Brief history of Ontario Place
When it opened in 1971, Ontario Place was designed to reflect all that the people of Ontario embodied: our heritage, our diversity, our creativity and our future potential.
Since its opening, Ontario Place has changed and evolved with the times. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the site saw updates that included:
- replacement of the original Forum with the Amphitheatre (now Budweiser Stage) — raising seating capacity from 12,000 to 16,000
- updating and expanding the waterpark
The 2000s saw further changes to Ontario Place with a number of significant capital improvements including:
- updates to the waterpark and the Cinesphere
- construction of a new outdoor entertainment venue, Echo Beach
In 2012, portions of the park were closed, including the waterpark, amusement rides and Cinesphere. These closures were done to prepare the site for large-scale (future) redevelopment.
In 2017, the opening of the newly built Trillium Park and William G. Davis Trail signaled the reopening of the site on a year-round basis, and improvements were made to the iconic Cinesphere, including the installation of a new projection system and repairs to the bridge leading from the west entrance.
Ontario Place has since become a sought-after outdoor venue space for filming, festivals and events.
Ontario Place will be a centerpiece of the government’s heritage, tourism, recreation and culture. It will be redeveloped in a sustainable way, that:
- respects Ontario’s historical and natural features
- showcases Ontario’s diversity and multiculturalism
- honours the rich traditions, cultures and heritage of Indigenous peoples
The Ontario Place site is a unique waterfront location, made up of 155 acres of land and water located close to downtown Toronto, residential neighbourhoods, the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport and other busy transportation hubs (Union Station, the TTC).
The site presents an exciting urban renewal opportunity that will:
- attract local, provincial, national and international visitors
- encourage tourism
- contribute to the province’s economic well-being
In 2019, the Government of Ontario announced the future vision for the Ontario Place site that will bring this iconic destination back to life, both as a tourism destination and as a display of Ontario’s unique cultural identity.
Call for development process
As the first step to making the future vision for Ontario Place a reality, a Call for Development was launched in 2019.
The government actively searched for a visionary partner (or partners) with ideas that would deliver transformational change aligned with the vision for the site – a world-class, year-round destination with global appeal that would attract millions of local, provincial, national and international visitors to its landmark entertainment, sports, commercial, recreational and/or leisure attractions. These landmarks would be complemented by free public space and parks that will make up approximately two thirds of the site and would include the existing amphitheatre.
The government sought development concepts that could propose a single use, or a cluster of complementary uses, including family-friendly entertainment, recreation, sports, hospitality and retail. The Call for Development was a public process designed to provide flexibility for interested parties to propose unique — yet financially viable and sustainable — development concepts.
Potential development partners were assessed on four primary areas of consideration:
- alignment with the government’s vision
- concept viability
- delivery certainty, and costs and benefits to the province
- no residential development or casino use were permitted to be included on any part of the site
The redeveloped site will include attractions and recreational activities delivered by Therme Group and Live Nation that were selected through the 2019 Call for Development.
As the province works with the City of Toronto and Indigenous communities, Therme and Live Nation will help to deliver a spectacular Ontario Place that provides year-round entertainment for all ages and interests. Through this partnership, Ontario Place will achieve its full potential as a tourism driver and economic generator.
Theme Group will build Therme Canada | Ontario Place – an all-season, family-friendly health and wellness experience with something for all ages and interests, including:
- pools and waterslides
- botanical spaces to relax
- sports performance and recovery services
Outside, people will enjoy over eight acres of free, publicly accessible gathering spaces, parkland, gardens and beaches.
Therme is also a partner of local and global arts and culture organizations and will bring inspiring programming to Ontario Place, giving people the opportunity to enjoy a day of fun at the waterfront and participate in immersive arts experiences outside the spaces of galleries and museums.
The addition of Therme at Ontario Place will bring together global and local expertise.
Live Nation is redeveloping the existing amphitheatre into a modern, year-round indoor-outdoor live music and performance venue that will attract world-class artists and events.
Protecting the iconic amphitheatre lawns, the new venue will have an expanded capacity of 20,000 in the summer and close to 9,000 in the winter, offering a unique indoor/outdoor experience with operable exterior walls to accommodate events, rain or shine.
As the Ontario Place redevelopment continues, the province will work with the Ontario Science Centre to explore opportunities to have science-related tourism and educational programming at the Cinesphere and pod complex.
Green space and public access
A redeveloped Ontario Place will not include casinos or condos and the land will not be sold. The site is an important part of this province’s history and the land will remain in provincial ownership.
Ontario Place will remain open to the public 365 days a year, with free public access and a waterfront experience that can be enjoyed by all.
Across the site, the public spaces will be enhanced and brought up to modern standards. Key heritage and recreational features of the site will be retained and integrated into the redevelopment, including:
- the Cinesphere
- the pod complex
- the marina
- Trillium Park
- the William G. Davis Trail
Ontario Place will remain open while work is underway, although access to certain areas may be temporarily restricted during construction activities. Trillium Park and the William G. Davis Trail will continue to be open for public use.
A redeveloped Ontario Place will bring many benefits to the region, including job creation and a much needed boosts to the tourism industry, which has been hit hard by the pandemic.
Benefits will include:
- 5,000 new jobs
- enhanced profile of Toronto’s central waterfront for local, provincial, national and international visitors
- anticipated 4-6 million visitors a year
- private sector investment of $500 million in capital on the site
- new revenue from lease agreements and tax benefits for Ontario
The province is committed to engaging with you and keeping you informed. As we continue to move forward, public input is critical to support the planning and redevelopment of the Ontario Place site.
Learn more about the planning and development work underway and find out how to participate in upcoming engagement opportunities on the redevelopment of Ontario Place.
We are only at the start of redevelopment. To support our long-term redevelopment plan, we will also be engaging with you on planning and development related to the site-wide environmental assessment, heritage, and site servicing. Public engagement began in fall 2021 and will be continuing throughout 2022 and 2023.
Updates will be available on this page throughout the redevelopment process.