Buried in an 82-page report on the future of tourism in Ontario, a single line could result in the loss of one of East York’s most popular attractions.
A note on page 52 of Discovering Ontario, a study aimed at finding ways to improve tourism, suggests moving The Ontario Science Centre to Ontario Place. The Ontario Tourism Competitiveness Study, chaired by former provincial finance minister Greg Sorbara, prepared the report.
A section of Discovering Ontario that advocates the revitalization of Ontario Place calls it a “prime example of an attraction not meeting its potential.” A proposed remedy is to combine the Science Centre and Ontario Place to create one mega tourism attraction.
But some East York councillors and residents have questioned the idea. Michael Prue, MPP for Beaches-East York and former mayor of East York, said the move could have consequences for the neighbourhood.
“It would be a pretty sad day for the community if it were to lose one of its premier attractions,” Prue said. “It would hurt businesses there…I don’t know if this has been well thought out.”
Area resident Theresa Davidson said the proposal would cost the community a very distinct and important piece of its identity.
“It is something that belongs to the neighbourhood and puts it on the map,” Davidson said. “And for people who may not be as mobile, it removes one more place to take their kids and educate them.”
Others, like Angelina Haviaras, expressed concern about the difficulty of getting the full experience of such a large, combined facility.
“Both places take a long time to visit, so if you put them together, people are less likely to see everything,” Haviaras said. “Even with a combined ticket you can only dash through so much in the given time, so it’s nice to have them separately.”
For Councillor John Parker, who has the Science Centre in his jurisdiction, the proposal simply doesn’t make sense.
“East York residents would be justified in questioning the sanity of the people running the show if something like that were to be implemented,” Parker said.
He said moving the Science Centre would be a tremendous challenge simply due to how big it is. According to him, it would be more beneficial to move some of the exhibitions at the Science Centre to Ontario Place, but not all.
Monique Smith, Ontario’s minister of tourism, said that while she supports a revitalization of Ontario Place, the approach has yet to be set in stone.
“I think the recommendation that Greg Sorbara made does indicate that it needs to be revitalized, and I think there’s a lot of people that would agree with that,” Smith said.
She added that the province continues to measure its options, and will take into account issues surrounding cost and infrastructure.
“We’re going to be talking to a lot of different people, garnering a lot of different ideas on how to revitalize [Ontario Place],” Smith said. “Whether or not that includes the Science Centre remains to be seen.”
The Ontario Science Centre stated that they “are not in a position to comment on the report at this time.”