Ontario Place redesign to include more public space following criticism over initial plan

 An Austrian-based company planning to open a private spa and waterpark at Ontario Place released its updated vision for the space, following what critics say was a loss of public park space in its initial design. On Tuesday, Therme says public space will be expanded, partly owing to space that will be on the bridge 

An Austrian-based company planning to open a private spa and waterpark at Ontario Place released its updated vision for the space, following what critics say was a loss of public park space in its initial design.

On Tuesday, Therme says public space will be expanded, partly owing to space that will be on the bridge connecting the West Island of Ontario Place to the mainland, and will also include a beach.

The spa will also be smaller than its initial design, which was six stories high and taking up 19 per cent of Ontario Place’s 155 acres.

Therme Canada says the updated design was based on input from the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, as well as feedback from public meetings, community engagement and City of Toronto planning staff.

Some of the changes include (as provided by Therma Group):

Public parkland area that includes parks, rooftop trails and gardens, will increase by 35 per cent to 15.9 acres
Additional public park space will run over and through the middle of the Therme buildings, providing more direct pathways to the water’s edge. The park and landscaping will flow up the roof of the building, offering improved views of the pods, Cinesphere, downtown skyline, and Lake Ontario.
Bridge to the West Island redesigned to be a greenspace and public pathway, taking people from Lake Shore Boulevard West through the entry pavilion to the West Island — recreating the path of the Credit River to pay tribute to the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation
Spa building reduced by 25 per cent and instead of a single, large structure, the design will now include a campus of buildings
Eastern Headland re-designed with input from Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation to include a larger gathering space and better protection from the elements

 

“The design that we revealed today delivers the same great waterpark and wellbeing attractions, but thanks to feedback, it has even more open parkland, more natural spaces, more public trails, and more places for people to gather,” said Dr. Robert Hanea, CEO of Therme Group.

“After this revitalization, there will be more public space than currently exists on the West Island, and we are proud to advance a project that responds so meaningfully to the feedback we have heard so far.”

Earlier this year, the Ford government announced its vision for the landmark that included a new year-round stage for concerts from LiveNation, relocating the Ontario Science Centre to the waterfront property and a large water park and wellness centre operated by Therme.

However, some critics were opposed to the plans, in particular Therme’s spa and wellness centre, arguing a lack of transparency surrounding the Ford government plans, pointing out no environmental assessment is necessary on the Therme design because it is a private project.

The Austrian company has been given a 95-year lease to build and operate a water park and what is described as a European-style bathing centre on the western part of Ontario Place.

Ontario Place first opened to great fanfare in 1971 and was a popular destination in its heyday, but over the decades it has become dated and obsolete. It was finally shuttered in 2011 by Dalton McGuinty’s Liberal government.

With files from CityNews reporters Cynthia Mulligan and Richard Southern

 

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