Members of city council posed for a group photo Monday afternoon to commemorate the last time they would meet in the elegant council chamber for three years.
John Mahoney / Montreal Gazette
Members of city council posed for a group photo Monday afternoon to commemorate the last time they would meet in the elegant council chamber for three years.Over the next few weeks, Montreal’s administration will move to the Lucien Saulnier building at 155 Notre-Dame St. E. while city hall undergoes a renovation that could cost as much as $140 million.Built between 1872 and 1878, and then rebuilt between 1923 and 1926 after the interior was destroyed by fire, the five-storey city hall at 275 Notre Dame St. E. is in dire need of an extreme makeover, majority leader François Limoges said during the council meeting.“Everyone knows that a very significant amount of work is required,” said Limoges, who recounted recently being stuck in an aged elevator for half an hour, and recalled anecdotes about a window in the office of the chairman of the executive council that spontaneously opens and closes, depending on the weather.“There is major work to be done, but it will also be an opportunity to improve it, to open it up to the public and to let the natural light in,” he said, noting that over the years, rooms have been subdivided, making spaces dark and cramped.“Those walls will be eliminated, we will go back to the original, and (that) will open up the space to natural light,” he said.“In short, we will restore this gem that belongs to Montrealers,” he said.Limoges noted that the plans also include restoring historic parts of the building, like the balcony where French President Charles de Gaulle uttered the words, “Vive le Québec libre!” in 1967.“It’s a place rich in history and debates. It’s our seat of democracy,” he said.The three-year capital works program estimates the city will spend $12.6 million this year, $26.8 million in 2020, and $39.5 million in 2021 on the renovation, with an additional $28 million to be spent after that, for a total of $107 million.However, the city said last year the cost of the project was estimated at $116.4 million, which could rise as high as $140 million because of fluctuations in costs.The Saulnier building is a former courthouse built between 1851 and 1857. It has been renovated at a cost of $8.3 million to make it usable as a city firstname.lastname@example.orgRelated