Skip to Content
View site list


Pre-Bid Projects

Pre-Bid Projects

Click here to see Canada’s most comprehensive listing of projects in conceptual and planning stages


Ontario Science Centre abruptly closing due to structural issues

The Canadian Press
Ontario Science Centre abruptly closing due to structural issues

TORONTO – The Ontario Science Centre is abruptly closing at the end of the day Friday, after engineers found structural issues with the roof.

The news from provincial infrastructure officials comes amid plans from the government to move the science centre from its current home in east Toronto to a new location at Ontario Place on the city’s waterfront, but that isn’t slated to be open until 2028.

When it opened in 1969, the Ontario Science Centre was the world’s first interactive science centre, but years of limited capital investments have left the building with multiple deficiencies.

Now, an engineering report has found that there are a number of roof panels “in a distressed, high-risk condition” that could fail under the weight of snow this winter.

The engineering firm Rinkus Consulting Group said fully negating the risk would require replacing each of that type of roof panel at a cost of between $22 million and $40 million and that would take two or more years to complete with the facility closed.

“The actions taken today will protect the health and safety of visitors and staff at the Ontario Science Centre while supporting its eventual reopening in a new, state-of-the-art facility,” Infrastructure Minister Kinga Surma wrote in a statement.

“In the meantime, we are making every effort to avoid disruption to the public and help the Ontario Science Centre continue delivering on its mandate through an interim facility, as well as alternative programming options.”

The building is still safe over the summer, the government said, with an “enhanced process for rainwater monitoring and roof facility management,” it is being closed now so staff can spend the summer vacating the building.

The science centre welcomed nearly 800,000 visitors in 2022-23, according to its most recent business plan. Adil Shamji, the Liberal who represents the riding where the science centre is located, was livid.

“To have this eliminated without any warning, without any opportunity for people to come for last tours, knowing that there are children who are signed up for summer camps just weeks from now, this is a devastating blow to the community right now and well into the future,” he said.

A business case released last year by the government found that the current building is facing $369 million in deferred and critical maintenance needs over the next 20 years. A building condition report found “multiple critical deficiencies” in roof, wall, mechanical, electrical and elevator systems, interior finishes, site features, and fire and life safety equipment.

A lack of government funding is a key cause of that, Ontario’s auditor general said in a report last year.

There have been 42 projects deemed “critical” since 2017 that haven’t been repaired, and of those projects, the science centre had asked for funding for seven of them at least three times in the past five years but was denied each time, the auditor wrote.

The business case said that moving the science centre instead of renovating the existing facility could save the government about $250 million over 50 years. A considerable amount of those savings come from the new planned facility coming in at about half the size of the current one, though officials say there will be more exhibit space.

Summer camps had been set to start at the science centre in a little over two weeks and the government said it has identified a nearby school that can be used as an alternative location, but all participants will get full refunds. Science centre members will also be reimbursed.

Infrastructure Ontario is issuing a request for proposals on Monday to try to find a temporary science centre location until the new one at Ontario Place opens. The science centre is also looking at providing mobile, virtual and pop-up offerings.


Recent Comments

Your comment will appear after review by the site.

You might also like