Last week, Premier Doug Ford let it drop that the provincial government was thinking of moving the Ontario Science Centre, and including it in the redevelopment plans for Ontario Place. Today, he made it official.
“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, at a news conference at the site. “Together with our partners, we’re building a world class, year-round destination that’s fun for families, students and tourists to enjoy for generations to come.”
According to a press release, the plan is to relocated the Ontario Science Centre, which apparently Ford thinks is “falling apart” to a new “custom-built, state-of-the-art facility, as well as in the preserved and upgraded iconic Cinesphere and Pod complex.”
The provincial government has been criticized for its current Ontario Place plans, which would see the addition of a massive spa by private Dutch company Thermé dominate the site.
Additional details of the science centre move are coming at a later date, but the news release states that the “new Ontario Science Centre will be integrated with an underground public parking facility designed for the future with electric bus and vehicle chargers.” So there’s that.
That new parking facility is another source of criticism as it would take more than half-a-billion-dollars of public money to build it.
“For more than 50 years, the Ontario Science Centre has been an icon in this province and inspired a love of science and technology in visitors of all ages,” said Neil Lumsden, Ontario’s minister of tourism, culture and sport. “Once complete, the state-of-the-art facility at Ontario Place will be a major step forward for a globally recognized institution that will provide exciting new opportunities for hands-on learning experiences that can engage and captivate visitors, while inspiring the next generation of STEM professionals.”
Moving the science centre will free up even more land for housing, which is high atop the province’s to-do list. The site is also the future home of a new station on the Ontario Line subway, currently under construction.
Today, the province also talked about the new Live Nation concert venue, which will be larger and all-season while retaining the beloved lawn seating. It also shared new design concepts for the future public spaces as part of the redevelopment including on the East Island and the expanded shoreline of the West Island, some of which are shown below.
Already, there is more criticism of the province’s new plan, including those opposed to the idea of demolishing the beautiful Raymond Moriyama-designed Ontario Science Centre, and others who think it should not be moved out of the Flemingdon Park community.
“Ripping the Ontario Science Centre out of the Flemingdon and Thorncliffe neighbourhoods is the wrong choice,” said Olivia Chow, a candidate for mayor of Toronto and former NDP MP. “It is a precious space for local kids to gather, play and explore, and for parents to share the wonders of the world with their children. It is also a source of good local jobs in a community that is often left out of economic opportunity.”
Chow highlighted that an application to build new homes and a new school on the Ontario Science Centre parking lot already exists.
Others highlight the absolute lack of transparency of the move, having coming seemingly out of nowhere.
“This is typical of the Ford government; move first, ask questions later” said Norm Di Pasquale, the co-chair of advocacy group Ontario Place for All. “The utter lack of transparency and consultation follows precisely the same pattern as the process that landed us with a private Austrian MegaSpa at Ontario Place that has absolutely nothing to do with Ontario.”
Join us tonight from 7 to 9p.m. for a virtual community meeting to provide your feedback on the redevelopment of #OntarioPlace. Register at https://t.co/zasCPneiLt For more info: https://t.co/yn0hRpwl0K
— CityPlanTO (@CityPlanTO) April 18, 2023
Conveniently, there is a virtual public meeting on the Ontario Place redevelopment plan, which is likely going to be very well-attended.