Mordecai Richler gazebo now comes with a $724,000 price tag
The City of Montreal now says that finally, after five years, the refurbished Mordecai Richler gazebo should be ready this summer – long overdue and heavily over budget.
“We are very optimistic it's going to be finished at the end of July,” said Real Menard of Montreal’s executive committee.
At a cost of $724,000, the gazebo in Mount Royal Park will cost more than double the original estimate.
“We have to save and to protect the heritage building,” said Menard, explaining why when lead paint and an unstable foundation were discovered on the structure, work was stalled and budgets increased.
The gazebo tribute to Richler was approved in 2011 by then-mayor Gerald Tremblay.
An idea to name a library after the author was rejected by Plateau Mont-Royal city councillors.
In 2014, Mayor Denis Coderre championed the gazebo project, which finally stumbled forward – “If I have to paint it myself,” he said at the time.
Projet Montreal city councillor Alex Norris, who serves the Plateau, thinks the project was badly planned and executed.
“It's inconceivable to me that someone familiar with heritage structures in the city of Montreal would not have planned for the presence of lead paint,” he said.
Menard said they are not happy that the cost increased so much over the course of the project, but claims that the architect did not provide them with the proper information.
“He didn't give all the information we need to have the real estimation,” he said.
The city has now sent legal letters to the architect demanding information that will be reviewed by city lawyers.
In the meantime, Montreal Gazette columnist Bill Brownstein, who has written many articles about the infamous gazebo, calls the whole saga ludicrous.
“It started out as nothing and now it's $720,000. It's nuts! In the interim, Coderre and (Plateau Mayor Luc) Ferrandez were able to get a compromise situation going where they actually named the Mile End Library for Richler, which is all the family ever wanted in the first place, and all of this ridiculousness could have been completely avoided had they realized that to begin with,” he said.