Our Plans for an Innovative Wetland

Making sure that everyone can easily and freely access the waterfront is at the heart of Therme Canada | Ontario Place. As part of the almost 12-acres of public space being created, we’re also creating a brand-new managed wetland environment. This is new to Ontario Place – a wetland wasn’t part of the original design. As we help people across Ontario reconnect with the water, we also need to better connect the land to the water.  

What is a Wetland? 

Wetlands are places of incredible biodiversity and serve as homes and resting spots for fish, mammals, insects and over 100 species of birds. They also act, in many cases, as a natural water filter and they protect shorelines from erosion. Wetlands are sponges – they soak up moisture from rain or snow, and release water when conditions are dry. This reduces the effects of both drought and flooding.  

In the 1960s and 1970s, the human-made islands that make up Ontario Place were created from contaminated debris leftover from digging Toronto’s subway tunnels – plastic and construction debris, and other hazardous elements like volatile organic compounds and metals. In other parts of Ontario Place, oil from defunct amusement rides and gasoline spilled from boats docked at the marina have led to further contamination. Therme Canada’s redevelopment of Ontario Place is our opportunity to address these issues and create new habitats in the water and on land.  

The water’s edge along Lake Ontario was home to a wide array of birds, plants, fish, and mammals. This made it an important spot to the Mississaugas of the Credit to hunt, fish, and gather. But now, according to the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA), it’s estimated that more than 85% of Toronto’s wetlands have been lost due to human activity like farming and industry.  

We want to help change that.  

The Future Wetland at Therme Canada | Ontario Place  

Nestled on the east side of the site between the lake and iconic Cinesphere, a network of boardwalks will allow visitors to enjoy time in a wetland landscape that will flourish with wildlife and aquatic vegetation.  As part of the creation of this 5,400M2 wetland, many native plant species which help to support fish and wildlife will be introduced to Ontario Place for the first time.  

The wetland at Therme Canada | Ontario Place will also act to filter water as it returns to the lake. All the water that collects in the public spaces or on the Therme building will be collected in tanks, cleaned, and returned to Lake Ontario – leaving the water better than when we found it. 

Creating aquatic habitat is central to the plans for the wetland zone and for shoreline restoration. The shoreline around the site will be replaced with more porous, stacked rock to make it storm-ready and allow fish habitat to flourish for species like walleye, large mouth and small mouth bass, northern pike, lake trout, shiners, and minnows, among others. To help picture the impact this will have, consider the success of the shoreline and habitat restoration work the TRCA has done at Tommy Thompson Park. Now, there’s a warm water refuge for fish, one kilometer of protected shoreline, and five hectares of essential habitat for birds, reptiles, and amphibians.  

When Ontario Place was built in the 1960s and 1970s, it never had a wetland environment. The new immersive wetland zone being created now will become a place for people from across Toronto and Ontario to learn about and enjoy the incredible biodiversity along this unique stretch of waterfront – yet another part of the world-class parkland and public spaces that will bring joy to millions of visitors each year.