Paving over Ontario Place for mall, casino would be travesty
A gambling casino. A 1.6-million-square-foot “megamall.” An amusement park, including the world’s largest ferris wheel.
These are just some of the things that Premier Doug Ford has mused about locating at the site of Ontario Place, the 62-hectare park on the west side of Toronto’s downtown, adjacent to the CNE grounds.
Much of Ontario Place has been closed since 2012, when then-premier Dalton McGuinty was trying to save money. But in truth, it had been on the decline for years, the victim of outdated thinking and vision. In 2017, his successor Kathleen Wynne unveiled a partial redevelopment plan worth about $30 million, which would have seen a waterfront park be a central attraction.
That plan received strong public support, and much of the money has been spent. But Ford’s government killed it early on after being elected. Nowhere on the list of things Ford is exploring is public parkland.
This is more than just a Toronto story. Ontario Place is an important public asset for all Ontarians. Paving it over for a mall, casino or amusement park would be a travesty. But it appears that’s where Ford is headed. He appointed a crony and Conservative fundraiser to oversee the redevelopment. And considering that his environment minister is the former head of the province’s gambling corporation, anything is possible.
Ford and his brother, Rob, brought some of their plans forward while the latter was mayor and the former was a councillor. Their ideas were soundly defeated in the face of public opposition.
Now that he’s premier, Ford probably thinks public opposition doesn’t matter. It’ll be interesting to see if he’s right about that. (Source: Hamilton Spectator Editorial)