By Alia Campbell
Member of Provincial Parliament Andrea Hazell and Flemingdon Park community members don’t plan to stop fighting against the Ford government. Not until Doug Ford decides to keep the Science Centre where it is.
On April 18, the Ford government announced its plans for the Science Centre to be relocated to the redeveloped Ontario Place as an anchor tenant, with the hopes of creating a new and improved facility, but not everyone is happy with that decision.
“The Ontario Science Centre is a community for Thorncliffe, for Flemingdon,” says MPP Hazell, “every school in Scarborough takes their students to the Ontario Science Centre, that’s why I’m on the ground fighting for the community.”
On Dec. 17, members of the Ontario Liberal Party led by MPP Andrea Hazell held a community rally in the Science Centre parking lot to raise their concerns about having the centre relocated to the city’s waterfront.
Despite the rain, many members of the Flemingdon community came out to support MPP Hazell, and other government officials, such as Toronto city councillor Josh Matlow, to voice their notions about the relocation of the Science Centre being a bad idea.
“We’re sending a message to the Ford government that it is absolutely unacceptable to move the Science Centre out of Flemingdon Park,” says Matlow, “lots of people in the neighbourhood rely on it for jobs, and without any consultation to have it ripped out of Flemingdon Park is shameful, it’s undemocratic, and it shouldn’t happen.”
Construction of the new facility is set to take place in 2025, but based on a report put out by the Auditor General, MPP Hazell believes that there are some grey areas in the government’s business plan. “The finances in the business case do not add up.”
Ravine and park advocate Floyd Ruskin, voiced the same concern at the rally, reiterating MPP Hazell’s point. Ruskin agrees that the numbers used in Infrastructure Ontario’s business case don’t present an accurate picture of the cost of relocation according to the Auditor General’s report. “They left out a lot of costs, which would actually make it less expensive, and a better value to taxpayers to do the necessary repairs at this facility.”
MPP Hazell believes that moving the science centre would deplete the Scarborough community of vital educational opportunities. She’s concerned that the Ford government is making choices that aren’t in Ontarians’ best interests. “The Ford government is making a lot of irrational decisions that don’t make any sense for Ontarians.”
MPP Hazel doesn’t think that keeping the Ontario Science Centre’s current location is only in the best interest of Scarborough’s community members, but in its schools as well. She argues that the families living in Flemingdon are not going to want to travel to the city’s waterfront and pay for parking or to get into the facility.
She believes that the Science Centre is a place that inspires creation and curiosity in young minds, and moving it would hurt students. “When that Ontario Science Centre is moved, it’s going to be half its size. So, we’re going to lose a lot of what you see in the Ontario Science Centre today.”