July 24th, 2024

A timeline of events in the Ontario Science Centre closure

By The Canadian Press on July 11, 2024.

A general view of the Ontario Science Centre, in Toronto on May 5, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

TORONTO – Ontario infrastructure officials released more information Thursday about structural and mechanical issues facing the Ontario Science Centre, as well as a peer review of the original engineering report on roof panel problems, as they justified the abrupt decision last month to close the facility.

Here is a timeline of events that came before the closure announcement, based in part on information in a report from the Ontario auditor general:

1969: The Ontario Science Centre opens as the world’s first interactive science centre.

1971: Ontario Place opens on Toronto’s waterfront.

2012: Ontario Place’s amusement park closes so the site can be redeveloped.

2016: The Liberal government of the day does a business case report on the science centre, which says that relocating it would save money. The science centre board says that due to deferred maintenance needs the status quo is not sustainable, but no action is taken.

2017: New sections of parkland and trails open at Ontario Place.

2020: The idea of relocating the science centre is floated again as the tourism and culture ministry proposes it to government decision-makers as a way to open up housing lands.

May 2020: Government decision-makers approve the redevelopment of Ontario Place with Therme Group, which is planning a spa and waterpark at the site, Live Nation and Ecorecreo Group for an adventure park, though the latter exited the project in 2022.

August 2020: The Minister of Infrastructure asks Infrastructure Ontario to identify capital costs and general benefits of moving the science centre to Ontario Place.

June 2021: The tourism and culture ministry tells Ontario Science Centre management that relocating the centre to Ontario Place is a “priority project.”

March 2023: A business case commissioned by the government concludes that the cost to restore the current science centre building and exhibits would be $1.3 billion over 50 years, while building and operating a new science centre in a pavilion at Ontario Place would cost $1.05 billion over 50 years.

April 2023: The Ministry of Infrastructure submits a proposal to government decision-makers saying that integrating parking for the whole Ontario Place site in a new science centre at the waterfront attraction would help meet Ontario’s lease obligations to Therme. It also suggests that integrating parking with the science centre could “dispel public/stakeholder concerns relating to cost and impact on the environment.”

April 18, 2023: Premier Doug Ford publicly announces the science centre’s relocation to Ontario Place.

Nov. 29, 2023: After months of stonewalling freedom-of-information requests for the business case, the government releases it publicly.

Dec. 6, 2023: Ontario’s auditor general says the business case is missing key information, including incremental parking costs, and financing, transaction and legal costs for a new science centre, as well as similar costs for the repairs and upgrade of the current facility.

June 21, 2024: The Ontario government announces that the science centre is abruptly and permanently closing at the end of the day, after engineers found structural issues with the roof.

July 11, 2024: After weeks of public outcry about the closure, government infrastructure officials release a peer review that supports conclusions in the earlier engineering report, as well as more details about problems in the facility aside from the roof.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 11, 2024.

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