February 24th, 2023

Toronto NDP MPPs call for audit of Ford's half-billion Ontario Place giveaway

QUEEN'S PARK – Toronto NDP MPPs Chris Glover (Spadina—Fort York) and Kristyn Wong-Tam (Toronto Centre) held a press conference with advocates from Ontario Place for All and the Architectural Conservancy Ontario (ACO) to call for a value-for-money audit of the Ford Conservatives' plan to hand over a massive chunk of publicly-owned Ontario Place to a for-profit company based out of Austria.

The Ford government is set to turn over 3.7 acres of publicly-owned land to private company Therme Group without any public consultation. As proposed, the province will spend $200 million in taxpayer money to prepare the site, an estimated $450 million on a five-story underground parking lot, and remove 850 trees.

Glover, Wong-Tam, and the Official Opposition are urging the Auditor General of Ontario to support a request from ACO and Ontario Place for All to perform compliance and value-for-money audits before the deal is done.

“This agreement is cloaked in secrecy,” said Wong-Tam. “Ontario Place has a long and rich history and a place we should be celebrating, not handing over to the highest bidder. The government’s plan has exempted itself from the Environmental Protection Act. What do Ontarians get from this 99-year lease with a mysterious foreign company? Doug Ford is binding Ontarians to something today and potentially generations into the future.”

Glover said, “The original vision for Ontario Place was to celebrate Ontario. It launched the careers of Ontario architect Eb Zeidler, landscape architect Michael Hough, and Eric McMillan who designed the children’s village and created the world’s first ball pit. It was the first permanent home for an IMAX theatre, a technology that was developed in Ontario. The current proposal is for taxpayers to invest an estimated $650 million, only to hand the space over to an Austrian company to build a spa identical to spas they are building in other parts of the world. The current plan has nothing to do with celebrating Ontario. If it goes ahead, we should rename Ontario Place, The Place Formerly Known as Ontario Place.”

Wong-Tam and Glover were joined by Cindy Wilkey, Co-Chair of Ontario Place for All, Bill Greaves, board member for ACO, former President of ACO Richard Longley, and NDP MPP Bhutila Karpoche (Parkdale—High Park).