Repairing the Ontario Science Centre would cost nearly half a billion dollars, according to Premier Doug Ford, who firmly rejected the idea of spending the cash required to reopen the tourist attraction to the public.

The Ford government, along with the science centre board, decided to shut down the Crown asset after a third-party engineering firm concluded that multiple roofing panels are in “distressed, high-risk condition” and at risk of failure under the weight of snow or heavy rain.

The engineering firm Rinkus Consulting Group said fully negating the risk would require replacing each of that type of roof panel at a cost of between $22 million and $40 million and that would take two or more years to complete with the facility closed.

Ford, however, suggested the structural issues presented to the public are a “fraction” of the problems with the 54-year-old building and the government is set to present a deeper look at the deficiencies.

“It’s not as simple as just saying, ‘Go in there and throw some shingles down and we’re all done,’” Ford said during an unrelated news conference in Etobicoke. “That place is absolutely just a total mess from top to bottom, front to back.”

Click to play video: 'Ontario Science Centre architects say it didn’t have to close'

Ford said the Rinkus engineering report was peer-reviewed to confirm the initial findings and said it would cost a “minimum of $500 million.”


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“It just doesn’t make sense to put good money into an old, decrepit building,” Ford said. “It would be a foolish decision.”

The government has faced backlash from longtime science centre patrons, community advocates and political opponents who argue the centre should be repaired and kept open for years to come.

Instead, Ford said he’s offered the City of Toronto control over the Ontario Science Centre and told Mayor Olivia Chow she can “do whatever you want to do with it.”

“Anything they decide to do — outside of building another science centre — we’ll be there to support them,” Ford said, suggesting the city could use the space for a community centre.