As a child, Guy Laflamme amused his family by saying he wanted to do something valuable and significant with his life. He dreamed about being many things, from a hockey player, astronaut, astronomer, science professor, to a radio announcer or television science commentator.
His academic studies and university degrees (BSc and MBA from the University of Ottawa, and pedagogy degree from Laval University), were part of the journey to find where he could make the biggest impact. He started in 1999 as a special events director for Casino du Lac Leamy by producing a jaw-dropping, multi-media production for the millennium that attracted a massive viewing. Guy went on to become a senior VP at the NCC, responsible for creating major events.
He followed with producing Canada Day celebrations, Winterlude, Mosaika, and the popular Sound and Light Show in a director general position at the Department of Canadian Heritage. Guy has also served as Chair of the JUNO Awards Host Committee, Genie Awards Host Committee, and Chairman of the International Festival and Events Association (IFEA) World Board.
In 2014, Mayor Jim Watson approached Guy about forming the Ottawa 2017 Bureau as executive director responsible for the celebrations to commemorate Canada’s 150th Anniversary of Confederation. He worked with a dedicated team and used every ounce of his energy to create a year of 150 stunning events that will successfully rebrand Ottawa’s image.
HOW DID YOU CREATE THE VISION FOR OTTAWA 2017? Three years ago, while isolated in my home in the Magdalen Islands, I produced a detailed 400-page business plan encapsulating my ideas. I consulted with more than 500 stakeholders and reviewed the responses to a survey about Canada’s 150th that was conducted across the country. Pivotal events were analyzed. My plan outlined event concepts, the governance for the organization, the structure for the team, a working budget and a national advertising campaign. I hoped half of my ideas would be approved, but with the Mayor’s support we moved forward with them all.
HOW WILL THIS IMPACT OTTAWA TOURISM? The city is going through a massive transformation and Ottawa 2017 will be its heart and soul, showcasing the dynamic and vibrant new personality of Ottawa as a modern, technologically innovative city. We will attract in excess of 1.75 million more visitors, which will have a $320 million economic impact.
WHICH EVENTS WILL BE THE MOST POPULAR? The first was the Red Bull Crashed Ice Downhill World Series Season Finale that took place in March, which utilized the Rideau Canal Locks (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) in a very eclectic way. The second features the LRT Confederation Line system, which will only be operational in 2018, but the Rideau Transit Group gave permission for us to access 350 meters of Lyon Station from mid-June to mid-September to set up Kontinuum, an underground science fiction multi-media time travel adventure with the theme of transportation. The third is La Machine from France, featuring a giant water-spraying mechanical spider and fire-breathing dragon that will stop at key Ottawa landmarks. The hope is to generate international visibility and create an exhilarating experience for spectators.
HOW DO SEA SHIPPING CONTAINERS MAKE INSPIRATION VILLAGE UNIQUE? The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) wanted to partner with us for a project during their May convention to create a public plaza on York Street. After meetings with the mayor, a city planner, the Rideau-Vanier councillor and the BIA representing businesses in the ByWard Market, we were given seventy-eight prime parking spots on York Street to install the forty artistically-modified shipping containers. They will showcase performing arts events and interactive exhibits highlighting Canada’s provinces and territories from May 20 to September 4.
AFTER OTTAWA 2017 WHAT DOES YOUR FUTURE HOLD? I will never be able to work on anything bigger and it is always good to leave on a high. I have zero guilt in retiring at fifty-seven years of age. When I was eighteen I started preparing a travel plan, and now have five cases of clippings of places and things I would like to do around the world. My Lonely Planet book shows the fifty countries I have visited so far as well as those still on my bucket list. I will spend half of my time in Ottawa, spend more quality time with my family, raise chickens at my Magdalen Islands home, travel the world and live a very peaceful, happy life.