A group called Save Ontario’s Science Centre hosted a nature walk Saturday afternoon in support of keeping the Ontario Science Centre (OSC) where it is.
The walk was led by arborist Todd Irvine of City Forest along with ravine advocate Floyd Ruskin of Lost Rivers Toronto.
Ontario’s Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, Neil Lumsden confirmed the plan to move the facility at a press conference at Ontario Place earlier this year.
Organizers and attendees alike attended Saturday’s event in hopes that it would bring attention to what they are referring to as a “disappointment.”
Ruskin said the community of Science Centre supporters worry the Ford government will use their legislative power to enact laws that negatively impact Toronto communities.
“Our fear is that the Ford government will use legislative power like they did with Ontario Place and enact laws that say, ‘we don’t care what the public says; we don’t care what the auditor general says; we don’t care how it affects the communities of Fleming or Thorncliffe or Don Mills,'” Ruskin said.
He also said the reasoning behind Ford wanting to relocate the facility is “unnecessary.”
“One of the challenges and one part of the government’s business case is that the building is in need of repair,” he said. “That’s all on the on the government. They’ve consistently underfunded and deferred scheduled maintenance.”
In November, the province released its business case for moving the OSC.
In the report, the current site is described as having an “operational crisis” with a need to close it indefinitely for repairs.
Ruskin noted concerns about the building being moved.
“If (Ford) has his way, the facility will be half the size,” he said. “And I want us to recognize that while the government business case says only 53 employees will lose their jobs, it’s more than likely that quite a few more will lose their jobs as well – 53 jobs is a few hundred. You know, that’s a lot of family members.”
The Science Centre was built in Don Mills more than 50 years ago and was designed by Raymond Moriyama, the architect who helped design the Canadian War Museum as well as Ottawa’s City Hall.
“It’s unnecessary,” Ruskin said of the move. “The auditor general said it was unnecessary. Every media outlet said it was unnecessary. We say it’s unnecessary. The taxpayers of Ontario say it’s unnecessary. But Mr. Ford says it is necessary.”
— with files from Isaac Callan and Colin D’Mello