Critics call on Ford government to release business case on Ontario Science Centre

The Ontario NDP is calling for transparency after the Ford government unveiled a controversial plan to demolish the Ontario Science Centre and relocate its programming to Ontario Place.

On Tuesday, Premier Doug Ford showed off the province’s grand design for the future of Ontario Place, including a private spa, a renovated concert venue and a new science pavilion.

Read more: New images show what Ontario Place could look like after redevelopment

Key details, however, such as the cost of constructing a new science centre compared to renovating the existing building were left out of the announcement, despite the province’s assertion it reviewed the viability of the Science Centre.

“What the government did was issue a business case analysis to determine whether or not it was more cost effective to stay in its existing location or search for a new home,” said Ontario’s minister of infrastructure Kinga Surma during Tuesday’s announcement.

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“The business case analysis did show us that it was less expensive to bring the Science Centre here as part of the Ontario Place redevelopment.”

On Wednesday, a government official told Global News the province has yet to decide whether to release portions of the business case publicly.

Read more: Ford government claims Ontario Science Centre is ‘falling apart’

Ontario NDP Leader Marit Stiles called on the government to reveal the business case the government relied on to support the relocation.

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“I want the government to share with us exactly where they’re coming up with these plans, who was consulted, who had a say and who stands to benefit,” Stiles told reporters at Queen’s Park on Wednesday.

“I want to see you know the costs associated with this. I want to know when and where this was concocted and who was at the table,” Stiles added.

When asked about whether the business case will be released, Surma declined to answer Wednesday.

Liberal MPP Adil Shamji, whose Don Valley East riding includes the current Science Centre, said he doesn’t believe the government’s business case would argue against a renovation.

Read more: Ontario Science Centre to move to new site at Ontario Place

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“At it’s peak, the Ontario Science Centre has had I think 1.2 or 1.3 million visits a year,” Shamji said. “That number is only going to increase as two (transit) lines cross and intersect there. The number of visits is only going to go up.”

Shamji said while he wouldn’t be against satellite science programming at Ontario place, he called on the government to renovate the existing structure instead of compiling all city attractions in the downtown core.

“I mean, is it an older building? Of course it is. But so is Casa Loma. So was the Royal Ontario Museum,” Shamji said. “We can’t tear everything down that needs a little bit of work.”

&© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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