- Ontario Premier Doug Ford has suggested that the Ontario Science Centre could be moved to Toronto’s waterfront at Ontario Place, which has been decommissioned since 2012.
- The proposal has faced criticism from city planners and advocacy groups who don’t want to see a mega spa on the waterfront.
- Mayoral candidate Ana Bailao has suggested that about 5,000 new homes could be built on the land the science center currently occupies, including 1,500 affordable homes.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford hinted at the possibility of moving the Ontario Science Centre to Toronto’s waterfront during a news conference in Kitchener. He believes that it could create a “tremendous opportunity” for more housing. However, he refrained from providing further details, as the proposal has yet to be discussed with the minister of infrastructure.
The Ontario government submitted its development application for a new Ontario Place in November, which includes about 12 acres of accessible public space, along with a “family-friendly” attraction that features a wave pool, waterslides, and restaurants. However, the proposal has been met with criticism from advocates who don’t want to see a mega spa on the waterfront, and city planners who found some issues with the proposed redevelopment.
Ontario Science Centre could be moved to Ontario Place
Candidate Ana Bailao, who is running for mayor, supports moving the Ontario Science Centre, which is currently located at Eglinton
Avenue and Don Mills Road, to Ontario Place. Bailao believes that about 5,000 new homes could be built on the land that the science center now occupies, including 1,500 affordable homes.
Ford said that if the Ontario Science Centre were to move, there would be an “opportunity right there at Don Mills and Eglinton,” adding that there is a tremendous opportunity to create some attainable homes and affordable non-profit homes in that region. The Ontario Line is also slated to have a stop at that intersection.
Criticism from NDP MPP Chris Glover
NDP MPP Chris Glover, whose riding encompasses Ontario Place, criticized Ford’s comments, calling them “bizarre.” Glover believes that this is back-of-the-napkin planning without any meaningful public consultation or even a conversation with the impacted communities. He also accused the government of avoiding accountability, transparency, and their responsibilities to the people of the province.
Glover added that Ford is attempting to distract people from the fact that he wants to subsidize the construction of a private Austrian spa with $650 million of public money. Glover believes that this move prioritizes corporate interests over public spaces for everyone’s benefit.
Toronto city planners raise concerns
Toronto city planners have raised concerns about the current design for Ontario Place, citing concerns about the size of the facility’s main building, as well as a five-level underground parking garage. They argue that the location of the building “prioritizes private uses” and acts as a barrier to non-paying members of the public.
Mayoral candidate Josh Matlow urges consultation with community groups
Mayoral candidate Josh Matlow released an open letter to Ford, asking him to reconsider moving the Ontario Science Centre until after consulting with community groups. He highlighted the Science Centre’s importance as an economic driver that brings visitors from across the city and around the world to Don Mills and Eglinton. Matlow added that it would be a serious blow to this community to lose the Science Centre just as the opening of the Eglinton Crosstown’s “Science Centre” station is about to make the attraction more accessible to the entire city.
The proposal to move the Ontario Science Centre to Ontario Place has been on the table for about a year. Although Ford expressed his support for the idea, it remains to be seen whether it will come to fruition. Bailao has been one of the most vocal supporters of the proposal, citing the opportunity to build new homes, including affordable ones. However, critics argue that the move has not been properly consulted on, and city planners have raised concerns about the current design for Ontario Place. With Toronto’s mayoral election coming up, the future of the Ontario Science Centre and Ontario Place remains uncertain.