Ontario Place will reopen to host events and festivals amid COVID-19 pandemic
TORONTO -- The Ontario government will spend $2 million to reopen Ontario Place in order to host on-site events and festivals amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Minister of Tourism Lisa MacLeod made the announcement on Monday afternoon, just after the province revealed the regions that will be moving to Stage 3 of the province’s reopening plan.
Toronto, where Ontario Place is located, remains in Stage 2 along with Peel and Windsor-Essex.
The minister stressed that there will be a limit on how many people can enter the government-owned theme park and entertainment venue, and that health measures such as physical distancing and hand hygiene will be upheld.
Outdoor gatherings were significantly increased in regions moving to Stage 3. Indoor gathering limits increase from 10 to a maximum of 50 people, while outdoor gathering limits increase to a maximum of 100 people. However, physical distancing is still required when gathering with people outside of an individual’s social circle.
“COVID-19 has been difficult on all of us, and Ontario Place is a place of hope,” MacLeod said. “And we need hope right now.”
“I’m here to let Ontarians, and Torontonians in particular, know that the Ontario Place site will be activated and accessible to all Ontarians this summer.”
MacLeod said that the cancellation or postponement of festivals and large events as a result of the pandemic has resulted in a $20 billion loss in revenue across the province since the economy was shuttered in March.
Here are the five events and festivals planned for the summer lineup:
• Lavazza Drive-In Film Festival starts Friday and will run until July 31, featuring a number of international films.
• Toronto Shines is a pop-up drive-in festival featuring live entertainment, comedy and film. Toronto Shines will run through October.
• DriveInTO is an initiative launched by the City of Toronto that will offer free drive-in film screenings in August. Films will be provided by Hot Docs, imagineNATIVE and the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).
• Toronto Undergraduate Jazz Festival will run on Sept. 5 to Sept. 6.
• Toronto International Film Festival: TIFF will run from Sept. 10 to Sept. 19 and promises to host physical and digital screenings, drive-ins, as well as interactive talks and Q&As with casts and filmmakers.
Ontario Place will also continue to offer small boat rentals, dining at Vista Eatery patio, and access to walking trails.
"Ontario's heritage, sport, tourism and culture industries were hit first, the hardest, and will take the longest to recover from COVID-19," MacLeod said.
"As we gradually reopen the province, Ontario Place offers exciting opportunities to safely come together to enjoy arts and culture experiences, while supporting the province's economic recovery."
Ontario Place was closed to the public by the province in 2012 due to falling revenues. The Ontario Progressive Conservative government began asking for ideas to redevelop the land on Toronto’s waterfront at the beginning of 2019, but the plans were put on hold due to the pandemic.
MacLeod confirmed on Friday that there will be no condominiums or casinos built on that land.