Montreal

Mordecai Richler gazebo finally finished

After five years, numerous delays and a total cost of $700,000, the Mordecai Richler gazebo in Montreal's Mount Royal Park is ready for use.

5 years and $700K later, decaying bandstand slated for dedication to Montreal author rebuilt at last

The final product is officially open to the public. ( Louis -Marie Philidor/Radio-Canada)

After five years, numerous delays and a total cost of $700,000, the Mordecai Richler gazebo in Montreal's Mount Royal Park is ready for use. 

The refurbishment of the decaying bandstand to honour the Montreal-born author on the mountain's eastern flank was first announced in 2011, and work began in 2015. 

Renovations were supposed to be finished that fall, but the deadline was repeatedly pushed back as new problems emerged and its price tag nearly doubled.

Richler, who was born in Montreal in 1931, was recognized internationally for his literary talent, penning classics such as The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz and Barney's Version, which were both set in Montreal and made into feature films. He died in 2001.

A mural of Richler's likeness has also been completed on a building on Laurier Street in the Plateau–Mont-Royal borough.

It was quietly unveiled Monday in the presence of his widow.

Unlike the gazebo, the mural was officially unveiled to the public. (Louis-Marie Philidor/Radio-Canada)

'He would have been first to mock this whole process'

While there hasn't been an official announcement for the structure, the fencing around the structure has been dismantled, and the gazebo is now open to the public.

"I think it looks pretty nice but it cost far too much and took far too long," Projet Montréal councillor Alex Norris said. "We're talking about three quarters of a million dollars and five years to essentially restore a gazebo, an existing gazebo."

Norris said the city should provide an explanation for the delays after Mayor Denis Coderre repeatedly promised to have it completed in 2015.

The gazebo was announced in 2011. (Louis-Marie Philidor/Radio-Canada)

Bill Brownstein, who was a good friend of Richler's and is a columnist for the Montreal Gazette, said the project is excessive and not what the notoriously curmudgeonly author would have wanted.

"I'm sure he would have been the first to mock this whole process and it wouldn't have been something he would have ever coveted," Brownstein said.

"But this is what happens when politicians and people try to make compromises and cost overruns. I mean, the lunacy of this all."

The gazebo is just a few blocks away from Richler's beloved St-Urbain Street, where he grew up and which is featured in many of his novels. 

With files from Emily Brass and the Canadian Press

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