Dozens attend rally in Toronto to save shuttered Ontario Science Centre

Fighting back to save an already shuttered city landmark. Afua Baah speaks with politicians and community members as they hold a rally to save the Ontario Science Centre

By Afua Baah

Dozens of community members gathered at Wells Hill Park in Toronto on Sunday to push for the Ontario Science Centre to be saved.

The centre closed permanently with little notice on Friday after an engineering report said that the building’s roof was at risk of collapse this winter.

Floyd Ruskin with the advocacy group Save Ontario’s Science Centre said the report isn’t entirely accurate.

“We’ve gone through the engineering report, and only one of those panels that they say is unsafe is in the critical stage. Eighty-four per cent of those panels are low-risk,” he said.

Those residents who came to the demonstration said losing the Ontario Science Centre would mean losing an intergenerational public space.

“It’s a cultural institution, it should be a heritage site,” said one supporter.

Politicians also attended and voiced their dismay and anger.

“I’m upset as a Torontonian, I’m upset as a kid who my parents took me to the science centre over and over again,” said Ward 12 Toronto–St.Paul’s Coun. Josh Matlow.

“Leave the Science Centre where it belongs in community, in Flemingdon Park, in Thorncliffe Park, ” said Toronto–St. Paul’s NDP MPP Jill Andrew.

“The Ontario Science Centre is our education, our healthcare, it’s our infrastructure, which under this premier is being allowed to crumble,” said Don Valley East Liberal MPP Adil Shamjii, who represents the area where the centre is located.

The provincial NDP and Liberal leaders also voiced their support during the rally.

“Nobody is asking for this closure. If we were to actually prioritize the things that kids and people care about, we would reopen it, absolutely,” said Ontario NDP Leader Marit Stiles.

“It’s shocking, it’s an institution! They did it without consulting the community and frankly, it’s just another symbol of neglect,” said Ontario Liberal Party Leader Bonnie Crombie.

Infrastructure Ontario staff said a request for proposals to help identify an alternative location for the Ontario Science Centre while work continues to build the new location at Ontario Place.

With the construction of a new facility not expected to be completed until 2028, it means four years of an unknown future for the current and next generation of science advocates.

“I want every kid to experience the Ontario Science Centre the way that I did. The Ford government is trying to rob us of a place where kids are trying to play around, (where) kids are trying to get their curiosity sparked,” said Gr. 9 student Arushi-nath.

During a city council this coming week, Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow said she will be supporting a motion that aims to look into the province’s responsibilities when it comes to the centre. It’s hoped questions around accountability, due process, transparency, as well as supports and engagement for the local community will be answered.

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