Crisis at Exhibition Place (CNE grounds)

The Parkdale Residents Association (PRA) is very concerned about what is happening at the South end of Parkdale.

Exhibition Place (EP) is a City-owned regional amenity of extremely high public value, comprised of 192 acres in the core of one of North America’s largest cities. As Toronto’s population continues to grow and the City becomes increasingly developed, Exhibition Place has the unparalleled potential to offer the residents of Toronto access to much-needed open space. Exhibition Place also has the clear potential to become a world-class urban attraction.

But this potential is under threat. Recent events indicate that, under the problematic direction of the Exhibition Place Board of Governors, the City is in grave danger of losing much of this valuable amenity for future generations.

The case of MUZIK is a particularly egregious case-in point. Unbelievably, the Board has proposed an Official Plan Amendment (OPA) that would extend the lease period of MUZIK beyond the current 21-year limit to allow the lease to extend to 2034 (!). The proposed means of extending the lease period is to *change the designation of the lands in the Westerly portion of Exhibition Place from ‘park/open space’ to ‘rejuvenation area’*—in other words, *to remove public open space in order that private businesses may benefit from public assets indefinitely into the future*. In addition, the report makes clear that this OPA is primarily offered on behalf of the owners of MUZIK, a nightclub at which there were recently two murders, which the local Councillors believe is not in the public interest, and which use in no way enhances Exhibition Place or conforms to the sort of uses to which these lands were originally to be put.

To add insult to injury, the report is explicit that taxpayers, as opposed to MUZIK, are to foot the bill for bringing the OPA forward for the benefit of this problematic establishment.

These recommendations represent an outrageous failure of our public officials to act as stewards of the public trust. More generally, the piecemeal apportioning of Exhibition Place lands to the highest bidder, are coming forward without there having been any comprehensive public process aimed at identifying the presently desired uses of this valuable amenity and creating a comprehensive vision for realizing the potential of what could be one of Toronto’s most impressive public amenities. Indeed, we suspect that most Torontonians aren’t even aware that this vast amount of open space is owned by the City.

As a small first step in reclaiming this amazing public amenity for PUBLIC use, the PRA calls for Exhibition Place officials to immediately close down MUZIK, and remove the barriers to the statues and land that should be rightfully enjoyed by the public to whom this land belongs.

The Star recently wrote 2 articles on this topic: Sept. 21st and Sept. 19th.