This part of proposed Ontario Place design ‘overwhelms’ public space: report

Toronto city planners have found some problems with the proposed redevelopment of ontario place and to say that a part of the design is so large that it “overwhelms the public realm”.

in a 13 page status report Regarding the planned overhaul of the city’s waterfront attraction, officials detailed their thoughts on the proposed 65,000-square-meter private entertainment, water recreation and wellness center.

The biggest problem seems to be related to the main entrance and building of the facility, a 22,000-square-meter structure with a maximum height of 26 meters that will connect to the west island.

“The proposed entrance building and bridge elements act as barriers, obscuring heritage views of Ontario Place, the pods and Cinesphere and the integrated landscape, as well as sight lines to the water; these detract from the public sense of arrival on the West Island,” the report read.

“The height, mass, and scale of the main building overwhelm the public realm, heritage features, and overall size of the West Island landform.”

City planners say the building’s current location on the mainland “prioritizes private uses” and acts as a barrier to non-paying members of the public who want to access the waterfront.

A rendering shows what Ontario Place could look like with a new proposal submitted in November 2022. (Therme Canada)

Beyond that, the report also took issue with a five-level underground car park.

The structure “does not prioritize transit and active transportation” and goes against the provincial policies to reduce car use established in its Provincial Policy Statement.

“The proposed five-level underground parking structure, surface parking, and the resulting provision of 2,700 parking spaces do not meet these policy objectives,” the report said.

Ontario submitted its development application for the new Ontario Place in November 2022, saying at the time that it would feature 12 acres of accessible public space, as well as a “family” attraction.

Three private sector partners are working with the province to expand the project, including Austrian resort developer Therme, Quebec outdoor recreation firm Écorécréo, and US-based concert promoter Live Nation, which already operates Budweiser Stage in the Ontario Place space.

in a statement Issued in response to the report, Therme expressed appreciation for the feedback and said it would use it to make improvements to the design.

Little is known about the full cost of the project, though the government has previously said it expects those partners to contribute a combined $500 million toward its construction, leaving taxpayers to foot the rest of the bill.

The project is still in the approval stage, but once the shovels are in the ground, Therme has said it hopes to finish construction. within 24 months.

Meanwhile, the city said city planners will continue to provide feedback on the project to the province and developers, which it hopes will result in more design changes.

The developers are expected to deliver a resubmission package with those changes following public consultation this spring, with meetings scheduled for April 15 and 18 and the end of May. Indigenous engagement activities will also take place during the spring and summer.

At its peak, the Ontario venue once drew more than three million people a year to the Toronto waterfront, but it was dismantled in 2012 amid declining attendance and annual losses exceeding $20 million.

With files from Katherine DeClerq and Chris Fox of CP24

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