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Readers have lots of ideas for Ontario Place redevelopment

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Nadine Spencer, president of the Black Business and Professional Association, remembers attending a reggae concert at Ontario Place when she was a teenager recently arrived from Jamaica, and the way it brought people together.

“I came to Canada in 1979, when I was 12. And I remember going to Ontario Place with my family as a new immigrant, and seeing Peter Tosh play.

Nadine Spencer remembers how attending a concert at Ontario Place when she was a child helped her feel connected to the city, and wants new generations of residents to have the same experience.
Nadine Spencer remembers how attending a concert at Ontario Place when she was a child helped her feel connected to the city, and wants new generations of residents to have the same experience.  (CECIL / NI Photography)

“It wasn’t just Jamaicans. Everyone was there … from all different races, and there we were, sitting on the grass, eating and dancing and just celebrating.”

The memory of that day is with her still, at 50, and Spencer wants to see newcomers have the opportunity to enjoy the same kind of experience.

“I think Ontario Place should be a space where people meet, where families meet and communities meet and we get to know each other and learn from each other — maybe this is just a part of the solution to the bigger issues in the city, to have a space that’s inclusive,” said Spencer, who is also CEO of BrandEQ Group Inc., a global marketing and communications agency.

We reached out to followers on Facebook and Twitter and Reddit and put calls in to people we thought might have something informed, fresh or profound to say.

The ideas were silly and solemn and earnest and out there.

A theme park for cannabis. A penal colony. A beer garden with a retractable roof so it can be used 365 days a year, with a rotating selection of Ontario craft beers on tap, Ontario wines and spirits, and paired with local restaurants for snacks.

Blue Jays fan Robert Fulton proposed an open-air baseball stadium for the Blue Jays, with the city as a backdrop, pointing out that cities in the U.S. have been building popular new parks that hearken back to a different era, pointing to Pittsburgh’s PNC Park as an example.

“The throwback-style parks MLB has been building the last 20 years or so are so beautiful — they alone bring people out,” said Fulton, who has visited Pittsburgh three times since PNC Park was built.

“Whenever I see baseball highlights on TV from PNC Park, the glimpses of Pittsburgh are so nice it made me want to visit the city,” said Fulton.

“We all know how beautiful Toronto is and showcasing it that way is free tourism and advertising.”

Preserving Ontario Place as a park was the most popular response on social media. Many people mentioned the importance of better transit links to the site, including a shuttle from Union Station. There was strong support for keeping the existing structures on the property — the Cinesphere and the pods — and also for adding restaurants, festivals and a marketplace. A couple of people spoke up in support of a mall or casino, but not a majority.

“I bristle incandescently at the thought of a mall or casino rendering yet more prime land to soulless commercial ghetto,” said Cavan Campbell, @CCamOperator, on Twitter.

Water sports were mentioned often, including canoeing, kayaking, sailing and a log ride for kids.

Urban planner Joe Berridge, partner at Urban Strategies, with planning experience in the Ontario Place and Exhibition Place area, envisions it as part of a new convention centre including Exhibition Place to the north, replacing the existing Metro Toronto Convention Centre on Front St.

Ontario Place would provide the entertainment and relaxation elements of the convention centre site, preserving the Cinesphere, the islands as parks and the pods as event venues.

“They’re beautiful buildings inside and they have glorious views,” said Berridge, adding that it’s crucial to redevelop the site hand-in-hand with Exhibition Place, which has the transit connectivity and activity needed to rejuvenate and connect Ontario Place.

Berridge envisions hotel, retail and entertainment uses on the existing Ontario Place parking lots, including a winter spa.

Phil Myrick, CEO, Projects for Public Spaces, a non-profit planning, design and educational organization, said redeveloping such a large piece of the waterfront is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“Waterfronts are the single most valuable piece of any city’s land and they’re totally unique in terms of the opportunity.”

Online views:

People online had plenty to say about what they thought Ontario Place should be:

