Province appoints former Toronto police chief Mark Saunders as Ontario Place special adviser

The provincial government has appointed former Toronto police chief Mark Saunders as a special adviser to help oversee the redevelopment of Ontario Place. 

In a news release issued Friday, Lisa MacLeod, Ontario’s minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, said Saunders’s intimate knowledge of the diverse communities in Toronto —  and across Ontario — will bring “important perspectives” to the project. 

“Mr. Saunders will provide guidance and expert advice … while working closely with the City of Toronto and Indigenous communities, as well as stakeholders and businesses involved in the redevelopment project,” the province said in the release. 

The release says Saunders’s senior-level experience in a major organization, and experience in large-scale “transformation change management,” will allow him to effectively advise MacLeod and Premier Doug Ford as they make decisions about the future of the 155-acre plot of land.

Saunders announced his resignation from the Toronto Police Service on June 8 of last year, and officially stepped down on July 31. In December 2020, he was also appointed to Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution task force.

What Ontario Place looked like in the fall of 2019. (Michael Wilson/CBC)

Announcement about Ontario Place expected this spring 

The province accepted bids in 2019 for who would transform Ontario Place into a “year-round” destination.

While the provincial government remains tight-lipped about the future of the site, MacLeod has confirmed that the vision does not include casinos or condos, the land will not be sold and the key heritage and recreational features of the site will remain. 

In Friday’s release, MacLeod said the province will be sharing more news in the spring about plans for the redevelopment. 

“The 50th anniversary of Ontario Place is the perfect time to provide the people of Ontario with a preview of the tremendous plans for the site’s future,” she said. 

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