In 1973, Ontario Place was put on the map as being one of Toronto’s greatest and most impressive tourist attractions. Likely it’s because it was graced with a royal visit from Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip inspiring an excitement that sent more than three million people charging through the gates to pay their $1.00 fee.
A new pavilion at Ontario Place opened on August 17th that is the epitome of walking down memory lane. It’s an awesome sanction that depicts the history of the park and exposes almost 40 years of photographs and newspaper clippings. Onlookers are taken back with both tears and laughter as they reminisce at an Ontario Place that used to be.
The years have taken its toll on Ontario Place and it’s looking worn, beaten down and somewhat lost in the crowd of larger and more dynamic infrastructures. Even with the presence of the Molson Amphitheatre which brings in 16,000 visitors annually, the yearly attendance has declined to a max of one million visitors a year – that’s an annual decline in tourists of more than 33 percent.
Ontario Place Acting Chairman, Joe Halstead, wants to raise it back up to be the exciting and energetic attraction it once was. “It needs to be the magnet that brings people into the park, as it used to be in the 70’s and 80’s.”
Inside the pavilion he’s placed several laptops with messages inviting visitors to upload their own photographs and share their comments and visions for the park’s future. With only a week into the project, suggestions have included adding a skating rink and skateboard park, improving public transportation to make it more accessible and converting it into a massive casino. And although there is an anguish in many hearts over Ontario Place’s future, the response has been considerably less than hoped for.
The pavilion will stay open through Labour Day weekend and suggestions for its future will be received until September 10th. Ontario Place has secured a poignant memory in the hearts of many Torontonians and guests from all around the country who have visited and experienced the excitement of this great structure.
And if enough people come forward and state their concerns and even offer suggestions on how to preserve it, Ontario Place may have an awesome future in the park. Otherwise, all anyone will have left will be their memories of an Ontario Place that once stood out as one of Toronto’s great attractions.