3 companies chosen for Ontario Place redevelopment: report

A new vision could soon be realized at Ontario Place, as reports swirl that the Ontario government has chosen three companies to helm redevelopment of the historic site.

By BT Toronto

A new vision could soon be realized at Ontario Place, as reports swirl that the Ontario government has chosen three companies to helm redevelopment of the historic site.

According to The Globe and Mail, three companies – including a Quebec outdoor recreation firm and a European spa and water park provider, have been chosen to revitalize Ontario Place after a closed-door bid process that has dragged on for years.

The newspaper is citing sources it says have direct knowledge of the bidding process but are not authorized to speak publicly.

The province has been tight-lipped on the future of Ontario Place.

Tourism minister Lisa MacLeod has previously confirmed that the “vision for Ontario Place” will not include casinos or condos, and the land will not be sold. Minister MacLeod has also committed to maintaining key heritage and recreational features, such as Trillium Park and others.

The 155-acre site opened in May of 1971. The province closed Ontario Place to the public in 2012 due to falling revenues at the government-owned theme park and tight provincial finances.

At that time, the government said attendance had fallen from 2.5 million when it opened in 1971 to about 300,000.

In 2019. the provincial government officially opened the search for partners to redevelop Ontario Place. Back then, government officials said they had received hundreds of ideas from the public for its future use.

In a statement to CityNews, Toronto Mayor John Tory confirms discussions are underway about the future of Ontario Place.

“We have agreed with the province on a way we can work together with a focus on co-operative planning and public consultation,” said Tory.

“I understand the province is eager to announce further details as soon as possible and then we can undertake that consultation with the public.”

According to the Globe and Mail, the government plans to bring on Live Nation, which currently runs the on-site music venue, Quebec outdoor recreation firm Écorécréo, and an Austrian well-being resort firm Therme Group to redevelop Ontario Place.

Suzanne Kavanaugh is the founder of a group Ontario Place for all. She fears that the province is making decisions before consulting the public.

“We’ve been asking for public consultation from the very beginning,” Kavanaugh continues. “At first glance, we’re looking at three for profit organizations. It doesn’t look very good as far as keeping this public space public.”

With more private organizations being involved in the redevelopment of Ontario Place, Kavanaugh says people could now be priced out of enjoying the space. “To bring in three commercial properties, right off the bat you’re eliminating families who may not have the disposable income to visit these sites.”

The report speculates a formal announcement on the future of Ontario Place could come by the end of July.

CityNews reached out to Tourism Minister Lisa MacLeod about the reported plans but did not receive a comment.

With files from The Canadian Press

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