NCC Watch

Working to consign the NCC to oblivion

Search string: "ottawa art gallery"

Matches found: 10

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Canada and the World Pavilion for rent

When last heard from, the long-vacant Canada and the World Pavilion was the subject of rumored turf battles by various federal agencies vying to occupy it for office space, and filling with mould. Well the mould problem has been sorted apparently and the NCC is now putting it up for rent. From the Citizen:

The former Canada and the World Pavilion, whose future has been the source of lively debate over the years, is for rent.

The National Capital Commission (NCC) is seeking a public or private sector tenant who can turn the vacant building beside the Rideau Falls into a national attraction.

"We're looking for any kind of proposal," says Mary Ann Waterston, NCC director of real estate management. "Public access is very important to us. We are looking for something that would have a national purpose so that it could benefit all Canadians. It's an absolutely stunning building."

[...]Waterston didn't want to speculate on possible uses. "We want to see what's out there. What people's ideas will be."

However, a museum rather than an office building would be an example of something with broad public interest, she said. "I wouldn't accept a restaurant."

In the past, the NCC considered leasing it to an embassy but decided "that isn't what we want for that particular location," says Waterston. "There are other places in the city where that can take place."

According to a 2010 market analysis, the annual rent should be $254,000, not including operating costs and taxes.

[...]In 2007, the Governor General's office eyed the pavilion as a showplace for its Chancellery of Honour. At the same time, the Ottawa Art Gallery lobbied for it.

Then mould was discovered in 2008, which has since been remediated, said Waterston. "There's no mould."

Expressions of interest will be accepted until April 30.

Citizen: Wanted: Tenant for former Canada and the World pavilion [28 February 2012]
CBC: NCC looking for tenant for former Canada museum [28 February 2012]
Modern Ottawa: Someone please help save this building from the NCC [2 March 2012]

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

PMO to decide fate of NCC tombstone

The fate of the NCC's vacant mouldy tombstone, the Canada and the World Pavilion, is now with the PMO, according to the Citizen:

Several prospective tenants have lined up to snag this scenic site by the Rideau Falls, including the Governor General, the Australian high commission and the municipal Ottawa Art Gallery. The battle has become so politically sensitive that the Prime Minister's Office has taken control of the file from the NCC.

Insiders say that the Governor General is the most likely winner of a long and vigorous lobbying campaign by the various parties to occupy the building and that the Ottawa Art Gallery, despite interventions from Mayor Larry O'Brien and vocal grassroots supporters, has virtually no hope of moving there from its cramped, drab location downtown in Arts Court.

The Aussies are in with a chance as payback for giving Canada a nice spot in Canberra for our high commission. Perennial no-hopers the Ottawa Art Gallery remain out of the running.

Citizen: PMO will decide fate of the Canada and the World Pavilion [7 May 2008]
NCC Watch: Ottawa Art Gallery news

Monday, February 11, 2008

Pavilion overtaken by mould

Oh look, the NCC's vacant tombstone of waste, the Canada and the World Pavilion, has been rendered uninhabitable by mould:

But when an engineer from Public Works and Government Services Canada investigated the state of the building, which is owned by the National Capital Commission, he found toxigenic mould.

"There is a high risk to the Crown to proceed with this project," engineer Joseph Wong reported.

"This facility presents a risk for developing significant mould-related problems that can induce allergies and other health and comfort problems," he wrote.

He reported that replacement of walls to solve the mould issue in the office areas had not fixed the problem.

"The issue of mould will not go away," wrote Mr. Wong. "It will be a great challenge to mitigate the potential dispersion of mould spores within the building due to the traffic and openness of the space."

[...]The source of the water appears to have been a leaking water intake at the Rideau Falls power plant next door, owned by Fortis Power. Repairs were done last summer and fall and now the NCC is waiting to see if there is more water infiltration when the spring runoff begins.

In one of his e-mails last spring, Mr. Wong said the high water table in the area could pose a long-term threat. "This problem will never go away," he said.

Typically, the Citizen had to obtain this information via an access to information request. What else did they discover? Dig:

Early in 2007, the Governor General's office was eyeing 50 Sussex Dr., steps from the prime minister's residence and Rideau Hall, as a showplace for its Chancellery of Honours. Despite some Ottawans' desire to see it put to other uses, documents released to the Citizen under access to information legislation show there was a rush within the federal government to get the picturesque property ready for the Governor General.

There were plans to have the Governor General's operation moved in, at least temporarily, by July 1, when Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean would open the new quarters to mark the 40th anniversary of the creation of the Order of Canada.

So the NCC made a secret deal last spring and the Governor General would be in the Pavilion now if the mould hadn't gotten there first. So much for the Ottawa Art Gallery and its plans for the Firestone Collection.

