Petition to stop relocation of Ontario Science Centre collects thousands of signatures

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Published November 30, 2023 at 11:36 am

A petition to stop the relocation of the Ontario Science Centre and designate it as a heritage building has collected over 18,000 signatures to date.

The change.org petition, started by resident Laurel Schneider, calls on Toronto mayor Olivia Chow and government officials to step in and stop the province from moving the centre to Ontario Place.

“The Ontario Science Centre, which opened its doors in 1969, holds a special place in my heart and the hearts of many Ontarians,” wrote Schneider.

“However, the province’s proposal to relocate this beloved institution to the Ontario Place grounds threatens these unique attributes, as it doesn’t provide sufficient space or funding to rebuild these features in the new location. This move would also strip away the Ontario Science Centre’s beautiful natural site nestled within the Don Valley — a feature that adds immense value to the Centre’s biology and ecology programs — and turn the location over to private developers.”

The petition, which calls for the centre to be fully designated as a heritage building to protect its current location, has received over 18,300 signatures as of Nov. 30 as it nears its goal of 25,000 total signatures.

It also calls for the province to provide funds for necessary maintenance and repairs at the centre.

The Ontario government announced in April that the science centre would be moved to Ontario Place as part of multiple big redevelopments at the park. The redevelopment plans have drawn controversy among some community members and groups wanting to protect the space’s natural ecosystem.

Plans include upgrades to the concert venue and the development of a new spa and parkland on the west island.

“We’re bringing more to Ontario Place with more beaches, more greenspace, more trails and more fun with the Ontario Science Centre, a year-round Live Nation concert venue and expanded food and beverage offerings so families can enjoy a meal together,” said Premier Doug Ford during the announcement.

On Wednesday, the province presented its business case for moving the Ontario Science Centre, claiming that the relocation will save approximately $257 million in costs over a period of 50 years.

The province says the aging building is becoming too costly to support due to “rising operating costs year over year,” and shared the results of an audit which found that the cost of keeping the centre at its current location would cost about $1.3 billion, while the relocation would cost about $1.05 billion.

“The [Ontario Science Centre] at Don Mills is not sustainable under status quo conditions and is in operational crisis due to a failing structure with mounting critical building maintenance costs, long term trend in declining attendance, declining revenues, and stagnant operating subsidies,” the business case states.

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.

With files from The Canadian Press

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