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The Ontario Science Centre is closing. What does that mean for the community?

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The sudden closure of the Ontario Science Centre on Friday has thrown a wrench in the plans of its workers, members, and the Toronto area families with children enrolled in summer camp programs.

On Friday, the Ford government announced it would close the Ontario Science Centre to the public “effective immediately” due to “serious structural issues” identified in a recent engineering report.

The North York tourist attraction, located at 770 Don Mills Road, will close its doors end of day on Friday. In a statement issued Friday afternoon, Mayor Olivia Chow called the closure a loss for all Torontonians, “especially [...] for the Flemingdon Park and Thorncliffe Park communities.”

The facility sees about a million visitors annually, according to its website. Over 150,000 of those are Ontario students. This summer, the facility was set to offer 12 summer camps to children aged four to 14.

Refunds and reimbursements

The province said in a release issued Friday that it will reimburse all members and registrants of Ontario Science Centre summer camps within 30 days. Registration costs for camps range between $220 and $410 a week.

It has also identified a nearby school that will house “similar programming” as an alternative location for summer camps, free of charge for previously registered campers, it said in the release.

Will there be job losses?

Government officials said during a briefing on Friday that there will be “no immediate job losses on site.” The officials, however, were tight-lipped about whether there could be cuts in the future. 

In a statement released Friday afternoon, Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) President Laura Walton said the jobs of over 300 workers have been jeopardized.

“This move is yet another example of Premier Doug Ford’s misguided priorities,” Walton said. “By allowing the building to fall into disrepair, the future of over 300 jobs are now in limbo, including contracted food service and cleaning workers who are primarily racialized women.”

A temporary facility?

With the opening of the new Ontario Place not slated until 2028, the province has said it will soon accept proposals for a “temporary location” until the new permanent facility is ready.

Additional programming

In the meantime, the province said it's continuing to explore opportunities for additional programming, including virtual offerings and pop-up experiences.

Planned events

The province says that while it will close the Ontario Science Centre at the end of the day on Friday, previously booked events will be permitted to continue this weekend. Any other future events planned for the facility will be cancelled.

Why can’t the building stay open for goodbyes?

Officials said Friday that the facility is currently still safe, and should remain so until the first significant snowfall,

but that crews will need the summer months to decant the facility, which is similar in size to Toronto’s Dufferin Mall, ahead of the repairs.

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