Montreal North welcomes $1M wheel sculpture

A 19-metre high wheel meant to be an art installation was inaugurated in Montreal North on Saturday, with some criticizing the $1M bill that came with it.

Controversial art piece meant to welcome visitors to borough

La vélocité des lieux, a 19-metre public art installation inaugurated on September 19 in Montreal North. (CBC News)

A 19-metre high public art installation was inaugurated in Montreal North on Saturday, after months of stirring controversy with its $1.1 million price tag.

Entitled 'La vélocité des lieux' — the velocity of places — the sculpture installed at the corner of Pie-IX and Henri-Bourassa boulevards is meant to welcome visitors to the borough and to the city, as it's one of the entry points from Laval.

The sculpture, which resembles a Ferris wheel, is made of five curved bus skeletons connected into a circle, and covered in reflectors and coloured plastic. 

According the BGL, the three-man art collective that made it, it's suppose to evoke movement and public transportation in an intersection where a large transit project is underway.

"When we did our research we saw there would be lots of buses that would be parked here. So let's play with this huge object that people use to get in and sit," Nicolas Laverdière, one of the collective's artists said.

Annoyed by the price tag

Montreal North residents interviewed by CBC in the summer were annoyed by the hefty price tag of the project in a borough with a high rate of low-income families.

La Vélocité, which is nearly 20 metres high, has residents raising their eyebrows over its price tag. 2:16

The city said the money came from a public art budget, and social programs were not sacrificed for it.

"Now when we come to Montreal North you will see that this place has culture, "Montreal mayor Denis Coderre said at the inauguration.

"It's subjective, you will always have some people who like it or don't,"  the simple fact that we can discuss culture is a sign of maturity, depth and intelligence.

If the sculpture frustrates passersby for not being an amusement ride, Laverdière is pleased.

"I understand you're frustrated but at the same time, we're super happy because if you thought about that, you projected yourself on it," he said. "It's rare thing to happen with public art."