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Toronto staff looking into Ontario’s legal duties, if any, to operate science centre

Toronto city staff are looking into what legal requirements the province may have to operate or maintain the Ontario Science Centre, after Premier Doug Ford’s government abruptly shuttered the facility citing structural concerns.

Mayor Olivia Chow says her office has been inundated with messages from people hoping to save the science centre, and she supported a motion Thursday from Coun. Josh Matlow asking staff to examine the province’s obligations and to look at the feasibility of the city taking over operations.

The land on which the science centre has operated since 1969 in east Toronto is leased to the province by the city and its conservation authority.

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One councillor expressed reservations about the financial implications of the city operating the science centre, as the facility has been receiving a roughly $19-million annual operating grant from the province and needs hundreds of millions of dollars in repairs.

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Before the sudden closure announcement one week ago, provincial plans were already in the works to relocate the science centre to the waterfront Ontario Place attraction, though that building isn’t set to open until 2028.

A deal last year between the city and province saw Ontario agree to take over operations of two Toronto highways in order to provide the city with some financial relief, and part of the deal included a discussion of maintaining some form of science programming at the original science centre site – Chow says she wants to get that started.

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