CIBC named lead sponsor of Ottawa 2017 celebrations

The City of Ottawa is entering a multi-year, multi-million dollar deal with CIBC to be the lead sponsor of its celebrations of Canada's 150th birthday in 2017.

Multi-year, multimillion-dollar partnership will make many events free, organizers say

A performer manipulates a large puppet beside a group of people entering Andrew Haydon Hall for an Ottawa 2017 sponsorship announcement on Dec. 8, 2015. (Andrew Foote/CBC)

The City of Ottawa is entering a multi-year, multimillion-dollar deal with CIBC to become the lead sponsor of its celebrations of Canada's 150th birthday in 2017.

Ottawa 2017 executive director Guy Laflamme used words like "avant-garde" and "bold" to describe the partnership. He spoke at a splashy morning event that featured giant, long-necked bird puppets and pyrotechnics spraying from the council table inside Andrew Haydon Hall. 

"Thanks to CIBC's support most of the activities that we will offer will be free of charge, and thanks to their support we were able to enrich our program to make Ottawa citizens proud and to invite all Canadians to be here as the hub of celebration for the 150th [birthday]," Laflamme said in an interview after the event ended.

"It was critical to us to demonstrate the buy-in from the private sector to recognize the value of our program and now it's going to be much easier to engage all public institutions."

The partnership is being billed by Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson as "the single largest partnership for an event in Ottawa's history."

'Inspiration Village' announced

Laflamme also announced two new events for 2017: an "Inspiration Village" that will bring a week of art and activities dedicated to each of Canada's provinces and territories, and an evening of indoor and outdoor performances at the Shaw Centre on Canada Day.

Laflamme said to date only 15 per cent of the programming for 2017 has been announced. He said events organized by Ottawa 2017 will "complement" what the Department of Canadian Heritage is planning.

"We conducted extensive consultation over the last two years, we consulted with at least 600 different key stakeholders in the region, in the nation and around the world," he said.

"We also made sure to get input from residents and we received over 600 detailed recommendations from residents. Over half of them are echoed in the program." 

CIBC also celebrating

Watson said CIBC's successful sponsorship of the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games in Toronto — and the fact the bank will also celebrate its 150th birthday in 2017 — made working together "a good fit."

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, left, and CIBC executive vice president Stephen Forbes announced their partnership for the city's 2017 events on Dec. 8, 2015. (Andrew Foote/CBC)

"We started negotiations locally, ended up in Toronto, eventually at [CIBC executive vice president Stephen] Forbes' office," he said, describing the last couple of months as "intense."

"The plans for Ottawa 2017 are really bold and unique, I think they're really going to galvanize the city and galvanize the nation," Forbes said.

"While Ottawa will be the epicentre of the activities for 2017, the plans are national. That was important to us because as you look across the country, we wanted to take part in a nation-wide event that would bring all Canadians together and leave no Canadians behind."

Watson cited a tradition of confidentiality when asked about the dollar amount of the partnership, only saying it is worth "millions of dollars" and runs from now until the end of 2017.