By Raquelle Collins
Ontario is a step closer to the revitalization of Ontario Place as a design team has now been selected to transform the 7.5 acres of parking lot into an urban park and waterfront trail.
LANDinc was chosen for it’s experience in designing large waterfront projects, including Toronto’s Tommy Thompson Park, according to a statement released Tuesday by the provincial government.
In a statement released Tuesday, Tourism Minister Michael Chan said, “With a high-calibre and distinguished design team selected, we are moving forward to re-imagine and revitalize the Ontario Place site.”
“I encourage people across the province to offer their ideas so that … we can best meet the public’s needs and support long-term revitalization of the waterfront,” he said.
The provincial government will be holding four public meetings to get the public’s input beginning with one on Dec. 4 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
David Lieberman, associate professor of architectural, industrial and urban design at the University of Toronto told Humber News there are major urban issues that need to be addressed concerning the revitalization project.
“What else is the space going to be used for? Is it a residential space? Is it an industrial space? I would hate to see no development for housing. The bike and walking paths are great, but how are people going to better access the waterfront trail and park by public transit?” he said.
Lieberman said he would like to see a revitalization of the space so that it will be available year-round.
“Most parks are limited to only a certain time of year. How do we build a winter park that is available for 12 months out of the year? The revitalization should not be driven by a tourist agenda but by a broader base of the population of Toronto on a yearly basis,” Lieberman said.
Denelle Balfour, communications branch at the Ministry of Ontario said the revamp is an exciting step in the creation of new green space on Toronto’s waterfront.
“This will give Torontonians and visitors alike access to part of the waterfront that has been closed to the public for more than 40 years and provide access to some of Ontario Place’s most picturesque views,” Balfour told Humber News.
Robert Chidley, a first year nursing student at Humber College told Humber News he is looking forward to see how the new space will turn out.
“I was disappointed when Ontario Place closed because I spent my summers there as a kid, but it sounds like the plans will be good for the city, so I’m excited to see it,” Chidley said.
The province is hoping to open the completed project to the public in time for the 2015 Pan Am games.
Ontario Place opened in 1971 and drew large crowds with it’s outdoor music venue, a water park and the Cinesphere – the world’s first permanent IMAX theatre. The iconic space was shut down by the Province of Ontario in 2011 due to declining attendance and lack of funds.