New fencing around Ontario Place is raising fresh worries for those concerned about the redevelopment of the site.

Large wooden fences appeared around sections of Ontario Place within the past week, leading some on social media to wonder whether the government is trying to “hide” its activities on the west island.

The Ford government has said that it plans to move ahead with the development of a large private water park and spa on the island, as well as a decision to relocate the Ontario Science Centre there.

In a statement to, a spokesperson for Industry Minister Kinga Surma confirmed that the province has further blocked off access to Ontario Place as utility upgrade work which began in the spring continues.

“To protect the health and safety of workers and visitors, we have closed portions of the site, effective Monday October 30,” the statement read. “At this time, Trillium Park, Budweiser Stage for Live Nation events, and a portion of the parking lots will remain open, in addition to the West Island for pedestrian use.”

The statement added that once the redevelopment is complete, Ontario Place will feature “a brand-new concert venue, Therme’s wellness facility and waterpark, a modernized Ontario Science Centre, and over 50 acres of free public spaces and parks, with fun for everyone.”

Speaking with CP24 on Live at Noon Wednesday, Ontario Place For All Co-Chair Norm Di Pasquale said the idea that work is already underway is an exaggeration by the province, and that the decision to locate the Therme facility at Ontario Place could still be reversed.

“It's definitely not too late. Really all they've done right now is put up wooden fencing and there's not much work happening behind that wooden fencing,” Di Pasquale said.  “I question whether or not that wooden fencing is to keep us out in case they decide to start cutting down trees, which they said they're going to do imminently. So really all they've done is they’re sort of fortifying the construction area, but there's no shovels in the ground, as it were.”

Ontario Place For All has been organizing opposition to the government’s redevelopment plan, saying it will trample on a beloved public space, privatize public park space, destroy hundreds of old trees and cost hundreds of millions more than if the Therme facility were located elsewhere.

Di Pasquale said that while the province and Therme may have decided to move ahead, they have not cleared all the necessary hurdles and there is still time to reverse course.

“You know, this Ontario government has reversed course on the Greenbelt, on changes to municipal boundaries, and there's still plenty of time to reverse course here,” he said. “The development application for the mega-spa is also still at city hall and they haven't even voted on whether or not this development application for the mega-spa should proceed. So for the provincial government to be moving forward with any sort of steps is absolutely premature.”

The city’s Executive Committee voted Wednesday to approve a request for staff to conduct a feasibility study on locating the Therme facility just steps away at Exhibition in Place instead. The request noted it already has a large amount of parking and good access to transit, while the Ontario Place plan currently calls for the construction of a large underground parking lot. That report is expected to come back to council sometime in December.

However, in a statement responding to the idea, Therme Canada Indicated that its intention is to move forward with building a facility at Ontario Place.

“Therme was selected through a competitive international bidding process for the opportunity to participate in the provincial government’s revitalization of Ontario Place, by creating a destination attraction on the West Island,” the company said. “We will continue to work with all levels of government on delivering this project at Ontario Place.”

The chief executive officer of the Canadian National Exhibition Association (CNEA) said he was surprised when he first heard the mayor proposed the idea.

"I described it as a bit of a gut punch," Darrell Brown told CP24 on Wednesday night.

He said the CNEA proposed in 2021 that they get a full-time lease for the Better Living Centre to allow the association to develop year-round programming at the site.

"That's a much better option, I think, both for the city and for Exhibition Place and for ourselves. We can easily program that, bring people on site, have them enjoy a multitude of activities, and benefit both the city and ourselves," Brown said.

The Canadian National Exhibition, the annual beloved summer fair, will be put in "jeopardy" if the spa gets moved to the Exhibition Place, he said.

"There comes a time when the city has to assess whether they value this event and want to preserve it," Brown said.

He noted that in 2022, the CNE produced an economic impact of $142 million for the city, and the CEO expects that this year's numbers will exceed that given the record-breaking visitors who attended the fair.

"Do we really want to say goodbye to this kind of an event for the sake of a private sector usurpation of public sector lands, which is what Therme would be doing if it were taking over this site," Brown said.