MONTREAL - A $46-million project to move and revamp the Planetarium got a boost with a sod-turning event Thursday.

Part of what is to be known as "Space for Life," the Planetarium will join the Biodome, the Insectarium and the Botanical Gardens to become a hub for tourists and science enthusiasts.

It's a Montreal coup, said Charles-Mathieu Brunelle, executive director of the Planetarium.

"The Planetarium coming here transforms this site into the largest concentration of scientific museums in Canada," he said.

The site will feature high-tech workshops, scientific content and multimedia shows, but will also be quite poetic, said Brunelle.

"You take your shoes off when you come in the theatre, so you're a bit unbalanced. And you feel vertigo because you can't see the floor too well, so you're a little bit worried. Then you're on rocks, soft rocks, and you plunge into the sky. Then you can see the universe and come back to earth," he explained.

The hope is that the site will attract 300,000 visitors in its first year, when the Planetarium opens in 2013.

The new planetarium will meet high environmental design standards and will have a green roof, to offset all the concrete on the nearby Olympic site.

The area will also create several economic spinoffs, said city executive committee member Alan De Souza.

"(It will generate) over $622 million in terms of Quebec's gross national product as well as 8,300 jobs," said De Souza.