The NCC is currently undertaking openness and transparency initiatives. These are evidently irrelevant to the actual day-to-day operation of the NCC.

Ottawa Citizen: NCC's spectacular Sussex Drive property plagued by mould [11 Feb 2008]
Ottawa Citizen: Another secret deal [12 Feb 2008]

Friday, January 25, 2008

NCC stands up for portrait gallery in Ottawa

The NCC took a break from stymieing attempts by the Ottawa Art Gallery to put its collection in the unused Canada and the World Pavilion to announce they think the Portrait Gallery of Canada should be located in Ottawa-Gatineau. From the Citizen:

The National Capital Commission's board sent a message to the Harper government yesterday that the Portrait Gallery of Canada should be located in Ottawa-Gatineau, but it stopped short of urging the government to reconsider its plans for the institution.

Under the Conservatives' plan, the gallery could end up in the capital or one of eight other cities, built by a private developer.

The NCC board, under chairman Russell Mills, unanimously passed a motion at a meeting yesterday calling for the gallery to be located in the capital region along with the rest of the country's cultural institutions.

Former Ottawa mayor Jacquelin Holzman, a board member, presented a companion motion that called on the government to reconsider allowing the gallery to be located outside the capital area, but she received no support.

A plan to call on the government to also scrap its decision on private sector involvement was also discussed, but abandoned.

Ottawa Citizen: NCC wants portrait gallery in Ottawa [25 Jan 2008]

Monday, August 13, 2007

Tombstone of Waste in diplomatic tug-of-war

A slow news Monday has the National Post summing up the spat about what to do with the NCC's failed Canada and the World Pavilion:

It is one of Ottawa's most coveted sites -- a vacant two-storey building set among parkland, with the picturesque Rideau Falls cascading next door, an unrivalled view of the Ottawa River and Quebec, and a location just down from the official residences of the Prime Minister and Governor-General.

The site of 50 Sussex Drive used to house the Canada & World Pavilion, a $5.7-million taxpayer-funded museum opened in 2001 by the National Capital Commission to draw tourists and showcase Canadian accomplishments.

It featured, among other things, great sporting moments and Celine Dion's Grammy. Admission was free, but attendance was poor and the building closed four years later in 2005. It became a white elephant along this important stretch of road. The "NCC Watch" Web site dubbed it among Ottawa's "Tombstones of Waste."

The Governor-General wants the site for the Chancellery of Honours, the office that looks after the Order of Canada and Bravery Awards, and for a public exhibit to focus on Canada's honours system and the Heraldry.

The Ottawa Art Gallery, which houses a number of prominent Canadian works, is also vying for the space. The Australian High Commission is understood to have been interested and the NCC has acknowledged it has spoken informally to some embassies.

A NCC spokesman said last week it has not reached a decision and is also looking elsewhere within the "federal family" to occupy the space, but did not provide a full list of those being considered.

So, no change there, then.

National Post: Ottawa address in diplomatic tug-of-war [13 Aug 2007]

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Governor General to annex Canada and the World Pavilion

According to the Ottawa Citizen, the Governor General wants the NCC's failed Pavilion on Sussex for offices. Well, who wouldn't? With some sweet views of the river and Rideau Falls, the pavilion would make a nice quiet spot for more of the federal bureaucracy. Problem 1, the building was designed as a museum and refitting it for offices would require further expensive modifications to the $6 million-and-counting white elephant on the falls. The Ottawa Art Gallery, whose extensive Canadian collection is currently housed in the inadequate Arts Court building on Daly Avenue, had been lobbying the NCC to get its collection into the pavilion, but, unbeknownst to anyone, the Guv'nor made a request for the space as far back as April 2, so the fix has been in for some time. Kinda explains why the Guv'nor never responded to the OAG's request for support. From the Citizen:

Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean wants to take over the former Canada and the World Pavilion at 50 Sussex Dr., a $5.7-million building beside the historic Rideau Falls with stunning views of the Ottawa River. The Citizen's story and editorial this week on the fate of the site -- how the Ottawa Art Gallery wants the building but fears a deal has been struck to put Rideau Hall staff there -- prompted a letter from Rideau Hall yesterday, confirming that the Governor General's office wants the space.

Sheila-Marie Cook, secretary to the Governor General, says the pavilion -- with its high visibility, prestige and abundant exhibition space -- would be an ideal place for the Governor General's Chancellery of Honours. The building became vacant in 2005 when the National Capital Commission, which had used it as a small museum showcasing Canadian accomplishments, closed it to save money.

But John Baird, the senior political cabinet minister for the capital region, yesterday said he thinks it's a terrible idea.

"A prime piece of property like that, it just seems silly. I don't support it. It's on the ceremonial route. Putting the Governor General's staff there is ridiculous," said Mr. Baird, in a meeting with the Citizen's editorial board. "It shouldn't be used for that purpose. Surely to goodness there's a better use for that prime real estate."

