Doug Ford government says it will not be paving waterfront of Ontario Place

The Doug Ford government says there will be no “Phase 2” for Ontario Place after documents revealed there was a proposal that would involve paving over part of Lake Ontario.

Heavily redacted documents released by the Ontario New Democratic Party from September 2020 revealed maps showing up to 25 acres of “potential future development opportunity” on a water-forward section of the East Island.

The documents say that “Phase 2” of the Ontario Place plan would involve retail and restaurant destinations in that area.

A map within those documents reveals that in order to start construction, a land gap along the waterfront of the East Island may need be filled in.

“This is more evidence that Ford’s Conservatives have been keeping the public in the dark about their plans for Ontario Place from the beginning,” NDP Leader Marit Stiles said in a statement Wednesday.

“If it wasn’t bad enough that they are using hundreds of millions of public dollars to subsidize a private luxury spa and parking lot, now they’re looking to pave over part of the lake. What else have they been hiding from Ontarians?”

The implementation of Phase 2 would be “informed by the outcomes of phase 1,” the documents said.

map ontario place 2020

On Thursday, Minister of Infrastructure Kinga Surma clarified that the plans from 2020 have no bearing on the final design for Ontario Place.

“There is no phase 2. There is no paving of the Brigantine Cove,” Surma said in the legislature when questioned by the NDP.

“What we decided to do was instead to expand the public realm space to 50 acres. We’re building a brand-new stage, wellness facility, park and, as well, a new science centre, marina and food and beverage [locations] on the site. That is what we showed to the public in April; that is what we are constructing today.”

The government is referencing the April 2023 map for Ontario Place, which they are calling the final version of the plan.

Ontario Place map

The 2023 version does not show any paving of the Ontario Place waterfront.

“We have been fully transparent with the public throughout this entire process,” Surma said.

The NDP has been criticizing the government’s lack of transparency on the project since it was reported that the government entered into a 95-year agreement with Austrian developer Therme.

The government has previously said that Therme will put up $500 million towards the construction of the 22,000 square-metre spa on the site.

A spokesperson for Therme confirmed the designs currently proposed are locked in as a result of provincial legislation and zoning, and that they will not be altered to include any paving of the waterfront.

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