Ontario place

Public locked out of still unapproved Ontario Place development site

Toronto’s waterfront was disrupted this morning as runners, cyclists, and other outdoor enthusiasts were met with newly erected fencing blocking off a portion of the Ontario Place property. The barriers, placed at the edge of Trillium Park, prevent residents from accessing the West Island. According to Ontario Place for All, an advocacy group opposing the province’s plan to transform the land into a private “megaspa,” the closure’s duration remains unknown.

The unexpected closure has sparked outrage among residents who were already upset about the impending redevelopment of this beloved public space. Many are questioning whether anything can be done to prevent the privatization of this unique and valuable green area. Some even suggested taking matters into their own hands, advocating for dismantling the fences and reclaiming Ontario Place.

Amidst this controversy, Ontario Place for All is also raising concerns about the delay in the promised community consultation for the Ontario Place redevelopment.

The advocacy group fears that the City of Toronto may postpone the consultation, which was scheduled for June, leading to unnecessary setbacks. They stress the importance of providing Torontonians with an opportunity to voice their opinions during this critical stage of the Therme MegaSpa development application, rather than after all significant decisions have been made.


“The City owes Torontonians the opportunity to hear how the City staff evaluation of the project is developing and what response it has had from the Province and Therme,” said Norm Di Pasquale, co-chair of Ontario Place for All.  He highlighted the recent announcements regarding the relocation of a reduced Ontario Science Centre and a sole-sourced deal granting control of Ontario Place’s bars and nightlife to an individual associated with Premier Ford. These developments have added complexity to the application process, strengthening the argument for a community consultation to ensure the public’s voices are heard.

“This is typical of the Ford government; move first, ask questions later,” said Di Pasquale. “The utter lack of transparency and consultation follows precisely the same pattern as the process that landed us with a private Austrian MegaSpa at Ontario Place that has absolutely nothing to do with Ontario.”

Urban advocate Ken Greenberg, an Ontario Place for All steering committee member, supports the notion of community engagement during the application process, even if the Therme MegaSpa group has not completed all the updates. Greenberg emphasizes the importance of sharing the work done so far and soliciting feedback from the community.

“Even if the Therme MegaSpa group hasn’t completely finished with the development application updates, why not show the work done up to now to get feedback?” said Ken Greenberg. “There’s never a bad time to solicit community feedback during an application that’s as complex as this one.”

 Ontario Place for All is urging the city of Toronto to honour its commitment and ensure that the community consultation takes place in June, as promised.

Amongst current mayoral candidates, Olivia Chow, just this morning, reaffirmed her position supporting the community consultation.

“People are understandably worried about the prospect of delays in the Ontario Place public consultations,” she said. “We can only imagine what decisions are getting made in provincial backrooms while the public waits for a date to have their say.”

Candidate Josh Matlow has also been public and vocal in his opposition to the provincial government’s plan for Ontario Place.

Currently, there is a development application for the site by Thermé Group with the city of Toronto planning department for its spa project and no decision has been made on it.

Article exclusive to STREETS OF TORONTO