Gil Penalosa Releases Plan to Swap Ontario Place and Exhibition Land to Protect Toronto’s Waterfront

Mayoral Candidate Supports Waterfront Public Park for Everyone Over Private Spa for Tourists.

Toronto – Mayoral candidate Gil Penalosa announced today that, as Mayor, he would propose swapping 20 acres of City-owned land on the Exhibition grounds’ parking lot for the 19-acre West Island portion of Ontario Place to create a new, fully public waterfront park. The province recently proposed placing a private spa by Therme on the West Island with an estimated $40 admission fee per person.  


The swap would allow the City to build a beautiful new park at Ontario Place while also benefitting both Therme and the province. The Exhibition location would provide better transit access to the current Exhibition GO Station as well as the proposed Ontario Line, and it would provide a much larger staging area that would make for significantly cheaper construction. This location would also still provide spa clients with a view of the lake as a result of the higher elevation of the site.


As Mayor, Penalosa would launch an international design competition to create an iconic and modern waterfront park. Designs would build on the Celebration Common plan proposed by the previous provincial government that was scrapped by Doug Ford.  


The provincial government will submit an application to City Planning in October of this year for the Therme development. A preliminary report is anticipated for presentation at the first Toronto and East York Community Council meeting of the next Council term.


Gil is the first Ambassador of World Urban Parks, the international representative body for city parks, open space, and the recreation sector. Throughout his career, Gil has been a strong advocate for improving city parks, making his first mark in Bogotá, Colombia where he led the design and construction of over 200 parks – including Simon Bolivar, a 113-hectare park in the heart of the city.

 

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