Yet another attempt to stop the Ford Government's redevelopment of Ontario Place was made on Tuesday.
Advocacy group Ontario Place For All filed an application with the Ontario Divisional Court seeking an injunction that would halt construction on the West Island, including the building of a private spa and waterpark.
"Ontario Place for All is committed to using all possible avenues to hold the provincial government accountable for their actions at Ontario Place and ensuring that they follow the proper process which would involve public consultation on the West Island redevelopment," said Norm Di Pasquale, Co-Chair of Ontario Place for All. "This filing is one of those avenues. We just want the government to follow its own laws."
The ongoing redevelopment of the 155-acre site along the Toronto waterfront has drawn the ire of local residents and politicians alike, with the majority of the criticism pointed at the planned 22,000-sq.-m spa and waterpark from Vienna-based firm Therme Group that visitors will have to pay around $40 per day to access.
Work has already begun at Ontario Place to upgrade the site's existing water, electrical, and gas infrastructure, with plans to make repairs to the exterior of the Cinesphere and pods. As part of this phase of construction, a "significant amount" or trees and vegetation will be removed from the site. However, Minister of Infrastructure Kinga Surma has said that for every tree that is removed, twice as many will be replanted at a later date.
Ontario Place For All is asking the courts to order the Province to conduct a full environmental assessment of the entire project, which also includes the relocation of the Ontario Science Centre, changes to the Budweiser Stage to make it a year-round venue, the construction of a multi-level parking garage, and the creation of a public beach and new public gathering spaces with food and beverage options.
Therme, who has signed a 95-year lease for the Ontario Place lands with the Province, released updated plans this summer that attempted to address some of the concerns raised in previous months — namely that significant swaths of parkland were being taken away. The revised plans added nearly four acres of green space by turning the buildings' roofs into public parkland.
The injunction application states that 840 trees will be cut down, and that "historic heritage landscape" will be levelled and portions of the lakefront filled in. These activities, they claim, are not being submitted for an environmental assessment "based on the false assertion that it is a private undertaking — not a public undertaking."
The Ford government is simultaneously asking the courts to prevent the federal government from using the Impact Assessment Act, which gives the feds the power to assess the environmental impact of major industrial projects, on Ontario Place, as well as the equally controversial Highway 413.