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The plan to expand the Ottawa Art Gallery and redevelop Artscourt also includes a 17-storey tower for condos, hotel or office space. (CBC)

Ottawa city council has approved a $34-million redevelopment of the downtown Arts Court complex.

The plan to expand the Ottawa Art Gallery and redevelop Arts Court includes a 17-storey tower for condos, hotel or office space, but will not include a 350-seat theatre that was part of an earlier plan.

The project has been almost a decade in the making, with its fair share of false starts and roadblocks — most critically, the federal government's refusal to hand over a $9-million cultural grant.

The city will repurpose a provincial grant originally earmarked for a concert hall and redirect city funds meant for a film studio and a double-A baseball team to cover the costs.

The expansion of the complex will finally allow the gallery to display more of its vast Firestone collection of famous Canadian works, hundreds of paintings that are currently in storage.

The 1,600-work Firestone Collection of Canadian Art includes work by A.Y. Jackson, Emily Carr and other prominent artists.

The expansion would also give emerging local artists a stage.

Construction could begin next year and finish in time for Canada's 150th birthday celebrations in 2017.