We’ll Always Have The Lizard




The City of Ottawa has released (though it said repeatedly it could not release this figure) the amount of money raised for Ottawa 2017 (by the way that is ‘Ottawa 2017’ not ‘Canada 2017’ though the 150th anniversary is Canada’s. No word if organizers considered calling it Jim Watson 2018).

That figure is $28.1 million from private and public sources.

And what are we getting for $28.1 million? Among other things, a giant fire-breathing lizard walking through the streets. Apparently it symbolizes the great contribution that low-slung slithering beasts made to the founding of our great country.

Photo above: Winnipeg’s very useful Centennial Concert Hall.

In Manitoba in 1967, the provincial government built Centennial Concert Hall as a lasting legacy of century celebration of Canada and as a redevelopment project. It cost $8 million.

Now a half-century later, the concert hall has become an integral part of Winnipeg’s thriving cultural scene. Its stage is used by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Manitoba Opera and touring Broadway shows. It has had stars such as Winnipeg’s own Neil Young, Tony Bennett, B.B. King and Drake trod its boards.

Great anniversaries are times to build lasting, useful monuments in our communities. Centennial Concert Hall is one of the best examples of the 1967 celebration.

Now the City of Ottawa has $28.1 million for the 150th and what are we getting? A big lizard.

We might not get a great building in Ottawa for 2017 but in our minds we will always have the lizard.


La Machine is to come to Ottawa 2017: That’s some big lizard.



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8 thoughts on “We’ll Always Have The Lizard

  1. It’s also Ontario’s 150th anniversary – where are the plans for celebration of that? Other than the bastardization of the song “Give us a place to stand and a place to grow”, of course. In theory, we should be seeing provincial and federal funds and projects rolling into the city, not just municipal ones.
    I guess their publicity budgets just aren’t as big as Jim’s.

    1. The Voter,

      Firstly, by the definition of Confederation, Ontario will also be 150. However, it would be odd to celebrate this fact separately, when the bigger subject is Confederation, which later led to the inclusion (or formation) of other provinces and territories. Indeed, Ontario was not fully formed territorially (i.e. as we recognize it today) until 1912. Albeit, Premier Kathleen Wynne does mention that we are celebrating both the 150th anniversary of Canada and Ontario. In short, Ontario 2017 is an afterthought at best.

      Secondly, there have been a lot of federal funds going into Ottawa for Canada 2017 like the $110-million renovation of the NAC. As well, the feds are cost-sharing on many of the Ottawa 2017 events, like the light show and these giant mechanical “lizards.” And finally, there will be other activities in the Ottawa region funded by Canadian Heritage and the NCC for Canada 2017.

      Thirdly, only a few weeks ago, Premier Kathleen Wynne was in town with a bag of money (The Ottawa Sun: “Kathleen Wynne announces millions in funding ahead of Canada’s 150th”): “In addition, Ottawa will also benefit from $9 million in funding as the capital prepares to host 2017 celebrations. Mayor Jim Watson thanked the premier for the financial support saying ‘this is going to make a huge difference, it’s going to attract even more visitors to our province, specifically to our city.'”

      1. Sheridan:

        And here I thought it was Ottawa turning 150 as in Ottawa 2017.

        How could I be so wrong? Where would I have got this idea?

        I thought it was Watson 2018 until I was corrected.



        1. Oh, you thought that Mayor Jim Watson is turning 150 years old in 2018? Regardless, it would still be a good time for him to retire.

  2. Spend a bunch of money on street shows and fireworks or build something, that is useful, that will benefit the city and that will last as a legacy.
    Uh- I’m for the fireworks.
    Who would want a project that has a lasting benefit?

  3. “We might not get a great building in Ottawa for 2017 but in our minds we will always have the lizard.”

    Yeah, we are spending $3-million to rent these two giant robots, so nothing permanent to show for our money. In fact, they are a giant mechanical dragon and spider from France. However, unlike the giant “Maman” sculpture, in front of the National Gallery of Canada ($3.2-million in 2005), this La Machine spider has to be sent back at the end of the summer.

    Furthermore, we are booking the fire-breathing dragon at the wrong time. We really need it during the winter to help free OC Transpo buses stuck in snow banks.


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