatever the final product may be, Tory said he prefers that the province avoid putting something "tacky" in a site that he believes should be something special.
"It shouldn’t be Coney Island, and it shouldn’t be yet another condo development, in my view," he said.
"I’m very lukewarm on the whole idea of there being a casino there, just because I sort of think we’ve got quite a few casinos."
As the discussion gets underway on how to reshape the iconic park and tourist attraction, some of Ontario Place’s long-time patrons are mourning what has been lost with the closure of the on-site amusements.
George Lambie, of Midland, Ont., went to Ontario Place every year when he was a child.
When he had children of his own, he started bringing them there, too.
While the park may not have been crowded during his recent visits, Lambie said that was not a problem for his family.
"The scenery and the attractions were a welcome lot to those who cannot handle a day at different overcrowded parks," he told CBC News in an email.
"That was why my family loved it so much. It was never crowded. You did not have to wait for meals or wait for washrooms or wait too long at all in lines to their attractions!"