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Houseboat Community in Ontario

February 2019 Multimedia Kennedy Ray Web Exclusive

Mark Campbell, architect turned real estate agent, has been considering and exploring non-traditional locations for possible new housing sites. Being a local to Toronto, Campbell has always loved Ontario Place and a few months ago while riding through he noticed the surrounding empty boat slips and had an epiphany. “I looked at all these spots and thought, what if you were to allow people to have houseboats at Ontario Place year-round?” recalled Campbell. He is proposing a plan to redevelop Ontario Place into something similar to Toronto Island, a place where residents can lease land and homes.

Campbell believes that Ontario Place’s buildings can be re-purposed into schools, office space, small businesses, and more that would be essential to a new waterside community. “Why not lease water?” Says Campbell. “What would make Ontario Place a good place to be all year round is if there were people living there. And if they were, obviously they’d need services, so why not use those spaces which are sitting empty? Put in a hair salon, a gym, some restaurants. They’re just buildings.” Campbell submitted his idea of a houseboat community to the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, who are taking suggestions for redeveloping Ontario Place. Formal bidding will most likely begin in the spring. 

Although he definitely opposes Premier Doug Ford’s oft-publicized idea to revamp Ontario Place by adding a casino, amusement park, and shopping mall, Campbell says he sees a place for all those ideas within his proposal, suggesting that a docked cruise ship could be capable of providing such amenities. “Ontario Place is sitting there and costing money, and people don’t go there. You could get a lot more out of it.” He said. Parkdale-High Park MPP Bhutila Karpoche said that transforming Ontario Place into a year-round houseboat community is an intriguing idea for a solution to Toronto’s affordable housing crunch.

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