Thursday, February 3, 2011

Toronto Aquarium at the CN Tower for 2015

Some bait from taxpayers will help lure tens of thousands of fish — and millions of visitors — to the aquarium planned for the base of the CN Tower, the Star has learned.

Approvals and design work for a long-sought aquarium have gone swimmingly since details were announced a year ago, say Ripley’s Entertainment, the City of Toronto and the federal Crown corporation that controls the three-acre parcel of land just south of the tower.

Contracts could be signed as early as this summer, triggering construction to get the 150,000-square-foot watery attraction —Toronto’s first big new tourist magnet since the Hockey Hall of Fame almost 20 years ago — ready for July 2015, when visitors will stream into Pan Am Games events at the neighbouring Rogers Centre.

“I’m optimistic” there won’t be any snags, said Jim Pattison Jr., president of Orlando-based Ripley’s, a division of his billionaire father’s Vancouver-based The Jim Pattison Group.

“There will be tens of thousands of different (marine) animals, and some features that will be unique to Toronto,” Pattison added, including a moving walkway taking visitors through “the largest underwater tunnel in North America,” with fish, possibly including sharks, all around them.

Councillor Adam Vaughan, who believes the aquarium will enhance John St. redevelopment, said he was told there will also be a room with tanks of live jellyfish, special lighting and mirrors to create a “psychedelic visual experience.”

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