Montreal

Mordecai Richler gazebo still under construction 4 years later

It's been more than four years since the City of Montreal announced it would renovate the gazebo on the steps of Mount Royal, but the work isn't close to being finished.

Structure on Mount Royal supposed to serve as monument to acclaimed writer

The Mordecai Richler gazebo on Mount Royal remains fenced off.

It's been more than four years since the City of Montreal announced it would renovate the gazebo on the steps of Mount Royal, but the work isn't close to being finished.

The structure is supposed to serve as a monument dedicated to local writer Mordecai Richler.

Despite promises from Mayor Denis Coderre, delays have continued — and some people are growing impatient.

Instead of adding to the beauty of park, the fenced-off construction site surrounding the dilapidated gazebo does the opposite, many residents say.

The metal fencing is rusted, the roof's decaying shingles are covered by a tarp, and what remains of the wooden platform is sprayed with graffiti.  

"When I walk by here, yeah, I do think it's a bit of an eyesore," said Carly Vandergriendt, who often passes through the area while jogging. 

Another passerby, Anthony Somos, said he'd like to see the project completed as soon as possible.

"Naming something after Mordecai Richler I think is important," he said. "Get it done."

Florence Richler looks over at the library plaque commemorating her husband Mordecai Richler next to Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre during a ceremony last March. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)
The gazebo project was originally announced in 2011, but it faced delays and still doesn't appear close to being finished. 

Last March, the city named the Mile End library after the acclaimed yet controversial author, who died in 2001 at age 70.

Richler, who was born in Montreal in 1931, was known internationally for his literary talent and penned classics such as The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz and Barney's Version, which were both set in Montreal and made into feature films.

But in some quarters of Quebec, his critiques of the province's nationalist movement earned him scorn.

At the library announcement, Coderre said the gazebo project would finally be finished. But that goal still appears far off. 

Projet Montréal Coun. Alex Norris said the project has become a fiasco.

"It's beyond me that we're still in this situation today, four years after voting to change the name of the gazebo," he said.

After the executive committee meeting today, Coderre told reporters the city had no choice but to delay the repairs because the structure had lead paint and needs to be decontaminated. 

"It will be done," he said, adding that the project has a $500,000 budget. ​

"If we [dedicate] infrastructure to one of our greatest writers, the minimum of dignity is to make sure that we put it at that level, so we have to do it."

Corderre said the upgrades should be completed by next month.

with files from Canadian Press

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