On Monday June 4, John Tory held a Town Hall meeting at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre to address the future and revitalization of Ontario Place. As concerned citizens, business people, and public servants took their seats, the energy was expectant and exciting. Viewers from across Ontario watched the proceedings on a live feed, and media was on hand to capture the event. Tory himself remarked on the packed house, surprised at the numbers drawn by the Ontario Place issue. For Ontario Place supporters, however, the size and diversity of the crowd was merely a testament to the importance this landmark attraction still holds for the people of Ontario.
Yet the success of the night was neither the size of the crowd nor the extensive media coverage. It was Tory’s landmark announcement that Ontario Place was not suitable for, and would not be considered as, a potential site for a casino development plan.
A wave of applause broke out after these remarks; it set a positive and upbeat tone for the rest of the evening.
President, Smokey (Warren) Thomas sat center row in support of OPSEU members affected by the Ontario Place shutdown. He submitted written suggestions to Tory, and eagerly participated in the roundtable discussions on the planned revitalization project.
Participants were asked to vote by a dot-mocracy exercise for ideas of what they would like to see at Ontario Place. Public landmarks such as Chicago’s Millennium Park, Finland’s ICIUM Wonderworld of Ice and Toronto’s own Sugar Beach (as pictured next to Warren “Smokey” Thomas) were displayed around the room, and participants “stickered” with red or green dots to indicate whether they “liked” or “disliked” the featured development ideas.. Condominiums and retail shopping received a lot of red dots. The results show overwhelming support for outdoor, innovative, cultural and family spaces.
Some points of contention that evening included how funding would be secured for the massive overhaul, whether condominiums and retail outlets could provide a continuous income stream, and if corporate sponsorship is a positive funding option within a public space. Of particular interest was whether parts of the park could remain open during the five year redevelopment interim.
The Town Hall is a triumph worth celebrating. It marks the end of a successful Save Ontario Place campaign, marked by a strong and unique social media initiative, and a benchmark decision to keep casinos off of Ontario Place waterfront. All in all, OPSEU and its members should be proud to have influenced the non-casino outcome, via an altogether feel-good campaign.
Crusaders for Ontario Place, OPSEU President, Smokey (Warren) Thomas and Toronto Councillor, Mike Layton
OPSEU President, Smokey (Warren) Thomas participates in the dot-mocracy exercise. Participants vote on ideas with green and red dots. The results show support for outdoor, innovative, cultural, and family spaces.
On June 5, 2012, over 125 citizens participated in a town hall meeting about the revitalization of Ontario Place at the Metro Convention Centre.
John Tory, Chair of the Minister"s Advisory Panel on Ontario Place Revitalization asks attendees of the town hall meeting about what their vision of Ontario Place.