Ford government questioned over Ontario Place plans that show lake paved over

The Ford government is being questioned over plans involving the redevelopment of Ontario Place after new documents appear to show that the province once considered paving over part of Lake Ontario to create a new space to build on.

References to “Phase 2” of the province’s rebuilding of Ontario Place were discovered by the Ontario NDP in three separate documents (from January and September 2020 and August 2022); the documents were released to Global News.

In an illustration, the September 2020 document appears to show part of the Brigantine Cove (the patch of water that sits in front of the parking lot below Lake Shore Boulevard West, located on the eastern portion of the island, between the Budweiser Stage and Trillium Park) as either paved over or filled in, creating 25 acres of land to develop on.

“Now, they actually want to pave over part of the lake — they will stop at nothing,” Marit Stiles, Ontario’s NDP Leader, told Global News.

Global notes that, in two of the documents, the land is referred to as “Phase 2” and “Phase II.” However, the August 2022 briefing document describes the area as “Potential Future Development Opportunity [up to 25 acres].”

A spokesperson for Kinga Surma, the Minister of Infrastructure of Ontario, told Global News that the government has been transparent over its plans and development of Ontario Place.

“The documents you are referring to are illustrative only and only meant to outline potential opportunities that are subject to change,” the spokesperson said.

Still, the documents have many worried across social media.

“This is so sad. During all the consultations, the eastern section, east of Budweiser stage, was presented as being a huge expansion of Trillium Park with naturalized water edges along the cove, an open public square with water fountains,” one Redditor stated.

The provincial government is rebuilding Ontario Place, which was decommissioned in 2012, into what is intended to be a world-class, year-round destination that will include family-friendly entertainment, public and event spaces, parkland, and waterfront access.

Last spring, the Ford government faced more criticism after it was announced that the province committed to a 95-year lease with Therme Canada for a private spa at Ontario Place.

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