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New details about CN Tower “behemoth” aquarium emerge

An artist's rendering of the aquarium, set to take up 150,000 square feet and be open in time for the Pan Am Games (Image: B+H Architects)

As we reported last March, Toronto has been in talks with Ripley Entertainment to bring an aquarium of epic proportions to the CN Tower. Nearly a year later, some more details have finally emerged about the soon-to-be-built 150,000-square-foot behemoth, including a completion date of 2015 (just in time for the Pan Am Games, natch), the above artist’s rending and some questions about not-so-transparent financing.

Canada Lands Company representative Gordon McIvor told Inside Toronto last January that the aquarium would mutually benefit Toronto tourism:

[The CN Tower] is the most trafficked tourist area in the country, at least in terms of man-made attractions, so you already have people in the area…It really has become Canada’s icon internationally, along with the Niagara Falls and the Rocky Mountains. Will [an aquarium] enhance the business of the CN Tower? You bet.

Jim Pattison Jr., president of the Orlando-based Ripley’s, says not only will there be tens of thousands of different marine animals for visitors to gawk at, but that the aquarium will feature the largest underwater tunnel in North America.

Roping in tourists for a profit is all and well and good (if they’re going to put this thing anywhere, it might as well be at the foot of the CN Tower), but the Toronto Star reports that taxpayers may swallow some of the costs to build the attraction. According to an unnamed source, various levels of government are expected to contribute $10 million each, on top of Ripley Entertainment’s $110 million investment. McIvor confirmed that Ottawa will indeed contribute to the project in the form of landscaping, signage and general improvements made to the Bremner Boulevard, John Street and Front Street entrances to the site.

It’s not yet clear where the rest of the financing is coming from, but what is clear is that the giant fish tank is expected to be a big tourist pull. McIvor says it’s supposed to bring two million people into Toronto’s downtown core annually. That’s enough to rival downtown’s other major tourist draw: the Eaton Centre.

• Details of Toronto’s aquarium are massive [Toronto Star]
Plans afoot for downtown aquarium [Inside Toronto]

  • wonderinwhy

    so where’s the CN Tower in this artist’s rendering?

  • PeterD

    so where’s the CN Tower in this artist’s rendering?
    February 4, 2011 at 1:37 pm | by wonderinwhy

    That rendering is looking East. The CN tower is behind and to the left of the vantage point.

  • Kate

    This is a great idea!!!!!!

  • anonymous_

    The one in Boston makes good money, doesn’t it? I’d guess that this building would be a success.

  • Perry Phalla

    I am very pleased with this idea. However, the thought of 2015 is too far away. I hope they sell fish sticks in the cafeteria!

  • Redlom

    Great idea, but for crying out loud can’t we PLEASE build something in Toronto that has an impact? It’s really not that hard to use imagination to design something unique, sophisticated, and intelligent. That last thing we need in this area is another building that looks like a truncated condo.

  • Sherri Lange

    is there a reason why Toronto must get tourist value out of animal cruelty and demolition of ocean habitats? Aquariums are the most useless and antiquated way to appreciate nature. They use dynamite of the coral reefs which kills huge numbers of animals, and the rest are captured to live short lives in sterile boring anticeptic tanks. Really, why not give a permanent home to Cirque de Soleil, for example in the same location?

  • Caris

    This is a bad idea. I agree with Sherri. Why is it entertainment to see other species enslaved in unnatural habitats? This type of capture is equivalent to torture for the poor things.
    Think it’s a good idea? Watch the Cove and begin to understand the consequences.

  • pkrabbit

    Its not enslavement.
    many animals are rescues that were nursed back to health by animal care professionals. Sadly, all the runoff and OIL SPILLS and environmental disasters have made the ocean far from natural.
    Many seals and dolphins are rescued from the ocean because large tankers and people who have recreational speed boats “run over” them….

    You should read more about how our ocean habitat is being destroyed every day in various ways. Aquariums and zoo’s these days are not the old jails they used to be in the 70′s and before that….
    Biologists actually work with veterinarians and wildlife rescues to rehabilitate many of the animals. This is going to be an AZA accredited institution.
    They will care for the animals, provide enrichment and adopt rescues.
    People will earn more about species in the ocean and appreciate them when they can see these beautiful animals face to face/interact with them.
    IT IS EDUCATIONAL for children and adults.
    YOU SHOULD LEARN SOMETHING AND VISIT – what would you rather have them put there? All of you shooting down this idea don’t have a solution.
    We don’t need any more shopping malls and salty fad laden restaurants being built….this will help people learn about the ocean and different aquatic ecosystems! What do you know about ecology and oceanography? If you don’t know anything about it, I think you need to go to the aquarium and lean something new.This is going to make a big impact in some kid’s lives!!!
    by the way, UM…this is nothing like “the cove” – that movie was about dolphin genocide.

  • proud canadian

    horrible idea what a waste of money

  • poo girl

    I LIKE POO!! :D

  • BoB

    I fell into the ocean once. it was weird. i got scared of the fish.

  • poo girl


  • Jeab

    really learn and research. Reef tanks are the most cemtlicapod tanks and not for beginners. you really need to learn about water chemestry before attempting this tank.You are best starting with a large saltwater tank with live rock. Allow the tank to establish itself for at least 8 months. during this time you need to learn about saltwater and all about reef tanks.You want to start with about 75-125 gallon tank with live sand and live rock around 1 pound per gallon. Set up the tank with all of the equipment like the filter and the protein skimmer. allow everything to run for 2-4 weeks until the tank is done cycleing.Then you can start adding is 100% important to start with a large tank. 97% of beginners want a reef tank or saltwater and they want a small tank like a 10 gallon, 96% of them fail due to because they dont realize the smaller you go, the more of an expert you need to be.The problem with corals and reefs is you will need alot of money for stuff. a lighting system is easily 200-500 dollars at least. power compacts will limit you on corals, but it is the cheapest. then you have T5 and Metal halide lighting which are best but more expensive.Then you need to learn about supplements like calicum, magnisum, strontium, iodine, and carbonate for starters. you will need to learn about them and test for them as well as add these supplements on a weekly bases.There is alot of work that goes into a coral reef tank.