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Ontario Place must remain ‘family friendly’ and accessible to all, experts say. Here are their ideas

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Former Progressive Conservative premier Bill Davis is weighing into the debate to ensure a crucial piece of Toronto waterfront remains “a family place” — with no casino.

Davis, at age 89 a revered figure in the Progressive Conservative party, made the comments about Ontario Place in response to questions the Star put to thinkers, planners and politicians about the site’s future being pondered by Premier Doug Ford and his PC government.

Former Premier Bill Davis, who led Ontario from 1971 to 1985, concluded that Ontario Place should continue putting Ontarians first and “it would be a shame and a disservice if commercial gain replaced the public interest on the present site of Ontario Place.”
Former Premier Bill Davis, who led Ontario from 1971 to 1985, concluded that Ontario Place should continue putting Ontarians first and “it would be a shame and a disservice if commercial gain replaced the public interest on the present site of Ontario Place.”  (Rick Madonik / Toronto Star)

Some are calling for major development but most experts said revitalization steps to date — a walking and biking trail named after Davis in 2015 and the east island’s 7.5-acre Trillium Park — are steps in the right direction.

“Ontario Place was conceived as a family place, with attractions, entertainment, food services, play and theatre areas aimed at the family,” Davis said in a statement, adding its superb Lake Ontario location made it accessible from all directions and “genuinely family friendly.”

“While any site decades old needs renewal and investment, the core idea of a family friendly amusement and enjoyment centre, affordable for all, with perhaps a Ferris wheel, more programming for children, more interactive displays, more cultural and museum facilities, more room for sports and family, makes immense sense,” he said.

Proposals kicked around for years to revitalize the 155-acre park with iconic Cinesphere dome, futuristic over-water “pods” and man-made islands have new urgency as the Ford government says everything, including a casino, is on the table as it seeks a “world-class attraction” for the site.

Read more:

Readers have lots of ideas for Ontario Place redevelopment

Opinion | Edward Keenan: ‘Nothing can be saved’ at Ontario Place? That’s simply not true

Comments trigger alarm bells over fate of Ontario Place

Before being toppled last June, the provincial Liberal government solicited but failed to choose from proposals that had to foster culture, innovation and diversity, with no condominiums and no casinos.

Last week PC fundraiser Jim Ginou, reappointed Ontario Place chair by Ford after a stint two decades ago, alarmed some people when he told Queen’s Park Briefing the site is “in complete disrepair … nothing that can be saved” so it can be rebuilt “any way that Ford wants.”

Finance Minister Vic Fedeli, speaking for the government, did not disagree with Ginou, saying: “Let’s look at (everything), let’s not have any closed doors.”

In Davis’s era, the educational amusement park was home to top entertainment and everything from hot dogs to fine dining. “From IMAX films to world class concerts, it was a leader in North American family entertainment, said Davis, honoured in 2015 with the William G. Davis Trail during the first phase of a now-suspended revitalization following the park’s 2012 closure amid sagging attendance.

“What would not make sense is a casino-centered development, priced only for the better off, surrounded by more eyesore commercial or condominium structures.”

Former premier Bill Davis says that while Ontario Place may need renewal and investment, it should remain "a family friendly amusement and enjoyment centre, affordable for all."
Former premier Bill Davis says that while Ontario Place may need renewal and investment, it should remain « a family friendly amusement and enjoyment centre, affordable for all. »  (Andrew Francis Wallace/Toronto Star file photo)

Davis, who led Ontario from 1971 to 1985, concluded that Ontario Place should continue putting Ontarians first and “it would be a shame and a disservice if commercial gain replaced the public interest on the present site of Ontario Place.”

Apart from Davis, residents of Toronto and beyond are speaking up, demanding the people’s voice be heard. Organizers of Saturday afternoon’s “Rally Round Ontario Place” have had to move the event to a bigger room, at Metro Hall. All seats were quickly reserved, with a waiting list started.

Some say any Ontario Place plan must include Exhibition Place, the bigger city-owned site to the north with TTC and GO train service near growing the Liberty Village and Fort York neighbourhoods.

As for Ford, he has in the past championed splashy development for Toronto’s waterfront, with possibilities including a casino and giant ferris wheel. Others say housing including affordable apartments, townhomes or condos could inject year-round vitality and capital funding into the mix.

Here is a sample of ideas people have for the site:

Jennifer Keesmaat envisions a new, direly needed convention centre — a big “signature building” decided by international design competition — at Exhibition Place and connecting that site and the rest of the city to a more natural Ontario Place.
Jennifer Keesmaat envisions a new, direly needed convention centre — a big “signature building” decided by international design competition — at Exhibition Place and connecting that site and the rest of the city to a more natural Ontario Place.  (Rick Madonik/Toronto Star)
  • Jennifer Keesmaat, Toronto’s former chief planner, notes there is much planning and data from public consultations to draw on so “we’re not starting from scratch.” The big challenge, she said, is connecting Ontario Place to transit and bustling neighbourhoods on the other side of Lake Shore Blvd. W.

