Montreal

New plans for Viger Square will preserve concrete Agora art

Montreal mayor Denis Coderre has announced the city's new plan for refurbishing Viger Square, and it calls for preserving part of Agora, the controversial public artwork.

Previous plans would have seen demolition of Charles Daudelin sculptures used as shelter by homeless

A view of Viger Square from above. (Radio-Canada)

Montreal mayor Denis Coderre has announced the city's new plan for refurbishing Viger Square, and it will preserve part of the controversial public artwork known as Agora.

Coderre had previously said the city would demolish Agora, a series of monolithic concrete pergolas created by Quebec sculptor Charles Daudelin in 1981.

The shelter provided by the concrete structures has attracted drug users and people living on the street for years.

Viger Square is a popular spot for the city's homeless population. Many choose to sleep outside rather than in shelters, even when the temperatures drop to beyond freezing. (Simon-Marc Charron/Radio-Canada)

Coderre's new plan will see about half of the concrete pergolas destroyed, while the others will be preserved.

The overall effect will be to open up the space and allow in more daylight, he said.

"This plan strikes a balance between safety and respect for modern heritage. Opening up this public space will allow citizens to reclaim it," the mayor said in a statement.

Opposition party Projet Montréal and heritage activists said the new plans are an improvement, but not ideal.

"We're losing more than half the structures, so that's a big loss for us," said Anne-Marie Siguoin, a city councillor with Projet Montréal.

The new project will also see a fountain in the middle of the square redesigned and moved, sidewalks widened and large trees planted in the square.

City bureaucrats say this is just a preliminary design, and it's still possible that some elements of the project may change.

Work is scheduled to begin in November 2015 at an estimated cost of $28.3 million.

Watch CBC's Steve Rukavina report from the square:

The City of Montreal will give Viger square a facelift, but it won't demolish the Agora artwork, as previously planned. 1:25

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