What’s new in Ottawa?

For event planners considering where to hold their next conference, tourism officials in Ottawa have a simple message: Be here for Canada’s big year.

New LRT trains in Ottawa
New LRT trains in Ottawa

For event planners considering where to hold their next conference, tourism officials in Ottawa have a simple message: Be here for Canada’s big year.

But whether you’re planning an event for this year or 2018 and beyond, the festivities surrounding Canada’s 150th anniversary have been designed to create a lasting legacy of tourism attractions and infrastructure that will help attract visitors to the nation’s capital for years to come.

Several marquee events are planned for the second half of 2017, including a new sound-and-light show at Chaudière Falls, an outdoor NHL game at Lansdowne Park – scheduled for a few weeks after the Grey Cup at the same venue – and a sneak preview of Ottawa’s new light-rail line in the form of an underground multimedia experience inside a downtown station.

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The rapid transit system itself is slated to open to passengers in 2018, improving transportation links across central Ottawa by connecting the University of Ottawa, Via Rail station, Rideau Centre, St. Laurent Shopping Centre, downtown hotels and other destinations by rail between Blair Road in the east and Tunney’s Pasture in the west.

City council recently approved the second phase of the rapid-transit network, which will extend rail further east, west and south, including an extension to the Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport.

In the meantime, airport officials recently opened a new transportation option for air travellers by signing a deal with Uber to allow the ride-hailing service to provide drop offs and pick ups for airport passengers. Elsewhere in the city, a new municipal licensing system allows Uber to legally operate as a private transportation company.

Restaurants, hotels and attractions

Several new restaurants have recently opened in Ottawa, further bolstering the city’s culinary credentials.
These include The Riviera – a casual fine-dining restaurant in a historic former bank on Sparks Street – and Citizen, which serves wine, cocktails and snacks on Gilmour Street adjacent to its highly popular cousin restaurant, Town. There’s also a new place to eat and drink inside the Novotel Ottawa’s historic Albion Rooms, dubbed the Heritage Room Gastropub.

On the hotels front, the new Andaz Ottawa ByWard Market continues to draw attention from out-of-town guests and residents alike, especially for its rooftop patio offering views of the historic market and Parliament Hill.

A few blocks over, another Ottawa hotel is constructing a new rooftop space for guests. The Westin Ottawa’s TwentyTwo is due to open this year and will feature a glass ballroom with views of the Parliament Buildings, Ottawa River and Château Laurier.

In a rebranding, the local owners of the former Indigo Hotel in downtown Ottawa have renamed it the Metcalfe Hotel and are planning various renovation and redesign projects to give the historic property its own distinct identity.

Outside the downtown core, the popular Canada Science and Technology Museum is due to reopen this year following $80 million in renovations. Another building that’s been closed to guests in recent years is the former Canada and the World Pavilion on Sussex Drive, adjacent to the Rideau Falls. Last fall the Royal Canadian Geographical Society agreed to lease the property from the National Capital Commission and turn it into a new Centre for Geography and Exploration. Plans include exhibition space and a permanent interpretive geography centre.

Looking ahead, keep an eye on the historic Zibi development, a new waterfront community on the Ottawa River that will include outdoor event space.

One of its first uses will be as a venue this summer for a new Cirque du Soleil show, VOLTA, which is slated to include 31 performances in August before an audience of up to 2,500 people.

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