Ontario Science Centre workers extremely concerned about proposed move to Ontario Place

Some 400 workers at the Ontario Science Centre, represented by OPSEU/SEFPO Local 549, are angry and confused by the Ford government’s plans to move the educational attraction to the Ontario Place grounds in downtown Toronto.

There are no discernible benefits and many disadvantages to moving from the current spacious location in Don Mills to a congested site downtown. The grounds at the current Science Centre complex, backing onto one of Toronto’s large ravines, is not only beautiful, but spacious enough for staff to construct, store and develop its many interactive exhibits. Moving into a “pavilion” on the Ontario Place grounds may mean a smaller, more crowded space. A smaller building footprint could eliminate space for important behind-the-scenes work such as the fabrication facilities where Science Centre staff build local and travelling exhibits, threatening possible layoffs. Exhibits should be built in Science Centre facilities by experienced, knowledgeable OPSEU/SEFPO members.

Picture of Ontario Science Centre complex

Science Centre staff are concerned about the impact the move will have on accessibility to the more than 220,000 school children and many families who visit every year. The current Don Mills location is much more accessible to visitors than the downtown location.

  • There is a frequent-service Don Mills Road bus route that stops at the doorstep – it is a short bus ride from Pape subway station or Don Mills subway station.
  • Both the Eglinton Crosstown LRT and the planned Ontario Line will stop at Science Centre Station, right next to the grounds.
  • The current location is right next to the Don Valley Parkway and easily accessible from Highway 401, making it easier for out-of-town school trip buses and families in vehicles to access the Science Centre.
  • The central east location, large grounds and parking area makes the current location easier for Toronto residents from all areas of the city to access by transit or car, especially residents of Scarborough, North York and Etobicoke.
  • The Science Centre is a community anchor for two densely-populated city neighbourhoods with large racialized and immigrant communities, Flemingdon Park and Thorncliffe Park, neither of which were consulted on this proposed move.
  • The downtown Ontario Place grounds, by contrast, are a 15 minute walk from the nearest transit stops and one of the most congested traffic areas of the city.

Science Centre staff are also concerned about the impact the move will have on their own lives, including the prospect of job losses. Most staff have worked at the Science Centre for more than ten years and have built their lives in nearby neighbourhoods. The long and much more inaccessible commute to the new location would make it much more difficult to get to what many staff describe as their dream job – working in the place they remember visiting with their families and school educational trips while growing up.

OPSEU/SEFPO represents three bargaining units at the Ontario Science Centre:

  • The staff who design, build and maintain exhibits, floor staff and hosts, researchers and scientists, box office staff, administration, business development, marketing, international sales, editorial, and IT staff;
  • the food service staff who run the cafeteria;
  • the cleaning staff who are responsible for cleanliness and hygiene safety.

Ontario Science Centre street sign with bus stop next to it, with a Toronto Transit bus stopped at it.