Ontario Place environmental assessment excludes Therme and LiveNation properties

A map of Ontario Place from the environmental assessment shows the areas included and excluded from the report. (Jacobs Consultancy Canada)

Infrastructure Ontario has completed an environmental assessment of Ontario Place, preparing for the provincial government’s planned redevelopment of the property on Toronto’s Waterfront. However, as grassroots organization Ontario Place for All notes, the assessment focuses only on the future public realm spaces of the project, thereby entirely excluding the sites slated for redevelopment by LiveNation and Therme Group.

“We find this position indefensible, and by omission, the public is being deceived about the true environmental impacts of this construction,” writes Ontario Place for All.

The organization has officially filed an appeal asking the federal government to review the provincial government’s plan for Ontario Place. The appeal asks for the federal government to conduct its own assessment under the Impact Assessment Act, citing the need for studies related to species at risk, heritage, public consultation, and climate and environmental performance.

The organization notes the construction of the Therme complex “would lead to infilling of Lake Ontario, the clear cutting of 850 mature trees, and the destruction of wildlife and bird habitat. There is serious risk of long-lasting and permanent environmental damage.” It is asking for supporters to sign a letter supporting the appeal, with the aim of gaining 10,000 signatories.

Therme Group, working with architecture firm Diamond Schmitt, was selected by the provincial government in 2021 to redevelop the West Island of Ontario Place as privately operating facility including indoor and outdoor pools, waterslides, and a wave pool. The new structures for the site include a seven-storey glass-enclosed private “wellness centre” and waterpark inspired by greenhouses. This spring, the Ontario government further announced that the current Ontario Science Centre would be shuttered and relocated to the Ontario Place site.

Ontario Place for All has criticized the proposal for Ontario Place’s redevlopment as being driven by commercial, rather than public interest, and for its appearance without being preceded by a thoughtful, comprehensive public review.