Ontario to release ‘business case’ for moving science centre to Ontario Place

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Published November 29, 2023 at 7:32 am

The Ontario government is set to release its long-promised “business case” today for moving the Ontario Science Centre from its current east Toronto location to Ontario Place, on the city’s waterfront.

When Premier Doug Ford announced updates in April to his government’s plans to redevelop Ontario Place, it included moving the science centre and Infrastructure Minister Kinga Surma cited a “business case analysis” as justification.

She said the science centre’s current building is “in disrepair” and the analysis showed it would be less expensive to move the science centre downtown rather than rebuild it at the current location.

The new science centre at Ontario Place – with a planned opening in 2028 – is set to be half the size of the current one, though the government says there will be more exhibition space despite a smaller overall footprint.

The government refused requests from The Canadian Press and other media outlets in April to publicly release the business case and has given itself three time extensions to fulfill a request for it under freedom-of-information legislation, with the last deadline of Sept. 20 coming and going unacknowledged.

Surma said Tuesday that the head of Infrastructure Ontario will release the business case and take reporters’ questions today.

Earlier this week, Ford and Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow announced that as part of a deal that will see the province take on the operations and costs of the Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway highways, the two levels of government will discuss keeping some sort of science programming at the existing science centre location.

The city owns the land at that site, and the province has a long-term lease to operate the science centre there.

Infrastructure Ontario ordered the science centre in June 2022 to close a pedestrian bridge connecting the main entrance to the exhibition halls after the bridge was deemed unsafe. The science centre put a shuttle service in place taking visitors from the parking lot to its rear entrance, but it says in its latest business plan that attendance figures and revenues have been negatively affected by the bridge closure.

The science centre is working with Infrastructure Ontario to evaluate options for repair and maintenance of the bridge, the business plan said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2023.

Allison Jones, The Canadian Press

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