Public Outcry and Financial Pledges Aim to Keep Ontario Science Centre Open

The Ontario Science Centre has announced its immediate closure due to structural concerns, sparking significant community outcry and offers of financial support to keep the facility open. The announcement, made by the Ministry of Infrastructure on June 21, cited an engineer’s report that identified the risk of “potential roof failure due to snow load as early as this winter.”

The report emphasized that the majority of panel anomalies were caused by water ingress through the roof assembly and unreinforced field modifications. These issues have reduced the load-carrying capacity of the RAAC panels, increasing the risk of sudden collapse under significant snow or rain loading.

Despite the closure announcement, a comprehensive report suggested that buildings A, B, and C are safe for occupancy until October 31, 2024, provided that immediate risk mitigation strategies are implemented. The recommended remediation for high-risk panels, including reinforcement or replacement, is estimated to cost $522,500 and should be completed by October 31, 2024.

Crowdfunding for science?

The sudden closure has drawn significant backlash from the community and prominent figures. Jennifer Keesmaat, former Chief Planner of Toronto, highlighted a tweet from entrepreneur Adam McNamara, who pledged to fund the required $522,500 for panel remediation to keep the Science Centre operational through 2024.

“Adam McNamara will send the Ontario Science Centre the $522,500 required to keep it open for 2024. All those summer children’s programs will not need to be cancelled/relocated. All those staff won’t be laid off or displaced at the 11th hour. I’m retweeting this because I would like to see this happen. (And I know Adam, and I know he is serious.),” Keesmaat posted on X.

McNamara’s offer was a direct response to the government’s closure decision, which he criticized as unnecessary given the engineers’ assessment. He challenged the Ontario government to keep the Science Centre open, promising to send the required funds in a timely manner.

Ontario-based McNamara co-founded Select Start Studios, which was later acquired by Shopify, where he served as the first Vice President of Product. Currently, he is involved in various investment and entrepreneurial activities, including managing McNamara Family Investments.

The closure decision has not only prompted offers of financial support but also sparked accusations of governmental mismanagement. Alex Bozikovic, a prominent architecture critic, called the closure a betrayal, noting that the engineer’s report did not recommend immediate closure.

Brandon Chu, a former Shopify executive, expressed frustration over the closure, pointing out that the estimated repair cost of $4 million is relatively small compared to the social benefits of keeping the Science Centre operational.

Furthermore, Vohra Miller Foundation’s Sabina Vohra-Miller and Craig Miller, former Chief Product Officer at Shopify, have proposed a collective fundraising effort, potentially contributing up to $1 million to ensure the Science Centre remains in its current location permanently.

The closure impacts numerous programs and events at the Science Centre. According to the Centre’s official statement, summer camps, school visits, and private events are among the affected activities. Refunds will be provided, and efforts are underway to offer alternative arrangements for camp families.

In the interim, the Science Centre plans to continue delivering innovative science experiences virtually and through pop-up events, while preparing for a new permanent home at Ontario Place.

Information for this briefing was found via the sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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