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Ontario Place redevelopment will not include a casino, condos: province

Last Updated May 28, 2019 at 12:17 pm EDT

The redevelopment of Ontario Place will not include a casino or condos, the Ford government announced on Tuesday.

The province had been asking for ideas to redevelop the former amusement park, saying it wants to make the space that first opened May 1971 an impressive attraction.

However, at a news conference on Tuesday, Minister of Tourism Minister Michael Tibollo said they will not accept proposals that include ideas for residential developments or a casino.

“We heard from the people and we’ve included that as part of the items that we did not want to see built here,” Tibollo said.

The provincial government said they’ve received hundreds of early ideas from the public for the future of Ontario Place. and have now officially opened the global search for partners or partnerships for the site. They will not be accepting proposals from the private sector that includes government money.

“We do want to attract the biggest and boldest ideas from not only Canada, but from around the world, to how we can truly redevelop Ontario Place for generations to come,” Infrastructure Minister Monte McNaughton said. The submission process ends on Sept. 3.

Tibollo said an NFL team complex could be among the proposals, saying the “spectrum is wide open … sports, entertainment, retail.”

However, the development guidelines do not require the Cinesphere cinema to be preserved.

The province closed Ontario Place to the public in 2012 due to falling revenues at the government-owned theme park and tight provincial finances. At that time, the government said attendance had fallen from 2.5 million when it opened in 1971 to about 300,000.

Various proposals have been floated since its closure, including a year-round waterpark with a retractable roof, a casino complex and hotel, as well as residential development.

The mainland, east and west islands, the pod complex and Cinesphere cinema are open for development. The marinas can be reconfigured or relocated, but a marina must be maintained somewhere on the site.

The Budweiser Stage, used for concerts, is not subject to redevelopment and the government said it also intends to maintain three hectares of park land.

Trillium Park was opened at Ontario Place in 2017, five years after it had closed, and was connected to the city by the William G. Davis recreational trail, named after Ontario’s premier the year Ontario Place first opened.

The idea of a casino was not embraced by the public or members of city council.

A poll by Forum Research earlier this year showed 56 per cent of respondents were against the idea of a casino.

The City of Toronto is a partial owner of the property and there have been some complaints by councillors that there has been no consultation with council on the plans for Ontario Place.

“The City of Toronto has not been consulted. To be clear, the City of Toronto owns part of the Ontario Place lands,” Coun. Joe Cressy said in a tweet.

With files from The Canadian Press

Related stories:

Redevelopment plans raise concerns for Ontario Place supporters

Province accepting proposals for Ontario Place redevelopment

Would heritage designation protect Ontario Place future

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