Recently, a number of different views have been expressed regarding our plans to develop a new Maison de Radio-Canada and the future of the current MRC site in Montreal. CBC/Radio-Canada wishes to set the record straight in connection with some of these comments.
First, it is important to bear in mind that CBC/Radio-Canada has not yet made a decision. We are currently reviewing all possible options. They include selling our facilities and moving, potentially off-site or to a new building on our current site. Renovating our current facilities is another option being considered. We are keeping in close touch with the City of Montréal, the Ville-Marie borough, community organizations and all other stakeholders, and have been doing so since the project got under way.
CBC/Radio-Canada’s primary mission is not to be a real estate developer. For that reason, we have taken steps to identify specialized companies able to help us achieve our goal. We have to give the public broadcaster facilities that are more modern, more digitally oriented and more suited to its needs in the 21st century while doing everything in our power to ensure the site is developed appropriately.
We cannot deny the difficult legacy associated with construction of MRC, nor do we wish to. The agreement struck with the City of Montréal in 2009 is still in force and will remain so, whatever option is chosen. It is that agreement that sets out the development principles for the site occupied by CBC/Radio-Canada in terms of affordable social and community housing, green spaces, etc. Moreover, the borough’s urban development by-laws provide a framework for the site’s development, including the range of permissible uses.
Over the last 10 years, we have reviewed our strategy in light of several internal and external factors. They include the 2008 recession, which resulted in sluggish demand and difficult access to funding in the real estate market. Similarly, we have had to adjust our plans according to our new needs. For example, Daoust-Lestage’s initial master plan called for MRC structures with a total area of over 1.3 million sq. ft., whereas we currently require only about 400,000 sq. ft., roughly one third of the existing building. It would be misleading to state that this plan could have been self-financed, as developments have shown the opposite to be true.
CBC/Radio-Canada has kept the public informed every step of the way, and it is in that spirit that we will soon be meeting with community organizations based in the district, a meeting called at their request a few weeks ago. Such meetings have been held regularly for many years.
As responsible managers, we will continue moving forward openly and transparently with the aim of finding a solution that meets our needs as a public broadcaster and the expectations of those who care about the future of the Centre-Sud district and the people who call it home.