OTTAWA – A Canada Day tradition is being repurposed tonight to herald the start of Canada’s 150th year.
A massive fireworks display over Parliament Hill – usually reserved for July 1 – will take place at 8:17 p.m. EST and midnight to mark the beginning of 2017 and a year-long birthday bash across the country.
New Year’s Eve events with a 150th birthday flavour are being held in 19 cities across the country, including St. John’s, N.L., which will be the first to hit the midnight milestone.
“It is a once in a lifetime opportunity to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation,” said Heritage Department spokesperson Katherine Cyr.
The celebration in the capital, which Cyr says is set to cost about $2.5 million, will include performances by Canadian artists Radio Radio, Brett Kissel and Carly Rae Jepsen, and will also feature remarks by Canada’s Heritage Minister Melanie Joly.
She’s in charge of more than $210 million being set aside for 150th anniversary projects and events planned for the anniversary.
More than three dozen national programs have received federal funding, ranging from history exhibits to a dance day being put on by Canada’s national ballet school.
A red leather couch is set to tour the country next year, beginning with a tour of the North in March and a journey from Newfoundland to B.C. in June and July, after organizers received $155,000 in federal dollars.
Ela Kinowska, the manager of the tour, said it will involve compiling stories shared on the piece of furniture from Canadians about what the country means to them.
“It is a very expensive operation to be in every province so what we get for that is the unifying factor,” she said. “It is a nation-building sofa.”
The federal government has also established a national infrastructure program to support renovation, expansion and improvement in community and cultural infrastructure.
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The initial $150-million program was created by the previous Conservative government, which was accused of doling out much of the money to ridings represented by Conservative MPs ahead of the 2015 election.
The current Liberal government has added a further $150 million for more projects.
© 2016 The Canadian Press