By Robin MacLennan
Ontario Construction Report staff writer
The Ontario Science Centre will be rebuilt on Toronto’s waterfront, the latest announcement in the plan to redevelop Ontario Place. Premier Doug Ford made the announcement in April, also revealing the plan for 42 acres of public land, an all-season concert stage and a marina with retail and dining opportunities.
“In order to get shovels in the ground and deliver on our promise to redevelop Ontario Place we need to get the site ready for construction,” Infrastructure Minister Kinga Surma said at a news conference. “Existing critical infrastructure, storm water management, water, electrical and gas services are 50 years old. They are at the end of their lifespan and require repairs and maintenance.
“After launching a competitive procurement process last year, we will soon be selecting a construction company to begin site servicing.”
Work is expected to begin this spring, to bring all critical infrastructure up to modern standards.
“The value of this important work cannot be understated,” Surma said.
Speaking to reporters, Ford said the proposal to bring the Science Centre to the waterfront is part of an “exciting vision for a new and modern Ontario Place.”
“We’re building a world-class, year around destination,” he told reporters. “Once you get here, there’s going to be so much to do.”
Officials say that construction of the new facility will start in 2025.
The current science centre at Don Mills Road and Eglinton Avenue in Scarborough “is a structure that’s very old and was designed very many years ago,” Infrastructure Minister Kinga Surma said at the news conference, confirming the design has not yet been finalized.
“The future Science Centre will likely be smaller than what’s existed today.”
A video promotes the new Ontario Place as being a spot where residents and tourists will be able to explore nature and trails, learn at the Science Centre, and enjoy food and beverages.
“Any development that we do, and this included, we’re taking care of the costs and we’re going to be transparent once we get everything tallied up,” Ford said.
Ontario Place was decommissioned since 2012. A proposal submitted by the provincial government in November includes about 12 acres (48,000 square metres) of accessible public space, as well as a “family-friendly” attraction with a wave pool, waterslides and restaurants.
The development has been described as a “mega spa” with a 22,000 square-metre structure that will connect to the west island as well as a five-level underground parking garage.
In announcing the project, the province said the underground parking facility will be “self-financing” and “revenue generating.” There will also be new pedestrian and cycling paths, as well as transit options through the Ontario Line subway that will connect residents to the waterfront.
New conception designs were released and the premier says that the old Ontario Science Centre will be torn down and the area will be used for housing.
“We are in desperate need of housing,” Ford said. “It’s going to be right at the beginning or the end of Ontario Line, whatever way you want to look at it, and we’re going to focus on the transit oriented communities.”
There is “buildable land” around the conservation land near the old Science Centre site.
“We want to create as much density as possible,” he said. “There’s going to be thousands of units there.”