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New roof or demolition? Debate surrounding the Big O continues


There was still a lot of reaction one day after Quebec announced it was planning to spend $870 million for a new roof and technical ring at the Olympic Stadium.

The decision to renovate is being applauded by many.

"They decide to take a decision, and I have to say thank you for that. That needs some guts," said PQ MNA Pascal Bérubé on Tuesday.

"It's still a symbol of Montreal and of Quebec, so I think it's the least worse decision that has been taken," Quebec Solidaire co-spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois said.

Not everyone is happy with the project.

"The moment that they start trying to justify it on economic grounds and that this is a good sound business decision, merely just highlights exactly why that thing is called the Big O and not as a sign of endearment," said Moshe Lander, an economics professor at Concordia University.

"It's a joke and they're merely playing into that joke."

The province said there are economic benefits to doing the work, but Lander doesn't buy it. He said the stadium won't have a full-time tenant like a sports team.

"The moment they put dollar one in, that's the end of the Expos because there's no way that Montreal is going to have two 50,000 seats, stadiums 10 kilometres away from each other in the Peel Basin and out there and try and maintain both of those," Lander said.

The East End Chamber of Commerce says the Big O's roof was hurting economic development.

"There would be no promoter that is interested to come when we tell them that within a five-day period, if there is three centimetres of snow, we will cancel your events," said Jean-Denis Charest, president of the East End Chamber of Commerce.

Lander said Quebec should demolish the stadium and fill the space with housing. Officials say demolition would be a delicate process with the Metro tunnel below the stadium. It would also cost $2 billion.

"The thing that they're saying is impeding the ability to knock down the stadium could be actually be a main attraction, which is you've got a Metro station directly underneath there," Lander said.

"Imagine being able to put 5,000 units of housing on that space and connecting it to the Metro underneath." Top Stories

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