Ontario Place included on World Monuments Fund 2020 Watch

Ontario Place has been included on the World Monuments Fund (WMF)  2020 Watch, a biennial selection of at-risk cultural heritage sites that combine great historical significance with contemporary social impact.

The provincial government is currently seeking a long-term lease for Ontario Place, calling for private development of the landmark public site. It has placed virtually no restrictions on development. Local advocates are extremely concerned that all of the site’s recognized heritage could be at risk: the buildings, the landscape, as well as Trillium Park.

Ontario Place’s heritage value has been recognized at the highest level within Canada.  In 2017 The National Trust of Canada awarded it the Prix du XXe Siecle, noting “The Cinesphere and the Pods realize, in tangible physical form, some of the most ambitious Utopian architectural ideas from Europe and the United States of the 1960s.”  In 2014, the Ontario Government recognized the importance of the site in a Statement of Cultural Heritage Value. Earlier this year, the City of Toronto designated the site on its Heritage Register, noting the cultural significance of the masterwork buildings by Canadian architect Eb Zeidler, the surrounding parkland by landscape architect Michael Hough, and the more recent Trillium Park.

By IDuke — Wikimedia Commons

The Architectural Conservancy Ontario (ACO) led the nomination for Ontario Place to be included on the worldwide list of threatened sites. “Not only does the inclusion bring international attention to the site, it also opens the door to a share of US$1.6 million in funding for conservation initiatives,” said Bill Greaves, the ACO Board member who led the nomination process earlier this year.

Redevelopment proposals for Ontario Place have been received but contents have not been made public. ACO is concerned that a deal could be announced before the government and local organizations are able to take advantage of the opportunities that inclusion on the Watch will bring.

The 2020 Watch received more than 250 nominations, and its 25 sites were determined through a series of extensive reviews, including an independent panel of heritage experts that was responsible for the final selection.

The 2020 Watch also includes Bears Ears National Monument (United States); Sacred Valley of the Incas (Peru); Notre-Dame de Paris (France); the San Antonio Woolworth Building (United States); Mam Rashan Shrine (Iraq); and Rapa Nui National Park (Chile).

By Gerd Eichmann — Wikimedia Commons
By Emmanuel DYAN from Paris, France – Sacred Valley (around Pisaq), Peru — Wikimedia Commons

The program will culminate next spring, when founding sponsor American Express will select a group of 2020 Watch sites to receive $1 million total in funding for conservation initiatives.

World Monuments Fund will also partner with local stakeholders of each heritage site to design and implement targeted activities—including advocacy, planning, education, and conservation interventions—that will ultimately improve the resilience of communities, enhance social inclusion, and build new capacities in the heritage conservation field and beyond.

“The 2020 World Monuments Watch includes iconic treasures like Easter Island and socially-significant sites like the San Antonio Woolworth Building, reminding us that cherished places are determined not just by their architectural value, but also by their impact on communities around the world,” said Bénédicte de Montlaur, CEO, World Monuments Fund. “These remarkable sites demand sustainable, community-led solutions that bring people together and fuse conservation with social change. We are excited for the World Monuments Watch to kick start that impact.”

Full List – 2020 World Monuments Watch:

  1. Koutammakou, Land of the Batammariba, Benin and Togo
  2. Ontario Place, Canada
  3. Rapa Nui National Park, Chile
  4. Alexan Palace, Egypt
  5. Notre-Dame de Paris, France
  6. Tusheti National Park, Georgia
  7. Gingerbread Neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti
  8. Historic Water Systems of the Deccan Plateau, India
  9. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium, India
  10. Mam Rashan Shrine, Iraq
  11. Inari-yu Bathhouse, Japan
  12. Iwamatsu District, Japan
  13. Canal Nacional, Mexico
  14. Choijin Lama Temple, Mongolia
  15. Traditional Burmese Teak Farmhouses, Myanmar
  16. Chivas and Chaityas of the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal
  17. Anarkali Bazaar, Pakistan
  18. Sacred Valley of the Incas, Peru
  19. Kindler Chapel, Pabianice Evangelical Cemetery, Poland
  20. Courtyard Houses of Axerquía, Spain
  21. Bennerley Viaduct, United Kingdom
  22. Bears Ears National Monument, USA
  23. Central Aguirre Historic District, USA
  24. San Antonio Woolworth Building, USA
  25. Traditional Houses in the Old Jewish Mahalla of Bukhara, Uzbekistan