Olympic Stadium to get $300M roof

Quebec's Olympic Installations Board is moving ahead with a project to replace the decrepit retractable roof covering Montreal's east-end stadium.

Quebec's Olympic Installations Board is moving ahead with a project to replace the decrepit roof covering Montreal's east-end stadium.

On Monday, the board filed a notice of intent to seek approval from Quebec's Liberal government to hire SNC-Lavalin for the $300-million job.

The new steel roof will be rigid, fixed, and more durable than the current retractable fibreglass membrane that rips frequently, requiring expensive repairs.

SNC-Lavalin submitted its bid on the Olympic Stadium roof job three years ago, after the OIB issued a tender request in 2005.

"We know that it's an excellent project that has passed all tests, all trials, analysis, etc..." affirmed Sylvie Bastien, communications director at the Olympic Stadium. "It's an excellent project."

The current retractable structure will be dismantled to make room for the new steel structure.

The project also includes major repairs and maintenance over the next 25 years.

The roof of the stadium known as the Big O is in such rough shape that Montreal's fire department threatened this year to shut the building completely.

The membrane has lost almost 50 per cent of its tear resistance and requires repairs as often as 50 times a year.

The membrane roof, installed by U.S. company Birdair in 1998, cannot handle snowfalls of more than eight centimetres.

City reacts to news

Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay said the project is encouraging, and that he would like to see the stadium fixed as soon as possible.

"We've been waiting for three years, so why can't we wait another month," said Tremblay. "The good news is that the Quebec government is willing to invest close to $300 million to enhance the value of that important asset for Montreal."