Revitalizing Ontario Place: A Year Round Waterfront Destination In The Works
At a press conference on the Ontario Place grounds this morning (July 31), the Government of Ontario confirmed its commitment to moving forward with its revitalization plan for Ontario Place, and provided some indication of how to intends to turn Ontario’s waterfront into a desirable location.
The original Ontario Place opened its doors in 1971 as an amusement park site along the waterfront, designed as an “inclusive public entertainment, educational and recreational space to reflect the province’s history, natural resources and burgeoning diversity” (Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport) and was very successful in attracting visitors from across the province for a number of years. It was shuttered in February 2012 as a cost cutting measure - with the attendance dropping to 300,000 annually (from 2.5 million in 1971), the government could no longer afford the annual operating costs.
The announcement today, made by Minister Michael Coteau (Tourism, Culture and Sport) re-affirms the Liberal government’s commitment to an investment of up to $100 million dollars into turning Ontario Place into a year-round destination with a mix of outdoor and indoor features:
- Greater public recreation space: a collection of green spaces, including a waterfront trail as well as a “blue park” for water activities.
- Celebration Common: The site will have a common area for festivals, cultural activities and community events.
- Live music legacy: Besides an expansion of opportunities for live music on Ontario Place grounds (including Molson Canadian Amphitheatre), they plan to investigate the possibility of hosting live music year round.
- A hub for culture, discovery and innovation: The building of new facilities for learning and research purposes.
- Cinesphere and pods: will remain a key part of the site’s heritage.
- A canal district: a waterfront promenade with retail and restaurant opportunities.
- Improved connections: the focus is on a landscaped pedestrian bridge linking with Lakeshore Boulevard and Exhibition Place.
The role of live music in a revitalized Ontario Place
Music Ontario is pleased to see that the Government of Ontario is recognizing the importance and role that music can play in revitalizing this key space on Ontario’s waterfront. From the Ministry’s backgrounder, “Music will continue to animate Ontario Place, draw visitors to the site and bring families together to enjoy local and international artists.”
While it was too soon for Minister Coteau to provide any specifics about timelines or what exactly the live music portion of the project will entail, there is interest in exploring the possibilities of an all-year-round music venue on the grounds, in addition to expansion of the live music options currently offered via the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre.
“Our government is committed to ensuring the future of Ontario Place continues to be a place for people of all ages to enjoy in every season. Ontarians have said they want year-round public access, a continuation of the rich legacy of live music and a desire for an innovative destination that unites land and water — we listened and we are moving forward. Our bold new vision for Ontario Place revitalization will deliver on expectations and ensure the public interest is protected”, said Minister Coteau.