Will Ontario Place take us for a ride?
John Tory holds the lakefront park’s future in his hands, but we ask: Is redevelopment enough to revive this white elephant?
ARTS AND RECREATION
I envision a public park that incorporates world-leading contemporary landscape architecture with one-of-a-kind views of our lake and extraordinary skyline. This energetic and brilliantly designed outdoor promenade would be a way-finding system between cultural developments, such as a multimedia venue to house Toronto’s varied arts festivals in need of a home and a showcase of sustainable agriculture with the world’s largest urban vegetable garden. Whatever we decide should not be precious and extravagant. It must take chances and set a precedent for urban sustainability.
Jeff Stober, owner of the Drake Hotel
WHAT HAPPENS IN TORONTO SHOULD STAY
I think the biggest problem Ontario Place has faced over the years is that the stewards have continually asked the wrong questions, subsequently ending up with failed solutions. The project has always been approached as a tourist asset. It needs to be redeveloped for the city residents, not tourists. Ultimately, tourists who travel to our city do not want to go to a tourist trap. The plan needs to be vibrant, authentic, grassroots and reflect our city. Maybe I will give John Tory a call.
Mathew Rosenblatt, developer with the Distillery District and Cityscape Development Corp.
A BLANK CANVAS FOR CREATIVITY
Ontario Place is tailor-made for large outdoor sculptures, installation art and conceptual works. Surely Toronto is ready for a world-class visual arts event that would bring it the type of stature and attention that TIFF does for film. With such close proximity to the CNE and the soon-to-be-built dazzling Fort York Visitor Centre, the lakefront parks and many new (but predictably sterile glass-box) condos, Ontario Place could also be home turf for a daring waterfront residential complex. Maybe even make room for a giant ferris wheel.
Charles Pachter, contemporary artist
The problem is not design, but use. Its futuristic forms speak of an optimism long since vanished. They grew out of the idealistic notion people hanker for more than the industrial-grade entertainment pedalled by Disney and the like. Turns out we don’t. We ripped out the best part of the complex, the Forum, to build the charmless Molson Amphitheatre. The market would like to knock down the rest and build condos. How boring. We should leave it exactly as is and let it become the first great ruin of the 21st century, an icon of Ontario’s new future.
Chris Hume, architecture and urban affairs columnist
CAN’T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG?
My solution would be to physically join Ontario Place with Exhibition Place. Redevelopment of these properties would create a world-class cultural, recreational and athletic centre that would increase Toronto’s visibility as a premier destination for international tourism. This could easily be accomplished if the Province of Ontario and the City of Toronto can park their political differences and come to a logical agreement.
Paul Godfrey, president and CEO of Postmedia Network Inc.