When premier Bill Davis opened Ontario Place in 1971, he noted that it was “A stimulating and permanent symbol of the work and achievement of the people of Ontario.” Today, it sits fenced off and forlorn on Toronto’s lakefront, a nostalgic memory for those of us who were raising young families in Toronto during the late 1900s.
Closed for the last decade, Ontario Place has been the subject of much political hemming and hawing. It was not until the ignorant Doug Ford moved into the premier’s office at Queen’s Park that the set-backs started. It seems some European company wants to build a luxury spa on the west end of the artificial islands on which Ontario Place sits. Always mindful of the need for profit, Ford cheerfully sold off a piece of Ontario’s heritage. And it is all downhill from there.
On the premier’s behalf, we should note that he is not very smart and not exactly cognizant of the responsibilities of his office to the people of the province. Somebody must have told him he made a boo-boo. He hastened to try to rectify his error by offering to move the much-valued Ontario Science Centre to share the Ontario Place space with the European spa. Since the spa left a space on the islands of about one-third the size of the present Science Centre, this idea has met with little to no enthusiasm.
These islands are very much like the Navy Pier in Chicago. With more than 100 years of history behind it, nobody visiting the Windy City wants to miss spending some time seeing the ever-changing entertainments of the pier today. And it is the range of activities that make the pier a continual success.
In its good times, Ontario Place attracted crowds to the live shows in the forum and the IMAX films in the Cinesphere. The seven-storey high geodesic dome was a distinctive part of the Ontario Place when you were looking south from Lakeshore Boulevard or the Canadian National Exhibition grounds.
I have always been disappointed by the politicians who are unable to recognize the potential of this people place. It needs imaginative and daring management. It needs to keep up with its Toronto market’s interests, for both young and old.
Copyright 2023 © Peter Lowry
Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to: