Montreal

Rainbow balls that decorate Montreal's Gay Village here for one more summer

Claude Cormier, the landscape architect who designed the installation that first went up in 2011, said it's time to shine the spotlight on someone else's creation.

Landscape architect Claude Cormier has agreed to a transition year before retiring installation

Since the Village was established in the 1980s, it has gone through significant changes in its composition. (submitted by Raphael Thibodeau)

The rainbow plastic balls that form a canopy over the kilometre-long stretch of Ste-Catherine Street East that is the heart of Montreal's Gay Village will come down for the last time at the end of next summer.

The artist Claude Cormier originally wanted to have the balls taken down for the last time and retired at the end of this year, but a visit from Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante changed his mind.

The art installation, originally put up in 2011, will be permanently retired once the strings of 180,000 multi-coloured balls come down in September 2019, allowing for a transition year.

The installation began its life all in pink, and so it stayed for six years, until the pink balls were replaced in 2017 by balls in all the colours of the rainbow, dubbed "18 shades of gay." 

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

Cormier, the landscape architect who designed the installation, told CBC News it's time for someone else's work to take the spotlight.

"Someone else can continue the adventure," he said. "It's a humble way of allowing others to come in."

Cormier said the plastic balls don't last very long hanging out in the sun and the rain all summer and often have to be replaced.

He's not sure what will happen to the balls next, but they won't likely be strung up anywhere else.

The stretch of Ste-Catherine Street between St-Hubert Street and Papineau Avenue is blocked off for pedestrian use in the summer. (submitted by Raphael Thibodeau)

The installation is managed by the Gay Village merchants' association, which says it respects the artist's decision to end the mammoth production of putting the canopy back up each spring.

Claude Adam is a vendor who sells clothing on Ste-Catherine Street during the summer. (Sudha Krishnan/CBC)

Many are less than thrilled with the idea of losing the recognizable symbol of summer in the village.

​Dorval resident John Douglas called the decision "a disgrace."

Not everyone is pleased to hear that the installation will be dismantled at the end of the summer of 2018. (Raphael Thibodeau)

"It's beautiful. I don't know why they would want to take something like this down," he told CBC as he walked down Ste-Catherine Street with his friend, Carole Goguen.

"I think that nothing could replace these," said Goguen. "I really hate that they are taking them down."

Here's an aerial view of the kilometre-long rainbow. (submitted by JF Savaria)

But one merchant who sells clothing along the same strip said he's open to the idea of changing things up.

"It's nice, but after eight years, it's nice to have a change," said Claude Adam.

With files from Sudha Krishnan

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