Ontario Place For All seeks injunction to stop development

Nov 24, 2023 | Canadian News, News

By Ayesha Barakzai, Mikulas Horvath

Ontario Place for All filed a legal injunction with the Ontario Divisional Court on Tuesday in an effort to persuade the Ontario government to stop the redevelopment of Ontario Place.

The group claims that the current redevelopment plan will destroy 850 trees and the ecosystem of Ontario Place.

In a press release from Tuesday, Co-Chair of Ontario Place for All, Norm Di Pasquel said that it is necessary to hold the Ontario government accountable over their actions, especially when laws are being broken.

“Ontario Place for All is committed to using all possible avenues to hold the provincial government accountable for their actions at Ontario Place and ensuring that they follow the proper process which would involve public consultation on the West Island redevelopment. This filing is one of those avenues. We just want the government to follow its own laws,” Pasquel said.

In an exclusive Q&A with Humber News, Norm Di Pasquel discusses the recent Injunction and Ontario Place for All’s (OP4A) plans.

Humber News: Now that you have filed an injunction, how do you expect the government of Ontario to react?

Pasquel: I think the government did issue some sort of statement that they’re moving ahead with the Ontario Place development. But yeah, I mean, I hope that this gives them pause and makes them realize, maybe we should follow our own laws. The proposed luxury developments like these, those laws are in there for a reason – they’re there to protect Ontarians from environmental disaster. Proceeding with clear-cutting 850 50-year-old trees and eliminating everything on West Island should have an environmental assessment. That’s why we have those sorts of rules to protect our planet, to protect Ontarians, and they need to follow those rules.

Humber News: What will the process of the injunction look like? How long will people have to wait for its approval?

Pasquel: Yeah, so this is going to move into the speed of the courts. So as we all know, the courts are fairly busy-backed up, so it could be, you know, the first or second quarter of next year before it gets heard, possibly sooner.

Humber News: The redevelopment plan was proposed in 2019, why did you choose to file it now?

Pasquel: So, the redevelopment proposal started in 2019. November 2022, was the first time we sort of became aware of some of the truly horrific aspects of this redevelopment plan. And you know, you always have to try advocacy. You know, we’ve had meetings with the government to try to have them reconsider, we requested the federal government have a look at this sort of environmental destruction of Ontario Place. I think honestly, you have to try to exhaust all avenues before you go to the court.

Humber News: A lot of people are against the spa being built. What should be done with Ontario Place instead?

Pasquel: We put together a proposal called The Better Idea. It would cost a fraction of what they’re going to spend on this luxury mega spa place. This is what cities around the world are doing and once you build with 21st century public space and center public in the terms, commercial uses will sort of fit inside that context. Is there room for Ontario Place-based restaurants? Absolutely. We should celebrate and reflect Ontario at Ontario Place.

Humber News: What are the plans for now while you are waiting for the injunction to be approved and any plans for the future as well?

Pasquel: So we continue our advocacy. We’re hosting a fundraising telethon on Dec. 3 with West End Phoenix that’s going to feature Sarah Harmor. Then we are going to City Hall on Dec. 5 because City Hall has come up with a proposal to move the mega spa to Exhibition Place. We support any alternative to Ontario Place because the minute you move it from Ontario Place you save taxpayers half a billion dollars.