Activists gather to call on Ford government to walk back Science Centre move to Ontario Place

Activists gathered in Don Mills on Saturday for a walk in the ravine surrounding the Ontario Science Centre, hoping to convince the Ford government to stop the planned relocation to Ontario Place. CityNews' Rob Leth reports. 

By Rob Leth and John Marchesan

Tree removal began Saturday afternoon outside of Ontario Place with Spadina-Fort York MPP Chris Glover confirming to CityNews that crews were at the site of Budweiser Stage to begin removing trees as part of the province’s plan to revitalize the waterfront park.

At the same time, a group of activists gathered at the site of the Ontario Science Centre to demand that the Ford government walk back its plan to relocate the facility to Ontario Place.

“This is a gorgeous building because it brings in the inside and the outside – nature – together,” said one of several dozen people who gathered in Don Mills for a nature walk Saturday around the Science Centre.

“To have a building where you’re teaching children and adults about science situated within a forest that existed prior to the city being here is a really exciting thing,” said Todd Irvine an arborist with City Forest. “I think it would just really be unfortunate to lose this building in this place. There are very few buildings like this in the city that are situated actually in the ravine system.”

Floyd Ruskin, the co-chair of Save Ontario’s Science Centre, says the environmental impact would be severe.

“This is a concrete structure that was built to last 250 years. The carbon release would be absolutely enormous, I’m not sure how it would be calculated but the embedded carbon is already here,” he explained. “We don’t need to knock it down it just needs a little TLC.”

CityNews reached out to the Minister of Infrastructure for comment but was directed to the same statement released late last month that says, in part, the move to the Ontario Place site will save Ontario taxpayers $257 million over a 50-year period and that the move was approved by the Ontario Science Centre board.

“It’s a thinly veiled smokescreen to justify the cost – the $650 million cost of a parking garage,” said Ruskin.

If the relocation goes ahead as planned the new facility is expected to be half the size of the current one, though the government has said it will have more exhibition space because the current one has “extraneous space,” with long hallways and areas not used for the public.

The province’s auditor general recently concluded in his year-end report that the decision to move the Science Centre was based on incomplete information.

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