“The Exhibition (Place) lands have been revitalized — there is a stadium there now, a hotel, the (Beanfield conference) centre, so there’s an incredible opportunity to plan the entire area as an event space and a destination that prioritizes access to the water’s edge as a public amenity.”

She envisions a new, direly needed convention centre — a big “signature building” decided by international design competition — at Exhibition Place and connecting that site and the rest of the city to a more natural Ontario Place, with park spaces and use of Lake Ontario.

“Make (Ontario Place) a waterfront park that is all about providing access to the water, activity on the water and is accessible to absolutely everyone in the city and the province,” she said. The entire area becomes “a tourist destination, a regional amenity (and) a space that supports the rapidly densifying areas around it.”

A casino is a “horrendous idea,” Keesmaat added, and condos have no place at Ontario Place. “There is only one water’s edge. We have made this mistake in the past already.”

Revitalization of Ontario Place was already underway under the previous provinvincial government, with possibilities including a "canal district."
Revitalization of Ontario Place was already underway under the previous provinvincial government, with possibilities including a « canal district. »  (Government of Ontario)
  • Ken Tanenbaum, a developer who specializes in public-private partnerships, led a proposal to the previous government that wasn’t acted upon to redevelop the west island with university and cultural uses, parkland, an entertainment venue and retail. Tanenbaum, whose bid involved the CNE, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, and Live Nation, said he expects to make a different proposal to the Ford government.

Like Keesmaat he thinks Ontario Place and Exhibition Place need to be planned together because of transit connections, and said the walk across the latter can be “lit up” with an interesting weather-shielded path through the Food Building and BMO Field.

Tanenbaum said he believes Eberhard Zeidler’s Cinesphere and pods must remain. “It’s a sacred part of Ontario Place and needs to be brought back to life but there’s very substantial capital involved in the exercise of bringing it back to life,” with modern sewer, water and power, plus shoreline restoration.

That could mean tens of millions, maybe even $100 million, even with a park-like setting, he said, and the Ontario government will “want to see a commercial engine that can create the economics that can allow that to be funded by the private sector.”

  • Ken Greenberg, a prominent planner who is speaking at the “Rally Round Ontario Place” event, said he believes in a vision he and others put forward in 2007.

Redeveloping Ontario Place and Exhibition Place could produce a “Lakefront Park” with a grand waterfront gathering place, including recreation, entertainment, major annual events, theatres, marinas, art galleries, restaurants and heritage sites, acting as a major international tourism draw.

“Between buildings and stretching across Lake Shore Blvd., attractive landscapes would be preserved as freely accessible park spaces that would extend like an emerald arm across the waterfront,” while linked parks would draw people from downtown to the east.

  • Zahra Ebrahim, a Toronto designer and urbanist, said the province should “play with ideas of how we can mix public art (and) cultural use with green space.

“We have a shot at something like (Chicago’s waterfront) Millennium Park — a great mix of public space, play space for kids, a natural escape and also dynamic and engaging public art.”

  • Phil Myrick is chief executive of Projects for Public Spaces, a non-profit planning, design, and educational organization dedicated to helping people create and sustain public spaces that build stronger communities.

“Building a casino or a mall there is a vision for 20 years and it’s a vision that brings benefits to very few people,” he said. “The kind of vision that a downtown waterfront needs should be a 100-year vision, which brings benefits to the whole city on a scale that would dwarf the revenues that a casino will make because of the value that you can bring the city when you envision a wonderful public place on the water. That’s value that doesn’t decline.

“It’s value that stays and builds and increases over time and is shared by multitudes of different actors, including of course, the city, which is looking to improve its revenues through a stronger tax base.”

Neither a ferris wheel nor casino make any sense, Ontario Place’s original architect says.
Neither a ferris wheel nor casino make any sense, Ontario Place’s original architect says.  (Rick Madonik/Toronto Star)
  • Eberhard Zeidler, the 93-year-old chief architect of Ontario Place, said he’d like to see his original concept rejuvenated and enjoyed still as the multi-use space it once was.

“History is history and what happened at one time has meaning still today, just to understand the time and the feeling of the time,” he said. “To just tear it down is to lose something. It’s the same thing as saying Rome wasn’t there.”

The purpose too as an exhibition space and urban park is still meaningful, he said. Neither a ferris wheel nor casino make any sense.

“I don’t know why you have to do something different,” he said. “It doesn’t add anything.”

His daughter, Margie Zeidler, president and creator of the 401 Richmond space in downtown Toronto and an architect, said she agrees there’s no need to start over.