Mr. Baird, the MP for Ottawa West-Nepean, said he's open to the idea of putting Ottawa Art Gallery works on display and therefore keeping it all public space, but that he doesn't have enough information about the proposal to endorse the idea.

If picked up by the Governor General, the space would accommodate about 35 staff members, including researchers, artists and the staff who process nominations for honours.

[Acting NCC CEO] Ms. Dube said yesterday that she received notice on April 2 that Rideau Hall wanted the property, but could not disclose to the gallery group, or the public, the nature of the proposal. She said the project was first raised in a letter from Ms. Jean to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who passed the matter to Public Works to handle. Ms. Dube said it was not her place to be announcing a project of the Governor General.

She added that the NCC has received a request from Public Works for a licence of occupation of the pavilion so that the Governor General's staff can begin using the space by July 1.

Journalist Sarah Jennings, who has supported the Ottawa Art Gallery in its push for the federal building, said it's important that this place be kept for public, cultural space, given that historic Sussex Drive has been swamped with high security offices and embassies in the last decade. She has hope that the gallery idea might still fly, if the public rallies behind it and the government backs away from spending money fitting up the building for the Chancellery of Honours.

"There's no Ottawa on Ottawa's Mile of History and this is the ideal solution," she said. "It's absolutely wrong to put this iconic site into office space for bureaucrats."

To support the Ottawa Art Gallery's campaign, sign their petition.

Citizen: World pavilion's future: art gallery or offices (expires 30 days) [3 May 2007]
Citizen: Leave room for the view (expires 30 days) [4 May 2007]
Citizen: Rideau Hall says it wants Sussex pavilion for offices (expires 30 days) [5 May 2007]
Ottawa Art Gallery: Petition to the NCC

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Keep Sussex pavilion public, group tells NCC

The New Edinburgh Community Alliance is adding its support to the campaign to have the Canada and the World Pavilion made into the new home of the Ottawa Art Gallery. From the Citizen:

Gemma Kerr, president of the alliance, says allowing another embassy or federal office building will make Sussex Drive even more of a street that's dominated by high-security buildings, shut off from public access. "It's goodbye to free public access," if either an embassy takes over the building, or a federal agency or department moves in, said Ms. Kerr in an interview. "I do not want to see our ceremonial way become just a line of embassies." Without public access, Sussex Drive will lose its historic function as a ceremonial route, she said.

[...]The NCC says it will preserve public access to Rideau Falls in whatever deal is struck and it will carefully consider proposals to renovate or add on to the building.

The community is highly skeptical that public access would be maintained, given what has happened over the last quarter century along Sussex.

The street, famously known for the prime minister's residence and Rideau Hall, residence of the Governor General, is part of Confederation Boulevard, dubbed Ottawa's "mile of history" by former NCC chairwoman Jean Pigott.

But the street has become the "mile of security" in recent years. The NCC gave the green light to build the United States Embassy after a proposal to build it on Mile Circle at Rockcliffe created a community uproar there in the 1980s. The NCC also allowed the governments of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to build well-secured embassies on Sussex. The Aga Khan is taking over the former Canadian war museum on Sussex and is making it the Global Centre for Pluralism.

The federal government took over the former Ottawa city hall on Green Island.

Rideau Hall was closed to the public for a short period when former governor general Jeanne Sauve closed the gates in the name of security in the 1980s. After a community uproar in New Edinburgh, the huge property was reopened to the public.

"There's barely a property left that's not embassy. I'm not anti-embassy. I'm just trying to keep this mile of Canadian history," said Brian McGarry, the Conservative candidate in Ottawa Centre. "I'm trying to find a spot for it. There's really not much left."

[...]Ms. Kerr isn't convinced the NCC, long criticized for its secretive operations, will give the Ottawa Art Gallery a fair hearing. She says the commission's deliberations on this matter are not taking place in the open.

"We're seeing same old, same old," said Ms. Kerr.

[...]Mr. McGarry said he'd like to see the NCC conduct a public discussion about possible uses of the pavilion.

Time to test the NCC's newly declared interest in "Openness and communication with the public" and "Increased representation of Canada and Canadians in the Capital."

Citizen: Keep Sussex pavilion public, group tells NCC [4 Mar 2007]
New Edinburgh Community Alliance: Fate of the Canada and the World Pavilion Imminent? [1 Mar 2007]
Ottawa Art Gallery: Petition to the NCC

Monday, February 26, 2007

Federal candidate declares support for Ottawa Art Gallery proposal

More support for the campaign to have the Canada and the World Pavilion made into the new home of the Ottawa Art Gallery, this time from the new Conservative candidate in Ottawa Centre. From the Citizen:

Mr. McGarry, selected as the Conservative candidate in Ottawa Centre last Wednesday, said Monday Sussex Drive is supposed to be the national capital's "Mile of History," yet there have been an increasing number of embassies permitted to build on it. "No offence to our foreign neighbours, but they have quite a lot of property already. Could we not preserve some for ourselves?" he said yesterday, in an interview with the Citizen.

