By Selene Tan
A giant spider as well as a fire-breathing, water-spraying dragon will walk the streets. Well-heeled patrons will feast on Canadian delicacies in a restaurant suspended 50 metres above the ground, and an innovative art installation will feature large shipping containers tipped on their sides and filled with art objects.
These events are just part of the lineup of activities for Ottawa 2017 this summer to mark Canada’s 150th.
La Machine, a French-based production company, is lending its mythic mechanical creatures to Ottawa for a four-day scenario to take place downtown from LeBreton Flats to the Byward Market.
Guy Laflamme, executive director of Ottawa 2017, says to have La Machine debut in Ottawa, it will cost the city more than $3 million.
Laflamme said that although the project is expensive, it will be a worthwhile investment because of the “massive media coverage” the city should get and the increased number of tourists coming to Ottawa.
Laflamme says La Machine is one of the year’s most anticipated events.
“When I share the full plan about the Ottawa 2017, that’s definitely one of the top three elements that gets people’s eyes to light up, one that brings very intense excitement in people,” he says.
While Laflamme did not give full details about what the show would look like, he says it will be something like a scene out of the post-apocalyptic movie Mad Max.
La Machine is a free event and takes place on the last week of July.
Sky Lounge, another Canada 150 attraction, will take place at City Hall.
Ottawa residents and tourists will have the opportunity to experience fine dining 50 metres above ground in full view of the nation’s capital.
Guests will be seated in comfortable, Formula 1-style seats equipped with a three-belt, six-point harness for optimal safety at a long table and then hoisted up into the air by crane.
There will be four dinners and six tapas-cocktail events every day, with each event sitting 22 people.
Dinners will cost $250 and tapas-cocktails will be $150 before taxes.
Sky Lounge will be partnering with Stephen La Salle, executive chef at Andaz Ottawa Byward Market hotel’s Feast+Revel restaurant, and his team to provide the meals, which will use mostly local ingredients and showcase Canada’s ethnic diversity.
Matt Graham, Andaz’s general manager, says: “I think it’s great that they’re celebrating that emerging food culture as part of the 150th celebration. We’re happy to be a part of it.”
Laflamme says Sky Lounge was originally set to operate for a week, but because of the high demand for the program, it has now been extended to a second week.
Sky Lounge will be available from July 7-22.
Meanwhile, a huge installation built out of 20 or more shipping containers will be located at a parking bay on York Street in the Byward Market from the end of May to early September.
The installation will be used as a creative space for visual exhibits and performing arts events, all aiming to pay tribute to Canada’s provinces and territories.
The idea to place the installation on York Street came from Allan Teramura, past president of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada.
In an email, Teramura said York Street was a space with “great proportions which could make a great public square . . . That it’s currently being used to park about 80 cars seems like a terrible waste.”
Mathew Main, the vice-president of operations at Dymech Engineering, the firm contracted to design and build Inspiration Village, said he’s excited about the space being used in a different way other than just a parking lot.
“I’m hoping that (the project) . . . has the city moving in a different direction going forward,” said Main.
Together, La Machine, Sky Lounge, Inspiration Village and other attractions for Canada 150 should give Ottawa an opportunity to “refresh its image” and “demonstrate a more vibrant, contemporary, dynamic image for the city,” said Laflamme.
“It’s always important for us to stress that Ottawa 2017 is not just about a big party,” he added. “It’s about sustainable economic development and all kinds of social, quality-of-life building initiatives, as well as initiatives geared towards the business community.”