Ottawa

Astrolabe Theatre set for demolition

The Astrolabe Theatre, the open-air venue that once hosted concerts and theatre shows overlooking Parliament and the Ottawa River, is set to be demolished.
Demolition of the Astrolabe Theatre begins this summer. The National Capital Commission said the venue, which was built in 1967, was no longer considered accessible for hosting cultural events. (CBC)

The Astrolabe Theatre, the open-air venue that once hosted concerts and theatre shows overlooking Parliament and the Ottawa River, is set to be demolished.

The amphitheatre on Nepean Point will be torn down this summer after it was first installed beside the Samuel de Champlain statue 44 years ago, in time for Canada's centennial.

The National Capital Commission will spend a million dollars this year to rip out the old sound system, the worn bleachers, and the dressing rooms, which still contain asbestos and lead paint.

The site was old and needed to be redone, said NCC spokesman Jean Wolff, adding the theatre was no longer considered an accessible place for cultural groups.

'Good lunch spot'

"For cultural events, it's not as accessible as other sites," Wolff said. "And because of that, programming things there and permits there, or demand for permits there is not as strong as it would be, for, say Lebreton Flats."

Francois Perreault, who eats lunch at the Astrolabe Theatre site, said he hoped the redevelopment wouldn't ruin the spectacular view.

"It's a good lunch spot," he said. "Good view, Parliament in the one side, Gatineau on the other."

Perreault said that however the redevelopment turns out, he hopes there will be seating. Otherwise, he said, "I'm going to have to find a new spot to eat my lunch."

Although Wolff wouldn't divulge what the redevelopment would do for the view, he said the NCC was talking with the nearby National Gallery and Global Centre for Pluralism about how to proceed.

He promised that the Champlain statue will stay and fireworks will still be set off from the site.

With files from the CBC's Kate Porter

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