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Doug Ford says it would be ‘foolish’ to repair science center building

Doug Ford says it would be ‘foolish’ to repair science center building

Posted on July 11, 2024

Doug Ford says it would be ‘foolish’ to repair science center building

Allison Jones and Liam Casey, The Canadian Press

TORONTO — It would be “foolish” to try to repair the Ontario Science Centre building, Premier Doug Ford said Wednesday in response to calls to reverse his abrupt closure of the attraction.

According to the government, the science center had to close abruptly last month due to structural problems with the roof. However, there has been much criticism of the decision to close the center instead of addressing the problems and keeping parts of it open.

Ford announced Wednesday that the original engineering report has been peer-reviewed and that officials will hold a news conference Thursday to discuss several other issues with the building.

“You fall off your chair when you see the problems we have there, and not just on the roof,” he said.

“It’s not as simple as just saying, ‘Go out there and throw down some shingles and we’re done.’ You’ve got to listen to the technical briefing. That place is just a total mess from top to bottom, front to back, every building — even the bridge is closed, the air conditioning is gone. It would be a fool’s decision (to fix it).”

Ford made no mention of any future plans for the building.

A deal last year between the city and province to have Ontario take over operation of two freeways in Toronto included discussion about keeping some form of science programming at the science centre’s original location. But Ford indicated Wednesday that he no longer supported that.

“The City of Toronto owns the property and we will support them in anything they do, except building another science centre,” he said.

The City of Toronto did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but a councillor wrote on social media that the terms of the 99-year lease with the city and the conservation authority state that the building can only be used as a science centre.

Last month, city council voted to support Councillor Josh Matlow’s motion asking staff to investigate what legal requirements the province may have to operate or maintain the Ontario Science Centre and report back on the feasibility of the city taking over its operation.

A government business case study into the science centre’s relocation from its east-end Toronto location to the waterfront attraction Ontario Place found that the current building faces $369 million in deferred and emergency maintenance over the next 20 years.

According to the Court of Audit, a lack of financing by successive governments is a major cause of this.

(C) The Canadian Press