Montreal's 375th plan to light Jacques Cartier bridge finds little support

A new CROP poll shows low approval for Montreal’s 375th anniversary plan to light up the Jacques Cartier bridge.

Only 8 per cent of CROP poll respondents approve of $39.5M plan to light up bridge

The Jacques-Cartier Bridge would have lights than can turn 365 shades of colours. (Moment Factory/375MTL)

A new CROP poll shows few Quebecers approve of Montreal's 375th anniversary plan to light up the Jacques Cartier bridge.

In a survery of 1,000 Quebec residents, about half of whom live in the greater Montreal area, only eight per cent said they want Montreal to go ahead with the plan at its current cost — $39.5 million.

Another 30 per cent said they don't approve of the project at all. The remaining 52 per cent of respondents said they'd be in favour of the project if it cost less money.

Montreal doctor paid for survey

The questions about the plan to light up the bridge were sponsored by a Montreal psychiatrist, James Farquhar.

Farquhar said he paid about $1,000 to have the questions added to a larger CROP survey.

"I saw the $39.5 million project just to put lights on a bridge last summer, and I said, 'That's crazy.'" Farquhar said.

James Farquhar, a Montreal psychiatrist, paid $1,000 to have a CROP poll survey ask 1,000 Quebecers what they thought about the $39.5 million Jacques Cartier bridge project. (CBC)
Farquhar works at a McGill teaching hospital with mentally ill patients, many of whom are homeless or living far below the poverty line.

He said he immediately thought of his patients – and how much of a difference nearly $40 million would make in their lives.

"If you took the money and put it into health care or into homelessness, it would be much more to the credit of Montreal and to the mayor of Montreal, Denis Coderre," Farquhar said.

The poll also asked what people felt $39.5 million should be spent on:

  • 43 per cent would spend it to improve health services.
  • 35 per cent would spend it to improve infrastructure such as roads, water systems, sewage systems.
  • 13 per cent would spend it to reduce homelessness.
  • One per cent would spend it to pay better salaries or pensions for police and firefighters.
  • One per cent would spend it for lighting up the bridge.

375th birthday organizer responds

Gilbert Rozon, commissioner of the 375th anniversary planning group, defended the project. He said it will grow tourism and breed pride among Montrealers.

"We feel that we're going to have the most beautiful bridge in the world," Rozon said.

"I have faith that it's going to be profitable."

Rozon said his team did careful research on the project before unveiling it. He asked that Montrealers reserve their judgment until the project is finished.

'Living Connections'

The project to light up the bridge is called Living Connections.

A statement from the city's 375th anniversary committee at the time of its announcement described it as "a unique interactive lighting concept activated in real time by the seasons and the energy of the city."

As for how the project will be paid for, the Jacques Cartier and Champlain Bridges Incorporated, the company in charge of the bridge, will contribute $30 million, while the city of Montreal will chip in $9.5 million.

Farquhar said he plans to submit the results of the poll to the City of Montreal and the federal government.

"I hope to encourage the mayor to cancel the project, or to cut it way down in terms of how much money he's going to spend."

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre declined to comment on the poll.


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