A year after the provincial government closed Ontario Place, the site’s future is still up for debate. While the recommendations of the official report issued by John Tory’s advisory panel last July continue to be reviewed, a group of architects, designers, and urban planners has devised an unofficial alternative vision for revitalizing the former amusement park. It’s called “Rethinking Ontario Place.”
Monday night, during a two-hour session at Innis Town Hall, residents and experts met to talk about that alternative vision. The basis of the discussion was 12 recommendations developed at a December design charrette, co-hosted by the Design Industry Advisory Committee, the Martin Prosperity Institute (MPI), and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU).
MPI research director Kevin Stolarick outlined each recommendation before handing the floor over to two panels: one devoted to urban design, the other devoted to critiquing the charrette’s ideas.
The overall vision to come out of the charrette was equal parts faddish ideas (innovation centres for research and business incubation), heritage preservation (restoring the existing buildings), nostalgia (bringing back the Forum and the free festivals and cultural programming it offered during the 1970s), improved infrastructure (better cycling, pedestrian, and transit links), and opposition to a casino at Exhibition Place. A key point that everyone agreed on was that the redevelopment process needs to be slowed down before any rash decisions are made.