The committee that organized Montreal’s 375th anniversary say the city is in a better place today because of the celebrations.
It says the year-long party saw a record year for tourism, creating tens of millions of dollars in economic spin-offs.
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“Montreal had to regain confidence. You remember Montreal just four or five years ago,” said France Chretien Desmarais, president of the Society for the Celebration of the 375th Anniversary.
“It’s not the same Montreal we have today and the 375 was one of the vehicles to bring us there.”
The committee released a detailed financial report of its expenses and revenue for the celebrations, working with a budget of $123 million.
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The bulk of the funding — $60 million — came from the Quebec government. The City of Montreal kicked in $30 million and sponsors accounted for $12 million.
In the end, the committee spent $107 million of its budget.
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It said it plans to hand over the remaining $16 million back to the municipal and provincial governments.
“Coming under budget is a treat. I think the whole team was being so rigorous with the money because we treated it as if it was our own money,” said Alain Gignac, the society’s general manager.
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“If you talk to any promoters, they will tell you we were tough on negotiations because we treated it as if it was our own money. That is the reason why we have money we did not use and we can reimburse the governments for that.”
The committee released its revenue chart:
- Budget: $123 million
- City of Montreal: $30 million
- Quebec government: $60 million
- Canadian government: $18 million
- Sponsors: $12.5 million
- Interest: $1.1 million
- Various products: $432,000
- Expenses: $107 million
- Planning and creation: $3.5 million
- Marketing and communication: $6 million
- Public and government relations: $2.7 million
- Administration: $6.2 million
- Investments in programming: $80 million
- Socioeconomic projects: $8 million
- Leftover: $16 million
The committee estimates 2.4 million people participated in the various activities, adding the economic spin-offs created for the city amounted to $106 million.
It also pointed out it was a banner year for tourism — up by five per cent.
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Despite the overwhelming positive attitude of the committee, it wasn’t exactly a seamless year as many questioned why Montreal was making such a big deal to celebrate 375 years in the first place.
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Critics questioned why $40 million was being spent to light up the Jacques Cartier Bridge; many derided the millions spent on granite tree stumps in Mount Royal; commissioner Gilbert Rozon had to resign amid sexual assault allegations.
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In addition, many cultural groups — including some indigenous organizations — complained they were left out of the celebrations.
“For someone who is indigenous, there could have been so much more done,” said Naguset, from the Native Women’s Shelter.
“I give them a failing grade. I give them a D. They put money into a bridge that lights up, that costs millions of dollars? They don’t need that.”
As for the leftover funds, the City of Montreal says it hasn’t decided yet how it will spend its $7 million.