A lot of things have been said and written lately about Maison de Radio-Canada (MRC) in Montreal. It’s understandable that a project of this magnitude should be subject to public debate, and we’re open to hearing everyone’s comments, opinions and suggestions. It speaks to the strong attachment people have to La Maison and the institution it represents.
At this stage, though, we think it’s important to clarify certain points.
The status quo isn’t sustainable
Our current facility is outdated and in need of major renovations, to the tune of about $170 million. And even if the building were renovated, it would still be too large for CBC/Radio-Canada’s needs, which we estimate at around 400,000 square feet, or a third of the available space in the current MRC. This doesn’t include the huge parking lots on either side of the tower, which represent untapped development potential for the neighbourhood and the City. We think we can all agree that managing and developing real estate is not part of the public broadcaster’s mandate.
Selling the current facility has been part of the equation since the start of the project. It’s also important to recall that in 2009, following an extensive public consultation, CBC/Radio-Canada signed an agreement with the City of Montreal for the development of the site currently occupied by MRC. This agreement, which lays out the City’s expectations for social and community housing, green spaces and public transit, is still in effect today. These obligations will be transferred to a potential buyer.
From the outset, we’ve worked in consultation with various stakeholders: the federal and provincial governments, the City of Montreal, the Ville-Marie borough and neighbourhood groups, to name but a few. These include our unions and employees, who are kept informed every step of the way. We intend to continue this dialogue, because it’s essential to our project’s success.
Looking to the future
CBC/Radio-Canada exists first and foremost because of its talent – the people who conceive and create the content that’s at the core of the public broadcaster’s mandate. Since its inception, MRC has been home to the many productions that have left their mark on our collective consciousness over the past 40 years. Imagining a new Maison, one that’s more modern and better suited to 21st-century realities, doesn’t mean turning our back on this rich heritage – quite the opposite. Our vision is to build the CBC/Radio-Canada of tomorrow. The new Maison de Radio-Canada in Montreal will embody this vision of a public broadcaster focused on the future, but still as dedicated as ever to serving Canadians.
Hubert T. Lacroix