New legislation tabled by the Ontario government on Thursday looks to give the Province more control over the real estate assets of several organizations, including the Ontario Science Centre and Public Health Ontario.
The proposed Improving Real Estate Management Act, if passed, would either remove, modify, or realign the realty authority of 11 government organizations — a move the Province says would allow them to “better manage and oversee real estate more cost-effectively and efficiently.”
Four organizations — Public Health Ontario, Ontario Health, the Ontario Science Centre, and the Niagara Escarpment Commission — as well as one newly proposed organization — Ontario Health atHome — would see their ability to deal with real property removed or modified and transferred over to the Minister of Infrastructure.
Six additional organizations — the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, the Metropolitan Toronto Convention Centre Corporation, the Ottawa Convention Centre Corporation, The Royal Ontario Museum, Science North, and the Algonquin Forestry Authority — would see their real estate powers “realigned.” According to the Province, this means they would be prohibited from undertaking specific realty activities and would be required to obtain government approval to acquire or dispose of property.
This “centralization” would “create opportunities, such as the sale of surplus properties, to better support government priorities like building more housing and long-term care,” the government says.
“As the demands on the province’s infrastructure continue to increase with the needs of a rapidly growing population, Ontario must find innovative ways to manage one of our most valuable resources – real estate,” said Kinga Surma, Minister of Infrastructure. “If passed, this legislation would create a more centralized approach to how government manages and makes decisions about real estate so that we can continue to build Ontario and deliver the services that families and individuals need.”
The legislation comes several months after Premier Doug Ford’s controversial decision to move the Ontario Science Centre to Ontario Place, calling the Science Centre’s current location in Flemingdon Park “run down” and “a mess.”
Ford has implied that they will redevelop the current Science Centre site, floating several possible plans during a press conference on April 25, including a new community centre and a new school. The government has also said the site could create “a generational housing opportunity” right outside what will be the future terminus station of the upcoming Ontario Line subway.
In a release at the time, the Province said it would “work with the City of Toronto on realizing this new opportunity and hopes to bring more affordable and attainable housing to the neighbourhood.” No official decisions have been announced as of yet.