West Island

Ontario government gates up West Island to prevent public from using space

Massive fences have been erected to prevent entry to the West Island of Ontario Place by the provincial government planning on turning the public space into a large private spa being developed by Austrian company Therme Group.

Ontario Place for All, the Toronto advocacy group committed to fighting the privatization of the space, sounded the alarm bell on the move expressing concern over the recent actions of the provincial government. Instead of addressing the public outcry, the government seems to be moving forward with plans that have raised eyebrows among advocates, according to the group.

“The closure of West Island was already a significant blow to Ontarians, and now, the subsequent actions of the Ontario government are adding to our concerns,” said Ann-Elisabeth Samson, co-chair of the group, emphasising the need for transparency and collaboration in any decisions affecting Ontario Place’s future.

Ontario Place for All is calling on the Ontario Government to reopen West Island for residents and wildlife to enjoy, instead of replacing it.

“Oddly, whoever posted the sign doesn’t seem to know there is only one West Island, part of a larger, internationally-recognized, cultural landscape; a masterwork of landscape architect Michael Hough and architect Eb Zeidler, two of Canada’s most celebrated design professionals.” added fellow co-chair Norm Di Pasquale. “That said, the fight for Ontario Place isn’t over, not by a long shot.”

The Ontario government dealings also drew criticism from the Green Party of Ontario and its leader MPP Mike Schreiner who said the latest move slap in the face to so many Ontarians.

“If the Ford government had actually taken the time to listen to Ontarians, they could avoid wasting so much time and money on a bad deal that they’re going to walk back a few years down the road,” said Schreiner, in a statement.

“Public land should stay in public hands – and the revitalization of our public assets should prioritize community consultation over well-connected insiders.”

Although the application for the development of Ontario Place is still with the city, Mayor Olivia Chow gave Ford the unofficial go-ahead as part of the new deal Toronto signed that came with a massive infusion of cash to help the struggling city mired in debt.

Article exclusive to STREETS OF TORONTO