Officials close Ontario Science Centre over roof failure concerns

Parts of the roof were built using construction materials and systems that are now outdated.

Key Takeaways:

  • A recent engineering report revealed serious structural issues with the roof of the Ontario Science Centre. To prioritize visitor and staff safety, the facility has been closed.
  • The government is actively searching for a temporary location to house the Ontario Science Centre’s programs until a new, state-of-the-art facility is built at Ontario Place. This new permanent location is expected to open by 2028.
  • The province is reimbursing memberships and summer camp fees. They’ve also secured a nearby school to host the previously planned summer camps free of charge. The Ontario Science Centre is exploring alternative programming options during the closure.

The Whole Story:

Officials have closed the Ontario Science Centre after an engineering assessment revealed structural concerns with roof panels.

As a result of a new report from professional engineers that found serious structural issues with the Ontario Science Centre building that could materialize as early as this winter, the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Chief Executive Officer of the Ontario Science Centre have recommended and the Board of Trustees of the Ontario Science Centre has agreed to close the facility. Previously scheduled private events will be permitted to occur over the weekend.

“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,” said Kinga Surma, minister of infrastructure. “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.”

Infrastructure Ontario commissioned the engineering report by Rimkus Consulting Group due to reports of roof failure in other jurisdictions that used specific roof panels also found at the Ontario Science Centre facility. The report found that the building, which is more than 50 years old, is at risk of potential roof panel failure due to snow load as early as this winter.

he latest engineering assessment shows that the roof structure in parts of the facility was built using construction materials and systems that are now outdated and that certain roof panels are deteriorating. While the building remains safe over the summer with an enhanced process for rainwater monitoring and roof facility management, these months will be required for staff to safely vacate the building.

“Infrastructure Ontario and its predecessor agency have worked for decades to assess, manage and mitigate the challenges presented by aging infrastructure. As in all the public buildings we manage, the safety of everyone visiting or working in those buildings is our top priority,” said Michael Lindsay, CEO of Infrastructure Ontario. “Through planned diligence with our facility managers and engineers, we discovered material issues, in addition to existing issues, at the Ontario Science Centre that would require significant investment and a vacant facility to remediate.”

Recognizing the impact of this sudden closure, the province is reimbursing all members of the Ontario Science Centre and summer camp participants within 30 days. The province 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.

Infrastructure Ontario will be releasing a Request for Proposals to help identify a temporary location for the Ontario Science Centre, while work continues to build a new permanent home for the Science Centre at Ontario Place with an opening slated for as early as 2028. The Ontario Science Centre is also exploring opportunities for alternative programming, such as mobile, pop-up experiences and virtual.

“For more than five decades, the Ontario Science Centre has been a beloved landmark and an integral part of our community and our province. Our building itself has been part of the experience, and a cherished space for generations of visitors, sparking wonder and curiosity about science and the world around us, every day.” said Paul Kortenaar, CEO of Ontario Science Centre. “The memories created within these walls are truly special – and are the foundation on which we will build our future.”

The Ontario Science Centre relocation business case demonstrated that the existing Ontario Science Centre building will reach the end of its useful design life in three to five years from when the business case was released. It also outlined that relocating the Ontario Science Centre to Ontario Place will save taxpayers over $257 million over a 50-year period, when compared to remaining at the current location.

While work to identify a temporary location is underway, the province continues to make progress on its plan to build a new state-of-the-art building for the Ontario Science Centre at Ontario Place, which will feature approximately 15% more permanent exhibit space than the current site.

Earlier this year, Infrastructure Ontario released a Request for Qualifications to begin the procurement process to identify a team that will design, build, finance and maintain the new state-of-the-art home for the Ontario Science Centre at Ontario Place.


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