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Legault wants to turn Montreal's Olympic Stadium back into a 'positive symbol'

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Premier François Legault believes it's time to stop seeing the Montreal Olympic Stadium as a negative symbol and wants to bring it back to its former glory, even though he knows the operation will be costly.

Last July, the Société de développement et de mise en valeur du Parc olympique, the former Régie des installations olympiques, announced that it would have to replace the technical ring of the imposing building in order to install a new roof.

Such a large-scale operation will increase the costs of a project that is already complex and has been postponed for many years.

This news has rekindled the debate about the real relevance of replacing the stadium's roof, whose wrinkles from the passage of time are becoming increasingly difficult to hide.

At a press scrum on Monday evening to coincide with the launch of a book on the career of hockey player Mike Bossy, Legault was clear: a new roof must be installed on the Olympic Stadium.

"My challenge with the Olympic Stadium is to turn it from a negative symbol into a positive one," he said, noting in passing that the stadium and its leaning tower are among the icons that put the city on the international map.

"There are lots of French people, among others, who want to see the Olympic Stadium when they come to Montreal. It needs a roof, and we're looking at different scenarios," the premier added.

The current roof has already passed the end of its lifetime. In 2017, Philippe Couillard's Liberal government had announced its replacement, at a cost of $200-250 million, with delivery in 2022.

In 2019, however, the timetable was postponed to 2024, citing "the complexity of the project." This new timetable will not materialize either, and no new date has been set.

It's clear that installing a new roof will cost hundreds of millions of dollars and the premier is well aware of this.

"Yes, it's going to be expensive, but I think it's important that the Olympic Stadium has a roof," he insisted.

-- With files from The Canadian Press' Pierre Saint-Arnaud

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Oct. 16, 2023.

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