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Phillips Square to get $50M facelift

WATCH: Phillips Square in downtown Montreal is getting a facelift to the tune of $50 million. As Global's Tim Sargeant reports, the historic park will get wider sidewalks and more trees – but it will also lose parking spots.

A project to redevelop Phillips Square will begin next year and is slated to last until 2021.

The $50-million project also includes upgrades to Place Frère André, south of Phillips Square. Wider sidewalks, more trees, more seating and a 35 per cent increase in overall size is planned for the iconic park.

“One of the aspects that is necessary for us to be different from other business streets is to have places that people can experience downtown, walk around and be in a place like Square Phillips,”  Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante said at a press conference.

READ MORE: Ste-Catherine Street vacancies mirror the rise of online shopping

Revitalizing the park is part of Plante’s ambitious plans to redevelop Ste-Catherine Street West.

“People are attached to Ste-Catherine but we have to give it a bit of an oomph,” she said.

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However, upgrading the historic Phillips Square requires some sacrifices.

As a result, 61 street parking spaces will be removed and the two closed kiosks that sit at the entrance of the park will also be taken away and not replaced.

“Though there won’t be kiosks right in front of Square Philips, there will be kiosks in other places — and we’re actually not against kiosks,” said Plante.

The park’s history dates back to the mid 1800s and was named after Thomas Phillips, a contract builder and city councillor who bought the land from a fur trader.

The park grew in size over the years and was quickly established as a significant downtown landmark. Other historic buildings were built around the park including The Bay, Birks and the Canada Cement Company Building.

READ MORE: Montreal’s Ste-Catherine Street construction begins

Defenders of Montreal’s architecture say a face lift of Phillips Square is long overdue.

“Now it’s time for a move that will bring it the 21st century. So, of course, for a group like Heritage Montreal — Phillips Square is a very important site,” Dinu Bumbaru of Heritage Montréal said.

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It’s estimated there are 6,000 pedestrians who walk along Ste-Catherine Street West during peak summer periods.

Plante is hoping that number will increase when the redevelopment is complete.

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