Canada 150 and Montreal 375: One of the biggest shows, honouring both anniversaries, was the illumination of the Jacques Cartier Bridge with a massive installation of LED lights that were activated in real time on May 17th. The display will continue to fascinate by a subtle flickering of the lights intended to communicate Montrealers’ vitality. The intensity, speed and density of the lights is supposed to change in direct relation to how often Montreal is mentioned in social media. And every hour of every night, a short 5 minute animation will visually translate the Montreal mood based on current weather, traffic, news and more. It truly is a wondrous technological feat.
With the Canadian government having contributed $30 million to the initially $40 million project, which is now costed at an excess of $55 million, the toll on Montrealers is less than expected.
But the price tag of the celebrations remains steep. The city has also earmarked about $300 million for a series of “legacy” infrastructure projects including renovations to Saint-Joseph’s Oratory, improvements to green spaces, public art, and a 3.8-kilometre pedestrian walkway to connect the St. Lawrence River to the foot of Mount Royal.
The general director of the group in charge of the festivities, Alain Gignac says “Montreal has had a tough time over the last seven, eight years. But now we believe there’s a new economic movement, and we want to celebrate that.” In response to parties opposed to the spending, Gignac goes on to say that the celebration portion of the event will see a three-to-one return on investment and many of the projects will have long-lasting positive effects on the city. He defended the controversial plan for the bridge lights: “We don’t see it as spending, we think of it as an investment.”
Revenues from tourism and business travel notably increased in 2016; we’re certain the favourable exchange rate is a contributing factor. But with the completion of the legacy projects, it appears that the Montreal tourism industry could be destined for a revival.
The practice of investment for long-term returns is what we’ve been successfully implementing for many years so we understand the theory behind the spending. It remains to be seen whether our city’s investment choices really do end up paying off in the long run.
To celebrate our home during this milestone year, all things Montreal 375 can be found here: 375MTL. For those interested in the artistic concept of the Illumination of the Jacques Cartier Bridge project, everything you might be curious about can be found here.