Toronto

Toronto city council votes to list Ontario Place on heritage property register

The listing does not offer any legal protections under the Ontario Heritage Act and will serve as a largely symbolic gesture intended to signal that the city wants to see parts of Ontario Place preserved. 

Province preparing for major re-development of the waterfront attraction

Ontario Place opened in 1971 and was a popular attraction for decades. The former Liberal government shuttered the attraction in 2011 after it fell into disrepair. (Ontario Tourism Ministry)

Ontario Place will soon be listed on Toronto's heritage property register after city council voted 25-0 in favour of the move Tuesday.

Staff proposed including the sprawling, 90-acre waterfront attraction on the register in a report posted online last month.

The listing does not offer any legal protections under the Ontario Heritage Act and will serve mostly as a symbolic gesture intended to signal that the city wants to see parts of Ontario Place preserved. 

The motion directs the top city planning staff to "develop a strategy to jointly plan the future of Ontario Place and Exhibition Place in a collaborative, co-operative, and consultative manner" with the province.

It also calls for development of a "robust" and public consultation process to explore proposals for the site's future.

The provincial government will begin accepting expressions of interest from developers and other stakeholders in the coming weeks. Premier Doug Ford and Finance Minister Vic Fedeli have repeatedly said that nothing is "off the table" when it comes to future visions for Ontario Place. 

Advocates have expressed concerns that the re-development of the site could lead to a loss of public access to Lake Ontario. 

In their April report, city staff highlighted the unique design features of Ontario Place's buildings, saying it "remains a rare and intact Modernist expression of integrated architecture, engineering and landscape architecture that honours and incorporates the natural setting of Lake Ontario.

"It was a remarkable and ambitious achievement of late twentieth century architecture, and holds an enduring influence in Toronto, the province and internationally," the report continued. 

Since the vast majority of the site is owned by the province, the city does not have authority to formally designate Ontario Place as a heritage property. The property as a whole, however, can be listed on the city's heritage inventory.

Staff are set to report back to the mayor's executive committee on progress regarding their work with the province at the end of the year. 

With files from Lucas Powers

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