Advocates say Ontario Place deal between province, Toronto falls short

Residents fighting to keep the Ontario Science Centre at its current location are speaking out. Transit advocates welcome funding from the deal but say more is needed long-term. Mark McAllister reports.

By Mark McAllister

Residents in the Flemingdon Park neighbourhood aren’t pleased with the new deal announced between the provincial government and the City of Toronto that will officially move the Science Centre to Ontario Place.

Toronto agreed to allow the development of Ontario Place in exchange for the government uploading the DVP and the Gardiner Expressway, disappointing many who hoped to keep the Science Centre where it is.

Floyd Ruskin, spokesperson for Save the Ontario Science Centre, said he believes this is a detriment to the community of Flemingdon Park.

“I’ve taken my kids there. Everybody I’ve spoken to. We’ve all had a great experience there. And we want to maintain that science experience for future generations,” said Ruskin.

Flemingdon Park residents aren’t the only ones who say the deal falls short of what the city needs.

The deal includes $1.2 billion in operating funding over the next three years, including for transit and shelters. But advocates say more long-term sustainable funding is needed for the city that is in an ongoing financial crisis.

Those advocating for more transit service appreciate the money being provided by the province as part of the deal but are also critical of the amount of help the city is receiving.

“The province is providing $300 million to provide support to the TTC service but this is a one-time funding deal and while we’re seeing funding going toward the new LRT lines that are expected to open soon, what we really want to see is a recurring source of funding from upper levels of government,” said August Puranauth with TTCriders.

“We have a short-term fix. That’s good news for affordable housing and homelessness … but it’s very much a short-term fix. We’re still looking for a long-term fix,” said Anne-Marie Aikins, a crisis communication expert.

Reaction to the deal online was swift and some have accused Chow of “breaking campaign promises” and “selling out,” saying the compromise on Ontario Place and the Science Centre a “massive disappointment.”

In her campaign for Toronto mayor, Chow said she would halt the plan to move the Science Centre and said the province should consult with the local community on how to improve the Science Centre in its current location.

As to who comes out on top, Aikins said there are positives for both, but “the mayor did lose some key supporters, very vocal supporters that aren’t going to go away.”

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