Inside the Ontario Science Centre's suddenly quiet halls | CBC News (2024)

Toronto

Without visitors breathing life into the Ontario Science Centre every day, the building no longer feels the same for its staff, a union representative andemployee for over two decadessays.

Public support to keep the centre open 'means the world,' longtime employee says

Inside the Ontario Science Centre's suddenly quiet halls | CBC News (1)

Rochelle Raveendran · CBC News

·

Workers at the Ontario Science Centre are still reeling from the province’s decision to shut down June 21. Metro Morning guest host Molly Thomas spoke with Walter Stoddard, a researcher–programmer at the centre and elected chief steward of OPSEU Local 549.

Without visitors breathing life into the Ontario Science Centre every day, the building no longer feels the same for its staff, a union representative andemployee for over two decadessays.

"It is hard for it to be so quiet as we walk through the halls," said Walter Stoddard,a researcher and programmer at the science centre and the chief steward of the centre's staff union, Local 549, in an interview with CBC Radio'sMetro Morning Friday.

The centre'sworkersare scrambling as they search for ways to continue serving the public amidst the centre's abrupt closure, he said. Staff are stillworking inside the building, despite the province shuttering the centre to the public on June 21.

The government has said engineering reports showed parts of the roof could give way to snow in the winter and were at risk of collapse.

"Our understanding is that [the building] is perfectly safe right now," saidStoddard. The government has said the high-risk roof panels will be safe until Oct. 31.

Staff not immediately informed of closure: union steward

At present, staff are working in exhibit development, researching and creating exhibits that are sold all over the word, he said.

WATCH|'There's lots of structural issues with the building':minister of infrastructure:

Inside the Ontario Science Centre's suddenly quiet halls | CBC News (3)

Ford government defends Ontario Science Centre closure

15 days ago

Duration 2:25

Ontario's Infrastructure Minister Kinga Surma defended on Monday the province's decision to abruptly close the Ontario Science Centre last week. Surma says the centre's board of directors decided to close the building shortly after the province reviewed an engineering report that identified issues with a number of roof panels. As CBC’s Lorenda Reddekopp reports, the opposition is questioning whether the closure was necessary.

A day before the shutdown was announced, Stoddard said, workers began noticing that fencing was being put up. On June 21, staff drove in to work to see the entire centre was being enclosed with fences.

The story of the closure broke in the media at 12 p.m., but staff were only directly informed at 2 p.m. about what was happening, Stoddard said.

"It was quite heart-wrenching to hear in the news … what was happening before we knew," he said.

On the day the closure was announced, staff were told there would be no immediate job loss, Stoddard said. But three days later, more than 50 food service workers were given layoff notices.

Since then, he said staff haven't heard anything else about potential further job losses.

  • Ontario won't say if it will take offers to fix science centre
  • Layoffs to begin at Ontario Science Centre, union says

"There's encouraging words, but after the first set of encouraging words we're not sure until we actually see those assurances," Stoddard said.

Since the shutdown, there has been an outpouring of support to keep the centre open from across the province. Stoddard said that public support "means the world" to workers.

"There's been … a lot of people that we've had the chance to talk to and share … our shock, the pain of it, to come in to work and see that the fences have gone up before we know why," Stoddard said.

"It created a sensation, this feeling that we're putting property before people," he said.

  • CBC ExplainsHow much of the Ontario Science Centre roof is at risk of collapsing? See for yourself
  • Rally held as community angered by Ontario Science Centre closure

In his early years at the centre, Stoddard said he presented an electricity show. He recalled speaking to a father whose two young children had watched his show so many times that they were able to recite it from memory as they drove home from the centre.

"The fact that we're able to have that kind of relationship with the people of Ontario and those that may visit from elsewhere is extraordinary," Stoddard said. "It's been quite the shock to suddenly bring that to a stop."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Inside the Ontario Science Centre's suddenly quiet halls | CBC News (4)

Rochelle Raveendran

Rochelle Raveendran is a reporter for CBC News Toronto. She can be reached at: rochelle.raveendran@cbc.ca.

    With files from Metro Morning

    Corrections and clarifications|Submit a news tip|

    Related Stories

    • Ontario won't say if it will take offers to fix science centre
    • Layoffs to begin at Ontario Science Centre, union says
    • Ontario Science Centre to close immediately: province
    • Ontario awarded nearly $1M in contracts for science centre business case
    • Toronto to explore possible takeover of Ontario Science Centre
    Inside the Ontario Science Centre's suddenly quiet halls | CBC News (2024)
    Top Articles
    Latest Posts
    Article information

    Author: Jeremiah Abshire

    Last Updated:

    Views: 5981

    Rating: 4.3 / 5 (74 voted)

    Reviews: 89% of readers found this page helpful

    Author information

    Name: Jeremiah Abshire

    Birthday: 1993-09-14

    Address: Apt. 425 92748 Jannie Centers, Port Nikitaville, VT 82110

    Phone: +8096210939894

    Job: Lead Healthcare Manager

    Hobby: Watching movies, Watching movies, Knapping, LARPing, Coffee roasting, Lacemaking, Gaming

    Introduction: My name is Jeremiah Abshire, I am a outstanding, kind, clever, hilarious, curious, hilarious, outstanding person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.