Organizers pleased with response to Montreal’s 375th anniversary celebrations

The Jacques Cartier Bridge is lit up to celebrate Montreal's 375th birthday on Wednesday, May 17, 2017. Dan Spector / Global News

Officials are expressing satisfaction with celebrations held to mark Montreal’s 375th anniversary, despite the controversial multi-million dollar cost of lighting up a major Montreal bridge.

Alain Gignac, who is in charge of the celebrations, maintains the level of participation in year-long events by Montrealers hasn’t been seen since Expo 67.

“It was a time when Canadians, and particularly Montrealers, were the most proud to be part of Montreal, Canada and Quebec,” he recalled in a recent interview.

Gignac also noted that the level of satisfaction of people who took part in various activities reached 96 per cent.

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He called that “magic” considering over 200 different activities were held throughout the year.

One of the highlights of the anniversary celebrations was the lighting of the Jacques-Cartier bridge.

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Gignac says the event drew about 575,000 people. But the official lighting ceremony had to be held twice.

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The first time it was disrupted by protesting Montreal police officers.

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It cost almost $40 million to illuminate the bridge that links Montreal with its south shore.

The federal agency that runs the bridge kicked in $30 million while $9.5 million came from the other levels of government.

At the time, former mayor Denis Coderre defended what he called the city’s new signature, adding that it showed Montreal is a great Metropolis.

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Preliminary estimates indicate the 375th anniversary festivities will end with a budget surplus of about $7 million out of a total budget of $125 million.

A more exhaustive review of the turnout and the economic benefits from all activities will be released next March.

The year-long celebrations come to an end Dec. 31 with events planned throughout the day and into the night in Old Montreal.

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