As mural is unveiled, no date set for Richler gazebo inauguration
Published Monday, September 12, 2016 7:50PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, September 13, 2016 8:47AM EDT
A mural honouring Montreal writer Mordecai Richler has been unveiled in Montreal's Mile End, but the gazebo on Mount Royal that bears his name still has not received an official inauguration.
Five years and $724,000 later, the gazebo has been completed and is now open to the public, but only after lengthy complications and delays.
“Obviously this is a project that has been immensely frustrating,” said Projet Montreal city councillor for Jeanne-Mance, Alex Norris.
It's been an expensive misstep, said Norris.
“The administration lost control of this project some time ago, and I think Denis Coderre has some answers to give Montrealers,” he said.
Mile End borough councillor Marie Plourde of Projet Montreal agreed.
“This is ridiculous what is going on. When you want to pay tribute to somebody, you go through with it and you do it,” she said.
The cost to fix the gazebo exploded because the structure, which was apparently given heritage status despite being allowed to fall into ruin, was covered in lead paint.
The heritage status meant that what remained of the structure couldn't be scrapped, but instead meant that layers of poisonous paint had to be painstakingly removed without endangering workers or the environment.
Now that the gazebo is functional, if it is meant to be officially unveiled, Richler’s widow Florence hasn't heard anything.
“I’ve heard rumours. I don’t know,” she said.
Meantime, she was pleased to see a mural of the iconic writer at the corner of Laurier Ave. and St. Urbain St., in the heart of the neighbourhood he made famous in his novels.
“It's very, very moving obviously, and I try very hard to think about how splendid all of this is,” she said.
MU, the group behind the mural, wanted to show appreciation for how the writer elevated Montreal internationally.
“He has celebrated Montreal in his art, he has made Montreal known through the world through his art,” said MU founder Elizabeth-Ann Doyle.
Richler’s passion for the city never waned, said Florence Richler.
“He really needed to come back to Quebec and Montreal. He just loved it here. He grew up here, he knew it intimately,” she said.