Cirque du Soleil coming to Zibi in 2017, positioning property as major events space

Developers took the first step in establishing Zibi as a go-to outdoor event space today with the announcement that Cirque du Soleil will bring a new show to the site, starting in August 2017.

Windmill Development Group and Dream Unlimited Corp. (TSX:DRM), the developers behind Zibi, said today that they were partnering with La Ville de Gatineau and Place des Festivals to host the extravagant circus performance.

VOLTA, the new show from Cirque, will coincide with Gatineau 2017’s events and activities to commemorate Canada’s 150th anniversary. Thirty-one performances will run from Aug. 3-27, each with a capacity of 2,500 people.

The partnership with Cirque allows for the possibility of more shows to follow in the same location for the next six years if this first venture is successful.

Windmill executive chairman Jeff Westeinde told OBJ that the planned 10-acre site is a large event organizer’s dream.

“In the development game, it’s location, location, location,” he said, imagining Cirque du Soleil’s big top tent towering over the nearby river and bridges. He adds that the accessibility of the space via transit and bike paths will attract guests from both sides of Ottawa-Gatineau.

Mr. Westeinde is hoping VOLTA will be a coming out party for Zibi as a large event destination. He said there are a limited number of local sites for events of between 2,000 and 3,000 people, and that Zibi is well-positioned to fill that gap.

“Our hope is that this site will turn into a cultural hub for a lot of those big shows that come through,” he said.

Cirque du Soleil CEO Daniel Lamarre said in a statement that site selection plays an important role in the company’s touring plans.

“The location of the Zibi site is ideal for Cirque du Soleil because it is easily accessible for locals and tourists alike, but also allows us to be at the heart of the cultural offerings of the National Capital Region,” he stated.

The planned site sits on the eastern portion of the Zibi development on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River, closest to the Portage Bridge (map).

Currently, the land is a vacant industrial lot, but the area will be prepared for the show by Gatineau’s Place des Festivals with amenities such as access to water, electricity and sewage systems.

Gatineau’s municipal council approved a $300,000 grant yesterday for the work, and Windmill and Dream plan on investing an additional $400,000 to complete other necessary infrastructure such as parking.