MONTREAL -- The iconic religious and heritage landmark that symbolizes Old Montreal is reaching out for support as the COVID-19 pandemic takes a brutal financial toll and threatens to derail its repair and restoration work.

The Notre-Dame Basilica typically attracts more than 1 million visitors per year, which accounts for its main source of revenue.

In 2020, those visitors are non-existent, and it's only open for daily masses.

Of the $14 million the basilica usually pulls in, 85 per cent is from visitors.

"The basilica is the symbol of the foundation of our city," said basilica director Claudia Morissette. "It is a must see attraction."

Major renovations are underway that include eight phases of work to repair and restore the nearly two century-old Gothic structure.

Fixing the facade and towers is considered urgent.

"These three phases are estimated $9.2 million," said Morisette.

Morisette said the basilica received $1 million from Quebec's Religious Heritage Council, but without extra funding, it is unclear how the work will be completed.

She hopes all three levels of government will chip in.

"We need help," she said. "We're not able to do it alone."