Montreal

Montreal city council votes to rename Vimy Park after Jacques Parizeau

Montreal city council has voted overwhelmingly in favour of renaming Vimy Park after former Quebec premier Jacques Parizeau. But Mayor Denis Coderre says the city will create new public spaces to commemorate the battles of Vimy Ridge and Dieppe.

Mayor Denis Coderre announces creation of 2 new spaces to be named after Vimy Ridge and Dieppe battles

Vimy Park is being renamed after former Quebec Premier Jacques Parizeau. (Google Maps/Canadian Press)

Montreal city council has voted overwhelmingly in favour of renaming Vimy Park in Outremont after former Quebec premier Jacques Parizeau.

The vote passed easily — with 51 in favour and two against Tuesday night.

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre also announced that the city would create two new public spaces in 2017 to commemorate the battles of Vimy Ridge and Dieppe.

Councillors felt 'stuck'

On Monday, Sterling Downey, a Projet Montréal councillor for Desmarais-Crawford, said the the vote would be a difficult one.

"We're stuck between our veterans and a very prominent Quebecer, both of whom deserve their place in our history," he said. 

"It's not the right process to get rid of one for the other." 

The borough of Outremont received permission from the City of Montreal's executive committee last week to change the park's name in memory of Parizeau, who died last year.

Outremont was Parizeau's home and he lived for years on a small street adjoining the park.

Controversy

Critics have slammed the proposed name change, calling it an "insult" to rename a park dedicated to the World War One Battle of Vimy Ridge after Parizeau, a politician who nearly led Quebec to independence in the 1995 referendum on sovereignty.

The 1917 Battle of Vimy Ridge is widely considered to be a pivotal moment in Canada's development as a nation. More than 10,000 Canadian soldiers died or were wounded during the battle.

Parizeau, a respected economist before entering politics, gained infamy for blaming "money and the ethnic vote" in the wake of the No side's victory in the referendum.

City councillor Marvin Rotrand called that comment of Parizeau's "disgraceful," but said he would vote in favour of the change on the strength of Parizeau's other contributions to Quebec society.

"He was one of the architects of Hydro-Québec and the Quebec Pension Plan and the Fonds de solidarité," he said in a statement.

With files from Stephen Smith