No fun this summer at Ontario Place

Workers at Ontario Place found out the hard way they had lost their jobs, when they were told through the media.

Ontario Public Service Employee Union (OPSEU) executive board member Rod Bemister said that there was a definite lack of communication between the union and the Ontario government.

“It may have been timing, but we weren’t given advanced notice. It might be seen as a shock, but we saw it through the newspaper.”

  • Ontario Place opened in 1971 costing $29 million to build.
  • Water park was added seven years later – the first in the country.
  • The Cinesphere housed the world’s first permanent IMAX theatre.
  • Atlantis, the Molson Amphitheatre and the marina will remain open during the renovation.
  • Ontario Place has not been profitable since its inaugural year.
  • Attendance into Ontario Place was free all of 2011.
  • Former Progressive Conservative leader John Tory will lead the renovation efforts.
  • Adding a waterfront casino or condominiums are possibilities to go along with renovations.
  • $1.1 million in upgrades  to the waterpark were implemented for 2011.
  • Another $750,000 had been given the go ahead to begin construction work on brand new water slide.

During the government’s press conference announcing the closure earlier in the month, Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan said about 48 full time jobs and hundreds of part time, summer jobs will be lost, however Bemister estimated the number of full time employment lost to be closer to 50-75 jobs.

Denelle Balfour, a media relations officer at the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, was unable to comment on the job losses, saying that has become a human resources issue and answering questions may jeopardize that process.

It is currently unclear how workers will be compensated. Bemister was only able to say that “employees will be working with a job security officer in attempts of finding new employment.”

Repeated attempts to get in contact with OPSEU Local 523 president Joe Ferreira, a rides mechanic at Ontario Place since 1981, went unanswered. Ferreira however has been vocal on social media, posting on a Facebook wall: “Fight to Keep Ontario Place” group.

“[W]hat a shame for closing Ontario Place without having a plan. they just spend millions on a water slide that has not been used once. thousands on the CENESPHERE. so for two years the place will sit just the way it is right now SHAME,so why not keep the people working till 2014? makes no sense doing this! folks just keep writing John Tory & tell him that his plan makes no sense. thanks guys.” [sic]

The Ontario government said its decision to shut down certain features of the waterfront attraction will save an estimated $20 million yearly. A major renovation is expected to be complete by 2015, in time for the Pan Am Games and a grand re-launch is planned for 2017 for Canada’s 150th anniversary.

Atlantis, the Molson Amphitheatre and the marina at Ontario Place that will remain open.

During its announcement of the partial closure, the province made a commitment to create an additional 600 youth summer jobs to compensate for the lost employment at Ontario Place. But for the full time workers, no such promises were made.

About this article

By: Ali Dar
Posted: Feb 15 2012 2:57 pm
Filed under: News