[...] Mr. McGarry - a prominent Ottawa businessman who served on Ottawa's public school board and on the city's former regional council - said the pavilion building is a perfect fit for the spectacular Canadian art in the Ottawa Art Gallery's Firestone Collection. The Firestone Collection was given to the Ontario government, and subsequently the City of Ottawa, by the late O.J. and Isobel Firestone, who travelled across Canada collecting art. But gallery supporters have been unhappy with the poor public display of the collection at Arts Court, an old building on Daly Avenue. They say it makes sense to have at least one presence from the City of Ottawa along the capital's Confederation Boulevard, sometimes called Ottawa's Mile of History.

Last week, Mayor Larry O'Brien publicly threw his support behind the idea of moving the gallery to 50 Sussex Dr.

Mr. McGarry said the art gallery would have to come up with money for the property, but he said some prominent Ottawa philanthropists would likely help in this cause. He is hoping to make a case for the gallery moving into 50 Sussex to Lawrence Cannon, the federal transport minister and MP for Pontiac, who has cabinet responsibility for the NCC and who will have to sign off on any long-term lease of the building.

Ottawa Art Gallery supporters who are eyeing the Sussex Drive property are worried that the exhibition space will slip through their fingers without any real public debate.

"We're all somewhat concerned about decisions being made behind closed doors," said Mr. McGarry. "I'd hope they'd give us a chance before it's decided without public input."

Citizen: McGarry sees Sussex Drive as future home of art gallery [26 Feb 2007]
Ottawa Art Gallery: Petition to the NCC

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Whither the Canada and the World Pavilion II

Ottawa mayor Larry O'Brien declared his support for a lobbying campaign to get the Ottawa Art Gallery into the NCC's vacant Canada and the World Pavilion at an Ottawa Art Gallery fundraising breakfast at Arts Court. From the Citizen:

Since the election and the collapse of the rail project, the gallery has set its sights on the Canada and the World Pavilion. Letters to that effect have been sent to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon (who is the minister responsible for the NCC) and other federal officials.

A public petition has also been started. The gallery believes public pressure on federal politicians is the best way to ensure the NCC delivers the building.

The NCC maintains it must first determine whether the building is suitable for use within the "federal family" -- government departments, agencies and foreign embassies.

"I asked them," O'Brien said, "why they couldn't get around that."

An answer was apparently not forthcoming. In fact, the NCC seems to be offering no encouragement to the Ottawa Art Gallery. Hence the decision to lobby politicians.

The Ottawa Art Gallery's petition is online at their website.

Citizen: Mayor takes up cause with new arts-friendly attitude [22 Feb 2007]
Ottawa Art Gallery: Petition to the NCC

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Whither the Canada and the World Pavilion

The NCC's fabulous Sussex tombstone of waste, the Canada and the World Pavilion, still needs a tenant. Predictably, the NCC favors an embassy. From the Citizen:

NCC spokesman Mario Tremblay said yesterday that the commission has been discussing "informal proposals" with some embassies about the building. He said no formal proposal has been received.

The pavilion, just down the street from the prime minister's residence at 24 Sussex Drive and the Governor General's residence at Rideau Hall, was built at a cost of $5.7 million to federal taxpayers. It was operated as a mini-museum, celebrating the accomplishments of Canadians, but closed in 2005 due to budget cuts at the NCC. It features spectacular views of the Ottawa River and is part of the capital's historic Confederation Boulevard, a ceremonial route that includes Sussex Drive and Wellington Street.

Mr. Tremblay said the commission is trying to find the right match for the property within the "federal family." That includes federal departments, Crown agencies, non-governmental organizations and foreign embassies -- organizations that all serve a national interest for Canada.

The NCC has long been obsessed with encouraging such architectural mediocrities as the embassies of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait on Confederation Boulevard, claiming that doing so in some way communicates Canada to Canadians. Or something. In any case, some locals are suggesting to instead use the pavilion to house the Ottawa Art Gallery and the Firestone Collection of Canadian Art, given to Ottawa by Jack and Isobel Firestone in the 1970s. The 1,600-piece collection - valued at more than $11 million - includes works by prominent Canadian artists such as A.Y. Jackson, Arthur Lismer, Lawren Harris, A.J. Casson, Emily Carr and Jack Shadbolt. The art is currently housed in Arts Court on Daly Avenue.

Citizen: NCC wants embassy to take over pavilion [1 Feb 2007]