Ontario Science Centre

The Ontario Science Centre is permanent closing at the end of the day

On the Ontario Science Centre website, it still says the long-time tourist attraction on Don Mills Road is open as usual. There is nothing in the latest news on the site, and nothing on the OSC social media channels. But, not only is the Ontario Science Centre closing, it is closing right now.

According to an Ontario government press release, the site is closing at the end of the day, and will not reopen, aside from some private events over the weekend.

“The actions taken today will protect the health and safety of visitors and staff at the Ontario Science Centre while supporting its eventual reopening in a new, state-of-the-art facility,” said MPP Kinga Surma, minister of infrastructure, in a news release.

Of course, some are mildly sceptical of a government that makes unexpected announcements on a Friday afternoon about a facility they are hoping to relocate to the Ontario Place site to help, as an opposition MPP noted in a social media message, “subsidise a tax-payer funded $600 million parking lot.” Said parking lot is part of the Therme Spa development, a private spa taking over Ontario Place.

“In the meantime, we are making every effort to avoid disruption to the public and help the Ontario Science Centre continue delivering on its mandate through an interim facility, as well as alternative programming options,” Surma added.

According to media reports, findings by an engineering firm named Rimkus Consulting Group, said the 50-year-old building is “at risk of potential roof panel failure,” as a result of snow loads.

According to the OSC 2022-23 annual report, the centre most recently had more than 670,000 attendees at the site as well as more than $13 million in revenue, and $38 million in expenses. And there are approximately 400 employees of OSC that are members of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union.

In addition to people who may have purchased tickets to the Ontario Science Centre, there are also ongoing summer camps throughout summer that will likely require some serious parental scrambling at this point.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced plans to move the science centre to Ontario Place last year.

“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 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.”

There has been much criticism of the province’s new plan, including those opposed to the idea of demolishing the beautiful Raymond Moriyama-designed building, 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 at the time, when she was candidate for mayor of Toronto. “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.”

According to Moriyama Teshima Architects,  the commission to design the Ontario Science Centre was received in 1964 to celebrate Canada’s 100th birthday. It officially opened on Sept. 26, 1969.

Toronto city councillor Josh Matlow, who has long spoken out about the closure, took to social media to send a message regarding a rally to save the Ontario Science Centre.

“Doug Ford is shamefully closing the Ontario Science Centre,” he wrote. “Join us this Sunday at noon for a rally to Save the Science Centre at Wells Hill Park.”

Article exclusive to STREETS OF TORONTO