“I agree it’s a disgraceful mess,” she said, noting how parts of the site have been allowed to go unused for years, but she said: “It does not need to come down. It’s not structurally a problem.”

The pods could be better used and reimagined, she said, adding it would be important to preserve the buildings.

Proposals kicked around for years to revitalize the 155-acre park with iconic Cinesphere dome, futuristic over-water “pods” and man-made islands have new urgency as the Ford government says everything, including a casino, is on the table as it seeks a “world-class attraction” for the site.
Proposals kicked around for years to revitalize the 155-acre park with iconic Cinesphere dome, futuristic over-water “pods” and man-made islands have new urgency as the Ford government says everything, including a casino, is on the table as it seeks a “world-class attraction” for the site.  (Rick Madonik/Toronto Star)
  • Toronto condo king Brad Lamb: “We need to think bigger.”

“I’d create a boardwalk, a very wide, amazing boardwalk along the waterfront. I’d commercialize it on the interior side … and I’d put bars and restaurants and stores and just a ton of stuff, and I’d make it a massive international tourist destination so that not only local Torontonians enjoyed it, but people travelled for miles to come to it and it was a fantastic experience and event.”

Lamb says the new Ontario Place should have “a yacht club, a proper public yacht club where large, lake-going vessels, 40-to-60-foot boats, can moor up. Why can’t we do that here? Why can’t you pull up to a spot with your boat from Rochester or Buffalo?”

He would make it 60 per cent park public realm and 40 per cent commercialized.

“Let’s make it a generator of revenue for the government, so it’s zero cost to the government, so that it supports itself, or, heaven forbid, what if it made a profit?”

With files from Francine Kopun and Jennifer Pagliaro

Full statement from Bill Davis

“Ontario Place was conceived as a family place, with attractions, entertainment, food services, play and theatre areas aimed at the family. With its superb location at the foot of the City, bordering Lake Ontario, accessible to highways and public transit from East, West and North, it was meant to be genuinely family friendly. Equally comfortable with Tier 1 entertainment, hot dogs, fine dining, as with folk music, picnicking, ice cream and visiting dignitaries, adjacent to sports facilities and interesting exhibits, it welcomed all. From IMAX films to world class concerts, it was a leader in North American family entertainment.

“While any site decades old needs renewal and investment, the core idea of a family friendly amusement and enjoyment centre, affordable for all, with perhaps a Ferris wheel, more programming for children, more interactive displays, more cultural and museum facilities, more room for sports and family, makes immense sense. What would not make sense is a casino-centered development, priced only for the better off, surrounded by more eyesore commercial or condominium structures.

“Ontario Place is and was a Crown Corporation so as to serve the public of Ontario — those living in the GTA and visiting from away. It would be a shame and a disservice if commercial gain replaced the public interest on the present site of Ontario Place.”

David Rider is the Star’s City Hall bureau chief and a reporter covering Toronto politics. Follow him on Twitter: @dmrider



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These US entities partnered with the Wuhan Institute of Virology — time for a criminal investigation?

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(Natural News) The Wuhan Institute of Virology from which the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) is believed to have “escaped” has a number of questionable partnerships that are worth looking into in light of the pandemic.

Most of them are universities, including the University of Alabama, the University of North Texas, and Harvard University. There is also the EcoHealth Alliance, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the National Wildlife Federation.

While the relationships between these entities and the Wuhan Institute of Virology may be completely innocent, there is no way to really say for sure without a proper investigation. And this is exactly what Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is calling for, as is the nation of Australia.

Pompeo and the folks down under, along with millions of Americans, would really like to know the true origins of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19). An increasing number of people simply are not buying the narrative that the novel virus originated in bat soup at a Chinese wet market, and this even includes mainstream media outlets like Fox News.

The only way to really determine what was going on at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and who else might have been involved. is to open the place up for an international investigation. But communist China is against this, of course, accusing Australia of “petty tricks” and collusion with the United States.

“Overnight, I saw comments from the Chinese Foreign Ministry talking about a course of activity with respect to Australia who had the temerity to ask for investigation,” Pompeo is quoted as saying in response to China’s aggression against a proposed investigation.

“Who in the world wouldn’t want an investigation of how this happened to the world?” he added.

As the U.S. aims to get back on track economically speaking, Pompeo believes that now is the time to hold communist China, the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and whoever else may have been involved accountable for unleashing this pandemic on the world.

“Not only American wealth, but the global economy’s devastation as a result of this virus,” Pompeo further stated. “There will be a time for this. We will get that timing right.”

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New U.S. analysis finds that lab in Wuhan, China was “most likely” origin of coronavirus release

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(Natural News) While American Leftists and most of the Democrat Party continue to serve as apologists for the Chinese Communist regime over its role in creating and then perpetuating the coronavirus pandemic, a new U.S. government analysis concludes that COVID-19 “most likely” escaped from a lab near Wuhan city.

