Still no solution for McCord Museum complex nixed by city
Millions in funding on the line as city rejects museum's suggested alternatives
Mayor Valérie Plante's administration is standing firm on its decision to turn a parking lot into a small park rather than a $150-million new home for the McCord Museum, leaving museum officials suddenly empty handed after years of planning.
Already, $250,000 has been spent studying a Quartier des Spectacles location that was promised to the McCord by the Coderre administration.
Now, with nowhere to build its new home, millions of dollars in funding may be on the line.
"We have to find a solution," McCord Museum president and CEO Suzanne Sauvage told CBC Montreal's Daybreak Thursday. "This would be an aberration not to find a solution."
The parking lot in question is located off Bleury Street near the Place-des-Arts Metro, between de Maisonneuve Boulevard West and President Kennedy Avenue.
The city announced last month that it changed its plans for that lot. Since then, museum heads have met with Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante.
They hoped they'd be able to change her mind by offering solutions, such as creating a public space in front of the complex. However, Sauvage said, the city "seemed quite determined to do a park there."
City unable to provide alternative location
Montreal assigned a city employee to help find a solution, Sauvage said, but no alternatives have been brought to the table yet.
A Montreal spokesperson told CBC that the city is eager to resolve the issue in collaboration with the museum.
"Our administration really wants to find solutions to find a location for the McCord Museum," wrote Geneviève Jutras, who speaks for the mayor and the city's executive committee. "At this point, we cannot provide the locations we are looking at."
Museums partner to build complex
The new complex was to be built in a partnership between three Montreal museums: the McCord, the Stewart (dedicated to the history of New France) and the Fashion Museum.
"The vision behind all that is to bring all of those under one roof and create a new, important city museum that will tell the story of Montreal and the stories of Montrealers," Sauvage said.
That goal, she added, would also give the McCord Museum more space to host larger numbers of school groups and increase gallery displays.
The McCord's current home, on Sherbrooke Street West, is too small, she said. Artifact donations must be turned away because of space constraints and only one per cent of the museum's collection is on display at any given time.
That need for space brought the three partnering museums together to plan the new location. They have been working toward that goal for several years.
Alternatives rejected, funding in jeopardy
Instead of a small park, Sauvage said, creating a public space in front of the new museum would "be interesting for visitors, particularly in the summer."
That idea was turned down, she said, as was the suggestion that the city create a public green space behind the St. James United Church, located on Ste-Catherine Street West.
Either way, the city's decision has put the project's financing in jeopardy as its backers may not have the patience to wait out the delays, she said.
Some $25 million in time-sensitive, private-sector funding has been pledged to the museum, Sauvage said, and now that "money is sort of stuck there."
With files from CBC Montreal's Daybreak