Josh Matlow proposes the Federal Government step in to protect land from expropriation at Ontario Place

Torontonians want public park, not private spa

April 14, 2023 – Toronto City staff today released a “Declaration of Surplus” in a report to the General Government Committee about City-owned parcels of land and water at Ontario Place. The new report recommends that the City enter into a land swap with Doug Ford’s provincial government on the 16 acres of land and water required to facilitate a private spa. According to the report, City Staff have already “worked with the Province to negotiate a mutually beneficial land exchange that is in accordance with the City's Official Plan.”

“While the Official Plan allows for land exchanges, few waterfront properties are as important to Torontonians as Ontario Place,” said Mayoral candidate Josh Matlow.

Also today, in his role as City Councillor, Josh Matlow submitted a motion to the Committee to move forward with a revitalized Ontario Place by denying staff recommendations to enter into an agreement with the Province. Instead, Matlow’s motion requests the City Manager explore the feasibility of a land exchange, or nominal sale, with the Government of Canada on the basis that the lands would remain public and publicly accessible in perpetuity. The Province of Ontario does not have expropriation powers over the Federal government.

“Torontonians, local Councillor Ausma Malik and community groups such as Ontario Place for All have been loud and clear that they want to see a modern, year-round destination public park on our waterfront,” said Matlow. “Residents expect that we will explore every opportunity to protect this iconic space.”

The Therme Canada Ontario Place redevelopment proposal presented by City Planning at the last meeting of Toronto & East York Community Council would have a devastating impact on the environment of Ontario Place’s West Island. It is a public waterfront space used by Torontonians for recreation including walking, swimming and fishing. The West Island is currently home to beavers, minks and foxes and over 170 species of birds, 15 of which are on the provincial species at-risk list. The spa development would also provide “limited opportunity” to preserve the many mature trees on the site. 

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