Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Queen's Park won't say how much Ontario Place makeover will cost

The provincial government is refusing to say how much it will cost to create a park and waterfront trail as the first phase of the Ontario Place revitalization.

The plan, unveiled on Wednesday by Tourism Minister Michael Chan, is to convert just over seven acres of Ontario Place land into shoreline green space that will give people free access to a section of waterfront that has been closed to the public for 40 years.

The province shuttered a portion of Ontario Place in February 2012 due to dwindling attendance, the latter prompting the 41-year-old attraction to be deemed a financial drain on the cash-strapped Liberal government.

An advisory committee was subsequently set up and it made 18 recommendations on what to do with Ontario Place, one of which was the development of public green space.

But to the surprise of reporters, Chan, who heralded Wednesday’s announcement as a significant first step in Ontario Place’s revamp, would not disclose the Liberals’ budget or the projected cost of the project. He said such a disclosure would jeopardize the bidding process the province will enter into with developers.

“I am not going to disclose that,” said Chan. “The reason for that is it will be a bid (process). The bidder will tell us. I want to protect the integrity of the process and also get the best value. If I disclose the cost, then bidding will be according to that, and I want to get the best value for the park.”

The project will include the conversion of a parking lot located in an administrative part of Ontario Place that is currently off limits to the public.

Chan also balked at commenting on the next steps in Ontario Place’s revitalization, only to say he expects the urban park and waterfront trail to be completed in time for the Toronto 2015 Pan Am games, and the rest of Ontario Place to be revitalized by 2017.

When asked about a recommendations that calls for a portion of Ontario Place to be converted to a residential area, Chan said it’s possible, as long as it doesn’t create a concrete jungle of homes.
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