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$9.2M Dorchester Square re-opens in time for Grand Prix weekend

Dorchester Square Park makeover complete
WATCH: It's been months in the making, but work on the northern sector of Dorchester Square Park is complete.

Work on the northern section of downtown’s Dorchester Square is complete — at last.

After months of renovations and a $9.2 million price tag, the park, which is adjacent to downtown Montreal’s main tourism office, is fully open to the public.

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante inaugurated the redesigned park on Thursday, alongside Claude Cormier, lead architect of the project.

The new design includes two footbridges, made of wood and metal, that allows pedestrians to walk over the ramps that lead to the underground parking .

Cormier says their design was inspired by a recent trip to Venice, Italy.

Lead architect Claude Cormier found inspiration for the two footbridges in Venice.
Lead architect Claude Cormier found inspiration for the two footbridges in Venice. Karol Dahl/Global News

READ MORE: Dorchester Square Park overhaul creating traffic chaos in downtown Montreal

Between the bridges, there is an 11-metre-tall Victorian-style fountain. The cast iron structure was custom made by a firm in Alabama, but Cormier says he incorporated elements of Quebec’s history.

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For example, the centre pillar of the fountain resembles a horsetail plant, in honour of botanist Marie Victorin.

WATCH: (May 30, 2018) Dorchester Square Park revamp tests residents’ patience

Dorchester Square Park revamp tests residents’ patience
Dorchester Square Park revamp tests residents’ patience

Cormier says the upper portion of the fountain also has a double meaning.

“The top is the bud of a tree,” he said. “When it opens up it starts looking like the crown of the queen, because we’re part of the Commonwealth.”

From the front, the fountain looks complete, but the back has been sliced off.

A half fountain was not part of the original plan, according to Cormier. The decision came after designers realized it was too big and would impede access to the sidewalk along Dorchester Square street — where loads of tourists hop in and out of tour buses.

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A woodpecker sculpture was installed at the rear of the fountain.
A woodpecker sculpture was installed at the rear of the fountain. Karol Dahl/Global News

READ MORE: Construction starts on Montreal’s Sainte-Catherine Street revitalization plan

Renovations of the park’s northern part started in 2016 and were originally supposed to be finished in November 2018. Cormier says the delay was necessary.

“We did not want to compromise on the quality,” he said, adding that the arrival of winter was also to blame for the holdup. “Planting trees in November is not a good time,” he said.

The newly renovated section is part of the original Dorchester Square, which dates back to the 19th century.

The rest of Dorchester Square also underwent renovations that ended in 2010.

The city plans to finish renovating Canada Place next.

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