Ontario Place to retain heritage elements, says Government of Ontario

The Ontario government has announced that there will not be a wholesale destruction of Ontario Place.

Ontario Place Cinesphere; Photo: Raysonho via Wikimedia Commons

In a White Paper released in December, Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries promised that “key heritage and recreational features [of Ontario Place] will remain, such as the Cinesphere, the pods, Trillium Park and the William G. Davis Trail.”

Ontario Place for All (OP4All) has extended thanks to all its members and supporters for their advocacy towards preserving Ontario Place’s heritage elements. “Thousands of you joined OP4All in demanding the government preserve Ontario Place’s unique heritage landscape, including the Cinesphere, the Pods, Trillium Park and the William G. Davis Trail,” says Ontario Place for All. The community group formed to advocate for continued public use and access to the site, continuing its legacy as a public place.

In 2020, its advocacy was augmented by The Future of Ontario Place Project, a coalition between the World Monuments Fund (WMF), John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design at the University of Toronto (Daniels Faculty), and Architectural Conservancy Ontario (ACO)

Bill Greaves, with the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario, says the government has come a long way from its “nothing can be saved” talk of 2019. “We look forward to working with the Ministry to develop a Conservation Management Plan to manage change and build on the value of what is already there. That’s what governments around the world have done in similar circumstances.”

According to Ontario Place for All, the Minister will be making further announcements in the New Year. To-date, there have been no public consultations on the future of Ontario Place. OP4All’s Cindy Wilkey says it must remain as a park and open public space. “The Minister said [that] her government recognized the tourism potential of Ontarians’ new embrace of nature and the outdoors during the COVID lockdown. Ontario Place offers an opportunity to capitalize on that momentum.”

OP4All believes the government’s announcement was a step in the right direction, but there is still a long way to go. “The Ontario government needs to recognize that Ontario Place is an essential public space and that there needs to be meaningful public engagement in determining its future,” says OP4All.