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.
Projet Montréal 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.
Some Twitter users had suggestions for the Mayor:
Do you think they'll use them to repair potholes once the 375th is over? https://t.co/MI20zQoeK8— @DimensionNik
Councillor Dida Berku from Côte-St-Luc explains why she voted against the project:
Chantal Tremblay says she doesn't think the statues will fit well with Mount Royal's natural beauty:
Chantal Tremblay can't believe the city wants to spend 3.5 million on what some are calling "granite tree stumps." pic.twitter.com/3ZjUeO8cX4— @CBC_Hayward