Old Metro cars to become part of trendy Southwest park this summer

After decades of toiling underground, a select group of the classic MR-63 Metro cars are finding an open-air retirement spot in the Southwest borough where they will be the focal point of a new community hub.

Lachine Canal gets new space for people to work on community projects, dine, take in art installations

A concept sketch shows what the new community site on the Lachine Canal is expected to look like. (Caroline Loubert/MR-63)

After decades of toiling underground, a select group of the classic MR-63 Metro cars are finding themselves in an open-air retirement spot where they can be the focal point of a new community hub.

Four former Metro cars will be featured in the new park which will be used as a local gathering place where there will be a shared garden, workshops, food trucks, an outdoor market, as well as visual and digital art.

"These Metro cars will get a second life," Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante said Wednesday.

The company behind the project, MR-63, joined Plante and other stakeholders Wednesday to announce a design competition for a stage at the site, as well to launch a call for projects at the art gallery wagon.

The pilot project is expected to open between May and September in the Southwest borough near the Lachine Canal, across from the Five Roses building at the Place des Bassins on the Lachine Canal National Historic Site.

Permanent site in 2020

The pilot project this summer is expected to cost about $600,000, said Étienne Morin-Bordeleau, co-founder of MR-63.

He added that the final installation will cost about $7 million and is expected to be completed by March 2020.

A version of the 2020 project released by MR-63 would feature a café on the first floor, an exhibition space on the second and terrasses on the third. (Rayside Labossière/MR-63)

According to Southwest borough mayor Benoit Dorais, there is no official site for the permanent location yet but it will probably be at the corner of Peel and Ottawa streets.

MR-63 co-founders, Étienne Morin-Bordeleau and his brother Frédéric, said the project's inception is largely thanks to Montrealers who donated their time to it.

Almost 40 volunteers helped get the project to this stage in its development and architects offered more than $100,000 of work for free.

"Really, it's a project 'of the city,'" Étienne said.

Their cultural complex idea was first launched in 2013. Since then, it has garnered the support of the province, the Southwest borough, the STM, Loto-Québec, Parks Canada, as well as funding bodies offering grants to help finance the project.