Development of a New Maison de Radio-Canada in Montreal

June 18, 2013, Montreal

A few days ago, CBC/Radio-Canada issued a request for proposals (RFP) for the design of a new Maison de Radio-Canada (MRC) in Montreal and the development of its site. Groups of companies that pre-qualified in August 2012 have nine months in which to respond. Whatever proposal is selected, the MRC will remain on its present site.

“We need to focus the public broadcaster’s activities on fulfilling its primary mandate which is to inform, enlighten and entertain Canadians,” says Hubert T. Lacroix, President and CEO of CBC/Radio-Canada. “CBC/Radio-Canada’s role is not to invest in real estate. We need to make better use of our facilities across the country and avoid the risk involved in property management.”

The plan to develop the Montreal site illustrates the Corporation’s desire to ensure sound management of public funds. The current building is over 40 years old and in need of major renovation work that would involve substantial expenditures for the Corporation.

This most recent phase is part of an overall effort, which began several years ago, to redevelop the MRC. At the end of the RFP process, CBC/Radio-Canada will sell its land and buildings to the group selected, becoming a tenant in the new facilities under a long-term lease. The project will therefore be completed without any additional funding requests from the government or additional investments from taxpayers.

Spaces better tailored to the public broadcaster’s needs
“CBC/Radio-Canada will remain the country’s largest French-language production and broadcast centre for TV, radio and Internet content, in an increasingly digital world. We believe we can assert our leadership in this context and meet our needs with the equivalent of 50% of the floorspace we currently occupy,” explains Louis Lalande, Executive Vice-President, French Services.

The space will be revised to reflect current production needs, unused areas will be abandoned, and a collaborative, open-plan workspace model will be adopted.

The RFP also covers development of the entire site, on which residential projects (including social and affordable housing), commercial space and office buildings could eventually be built, as per the zoning by-law adopted in 2009 and the development agreement reached the same year with the City of Montreal. Green spaces will also be developed. “The site’s development will promote the creation of a new living environment and help redefine the socio-economic fabric of the city blocks occupied by CBC/Radio-Canada,” Lalande adds. “We want Maison de Radio-Canada to be close to the public and become a hub for the city.”

The entire process has been mapped out in consultation with representatives from stakeholders such as the City of Montreal and community groups in the Centre-Sud district, where Maison de Radio-Canada is located. Part of these consultations included the creation of a local community Advisory Committee in 2006 and hearings at the Office de consultation publique de Montréal in 2008-2009.
In the same vein, CBC/Radio-Canada wants to involve employees and union representatives in the next steps in the project, which will be spread out over several years. “This project affects all of us, and embodies the aims of our five-year strategy 2015: Everyone, Every way, so it’s important that we all take part in making it happen,” Lacroix concludes.

Further to this process, CBC/Radio-Canada will evaluate the project proposals received and select the one that best meets expectations. The choice of proponent will then have to be approved by the CBC/Radio-Canada Board of Directors and the Treasury Board of Canada. These steps will take approximately one year, meaning that work on the new MRC could begin in early 2015 and be completed by 2017.

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