Ontario Construction News staff writer
An advocacy group opposed to Premier Doug Ford’s Ontario Place development plan is asking the federal government to step in and assess the project.
Ontario Place for All has also released “A Better Idea,” a proposal for the revitalization of Ontario Place that they say leverages the Ontario Line at both ends, connecting the natural features of the Don River Valley and Lake Ontario, while revitalizing Ontario Place, enhancing and expanding the mandate of the Science Centre and building affordable housing.
The group has also retained a lawyer to outline its case that Ottawa should use the Impact Assessment Act to review — and possibly overrule — the Ford government’s vision.
“We wanted to put forward an alternative idea that would work for everyone,” Ken Greenberg, Ontario Place for All steering committee member said in a news release. “It’s clear that the current proposal is a bad idea. Instead of just saying no, we wanted to spark a dialogue about what is possible for our waterfront. We believe this is a Better Idea that would protect and revitalize our shared assets of Ontario Place and the Ontario Science Centre.”
The group says their plan preserves the architectural history and revitalizes buildings while also investing in green space. The proposal includes a lakeside Science Centre experience, a satellite of the existing Science Centre at Ontario place focused on water, the natural environment, climate change, doing real science and education.
For the West Island, where the government has approved a glass-enclosed mega spa, opponents propose building a public park with improved connections to the Exhibition site and the new Ontario Line along with trails and access to green space.
According to the news release, the opponents plan would cost approximately $70 million compared to the Ford government’s estimate of $650 million for the new underwater parking garage and site remediation.
“We want to get people thinking about what we as Ontarians want for our future and our kids’ future,” said Norm Di Pasquale, co-chair of Ontario Place for All. “We can do better and invite the province, city, and Ontarians to talk about what would work for everyone.
“We know from examples around the world that investing in public green spaces is good for the economy, not just the environment. Forward-thinking cities from across North America are investing in these spaces and reclaiming their waterfronts for public use.”