Montreal delays Dorchester Square renovation indefinitely

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    Montreal seems to have a problem with renovation-planning.

    The city is delaying another high-profile project. This time it’s the final phase of the Dorchester Square makeover, which was supposed to start in August 2016 and be completed by August 2017.

    The $4.2-million project targeted the northern part of the square and Dorchester-Square St., home to downtown Montreal’s main tourism office, where the sidewalks and roadway are crumbling. 

    The original timeline was announced in February, when the city okayed a $709,000 contract for design work and tender specifications.

    Montreal is postponing the project because it did not want the downtown square to be a construction site during the city’s 375th anniversary in 2017, Renée Pageau, a city spokesperson, told the Montreal Gazette.

    Artist rendering showing plans for northern part of Dorchester Square.

    Artist rendering showing plans for northern part of Dorchester Square.

    She said the city is not sure when Dorchester Square will be renovated but does not expect the delay to increase costs.

    It’s unclear why city hall did not consider the impact on 375th festivities when it scheduled the work in February. Montreal started making announcements about the 375th in 2014.

    The city has postponed several projects in recent months.

    Shelved projects include the renovations of Place Jacques-Cartier (the bid was too high), Viger Square (the city does not have the go-ahead from Quebec) and the Biodôme (bids came in at twice the amount expected). 

    Artist rendering showing plans for northern part of Dorchester Square. Courtesy of City of Montreal.

    Artist rendering showing plans for northern part of Dorchester Square. Courtesy of City of Montreal.

    Under the Dorchester Square plan, the vespasienne (an octagonal building that was once a public washroom) will be renovated and a new fountain installed. Granite paths and bridges over parking-lot ramps are also planned. Part of Dorchester-Square St. will be partly taken over by green space.

    In 2010, the city finished renovating the rest of Dorchester Square, at a cost of $5.4 million. The northern section had initially been slated to be upgraded at the same time but the work was delayed due to negotiations with the owners of the underground parking lot. 

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    Newly opened Dorchester Square in downtown Montreal  as seen from the 7th floor of the Gazette office, looking south Friday, June 25, 2010.

    Newly opened Dorchester Square in downtown Montreal as seen from the 7th floor of the Gazette office, looking south Friday, June 25, 2010.

    People sit in Dominion Square (now known as Dorchester Square) behind the Dominion Square Building, in 1961.

    People sit in Dominion Square (now known as Dorchester Square) behind the Dominion Square Building, in 1961.

    1945: Dominion Square (now Place du Canada to lower-left and Dorchester Square to lower-right). Montreal Gazette files

    1945: Dominion Square (now Place du Canada to lower-left and Dorchester Square to lower-right). Montreal Gazette files