TORONTO – John Tory’s recommendations for the revitalization on Ontario Place will likely result in affluent condo owners having their own private playground.
The report of the voluntary advisory panel, led by the former Ontario Progressive Conservative leader, contained few concrete details. Besides condos, Tory recommends that a music venue similar to the Forum be built, the iconic Cinesphere remain, and that the public have access to the waterfront.
OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas said with condos going into the space, the public will have little or no access to one of the province’s most beautiful waterfront areas.
“Those wealthy enough to afford to live there will likely demand and receive exclusive access to the waterfront,” Thomas said. “Public access will be an afterthought, and most of the decisions will be made by the private condo developers themselves. Ontario Place, once the prime public event space in the province, will become nothing more than a playground for the rich.”
No details on funding were released in the report, as Tory’s panel assumes money will come from private investors. Also not addressed was the lack of proper public transit to the area, which would cost in excess of $100 million to rectify. Tory confirmed that transit is not a priority of any government.
“Private money, private developers and a lack of proper public transit all adds up to a big loss for the people of Toronto and the rest of Ontario,” Thomas said. “It’s sad to see what was once a space free for all to enjoy become essentially Toronto’s newest gated community.”
On February 1, 2012 the provincial government announced park was shutting its gates after 40 years of public operation after it spent $10.8 million to improve the park in 2010. Last June, participants in a packed town hall meeting at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre told John Tory they were adamantly opposed to condominiums and retail shopping space.