Earlier this week, a capacity crowd gathered at Innis Town Hall in Toronto to re-think Ontario Place. It’s the second time in the year since the Ontario government announced the closing of Ontario Place that there has been a major discussion about how the park could be replaced or revitalized. Last summer, a blue ribbon panel led by former Ontario Progressive Conservative leader John Tory presented its vision, which the province enthusiastically accepted. They ruled out a casino but suggested a range of other changes including, most controversially, condos on the waterfront.
The group that met this week offers a different vision, one that includes preserving key architectural features (the Cinesphere and the Pods) and calls for the reconstruction of the once beloved Forum. A collaboration among Martin Prosperity Institute (MPI), the Design Industry Advisory Committee (DIAC), and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), the group hopes to challenge the province to "think big," and if it can’t afford to do the project right, to wait until it can.
The recommendations came out of a session held last December that brought together some 40 design architects, urban planners and others, including Eberhard Zeidler, the site’s original architect. As another of one of the big ideas that came out of late 1960s Ontario government, the barely year-old TVO talked to Zeidler all those years ago about Ontario Place. Here’s what he thought about it in February 1971, before it was open to the the Ontario public:
In a similar spirit, we dug out this awesome promo video from 1971. Come with me back to summer of 1971, heady days in a province with big dreams and money to pay for them:
Finally, last year, we hosted a discussion here on The Agenda which wondered if Ontario could still "think big" in the way that it had during the era that brought us Ontario Place.
What do you think and hope for the future of Ontario Place? Are big ideas like this a thing of the past or models to be emulated and reinvigorated?
Images credit: Archives of Ontario