Kelly says he has asked staff to draft list of possible locations for theme park
Chris Fox, CP24.com
Published Tuesday, March 18, 2014 6:13AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, March 18, 2014 6:25PM EDT
Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly says he has asked staff to assemble a list of locations that would be appropriate for a new $60 million indoor/outdoor theme park being proposed for the city.
Kelly made the comment to CP24.com on Tuesday afternoon after Toronto-based entrepreneurs John Barrack and Mark Bishop announced that that they intended to open the 100,000 square-foot facility at a yet to be determined site in the Greater Toronto Area by the fall of 2016.
According to the proposal, the theme park will be equipped with a retractable roof, allowing it to operate 365 days a year.
“I want to see if we can move this forward in a very concrete way and move it past the conceptual stage,” Kelly said. “It’s something the city would like to have; let’s take the next steps and make sure it’s something concrete.”
Kelly said he spoke to the developers about the project back in January but is looking to set up another meeting with them next week.
Kelly previously told reporters that the developers behind the project had identified Ontario Place and Exhibition Place as preferred sites, however he said it remains to be seen whether either site would be the “right fit” given the likely expansion of BMO Field and the ongoing revitalization of Ontario Place.
Coun. Mike Layton, whose ward includes Exhibition Place and most of Ontario Place, attempted to pour cold water on the idea of adding a theme park to the already traffic-clogged part of the city in an interview with CP24.com.
“I don’t believe that the services are there at Ontario Place and Exhibition Place, from a transit point of view, has horrible traffic and it is only getting worse,” he said. “If they were to go there, significant concessions would have to be made to address the congestion issue first.”
Developers say they are looking at three sites
While Kelly said that he is keeping an open mind in the search for an appropriate site, the developers behind the project tell CP24.com that they have already conducted feasibility studies on three potential sites in the Toronto and Mississauga area and are in “active negotiations” as they look to finalize their plans.
The developers would not comment on which sites they are looking at, other than to say that they are “construction ready” and will likely not require rezoning.
“It is our full time job right now (securing a location) so as soon as we lock (the location) we will be making the announcement,” Barrack said following an interview with CP24’s Stephen LeDrew “It’s a long-term decision. We are building something that is hopefully going to be there for 50 or 60 years.”
Though Barrack and Bishop say that they hope to have shovels in the ground by next spring, both Coun. Layton and city planning official questioned whether that timeline is realistic, especially considering that the developers have yet to submit a formal application.
Director of Community Planning for Toronto East York Gregg Lintern said that building approvals for a project of this magnitude usually takes at least between 9 and 18 months, depending on if the site needs to be rezoned or if it’s just going through a site approval process.
“If they filed today potentially it’s possible, but it’s a little optimistic,” Lintern told CP24.com
Layton agreed, saying their 2016 deadline would be difficult to meet, especially if their goal is to build on Exhibition grounds
“I guess it depends on their construction timeline but with the approval process that’s required with something like this it does seem unlikely. “You would think they would want as blank a slate as possible, especially with Exhibition Place where there are real congestion issues that have to be addressed first.”
Asked why they announced the project without determining a site, developer Mark Bishop said it is important to get feedback before final decisions are made.
“We have been working on this for close to two years now, so we really wanted to start to share the project a bit more publicly with residents so we could get feedback,” Bishop told CP24.com “We have been doing our own research, we have been having a lot of conversations but it is really important to hear and listen to the community.”
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