Ontario says no to casino at Ontario Place

The province said Wednesday it will not build a casino at Ontario Place, following the recommendation from an advisory panel tasked with providing ideas on how to revamp the waterfront park.

The province says it won't be building a casino at Ontario Place.

The advisory panel set up by the province to look into ways to revitalize Ontario Place, said Tuesday the waterfront park would not be an "appropriate" place for a casino.

On Wednesday, Ontario Tourism Minister Michael Chan said the province wouldn't put a gambling establishment in the park when it is refurbished.

"On behalf of the [Premier Dalton] McGuinty government, I have accepted the panel's recommendation. When a request for qualifications is issued to the international community later this year, we will ask that submissions address parkland, commercial, retail, residential, recreation and entertainment uses for the Ontario Place site — not a casino," said Chan in statement.

John Tory, chair of the group, said Tuesday night that the panel's objective is to build a year-round attraction that will showcase art, culture and diversity.

He said the panel has already concluded that "Ontario Place is not the appropriate site for a casino."

At a community meeting meant to get ideas and input from residents on what to do with the 41-year-old park, Tory said the committee will "move quickly" to finalize its report. 

"[We will] submit it to [Tourism Minister Michael Chan] in the early summer, and then I think the government will move fairly quickly as well.  So I think people will have some idea as to what our recommendations are — and perhaps what the government's response is, as to the shape of an Ontario Place of the future — sometime this summer," said Tory.

Ontario Place was shut down last winter until 2017, although some parts of the park — like the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre — will remain open.