City Hall to move next door for 3 years while building gets renovated

When work on city hall gets underway in 2019, the Lucien-Saulnier heritage building next door will serve as a "temporary city hall," said François Limoges, leader of the municipal majority.

The Lucien-Saulnier building will serve as temporary city hall beginning in 2019

City employees will return to a renovated City Hall in 2021. (Charles Contant/CBC)

The City of Montreal is spending $8.3 million to retrofit the former courthouse in Old Montreal to become a temporary city hall while the historical building undergoes a massive renovation.

At the beginning of summer 2019, over the course of two months, the entire municipal administration will move from the current City Hall building to the Lucien-Saulnier building next door, said Coun. François Limoges.

Once everyone is moved over, the renovation of City Hall will begin. The city estimates the project will cost $70.5 million, but with contingency, that number could go as high as $139.7 million.

"It's not a luxury. It's not a fad. It's a necessity," said Limoges. "The building is obsolete."

In the temporary space, equivalents will be created for each room in city hall —including a new Peter-McGill room for the executive committee, a Maisonneuve lounge for receptions, and a Hall of Honour. 

The Lucien-Saulnier building, Montreal's former courthouse, is west of city hall. (Radio-Canada)

Not everything will be perfect, though.

Limoges said the current configuration of the Lucien-Saulnier building will present some challenges, but nothing insurmountable.

For example, the lighting will be redone, but for economic reasons, there will be no air conditioning.

Two hundred employees are expected to return to City Hall in the fall of 2022.

The Lucien-Saulnier building was erected in 1856 and has housed the Montreal courthouse, a police station, and most recently, the city's finance department.

Montreal's City Hall building was constructed in 1878, but was completely gutted by fire in 1922. It was rebuilt within the walls of the original structure. 

Montreal City Hall before a fire gutted the building in 1922. (McCord Museum )

Translated from Radio-Canada with files from Valeria Cori-Manocchio