OTTAWA— Construction of the Ottawa Convention Centre (OCC) began officially today with the tossing of aggregate concrete demolished from the old facility. The Honourable Dalton McGuinty, Premier of Ontario, the Honourable John Baird, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, the Honourable Gordon O’Connor, Chief Government Whip and the Member of Parliament for Carleton–Mississippi Mills, the Honourable Monique Smith, Ontario Minister of Tourism, Michel Bellemare, Acting Mayor of the City of Ottawa, and Jim Durrell, Chair of the Board, each tossed a section of concrete from the old facility into a bin destined for recycling and reuse on the site in the new 200,000 square-foot convention and trade show facility.

The new OCC will create more than twice the additional rentable floor space by expanding vertically, through the addition of two new floors, and horizontally, by extending the existing floor plates on two levels outward to Colonel By Drive and Daly Avenue.

Not only is environmental sustainability a major component of the operations of the new facility, but 90 per cent of debris from the site will be recycled, a major portion for reuse in the new building. The benefit of building new in the 21st century is the ability to use striking innovations and new technology in the construction of a facility like the OCC, which will feature the following:

  • An innovative glass system that will allow for curvature around the entire facility, a feature not available even five years ago. It will also allow beautiful vistas day and night. Invisible thermal threads in the material will control the amount of light and warmth from the sunlight, and will coordinate with the heating and cooling mechanisms to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Artistic free-floating stairways that will link the OCC to Mackenzie King Bridge, which will add beauty to the area and interest for visitors to the downtown core.
  • State-of-the-art roof technology with light membranes that will cover over two and a half acres of roof but emit a translucent, gleaming finish in warm hues that change by day and night. The roof technology, like the glass system, will contribute to the reduction of heating and cooling costs.

The governments of Canada and Ontario each committed up to $50 million to the project, and the City of Ottawa committed up to $40 million.

“The new Ottawa Convention Centre will help us showcase this vibrant city and beautiful province to our visitors. It will spur substantial economic activity and promote our nation’s capital as a world-renowned meeting place.” said Premier McGuinty.

“We are pleased to see the start of this important project, which demonstrates our commitment to building stronger communities through strategic infrastructure investments,” said Minister Baird. “The redevelopment of the Ottawa Convention Centre will attract business and tourists, generating job opportunities and economic development for the National Capital Region.”

“The new and innovative Ottawa Convention Centre will be an important addition to this city’s considerable list of tourism and convention assets,” said Minister Smith. “The architecture of the Centre will provide a welcoming, expanded meeting space for business travellers, and will support a corporate facility that competes with the best in the world.”

“Re-doing Colonel By Drive so that greenery, flowers, and scenic pedestrian walkways grace the Rideau Canal, as it does on the other side by the National Art Centre, is a major step in rebuilding the downtown core,” said Acting Mayor Bellemare. “The area in front of the OCC will be stunning for those on the water, in cars or out for a stroll. We are grateful to the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario for their investments in this great city.”

The beginning of construction is a major milestone in a project that has been long anticipated. Demolition, a major challenge, was carefully completed on time and with ingenuity to avoid disruptions to the downtown core.

“The removal of the nine major trusses holding up the OCC roof was an exceptional demonstration of engineering innovation,” said Mr. Durrell. “The trusses were removed strategically so the integrity of the concrete structure remained intact. This was a critical requirement for both the Westin Hotel and the Rideau Centre. Utmost care and safety were considered in the process and from April 24th until May 5th, the trusses were removed without incident. We are very proud to have reached this milestone and so pleased our funders and partners could share in the celebration.”

The OCC will open its door in the spring of 2011.

The Ottawa Convention Centre is an agency of the Government of Ontario.