Archives

When CBC was going to finally live under one roof in Toronto

The reasons for consolidation were obvious: One building was going to be a lot easier to deal with than 26 buildings.

In 1988, the Canadian government announced approval to build a new central broadcast centre

A new building in Toronto for CBC

34 years ago
Duration 1:56
In April 1988, CBC shared the official word that it would have a new central broadcast centre built in downtown Toronto. Aired April 8, 1988 on CBC's The National.

The reasons for consolidation were obvious: One building was going to be a lot easier to deal with than 26 buildings.

And that higher figure was how many buildings CBC was working out of in Toronto of 1988.

So, a plan to put those operations under the same roof was one that seemed to make sense — and the CBC got a green light for that plan that spring.

'An expensive, fragmented, inconvenient hub'

As of the spring of 1988, CBC was operating out of more than two dozen buildings across Toronto, including this studio on Yonge Street. (The National/CBC Archives)

"This is just one of the 26 buildings around Toronto that house the CBC," reporter Neil Macdonald told viewers as the camera showed a TV studio on Yonge Street on The National on April 4, 1988.

"For decades, they've formed an expensive, fragmented, inconvenient hub for the English-language network."

That day, Ottawa had announced that yes, the CBC would be getting a new downtown building.

Macdonald explained that CBC had bought the land, but developer Cadillac-Fairview would build the new facility.

"CBC will then rent space in it for at least the next 30 years," he said, giving further details on the plan.

Sharp rise in land value

CBC President Pierre Juneau disagreed with critics who wanted to see the organization sell the land it planned to build its new facility on in downtown Toronto. (The National/CBC Archives)

The CBC had purchased the downtown plot of land for the building years earlier for $19 million. And by 1988, it was worth nearly $200 million.

Macdonald said some critics thought the land should be sold off and the CBC should move to less expensive land.

But Pierre Juneau, then the CBC president, said that did not make sense.

"There is no cheaper site, because if we sold the site, it wouldn't have the value for a buyer that it has for us," Juneau told Macdonald.

Macdonald said construction was due to begin that fall and it was estimated CBC would be working out of the new building in 1992.

'Miles of corridor to walk'

The atrium at the broadcast centre

30 years ago
Duration 0:34
In 1992, Midday's Valerie Pringle talks about the CBC's new downtown Toronto facility.

That turned out to be a fairly accurate projection, as some CBC programming was being broadcast from the new downtown building that year.

In October 1992, Midday featured an eight-minute segment on the new building, which gave the audience at home a glimpse of the semi-finished product.

"It's huge, there are miles of corridors to walk, but I guess the most extraordinary thing about this building is this 10-storey atrium, right in the centre of it," Midday co-host Valerie Pringle told viewers, as a camera tilt gave a visual sense of the scale of that skylight-topped structure.

The southwest corner of the CBC broadcast centre in Toronto is seen in October 1992. (Midday/CBC Archives)

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now

now