New Maison de Radio-Canada: an environmentally responsible facility built at a neutral cost to taxpayers

November 28, 2019 – Three years after unveiling the project, CBC/Radio-Canada has issued an update regarding progress on the new Maison de Radio-Canada (new MRC) and its financial framework. The update was presented by the Senior Executive Team at the November meeting of the public broadcaster’s Board of Directors.

“We are proud of this modern, ambitious and environmentally responsible project, which is being completed at a neutral cost to taxpayers,” said Michel Bissonnette, Executive Vice-President of Radio-Canada. “We’re eager to welcome our employees as well as Canadians to the new MRC, which will be a technologically state-of-the-art facility and will remain a vital hub for French-language media and digital production in the country.”

By 2020, CBC/Radio-Canada will be one of the first broadcasters in the world to rely on IP (Internet Protocol) technology end-to-end – i.e., from production to distribution, across all of its platforms, in keeping with an industry trend. “Among other benefits, this technology will allow us to reduce our environmental footprint, because the equipment takes up less space and uses less energy than currently,” said Daniel Boudreau, Executive Vice-President, Media Technology and Infrastructure Services. “Working in IP mode also allows for significant flexibility when it comes to equipment selection and production methods.”

Canadian expertise and innovation have gone into the design and construction of the new facility, resulting in a modern, light-filled and welcoming multipurpose building. The new MRC will also be compliant with the strictest environmental and sustainability standards, equivalent to LEED Silver certification: its design will mitigate the heat island effect, with features including green roofs, reflective materials and underground parking, and will also include a heat recovery system to improve the building’s energy efficiency.

The new MRC has been designed to be a place to create and collaborate. Its public spaces will be open, inclusive and welcoming to Montrealers, while providing employees and programming teams with a dynamic, stimulating work environment.

The new MRC is being built at a cost of $112 million for fit-up of the workspaces and production infrastructure. CBC/Radio-Canada has also earmarked $175 million over several years for technology upgrades. The total project cost will be $287 million, spread over a number of years.

CBC/Radio-Canada will be a tenant of the new MRC under the terms of a 30-year lease, with annual costs, including a fixed rent and running costs, of $22 million. These costs are equivalent to the current annual costs in the existing MRC.

It is important to point out that the technology upgrades would have been necessary even if CBC/Radio-Canada had not moved to new premises. In addition, remaining in the current MRC would have required a major maintenance and renovation investment, estimated at $171 million, to ensure the facility remained operational.

No additional investment from the federal government was requested; the project is being funded out of the public broadcaster’s annual capital budget and from the sale of certain non-core assets, including the current MRC and the land that it sits on. The entire project was reviewed and approved by both the CBC/Radio-Canada Board of Directors and the Treasury Board of Canada.

In its 2015 Strategic Plan, CBC/Radio-Canada set a target of reducing its real estate footprint by 50% by 2020. That goal is close to being reached. Over the past eight years, the Corporation has sold buildings in Halifax, Moncton, Matane, Windsor, and Calgary.

These projects have generated annual operating savings that have been re-invested in programming. This strategy ensures that the Corporation preserves its geographic presence, while allowing for more collaborative, streamlined, scalable, and environmentally responsible operations necessary for modern media production and distribution.

Development of the new MRC is part and parcel of that process, begun several years ago.

The contractor remains on track to deliver the new MRC by December 31, 2019, and CBC/Radio-Canada will begin relocating its teams to the new facility in spring 2020.