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Ford government to expropriate land from City of Toronto for Ontario Place

The Ford government is set to expropriate a tiny sliver of land along the City of Toronto’s shoreline allowing the province to push through its controversial redesign of Ontario Place.

The province and city on Monday signed onto a new financial deal that will see the Ford government giving billions in operational funding to the cash-strapped city over three years as well as the upload of the Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway.

In exchange, the city agreed to accept that “the province has the authority” over Ontario Place and “intends to assume ownership of identified City-owned properties.”

The Ford government is expected to table legislation that would expropriate the land from the city and give it $8 million in return, Global News has learned.

Toronto owns a sliver of land at Ontario Place. City of Toronto

The much-maligned redevelopment of Ontario Place has been a central part of Premier Doug Ford’s second term in office and became a lynchpin in the negotiations with the city.

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Government sources told Global News the province made it “clear from the very beginning” that Ontario Place was a consequential part of the agreement.

“We need to see this project move forward. … We were pretty clear that it had to be on the table,” the source said.

After weeks of negotiation, the city agreed to complete the province’s development application for Ontario Place by Dec. 31, even though city officials “have not had sufficient time to complete their review of the proposal,” according to the official terms of the deal.

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According to the agreement, the province will also “change its current planned location for parking at the Ontario Place side” and consider using Exhibition Place instead.

Expropriation to enable site access and servicing for the redevelopment, as well as compensation, formed the final part of the agreement.

While Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow agreed to the new terms, the deal represents a change in tune from the summer when she threatened to take the government to court over the slice of land.

“Expropriation is a blunt instrument,” Chow shortly after her election.

“What we don’t want is to waste a lot of money in court, but that is available,” Chow said. “Hopefully, we don’t get to a stage where we have two levels of government seeing each other in court.”

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City hall sources, however, insist that Chow “did not deliver” exactly what the province was looking for.

Sources said the province’s authority over Ontario Place is the only thing Chow agreed to, forcing the provincial government to take active legislative steps to relieve the city of the land needed for development.

&© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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