Josh Matlow will Withhold City Land to Stop Private Spa at Ontario Place

Mayoral Candidate Supports Revitalized Waterfront Park

April 6, 2023 – Mayoral candidate Josh Matlow announced today that, as Mayor, he will stop the province’s plan for a private spa by withholding the 16 acres of City-owned property at Ontario Place that is needed by the Ford government to proceed with its plans for the site. Instead, as Mayor, Matlow would move forward with a revitalized public park that is fully integrated with a reimagined Exhibition Place. 

According to a City staff report, the Province has indicated that, to facilitate Therme’s spa project, it requires six acres of City-owned land and approximately 10 acres of City-owned water lots at Ontario Place.

“Because a growing number of Torontonians are living in housing that does not have access to green space, it is more essential than ever that we preserve access to free public spaces,” says Matlow. 

If the City hands over this land for this private venture, Torontonians will have severely limited access to the site, which sits on prime waterfront. The City-owned land that the Province needs to acquire is designated as Other Open Space Areas and is part of the Green Space System in Toronto’s Official Plan. Toronto’s Official Plan prohibits the sale or disposal of City-owned lands within the Parks and Open Space Areas designation (Policy 4.3.8). 

Therme’s proposal for a spa would also have a devastating impact on the environment of Ontario Place’s West Island. This area of land is currently home to beavers, minks and foxes and over 170 species of birds; 15 of which are at-risk provincial species. The spa development would require clearcutting and levelling of the West Island, removing over 800 trees and vegetation and obliterating the internationally celebrated Michael Hough-designed landscape. 

As Mayor, Matlow would formally request a Federal Impact Assessment and a full provincial Environmental Assessment, oppose lake filling at the existing pebble beach, establish a public consultation concerning the future of Ontario Place and comply with the World Monument Fund’s urging to conserve the internationally recognized Ontario Place cultural heritage landscape. 

Matlow will work with the province, landscape architects and community groups, building on the core principles put forward by Ontario Place for All, to create an iconic, modern new park on the waterfront, building on ideas like the 2018 Celebration Common plan for a year-round public space.

To learn more about Josh Matlow’s mayoral campaign to make Toronto a city that works, the safe, affordable, livable city that we all know it can be, please visit