November 09, 2009
Government of Canada invests in heritage infrastructure at the Diefenbunker, Canada’s cold war museum
Canada’s Economic Action Plan, Working to Preserve this National Historic Site of Canada
OTTAWA, Ontario – The Honourable Gordon O’Connor, Minister of State, Chief Government Whip, and Member of Parliament for Carleton-Mississippi Mills, on behalf of the Honourable Jim Prentice, Canada’s Environment Minister and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, and the Honourable James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, today announced $280,000 in Government of Canada funding to the Diefenbunker, Canada’s Cold War Museum and National Historic Site of Canada. This investment includes $250,000 for infrastructure upgrades and $30,000 for the development of the interactive animated website A Journey into the Diefenbunker.
“In Canada’s Economic Action Plan, our Government recognizes the importance of stimulating growth through key infrastructure investments,” said Minister O’Connor. “We are pleased to be investing in the Diefenbunker, Canada’s Cold War Museum and National Historic Site of Canada as a way of simultaneously preserving our historical heritage while promoting the economy with investments that create local jobs.”
The underground bunker, nicknamed after John Diefenbaker, Prime Minister at the time the government decided to construct the facility, was built to provide a safe location for key public servants, politicians and military staff in the case of a nuclear war. Ironically, in its new role as museum, the bunker does not comply with public safety building code requirements for emergency exits. As a result, only 60 visitors are currently allowed to tour the site at one time.
As part of the initiative to raise visitor capacity from 60 to 500 in two years or less, a novel approach has been devised that allows the main tunnel to be divided into two sections via a rolling metal shutter that would be triggered with the fire alarm. When not in use, these shutters will remain virtually invisible. When the retrofit is complete, the improved visitor access to the museum will enable greater fulfillment of the institution’s mandate and increase self-generated revenue; ensuring that this important historical site is both preserved and accessible for future generations.
“The funding from Parks Canada’s National Historic Sites Cost-Sharing Program allows us to complete the retrofit to our building which will result in a dramatic increase to our visitor capacity. It is the much needed support required for the Diefenbunker to take the next step into a bright and sustainable future,” said Ms. Alexandra Badzak, Executive Director of the Diefenbunker Museum.
“The greater Ottawa area’s rich culture and diverse experiences attract travellers from around the world, and our investment will help the Diefenbunker be an attraction of choice,” said Minister Prentice. “In our Economic Action Plan, we recognize the important economic contribution of historical and heritage tourism, and how Parks Canada’s Cost-Sharing Program can stimulate direct and indirect job creation through support of this sector.”
The website A Journey into the Diefenbunker will allow visitors to learn about the Diefenbunker by letting them assume the role of key government figures that would have sought shelter at the Diefenbunker under the threat of attack.
“Our Government is proud to support the development of learning materials and activities that encourage young Canadians to gain a better understanding of Canada and its history,” said Minister Moore. “By offering this interactive tool online, the Diefenbunker is helping bring this unique time in history to life for students across Canada.”
Today’s announcement is part of Canada’s Economic Action Plan to stimulate Canada’s economy during the global recession. The Economic Action Plan includes major investments in national historic sites as a means of stimulating growth in the tourism sector. The Parks Canada National Historic Sites Cost-Sharing Program, with a budget of $20 million provided in part by Canada’s Economic Action Plan, reflects the government’s desire to support job creation by providing funding for conservation of National Historic Sites. This Program provides opportunities for skilled construction and conservation professionals to work on national historic sites across the country.
Funding for A Journey into the Diefenbunker is being provided to the museum under the Canadian Studies Program of the Department of Canadian Heritage. This program supports the development of learning materials and activities that contribute to increasing Canadians’ knowledge about Canada.