Six new art installations will be coming to Montreal’s downtown core in hopes of enticing office workers to flock back to the city.
The Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal (CCMM) announced the winners of its second phase of the I Love Working Downtown initiative.
With the funding of $2.4 million from the Quebec government, local artists in collaboration with the city and the CCMM are tasked with creating new, “vibrant” sculptures and outdoor spaces for workers to enjoy.
“Everywhere in the world, people are coming back. They are not coming back five days a week but they are coming back because it’s better for the business,” CCMM president Michel Lebanc said.
“People will come if it’s interesting.”
The installations will be placed in private and semi-private spaces in hopes of having the downtown core humming back to pre-pandemic days.
The projects vary from outdoor working environments to immersive sound and light projections and towering statues.
“We hope to have people connecting together in an environment that will inspire their creativity and sense of emotions,” Moment Factory producer David Nobin said.
The painted mural on the Bell Centre and the Giant Ring in Place Ville Marie are just some of the elements in the first phase of the downtown relaunch project.
According to a survey conducted in May, 68 per cent of workers asked said they would be returning to the downtown office.
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Leblanc says those workers were not committing to a full-time schedule but added that in the fall he expects that number to rise to 100 per cent.
“There are no businesses telling me they are going to be a complete virtual business. People will have to come and meet in person. We expect them to come back but will it be one day or three days a week? That makes a huge difference from a business standpoint,” Leblanc said.
Evidence of office workers slowly returning to the city is visible.
For the first time in its history, the Montreal Tower atop the iconic Olympic stadium is now 100 per cent occupied.
SIGMA-RH, a company specializing in the development of human resources management software, has chosen to increase its presence at the Olympic Park by renting the last three free floors of the mast of the Olympic Stadium for a period of 13 years.
The company had already occupied floors 10 and 11 since April 2021. It is scheduled to take possession of the new floors for January 2023.
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The downtown art installations are not the main reason for people to make the trip, according to Leblanc, but he said it will pique interest and give workers a reason to meet and stay in town.
“We will develop an attractive downtown. We have to make it vibrant so when people come to downtown, they have an experience that is profitable for them and they believe there are advantages to come downtown,” Plateau Borough Mayor Luc Rabouin said.
Rabouin, responsible for economic development in Montreal’s executive committee, says life is slowly returning to Montreal’s downtown core.
Initiatives like this will help the economic relaunch needed after the two-year business lull, he says.
“The festivals are back, we can see people are coming. Restaurants are busy. We are all working together to have a very attractive place to be,” Rabouin said.
The majority of installations are expected to gradually appear by the beginning of the fall, with others popping up in the new year.