Condos at Ontario Place 'off the table,' Kathleen Wynne says
Liberals support a plan that "embraces recreation and entertainment"
Ontario Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne said Monday her party would not support condos or any other residential developments at Ontario Place, a government-owned theme park on Toronto's western lake shore mothballed by the province two years ago.
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At a campaign stop on Monday, Wynne said she supports a plan for Ontario Place that "embraces recreation and entertainment" and one that turns the property into "a year-round music destination."
"Selling land to a private developer may be an option for others but it is not our choice," said Wynne. "Our waterfront should be for all to enjoy."
Wynne says the Liberal vision for a revitalized Ontario Place would include:
- Creating a music destination that would bring live music acts to the site all year-round. The province would partner with the private sector to build a year-round music venue. The Molson Amphitheatre outdoor concert venue currently hosts shows in the summer months.
- Developing a separate major cultural attraction. Wynne didn't offer specifics about this portion of th eplan.
- Building a new 7.5-acre urban park, completed in time for the 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games.
- Establishing a new waterfront trail that would connect Ontario Place to the existing Martin Goodman trail.
- Protecting and re-purposing the existing Cinesphere and pods as an important part of the cultural heritage of the site.
- Lining a waterfront canal district with stores and restaurants.
- Bike and walking trails.
- Playing fields and parks.
The Liberals say they'll spend $100 million to kick start the redevelopment of Ontario Place, but Progressive Conservative candidate Vic Fedeli — who is seeking re-election in the riding of Nipissing — said Wynne has failed to show where the money will come from.
'It's an unfunded election promise that is not in the budget for something that she has not paid attention to until this point," he said. "It's purely an opportunity to try to buy a seat in [the Trinity-Spadina] riding."
The riding has been a battlefield between the Liberals and NDP for years, with longtime provincial New Democrat Rosario Marchese defeating Liberal candidate Sarah Thomson by 1,139 votes in the 2011 Ontario election.
It's among several NDP ridings the Liberals have targeted, hoping to consolidate their representation in vote-rich Toronto.
The Liberals' vision for Ontario Place differs from recommendations that stem from a panel headed by John Tory, now a mayoralty candidate. Released in 2012, his report called for a "state of the art park" to be developed on the Ontario Place site with 10 to 15 per cent of the land being set aside for residential development. The panel ruled out a casino as an option for the 96-acre site.
Over the years many ideas have been floated for the prime piece of real estate, including a water park with a retractable roof and a hotel.
Wynne chided the Progressive Conservative and NDP, saying neither party has a vision for Ontario Place, which first opened in 1971.
"I would contrast this with Tim Hudak's and Andrea Horwath's vision, but quite frankly I'm not sure that they have a vision for Ontario Place."
At the time of its closure in 2012, Ontario Place was costing the province about $20 million a year. Annual attendance had dropped from 2.5 million when the park opened in 1971 to about 300,000.
With files from The Canadian Press