Ontario Science Centre Faces Sudden Closure Due to Structural Risks

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In a shocking turn of events, the Ontario Science Centre has been forced to cease operations indefinitely following a damning engineering assessment that revealed severe structural concerns threatening the safety of its iconic building.

The Ministry of Infrastructure dropped the bombshell late Friday, citing a new report indicating that the facility’s roof, constructed with air-filled concrete, is on the verge of collapse. This abrupt closure marks the end of an era for the cherished 1969 structure, envisioned by architect Raymond Moriyama.

Minister of Infrastructure, Kinga Surma, emphasized the decision was necessary to safeguard the well-being of visitors and staff, promising efforts to reopen in a modernized venue. The closure affects approximately 250 employees, although their jobs remain intact for now.

The shutdown unfolds amidst controversy surrounding Premier Doug Ford’s proposal to relocate the science centre to Ontario Place, part of a broader redevelopment initiative that includes a private water spa. Critics accuse Ford of neglecting the building to justify its relocation, slated for completion by 2028.

The critical engineering report, authored by Rimkus Consulting Group, highlighted the deteriorating condition of the building’s aerated concrete roof panels. While currently deemed safe, the panels face heightened risks from weather-related damage, potentially compromising structural integrity.

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Rimkus proposed an extensive replacement project costing between $22 million to $40 million, cautioning these estimates could fluctuate. The findings underscore the challenges posed by reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC), a popular but now contentious building material known for its susceptibility to degradation over time.

In response to public outcry, Ontario’s Auditor General cited years of denied funding for critical maintenance projects at the Science Centre, exacerbating its decline in popularity and functionality over the past decade.

The closure has left many stakeholders reeling, including local officials and community leaders who voiced concerns about the loss of educational programs and community resources. Despite efforts to mitigate disruptions for summer camp attendees and other visitors, the immediate closure has stirred emotions across Ontario.

As the province grapples with the fallout, discussions continue over the fate of the Ontario Science Centre and its pivotal role in public education and cultural enrichment. The abrupt closure serves as a stark reminder of the challenges facing aging infrastructure and the contentious decisions that shape Ontario’s cultural landscape.

For now, the future of the Ontario Science Centre remains uncertain, overshadowed by debates over government priorities and community needs in a rapidly changing urban environment.

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