Unions, supporters take to Ontario Science Centre in protest of plans to move location
Supporters and representatives from several unions took to the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto on Saturday to protest proposed plans to move the iconic provincial property to Ontario Place grounds.
The organizer of the event, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/SEFPO), argues relocating the centre would put "hundreds" of jobs at stake.
"They did it with zero community consultation, zero consultation with the workers themselves, and with zero idea of what the impact will actually be on this community and on Toronto generally," said JP Hornick, president of the union.
"This is not what Torontonians want."
Under the Doug Ford government's plan to revamp Ontario Place, the current Science Centre building at the corner of Eglinton Avenue East and Don Mills Road in northeast Toronto would eventually be demolished and replaced with housing.
The province says the Science Centre building was first opened in 1969 and is in need of repairs, and will be cheaper to relocate and demolish rather than fix.
The union argues the centre benefits from its current location, citing its accessibility by public transit and highways, its use as a community hub for locals in the area, and its history "inspiring" the more than 220,000 school children and families who visit yearly.
Martin Fischer is the second vice president of OPSEU Local 549, which represents about 400 of the Ontario Science Centre workers. He says if the Science Centre were to move, workers would lose the precious space they need to create their world-renowned exhibits.
"We would like to know what's the plan? What's going to happen to all of these jobs, and what's going to happen to the role that the Science Centre has in the world?" said Fischer.
The rally takes place as an informal mayoral debate took place at Ontario Place — a site that itself is undergoing a controversial redevelopment process.
Some mayoral candidates debated how they will navigate the province's plans to develop the tourist attraction into an indoor water park and spa complex, a revamped concert venue and an "adventure park."