To the City Clerk:

Please add my comments to the agenda for the April 20, 2023 General Government Committee meeting on item 2023.GG3.20, Ontario Place Redevelopment - Declaration of Surplus

I understand that my comments and the personal information in this email will form part of the public record and that my name will be listed as a correspondent on agendas and minutes of City Council or its committees. Also, I understand that agendas and minutes are posted online and my name may be indexed by search engines like Google.


I am writing on behalf of SwimOP.

I am one of thousands of members of a group called SwimOP = Swim at Ontario Place, who swim year-round at Ontario Place, home of Michael Hough Beach, which is:

  1. Downtown Toronto's only beach;
  2. Toronto's cleanest beach;
  3. Torontos' only pebble beach.
This beach enjoys a South-facing microclimate created by Micheal Hough's ingenious design using approximately 850 trees to break the prevailing winds while accepting the Southern sunlight exposure together with a carefully sheltered swimming cove that produces favourable currents and storm mitigation year-round. Rather than using sand, he had pebbles placed there about 50 years ago, and the beach remains a natural pebble beach ecosystem. This is ideal for perosons with disabilities, such as persons with prosthetics which are easily damaged by sand. Additionally the ultraclean and clear water serves a variety of research and artistic purposes as a unique facility of scientific interest to many who also know it as "Teach Beach" owing to the outdoor classroom built there to teach principles of Water-Human-Computer Interaction = where we have hosted an annual conference for a number of years.

We're greatly concerned about the proposal to destroy the South-facing Micheal Hough Beach and build a new beach on the West side of the island, in the armpit of the breakwall right next to the CSO (Combined Sewer Outfall). This is the worst possible location for the beach, as it would change the beach from Toronto's cleanest beach to Toronto's dirtiest beach. Additionally this location faces strong prevailing winds and currents, and Micheal Hough originally considered this location but determined it was too windy and stormy to make a comfortable swimming beach. Moreover it is right next to the Gardiner expressway with the noise of the traffic and the exhaust fumes and soot of tire debris.

We cannot imagine why anyone would want to make such a beach at such a location other than to deliberately "enswewage" beach. If they can't bring the sewer over the to beach, the next best thing for them is to bring the beach to the sewer so that they can sell more "pool passes" to swim inside the paid ticketed spa.

Thus we feel there is a potential conflict-of-interest that might encourage the "ensewagement" of the beach to sell more pool passes, i.e. to boost ticket sales by making the beach stink as badly as possible, thus forming a visual-only backdrop.

To test this hypothesis I asked a question of Therme, the Austrial company that aims to move the beach to the sewer.

The question I asked was "Will paying customers be able to warm up in your sauna and then swim in the lake and warm up in the sauna again?", i.e. does the new spa connect people to the lake and encourage more people to swim in the water.

The answer appears to be "No.".

In other words, the spa would simply be totally separate from the lake and therefore has no place being next to the lake other than to reinforce the notion that the lake is dirty.

Recently Therme posted a video carefully shot in front of a pile of debris that their collaborators actually produced using heavy earth moving equiment and industrial tools, and our concern is that there is a conflict of interest in having a paid ticketed space owner manage the public beach that directly competes with their paid venue rather than augment their paid venue.

In this way the new proposal serves simply to ensewage the beach to sell more tickets to their glass-box spa pools.

Please therefore, do not declare the land suplus, as the City needs leverage to save Michael Hough Beach.

The new proposed rocks on the South shore will be hazardous and dangerously slippery year-round and especially in winter, to those who swim or paddle there year-round. Pebbles make a wonderful surface with good traction against snow and ice and we need to carefully consider accessibility as this beach is Toronto's only truly accessible beach and must be preserved.

Let us do a full environmental assessment of the new Therme project as keeping people out of the water and discouraging swimming through "ensewegement" will only serve to poison or drinking water supply in the long run.

Conversely the best way to protect our future drinking water supply is to swim in it.

The more we can encourage rather than discourage swimming in the lake, not just in pools, the more that we can love the lake and be attune to it, and ensure that we have clean water to drink tomorrow.

In my teachings at University of Toronto, I have made the argument that Ontario, home of the world's largest (by area) freshwater lake, is water capital of the world, and Toronto is the capital of Ontario. More specifically, I have made the argument that Ontario Place is at the epicentre of the world's water capital, and is in fact the most precious piece of land in Ontario. It is also perhaps the world's most strategic piece of land in regards to protecting the Great lakes, which hold more than 75 percent of North America's freshwater.

The new proposal is dangerous for a variety of reasons, and a full safety assessment is required.

Therefore please do not declare this very important City of Toronto land as surplus, as it is vital to our safety and to the protection of our drinking water supply.

Best regards,


Professor Steve Mann,
University of Toronto