The Washington Times reports that the analysis cataloged evidence linking the outbreak to the Wuhan lab and has found that other explanations for the origins of the virus are not as credible.

The paper reported:

The document, compiled from open sources and not a finished product, says there is no smoking gun to blame the virus on either the Wuhan Institute of Virology or the Wuhan branch of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, both located in the city where the first outbreaks were reported.

However, “there is circumstantial evidence to suggest such may be the case,” the paper says.

“All other possible places of the virus’ origin have been proven to be highly unlikely,” said the report, a copy of which was obtained by the Times.

ChiCom officials have claimed that the virus’ origin is unknown. However, Beijing initially stated that coronavirus came from animals at a “wet market” in Wuhan where exotic meats are butchered and sold in disgusting conditions.

Chinese officials claim that COVID-19 went from bats to animals sold in the market last year, then infected humans.

U.S. intelligence officials have increasingly dismissed that explanation, however, as attention has begun to focus on evidence suggesting that Chinese medical researchers were working with coronavirus in the country’s only Level 4 facility, which is in Wuhan.

U.S. Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said that intelligence agencies are investigating whether the virus escaped from a lab or was the result of a naturally occurring outbreak, but that analysts have ruled out reports that COVID-19 was manmade.

‘The most logical place to investigate the virus origin has been completely sealed off’

“At this point, it’s inconclusive, although the weight of evidence seems to indicate natural,” the general said on April 14, “but we don’t know for certain.”

The analysis said that the wet market explanation does not ring true because the first human diagnosis of coronavirus was made in someone who had no connection to the wet market in question. And according to Chinese reports, no bats were sold at that particular market.

At the same time, several questionable actions and a growing paper trail provide clues that the virus actually escaped from a lab, even as China begins to clamp down on those information streams.

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The biggest media lies about the coronavirus: Origins, treatments and vaccines

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(Natural News) If there is one thing that most everyone can agree on concerning the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it is the fact that there is no shortage of conflicting information out there about the nature of it. And the mainstream media is certainly doing its part to steer the narrative as part of a larger agenda, using plenty of misinformation along the way.

The following are among the most commonly parroted lies about the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) that aim to distort the facts and deceive you into believing falsehoods about this pandemic:

Media LIE: The virus is not man-made

From the very beginning of this thing, the official narrative was that the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) came from a Chinese wet market where bats and other “exotic” animals are sold as meat. But the world later learned that it actually more than likely “escaped” from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

The mainstream media and social media platforms went nuts trying to censor this information and even called it  “fake news.” But eventually it became undeniable that bat soup was not responsible for spreading the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) around Wuhan and eventually to the rest of the world – hence why we continue to call it the Wuhan coronavirus rather than just COVID-19.

We have even seen attempts by the media machine at making the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) a racial issue because there are supposedly more “people of color” coming down with it than people with fair skin, which further detracts attention away from the source of this virus.

Media LIE: Hydroxychloroquine is extremely dangerous and doesn’t work

The minute that President Donald Trump announced that hydroxychloroquine may be an effective, and very inexpensive, remedy for the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19), the mainstream media immediately began decrying this claim as fake news, even though Anthony Fauci himself praised hydroxychloroquine back in 2013 under Barack Obama as being some type of “miracle cure” for SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome).

There have even been studies conducted that were designed to intentionally smear the drug as both ineffective and dangerous, though one in particular purposely left out zinc, which appears to be a critical co-factor in supporting the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine – in other words, politics as usual.

Media LIE: Only a vaccine can save us from coronavirus

Many politicians and public health officials are parroting the lie that the only way America can come out of lockdown and go back to “normal” is to get vaccinated with some future vaccine for the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) that does not even yet exist. A vaccine, we are repeatedly told, is the only thing, or perhaps some new “blockbuster” antiviral drug, that can cure the world of this scourge and make everything happy and wonderful once again.

Meanwhile, not a peep is being made about things like intravenous (IV) high-dose vitamin C, which is being successfully used in other countries to stem the tide of infections without the need for new drugs and vaccines.

By omission, nutrition is pointless

Speaking of natural approaches to overcoming the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) that are being systematically ignored by the mainstream media and most in politics, have you heard anyone mention the importance of nutrition in all of this? We did not think so, and this is intentional.

Regular readers of this site over the years should know by now that the single-most important thing you need to do to stay healthy besides exercising regularly is to feed your body the nutrition it needs to naturally ward off illnesses, including those associated with the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19).

Research compiled by the Lewin Group reveals that nutritional remedies such as calcium, vitamin D, folate, omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, zeaxanthin, and more all play a critical role in fortifying the immune system, which, if properly nourished, should have little problem fending off disease.

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