Guy Laflamme wants to assure the whole country there will be a year-long ice-crashin’, eye-poppin’, bridge-picnickin’ party in the national capital to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017.
The executive director of the Ottawa 2017 Bureau said Tuesday that worries arose from would-be celebrants after the Toronto Star reported last week that organizers of the “Canada 150 Give Back” campaign had scrapped their planned national bash due to tough economic times.
But for Laflamme, who runs the city’s arm’s-length non-profit, it’s party on.
“Canadians should start planning to be in Ottawa,” the city he called the “second home-town of all Canadians.”
Some signature events have already been announced with many more to come.
World at Your Feet:
The capital wants to take advantage of the presence of Ottawa’s embassies to celebrate human diversity and global richness. Laflamme says embassies were invited to use the exhibition facilities around Lansdowne Park to celebrate their national day and showcase their culture, music, dance, cuisine. “We have 52 embassies who have signed on. It will be a year-long celebration of Canadian diversity because they will also engage local communities from their country.”
Beware of Falling Ice Racers:
In March 2017, Ottawa will host the Red Bull Crashed Ice downhill world championship with a final held “in probably the most spectacular setting ever,” Laflamme said. Racers will face a course on the Ottawa locks between the Chateau Laurier and Parliament Hill. “Just imagine the shots of the Chateau Laurier, Parliament Hill, the Museum of History, the National Gallery, the Ottawa River as a backdrop. This will bring huge volumes of visitors and we anticipate that hotels will be sold out for that weekend.”
Junos come to town:
In the last week of March, the capital will celebrate Canadian music when the Juno awards come to town, culminating in the 46th awards night at the Canadian Tire Centre on April 2, 2017. Juno Week will be filled with musical performances, workshops and other activities that will showcase the array of talent and genres that define Canada’s music scene.
On July 2, Ottawa will adapt an idea from Sydney, Australia, and hold an inter-provincial picnic on the Alexandra Bridge “basically to allow people to recover from the excessive partying they will do on July 1,” Laflamme said. “We will invite them to come and have the most spectacular picnic ever on Alexandra Bridge overlooking Parliament Hill over the Ottawa River.” The bridge will be transformed with sod and greenery into a “lush green haven,” the bureau promises.
This Land is Your Land:
Laflamme said there will be, at Inspiration Village, a “spectacular installation in the downtown core of Ottawa where over the course of the summer we will celebrate each province and territory.” The culture and unique assets of each province and territory will be showcased through week-long performing visual arts events.
For the Win!
In November, Ottawa will host the Canadian Videogame Awards. There will be gala celebrations at the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum. And Laflamme’s bureau will host a national championship for gamers, with the semfinals and finals projected in “monumental proportions onto buildings across the city.”
Peter H. Aykroyd was public relations director for the Centennial Commission during Canada’s celebration in 1967. A few weeks ago, Laflamme visited Aykroyd to pick his brain. “He was kind enough to share lessons learned and provide some guidance,” Laflamme said. He was told the most important thing in such anniversary celebrations is “to inspire young generations and open up new horizons.” And that’s what he hopes to do next year. “As a baby boomer who experienced 1967 and who discovered the cultures of the world at Man and His World in Montreal, how can we manage to be as inspirational with our program?”
Fun . . . With Numbers:
Laflamme said he expects to attract 1.75 million visitors added to the 7 million to 8 million that visit the capital in a typical year. That drawing power would be more than what the Pan Am Games attracted to Toronto, he said. It’s estimated the 150th birthday celebrations, supported by lead corporate sponsor CIBC, will generate more than $320 million in direct economic impact in the city.
Dreams of Glory:
Guy Laflamme’s hope is that the 150th birthday does for Ottawa what the Vancouver Olympics did for that city. “When Sidney Crosby scored that historic goal against the U.S. the whole country came together in unison. That’s the kind of momentum, that’s the kind of energy, the kind of passion we want to achieve.”