Parts of Ontario Place to close in overhaul
The province said Wednesday that it plans to shut down portions of Ontario Place in a bid to stem the financial bleeding at the once-popular waterfront attraction.
Ontario's Liberal government also tapped former provincial Progressive Conservative leader John Tory to advise it on revamping the floundering waterfront park.
The province is targeting a complete overhaul of the site in time to celebrate Canada's 150th anniversary in 2017.
"Today, we are taking a new step forward in the revitalization of Ontario Place to make it a must visit destination and landmark for Ontario families and tourists from around the world," Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport Michael Chan said at a news conference Wednesday morning.
Chan said beginning this summer, the province plans to close the waterpark, amusement rides and the Cinesphere movie theatre, saving the government some $20 million a year in operating and capital funding.
However, the Molson Amphitheatre concert venue, Atlantis banquet facility, a marina and parking will remain open until construction begins. Chan said Ontario Place will also be available for the 2015 Pan Am Games.
Finance Minister Dwight Duncan says the province, which is facing a $16 billion deficit, can't afford to keep Ontario Place open when attendance has plummeted.
Ontario Place draws about 300,000 annual visitors, down from the 2.5 million it hosted when it opened in 1971.
In 2012, the attraction offered free admission to celebrate its 40th anniversary, helping increase visits to 563,000.
About 50 full-time positions and 600 summer jobs will disappear as the park undergoes renovations.
With files from The Canadian Press