Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Final Report Issued on Future of Ontario Place

by Joe Kleiman, IPM Online News Editor

Toronto, Canada (August 1, 2012) -- On July 26, the Minister’s Advisory Panel on Ontario Place Revitalization released the panel’s final report on the future of the famed Ontario lakefront landmark.

The report cites the amusement park mentality of the facility as being unable to sustain attendance, resulting in annual losses.  It recommends removal of amusement rides and the waterpark, noting that these services are now offered by other entities in the greater Toronto market, including Canada's Wonderland and White Water Kingdom, that were not present at the time of Ontario Place's opening.

Related: Ontario Place to close; commentary from Ian McLennan

In place of the current attractions, the Panel recommends a year-round open admission park that offers a combination of retail, higher education, and residential development, wilderness areas with open access to the waterfront for all, and public meeting spots for festivals, concerts, and other events.  The Panel noted that Ontario Place has continued to operate under an audience model of families with young children when in fact the demographics of the Toronto market has shifted towards seniors and also immigrant populations, which currently comprises 1/3 of Toronto residents.  The new plan takes into effect needs and interests for both of these groups.

The report mentioned that Cinesphere opened in 1971, housing the world's first permanent IMAX projector.  It recommends that the Cinesphere building, along with accompanying pods, be retained for their historical architectural significance and that new architectural designs compliment them.  However, the future of IMAX operation, which ceased when Ontario Place was suddenly closed on February 1, 2012, was not included.

The Panel has recommended against including a casino in the plan, although a hotel and resort was mentioned as a viable possibility.