With its final $20 million payment, the province has now anted up $50 million towards a new congress centre here — and federal cash is not far behind.
“They’ve showed us the money,” Ottawa Congress Centre chairman Jim Durrell said yesterday at an update into the $170-million project.
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The federal government’s money has yet to land in the bank, but Durrell said Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon confirmed in writing this week that the Conservatives will also be providing $50 million.
Durrell said yesterday he’s now “satisfied” that all conditions needed to move forward with the new centre have been met, paving the way for a $40-million contribution from Ottawa.
“The board is very confident that this is going to happen,” Durrell said. “We’ve passed the point of no return.”
Mayor Larry O’Brien said council has to deal with some conditions, but most members are on board.
Demolition of the building begins in September and construction begins by March 2009. The facility will take up to 21 months to build.
Demolition will take longer than usual because approximately 90 per cent of the facility’s materials will be recycled, Durrell said.
Built in 1983, the centre no longer accommodates Ottawa’s growing needs, Ontario Tourism Minister Peter Fonseca said yesterday. He said Ottawa has lost thousands of lucrative events over the years because the city’s congress centre could not accommodate them.
“That’s lost opportunity,” said Fonseca. “A redeveloped congress centre will be a huge boost for the economy.”
The new congress centre will create jobs and bring in tourism dollars, said Ottawa Centre MPP Yasir Naqvi.
The new building features 200,000 square feet of space — triple the present size — while the exterior will feature more modern lines, foliage and green space.