Hello supporters of Ontario Place,
We have concerns that the West Island may be closed to public access as soon as late New Year’s Eve. Unfortunately, we have no hard evidence, just some chatter we have come across. SwimOP is still planning to hold its Polar Bear Plunge at Hough Beach on New Year’s Day at 12 Noon, which may delay the closing date for West Island. If West Island is closed, SwimOP has an alternative location to dip at the docks near the entrance to Trillium Park.
We regret this last-minute plea, but we are asking as many supporters of Ontario Place as possible to come down to the West Island bridge from 11:00 AM on New Year’s Day to support the swimmers and plungers and show the provincial government yet again how unhappy we are about the theft of our public park and the decimation of a 14-acre forest that provides the home for over 200 species of birds and animals, all to make way for a needless, unwanted privately owned spa.
Please keep in mind that if we are lucky, this may turn out to be just a dress rehearsal, but we still really encourage you to come out. Bring spouses, friends, kids, colleagues, neighbours, pets, and anybody (or any creature) to help get out our message to Save Ontario Place, Save the Trees, and Stop the Spa.
And don’t forget signs and chalk if you have…
Let’s make January 1st, 2024, a day to remember!
In an international alert, sent out yesterday, the World Monuments Fund (New York) condemned, in the strongest terms, the imminent destruction of the original landscape designed by renowned Canadian landscape architect Michael Hough at Ontario Place.
In 2020 WMF identified Ontario Place as a site of international significance which was “at risk” WMF was joined by the Cultural Landscape Foundation (Washington) yesterday in saying they were particularly disturbed by the Province of Ontario’s complete disregard for their own Environmental Protection Act, Heritage Act and Environmental Bill of Rights which govern this site.
The province has constructed an 8-foot-high wall of black hoarding, which stretches nearly a kilometre across the entire site. Behind this wall of shame – nearly 200 of the 1,500 trees slated for destruction have already been felled. Once on the ground - the trees are shredded so the evidence of their demise disappears and is quietly trucked away.
The assault on East Island seems to have begun today. A magnificent old willow, 72 cm in diameter and in excellent condition, was taken down and is now a pile of wood chips.
The Trees Have Spoken is an environmental art intervention on behalf of the trees of Ontario Place. Hundreds of fallen autumn leaves from the West Island of Ontario Place were collected in late October, early November, cut into heart shapes and pressed in books before being sewn together with red and green cotton thread in sets of strings.
The public statement of the trees ’Leaf me be’ was added to many of the leaves with a manual typewriter.
Eleven strings in nine locations, each consisting of 30-45 leaves were installed on December 15, 2023 among the trees on the West Island of Ontario Place as an act of defiance.
It is only by respecting nature that we begin to stop harming ourselves.
Artist Staement by Martin Reis & Richelle Forsey
We had a great tour from the acclaimed landscape architect, Walter Kehm. At least 75 people showed up at West Island to hear Walter speak about his personal experience at Ontario Place, his appreciation for the amazing habitat that has developed over the last 10 years, and he shared his knowledge about trees and plants that are flourishing there. We are very grateful to Walter for leading us around and through West Island. He spoke with elegance, authority and good humour. Thank you again, Walter!
And thanks also to all the people who joined the tour. It was, by all accounts, a huge success.
Join us this Saturday at Ontario Place to follow the acclaimed landscape architect Walter Kehm as he leads a tour and speaks about the habitat at West Island. Wear warm clothes! Following the tour, you are invited to join the Rally for Ontario Place located at the black wall of Doom near the west drive-in entrance on Lakeshore Blvd. We are really excited about these events and encourage you to bring friends, neighbours, colleagues and family. See you there...this struggle to protect Ontario Place ain't over!
Scroll down for info on both events
Before and after. The photo on the right was taken October, 2023 & the photo on the right was taken today
19 more trees along Lakeshore Boulevard West have been disappeared. We have been vigilant, keeping an eye open for any tree-cutting activity over the course of the last few days, so we were pretty surprised to discover this allée of handsome shade trees had been obliterated without us knowing about it. Our only conclusion is that this desecration was performed late at night to avoid public protest or news coverage.
We continue to ask the public to watch for any suspicious activity and to report their observations to us as soon as possible. At this stage, most of the parking lot foliage is gone, but we know there are still lots of trees on the mainland that are slated to be removed, including the trees on the embankment you can see in the photo on the right of the “before” picture above. As we near the end of December, we expect the rate of tree removal to accelerate, including East Island and very probably West Island as well.
Don't give up the fight. Please continue to reach out to City and Provincial politicians and let them know how you feel. Write to newspapers and online media. Spread the word far and wide. In the days ahead, we hope to let you know of some protest activities you can participate in.
Thanks as always for all your support. Save the Trees at OP!