Richard Bergeron takes heat for handing out free Formula E tickets to constituents

Équipe Denis Coderre city councillor Richard Bergeron is being criticized for handing out complimentary tickets to his constituents in the downtown Montreal district of Saint-Jacques in advance of next weekend's Formula E race.

Projet Montréal calls it inappropriate with election on horizon, city says Bergeron just doing his job

A spokesperson for the city says Richard Bergeron was just doing his job when he handed out free tickets to next week's Formula E race, but the Official Opposition is taking issue with the move. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

City councillor Richard Bergeron is being criticized for handing out complimentary tickets to next weekend's Formula E race in his downtown district of Saint-Jacques.

Projet Montréal calls the tickets "gifts" and said it's inappropriate for an elected official to be going door-to-door to dole them out, especially ahead of this fall's municipal election.

"Voters won't be duped by this move," said Projet Montréal councillor Alex Norris, the party's public security critic.

Bergeron, who is part of Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre's team at city hall, has been closely involved in the planning of the race since last winter. Coderre has been a staunch defender of the race and its $24-million price tag.

Norris said the tickets are paid for by the taxpayers in Bergeron's riding, which is bearing the brunt of race preparations.
Formula E, heralded as the world's first fully electric racing series, comes to Montreal next weekend. (Barry Huang/Reuters)

Residents unimpressed

Some residents in Bergeron's district told CBC's French-language service, Radio-Canada, that the tickets were paltry compensation for all the inconveniences they're being forced to endure for the race, which features 20 fully electric cars that can reach speeds up to 225 kilometres per hour. 

Projet Montréal has been critical of the city's planning of the Formula E race, which it says has not taken into account its impact on residents and businesses.

"In his rush to put on flashy events during the pre-electoral period, mayor [Denis] Coderre ended up spending way too much money and inconveniencing a lot of people," Norris said.

The Formula E circuit is shown in yellow. Nearby streets coloured in red is where parking will be forbidden. Green represents where permit-holders can park only. (City of Montreal)
The Formula E circuit encompasses 2.75 kilometres of downtown Montreal's southeast sector and is forcing the closure of numerous streets and the rerouting of city buses.

"We're cutting off a whole neighbourhood for weeks and depriving them of services," Norris said.

Bergeron just doing his job, city says

Responding to the criticism, the Coderre administration said the complimentary tickets have always been part of the Formula E plan.

Households "directly affected" by the race are entitled to two Formula E passes, along with a parking pass and two 10-day STM passes.

Residents in "heavily affected" areas of downtown Montreal are entitled to two tickets, plus a parking pass and two STM passes. (Radio-Canada)
In all, the city is handing out 4,000 free tickets to the race.

Residents were supposed to pick up their passes at public consultations that were held July 8 and 12.

"Mr. Bergeron is now going to those addresses that didn't pick up their passes at those meetings," said Noémie Brière-Marquez, a spokesperson from Coderre's office.

Bergeron, she said, is only doing what a city councillor should be doing.

With files from Radio-Canada