TORONTO — Ontario Place has been selected for inclusion in the World Monuments Fund 2020 Watch, the Architectural Conservancy Ontario (ACO) announced recently.
The provincial government is currently seeking a long-term lease for Ontario Place, calling for private development of the landmark public site. It has placed virtually no restrictions on development and ACO is extremely concerned that all the site’s recognized heritage could be at risk: the buildings, the landscape, as well as Trillium Park, states a release issued by the conservancy.
“Not only does the inclusion bring international attention to the site, it also opens the door to a share of US$1.6 million in funding for conservation initiatives,” said Bill Greaves, the ACO board member who led the nomination process earlier this year, in a statement.
Ontario Place’s heritage value has been recognized several times over the years. In 2017 The National Trust of Canada awarded it the Prix du XXe Siecle; in 2014 the Ontario Government recognized the importance of the site in a Statement of Cultural Heritage Value; and earlier this year, the City of Toronto designated the site on its Heritage Register, noting the cultural significance of the masterwork buildings by Canadian architect Eb Zeidler, the surrounding parkland by landscape architect Michael Hough, and the more recent Trillium Park.
In addition to the World Monuments Fund nomination, the ACO is also taking other actions to protect Ontario Place. The Toronto branch hosted a sold-out forum in early February with the Toronto Society of Architects entitled, Ontario Place: Building on Our Legacy, and sponsored a video which had over 60,000 hits on social media channels. In February 2019, former ACO Chair Leslie Thompson met with then-Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport Michael Tibollo to request that any proposed Ontario Place plans incorporate the features recognized in the Ontario Government’s Statement of Cultural Heritage Value, the release states.
The World Monuments Fund is an independent organization devoted to saving the world’s treasured places. The Watch is a biennial selection of at-risk cultural heritage sites that combine great historical significance with contemporary social impact. Over 250 nominations were received; only 25 sites were selected.