Re-imagining Ontario Place
Ontario Place was designed as an inclusive public entertainment, educational and recreational space to reflect the province's history, natural resources and burgeoning diversity. Opening its doors in 1971, Ontario Place quickly established itself as a destination that attracted visitors from every corner of the province. At a time when Toronto's waterfront was actively industrial, the idea of creating a destination and park along the waterfront reshaped the relationship between the urban landscape and Lake Ontario.
Today, Ontario Place remains an important public asset and provincially significant cultural heritage landscape. Inspired by the site's legacy of innovation, fun and live music, the province has re-imagined Ontario Place as a year-round destination to engage visitors of all ages in a new parkland setting for recreation, festivals, music, culture and discovery. The new vision features a mix of urban and natural parks with cultural and community amenities set within the landscape across the islands.
Residential development is not part of the Ontario Place revitalization plans. The province made this decision based on findings from research, analysis and market consultations.
Open Space and Iconic Landscapes
In June 2013, the province announced the first step of revitalization with a new urban park and waterfront trail along the eastern edge of Ontario Place. The province will complement the park and trail with additional open space, naturalized parkland and new iconic landscapes -- a blue park, a celebration common, west island park space and a green pedestrian land bridge and linear park -- linked by a continuous waterfront trail around the islands.
In a central part of Ontario Place, a vibrant new year-round waterscape is imagined. This waterscape will bring activity and people onto the water with a series of floating elements and surfaces around the pods and Cinesphere. The idea of a blue park has the potential to host diverse activities, such as cultural performances on floating docks, water sports (canoeing, kayaking and swimming) and opportunities for visitors to learn about aquatic habitat.
Inspired by the performance legacy of Ontario Place and the strong cultural and economic role festivals play in the province, the east island is envisioned as a flexible green space for open-air cultural activities, festivals and community events. The open space common would be outlined by the new urban park and waterfront trail and a new land bridge connection across Lake Shore Boulevard. Gentle slopes would provide space for gathering and recreational activities -- and space to accommodate arts and cultural festivals along this part of Toronto's waterfront.
Enhancing the Legacy
The heritage landscape of the original Cinesphere and pods will be part of the revitalization and envisioned to include a cultural anchor for research, learning and cultural activities. Future development within the core area would bring people, culture and commerce to the heart of the islands.
The site will also continue its commitment to live music with music performances at the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre, as well as exploring options, such as a potential new year-round performance venue. Music will continue to animate Ontario Place, draw visitors to the site and bring families together to enjoy local and international artists.
Creating connections between Ontario Place and local neighbourhoods, as well as with the city, is an important part of revitalization. The proposed new waterfront trail will create a waterfront link to the Martin Goodman Trail at both the east and west islands. A pedestrian land bridge extending across Lake Shore Boulevard into Exhibition Place would create a new physical connection to the site, linking pedestrian access between Ontario Place and the Exhibition Place GO and TTC transit stops.
Development along the northern part of the site (mainland) also has the potential to create a new canal district with a waterfront promenade for shopping and dining.
Culture, Discovery and Innovation Hub
As part of the new Ontario Place vision, the province will also look to partner with cultural, academic and community organizations to establish new facilities that have an eye towards the future, focusing on learning and research.