There will be Canada Day celebrations in-person for the first time in three years this July, but they won’t be happening on Parliament Hill.
The Canada Day main stage will be at LeBreton Flats park just west of downtown Ottawa this year, Canadian Heritage said in a news release Monday.
“The Centre Block Rehabilitation project means the Canada Day main stage is moving to a new location in the heart of the capital,” the release said.
However, it added that “the iconic Parliament Hill will feature some activities.” No further details were provided on what activities Parliament Hill would host.
Parliament Hill has been the site of the Canada Day main stage for more than 50 years.
But this July 1, LeBreton Flats will host the daytime ceremony and evening show, among other activities. Another new location, the Place des festivals Zibi, will “feature programming for the whole family,” the release said.
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Wellington Street in front of Parliament Hill has been closed to vehicle traffic since the ‘Freedom Convoy’ protests occupied downtown Ottawa for three weeks in January and February. The road is typically closed for Canada Day celebrations.
Canada Day celebrations were held virtually the past two summers because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, officials had been planning to move the Canada Day main stage to nearby Major’s Hill Park due to the construction planned on the Hill.
The Centre Block construction project is expected to be finished between 2030 and 2031. The $5-billion project is the largest and most complex rehabilitation project in Canadian history.
No one from Canadian Heritage was available for an interview with CTV News.
Yasir Naqvi is the Member of Parliament for the area that includes Parliament Hill.
“It is really exciting that the live Canada Day show is back after two years of being virtual because of the pandemic – it is taking place at Lebreton Flats because of the construction that is taking place on Parliament Hill,” he said.
“Because of the construction that is taking place at Centre Block it is just logistically impossible to put a stage and all the infrastructure that goes with putting a full-on Canada Day show, so Canadian Heritage has made the decision to move it to Lebreton Flats where there is ample space, not only for the stage but also space to accommodate people.”
Naqvi couldn’t say how long it might be before Canada Day celebrations return to the hill.
“I don’t have a precise answer to that. It is my understanding that it may be the case for the next few years because of the construction that is taking place that Canada Day will be at another location like we are doing this year at Lebreton Flats for 2022,” he explained.
“From a health and safety perspective, you have to keep it safe, you have to bring in large trucks to set up staging and everything that goes into putting on a very robust show for the entire day, back offices, space for artists, lighting, that is why the decision was made to move it to Lebreton Flats.”
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