Apr 18, 2023
By Christine Ross
It’s official. The Ontario Science Centre is being relocated to Ontario Place in 2025 and remain open at its current location in Don Mills until then.
Calling it a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, Premier Doug Ford says there are plans to build housing on the current site of the Science Centre in Don Mills but critics say the land is not zoned for that.
“We’re going to work with the Conservation Authority like we do on any site, there is buildable land on the back end, it has some conservation but we’re not going to build on that area, we’ll build on the land that we can build on and we’ll create the density around there,” says Ford.
The government says the current building will be demolished claiming it’s cheaper to move it rather than repair it and Tourism Minister Neil Lumsden admits the new facility will be smaller.
“That building where it stands right now is 52-years-old, and getting older by the day and so the common space of the re-design of the Science Centre will be state-of-the-art, next generation, so a lot of what is there right now probably will move over with other things, with greater efficiencies and greater uses for either education, for the visitors and across the board so the impact is going to be as big or even bigger and while the square footage won’t be as large, doesn’t mean the impact won’t be greater,” said Lumsden.
Infrastructure Minister Kinga Surma says the sweeping new plans for the waterfront site also include a new marina, restaurants, and public gathering spaces.
“Once complete, the site will feature 43 acres of free public space for everyone to enjoy, that’s seven acres larger than Trinity Bellwood’s Park and more than three times the size of Dufferin Grove Park,” said Surma. “In the future, you’ll be able to walk on a new public boulevard, stroll along a new pier, relax on a new public beach and play in a new one acre foundation.”
There are also plans for a new beach, spa and waterpark and an outdoor concert venue.
Critics including the NDP’s Bhutila Karpoche says the new plans don’t include everyone. “The services that they are going to be bringing in are not going to be accessible to the majority of Canadians, so where are the public dollars going and how are the majority of Ontarians going to benefit from this,” said Karpoche.
The government expects up to six million visitors a year.
Ontario Place opened in 1971 and was closed to the public in 2012 after years of financial losses.