  • The magic of Ontario Place for me as a child was the ability to climb and play; the huge space. Why not re-make it into a public park, with wildlife zones, playscapes, quiet gardens; a place to celebrate the physical world. A place to breathe. Toronto’s gift to people? — Megan O’Connor, Twitter
  • Nothing commercial. Keep the William G. Davis Trail in honour of the last real Tory. Keep Cinesphere in honour of great Canadian IMAX technology. Let nature rule everywhere else. Maybe a Tanglewood style concert venue. Splice to the TTC. No parking lots — David Hammer, Twitter
  • Establish an Indigenous cultural and learning centre or university or healing truth-and-reconciliation place in order to reinterpret the name Ontario Place, bringing it back to its roots, making it a place of growth and renewal — Graziano Galati, Twitter
  • How about a boardwalk with restaurants and bars? There’s nowhere near enough patios in Toronto during the summer. Everything is packed. Good example of this is Darling Harbour in Sydney, Australia — Jenn Heard, Twitter
  • Casino with a huge poker room! — Jon McKenzie, Twitter
  • Maintain the Cinesphere. Maintain as many of the old buildings as possible. Clean it up a bit and keep it going as a park. The In Future festival was truly stunning, and many of the seasonal festivals have been great, as well. I would love to see more festivals and events held there. If possible open up the buildings in the water as event spaces or restaurants. I also think it’s important to protect, maintain and expand public green spaces on the waterfront — Reddit user
  • No cars. Pedestrians and bikes only. Maybe a fun little railway to move people around the site (especially important to keep all aspects of the site accessible for those that may have issues with mobility). A gem on the waterfront that shines a light on the best parts of the province, and is for all Ontarians, where the whole province can feel at home and find something fun to do (ideally at all times of the year): regardless of their financial means, age, etc. Toronto is the provincial capital. If we’re not going to play host to something that celebrates the province as a whole, who is? — Reddit user
  • I think this should be rebuilt as a mega mall. The mall should be built similar to Woodbine, Yorkdale and BCE mall. These three malls all have one great feature; why not build a mega mall that contains all of the features? Inside the mall I think there should be a Fantasy Fair, a cinema and a daycare centre. This way, it will be used all year round (as) it is set in such a great location. Everyone is welcome — Reddit user
  • Erect a GIGANTIC statue of a golfer in mid swing about to hit the Cinesphere. If you build it, they will come — Reddit user
  • How about a mega mall and a casino, with a dedicated monorail from Union Station. This will put Ontario place back on the map — James MacDonald, Facebook
  • Make it into a complete entertainment strip with hotels, restaurants, shops, whatever else — Joshua Rubinger
  • Bio dome with aviary and planetarium — Eric Henry, Facebook
  • Should be a theme park for cannabis — Reddit user

Francine Kopun is a Toronto-based reporter covering city politics. Follow her on Twitter: @KopunF



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Anglais

A stunning Water Lantern Festival is coming to Montreal

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What might just be the most magical night ever is coming up for Montreal this year.

The Water Lantern Festival has announced that it will be gracing Mississauga with thousands of floating lanterns later this year, as part of a celebration that spans the entire world.

According to the festival’s official website, the event is a celebration of life with proceeds going towards charities and non-profit organizations within the area.

“Water Lantern Festival brings together individuals from all ages, backgrounds, and walks of life to join in one emotional and memorable night. At the Water Lantern Festival, we cherish these moments and will do our best to help you have a memorable experience that you’ll never forget as you witness the beauty of thousands of lanterns reflecting upon the water,” the website states.

The festival takes place throughout multiple cities around the world, with the Canadian cities of Quebec, Regina, Vancouver, Hamilton, Calgary, Ottawa, Mississauga, and, of course, Montreal taking part.

For the Calgary event, a date has been confirmed and tickets are already rolling out. Montreal shan’t be far behind, and you can click the Notify Me tab on the event’s site to be kept in the loop.

Expect an evening filled with food trucks, music, lantern designing and finally, a magical launch of the lanterns into the water as the sun goes down.

For our pals over in Calgary, their event includes a floating lantern, a commemorative drawstring bag, a marker, and a wristband. Expect something similar, if not the same, when more details float through about Montreal’s event.

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Anglais

Euthanasia order on hold for Montreal dog that attacked children

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A pit bull dog that attacked four children and two adults in August 2018 in Montreal North will not be euthanized in the immediate future.

The euthanasia order has been temporarily suspended pending the appeal of a Quebec Superior Court decision.

On Tuesday, Judge Lukasz Granosik rejected a request to halt the euthanasia order issued by the Montreal North borough, which declared the animal a “dangerous dog.”

The City of Montreal has not changed its mind. This is only a delay before it proceeds with euthanizing the dog, a source told the Canadian Press.

Shotta, the one-year-old dog, was in the care of its owner’s acquaintance in August 2018. The dog attacked four children and two adults, causing serious injuries in separate incidents on the same day.

After the attacks, the dog was taken from the home and entrusted to the SPCA.

WATCH: Dog found dead in Angrignon Park

The Road to Home Rescue Support, an American shelter, asked the court if it could take in the dog. Christa Frineau, the dog’s owner, had also asked that Shotta not be euthanized.

Granosik refused to grant the request.

—With files from Global’s Kalina Laframboise

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Anglais

9 Things To Do In Montreal This Friday, Saturday & Sunday

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Today’s sunny skies have me itching to make weekend plans. I absolutely cannot wait to make the most of this warmer weather. This might be the time to inflate my bike tires and dust off my running shoes…

Whether you want to brush up on your cooking skills, let loose, or fill your stomach with amazing food, there’s an event out there for you. Read on for 9 fun things you can do with friends or a fling this weekend.

TL;DR Read on for 9 fun things you can do in Montreal this weekend.

Let Yourself Go At Dress Up

Where: 185 Avenue Van Horne, Montréal.

When: Friday, March 29, 9:00 p.m.

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