Toronto is one big step closer to getting a major new attraction as Ripley Entertainment Inc. and dignitaries from all three levels of government gathered at the base of the CN Tower to announce details of Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada — a $130-million facility now under construction and set to open during the summer of 2013.
1.5 million gallons of water and thousands of fish will now call Toronto home!
“What I like most about an aquarium is that all ages, from toddlers to pre-schoolers to retired grandparents can really enjoy the wonders of the sea, ” said Jim Pattison, Chairman and CEO of the Jim Pattison Group, which owns Ripley Entertainment Inc. “I want to thank all of the people in Ontario that have helped us bring this aquarium to Toronto.”
“Canada Lands Company is investing more than $10 million to redevelop the John Street corridor with new signage and other improvements that will increase and improve the flow of pedestrian traffic from Front Street to the site. This is an important entryway to Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, as well as the CN Tower and Rogers Centre,” said Mark Laroche, President and CEO of Canada Lands, which owns the land the Aquarium will be built on.
“The McGuinty government is proud to support the development of the first Ripley’s Aquarium in Canada,” said Michael Chan, Ontario Minister of Tourism and Culture. “Getting an aquarium of this calibre in Toronto is a major win for our province. It will entertain and educate, bring in millions of visitors, fill our hotels and create hundreds of jobs for Ontario families.”
“This state-of-the art facility will provide jobs for our residents and a wonderful tourist attraction for our city. I want to thank Jim Pattison for being here with us today, as Toronto could not have found a better company to work with to develop this major new attraction,” said Rob Ford, Mayor of Toronto. The City of Toronto will provide property tax incentives (estimated to be between $8 million and $12 million) over a 12-year period under the Imagination, Manufacturing, Innovation, Technology (IMIT) Grants program; which supports new building construction in targeted sectors, including tourism.
“Toronto is a world-class city and we are building a world-class aquarium,” said Jim Pattison Jr., President of Ripley Entertainment Inc. “It’s about fish, family and fun, education and entertainment — along with a commitment to conservation and animal welfare. Ripley’s Aquarium will attract families from across Toronto, Canada and worldwide, and will generate significant jobs and economic activity in both the short- and long-term.
Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada is a 135,000-square-foot major family attraction with 1.5-million gallons of marine and freshwater habitats from across the world. Among the many exciting interactive exhibits for families and school groups, the Aquarium will contain:
* More than 13,500 exotic sea and freshwater creatures, comprising more than 450 species;
* A unique 315 foot moving walkway through an acrylic tunnel deep below the 750,000-gallon Shark Lagoon, a habitat occupied by 10 – to 12-foot sand tiger sharks, largetooth sawfish and dozens of other species. Guests may step on and off the walkway as they choose to spend extra time admiring the huge sharks;
* Main exhibition includes a tropical reef tank, along with Great Lakes exhibits and Atlantic and Pacific habitats;
* A Marine and Freshwater Education Centre with dedicated classroom space;
* Flexible and changing exhibition space;
* Food service and retail store.
The Aquarium will be open 365-days-a-year, starting in the summer of 2013.
* Aquarium construction will create more than 600 jobs, generating an immediate economic impact of more than $50 million, $35 million of which will be labor income. In addition, during the two-year construction timeline the project is forecasted to generate more than $25 million in taxes for all three levels of government;
* When operational, the Aquarium will generate 300 to 350 jobs and have a projected annual economic impact of more than $35 million on GDP;
* During the first 20 years of operation, the Aquarium is expected to generate more than $220 million in tax revenues for all three levels of government.