ERA Architects

Revitalizing Ontario Place: ERA’s Lara Herald on CBC

Lara Herald, a project landscape architect at ERA, was recently invited to speak with Matt Galloway on CBC’s Metro Morning regarding the future of Toronto’s Ontario Place.

A cluster of three artificial islands on Toronto’s waterfront, Ontario Place was launched in 1971 as an affordable and varied summer destination. Its attractions have over time included a simulated mine, a wilderness adventure ride, a World War II Destroyer, a concert venue, an IMAX theatre, a marina, a waterpark, and, of course, various places to walk, rest, eat, and drink.

Earlier this year the Government of Ontario announced that the site would be closed, reimagined, and redeveloped as a new provincial landmark. It has been the subject of much media and public discussion in recent months due to a proposal to build a casino on the site. This week, however, an advisory panel led by John Tory made official recommendations against any such plan. Instead, the panel recommends, the site should maintain its values of arts and culture, family and community gathering, and connection to the water.

In an article on a recent town hall devoted to the future of Ontario Place, the Toronto Star singled out ERA’s Lara Herald for her support of residential development at the site. Curious about Lara’s perspective, Metro Morning then invited her to elaborate on air.

Far from advocating massive condominium development, Lara pointed out the potential for building a sustainable community of low-to-mid-rise built forms, mixed uses, and public spaces with year-round activity. This could bring community, diversity, and “critical mass” to an underused site and to bring residents into closer contact with the water.

Image of “Harbour City,” Zeidler Partnership Architects

For reference, Lara gave the example of “Harbour City,” a late-‘60s proposal by Eberhard Zeidler (also the architect of Ontario Place) to populate Toronto’s harbour with a network of artificial islands, residences, and canals. Projects like this, she said, raise the intriguing idea of opening new discourses with not just the water, but with a long, nuanced history of settlement on the shores of the Great Lakes.

If you are curious, please Listen to the Podcast (the segment starts with John Tory at approx. 8 min. 50 sec.).

Or, read an earlier ERA post on Ontario Place quoting Michael McClelland.