Montreal

Don't say bye to the multicoloured balls above Montreal's Gay Village. Buy some!

Ninety per cent of the money raised will be used to finance the next major artistic installation, slated to be presented in May 2020. The rest of the revenue will go to three community organizations working with Montreal's LGBTQ+ community.

Money raised will support local LGBTQ+ organizations while funding next year's art display

The balls are coming down and the landscape architect, Claude Cormier, didn't want them to be displayed in another city. But he agreed for them to be sold for private use. (Submitted by Village Montréal)

After nine seasons suspended over Montreal's Gay Village, the 180,000 balls are coming down for good on Sept. 23.

But they won't be tossed in a landfill — instead, they're on sale.

The Village's merchants' association is selling approximately 3,500 strings of about 54 balls at a cost of $100 each.

Some 40 strings were sold within a couple hours of going on sale Tuesday morning, according to Denis Brossard, board president of Village Montréal.

"Montrealers have shown their love for these balls over the years," he said in a statement.

While 90 per cent of the money raised will be used to finance the next major artistic installation, slated to be presented in May 2020, the rest of the revenue will go to three community organizations working with Montreal's LGBTQ+ community.

The balls can be purchased through the association's website and picked up this fall.

Some of the balls won't be sold, and will be displayed at the Espace Village gallery, which will open at 1211 Ste-Catherine Street next year.

18 Shades of Gay

The art installation was designed by Claude Cormier, a landscape architect, and his team, but the display was pink only when it was first selected.

The Pink Balls installation went on display in 2011, creating a canopy over Ste-Catherine Street East. 

"Not only the LGBTQ+ community, but people from Montreal in general were very proud of this art installation and it was only supposed to be up for one summer, but the public fell in love with the balls," said Yannick Brouillette, director of Village Montréal.

Claude Cormier is a landscape architect and the creator of the installation that delighted locals and visitors for years. (Sudha Krishnan/CBC)

In 2017, the pink balls were replaced with a rainbow of colours and the installation was given a new name, "18 Shades of Gay."

In 2018, Cormier announced he wanted another design team to decorate the pedestrian street.

Tough choices

A jury will decide on the balls' replacement this fall. The new project is expected to be announced before the end of the year, the association says.

A total of 29 possible projects were presented from firms around the world and, of those, the selection has been narrowed down to four, Brossard said.

The current installation has received international acclaim, attracting tourists to the area and and boosting the pedestrian street's activity year after year, he said.

Strings of pink plastic balls formed a canopy over Ste-Catherine Street East until 2017, when they were swapped out for rainbow coloured balls. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

For locals, the street being closed to cars and the balls going up had become an annual sign of spring, he said.

Now, the jury has a tough choice to make in choosing a replacement, Brossard said.

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