'Why not plant trees?' Montrealers steaming over $3.45M granite stumps

Montrealers have reacted with humour and scathing comments to the discovery that granite tree stumps commissioned for the city's 375th birthday next year will cost $3.45 million.

The public art commissioned for city's 375th birthday next year to cost 27% more than estimate

An artist's rendering of the proposed project depicts the 27 statues that will dot various locations in Montreal. (City of Montreal)

Montrealers have reacted with humour and scathing comments to the discovery that granite tree stumps commissioned for the city's 375th birthday next year will cost $3.45 million.

The 27 granite statues, which will also serve as benches, are to be scattered across various locations, including Mount Royal and the campus of the Université de Montréal.

Project over budget

The statues will cost 27 per cent more than the original estimate provided to the city, because the cost of granite has soared since the city obtained its initial estimate.

ProjetMontréal Coun. Alex Norris said that the higher cost of the materials could be due to an "artificial deadline" set by Coderre to finish the project in time for the celebrations that will be held in Montreal next year.

"When a political leader imposes a deadline and says we've got to get this done no matter what, that sends a signal to construction entrepreneurs that they can raise the price, and that seems to be what they're doing​," said Norris.

He said that is an issue that has affected other legacy projects that are part of the 375th birthday celebrations.

"We believe Mayor Coderre should reconsider this project," he said.

Norris wants Montreal to create an online resource to allow the public to track city spending and intends to make a formal request proposing that.

'It's not a stump'

"It's not a stump. It is a piece of art," said the mayor.

Coderre said that the installations will increase accessibility because they will also serve as benches and beautify the city.

"I look at that as an investment," Coderre said. "It's not just the expense of the project itself, but look at the impact that will come [for] our citizens and Montreal as a city of design."

Coderre said he would be looking into the costs of the project and the granite required to make the statues.

The contract for the granite statues was awarded to Aménagement Côté Jardin Inc. and approved by a majority vote at a May city council meeting. The project has yet to be approved by the Quebec Culture Ministry.

Public reacts with criticism, humour

Members of the public reacted on social media, commenting on both the price and the aesthetic value of the project.