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Auditor general conducting Ontario Place, science centre audits

Ontario's auditor general's office says it is conducting audits on the Ontario Place and the Ontario Science Centre. A construction worker is seen at Ontario Place in Toronto, Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

TORONTO — Ontario's auditor general's office is conducting audits on Ontario Place, which the Progressive Conservative government has started redeveloping, and the Ontario Science Centre, slated to move to the waterfront attraction in a few years. 

A spokesperson for the auditor's office said it has not yet been determined whether those audits will be released as part of the auditor's annual report, which is usually published in late November or early December, but confirmed Friday they are underway.

The Ontario Place plan has faced opposition from some community groups and members of the public, with a parking garage for more than 2,000 cars paid for by the government and the long-term nature of a lease with European company Therme for a $350-million spa and waterpark facing particular criticism.

New Democrat Chris Glover, who represents the riding containing Ontario Place, called for construction to stop while the audit is in progress.

"It's time to shine a light on what Ford has signed Ontarians up for with this Ontario Place deal," he said. 

Glover also noted that Infrastructure Minister Kinga Surma has cited a "business case" as evidence it will be more cost effective to move the science centre to Ontario Place rather than renovate or rebuild it at its current east Toronto location, but she has so far refused to release it.

A spokesperson for Surma said work at Ontario Place is already well underway and the redevelopment has been a "competitive, open process" led by nonpartisan officials. 

"Through that process, a family-friendly waterpark and wellness facility and a brand-new concert venue were selected to transform Ontario Place into a year-round destination," Andrea Chiappetta wrote in a statement.

The new science centre is set to be about half the size of the current one, but the government maintains it will have more exhibition space. Construction is set to start in 2025, with its opening scheduled for 2028.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 3, 2023.

Allison Jones, The Canadian Press

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