By Sergio Martinez – mtltimes.ca
By now we all know that Lewis Hamilton won the Grand Prix, the second time in a row and the fifth time in his entire career. Good for him, but there also are some other winners who were not necessarily on the race track. Besides the bars, restaurants and other stores who benefitted from the large number of tourists who descended on our city, we should count as well the many people who participated in the various activities surrounding the sports event. Chief among those many activities were the festivals held at Crescent and Peel streets in the downtown area, as well as in the Old Montreal, and also worthy to note, the events held at the Auberge Saint-Gabriel. But above all: the opportunity for Montrealers and visitors alike to have fun—despite weather that refused to cooperate, I should add.
The benefits that the Grand Prix brings to Montreal are then both. We have the tangible in the form of the money spent by tourists in hotels, bars, and restaurants, without forgetting the taxes earned by each level of government. And then the intangible represented by the festive atmosphere and the opportunity that each year is given to our city to demonstrate Montreal’s joie de vivre, welcoming spirit, all of that in a climate of safety that in these days is certainly a precious commodity.
For all of what the Grand Prix represents is also important that Mayor Denis Coderre sealed with a handshake, as he said, the agreement with Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone to ensure the presence of this iconic—and profitable—event for the years to come. The deal didn’t come cheap: the city committed to upgrading the track, enlarge the paddock area and other improvements demanded by the organizers at a cost of 32 million dollars. No doubt an investment that may prove controversial since the event itself is also rejected by some, although given the advantages to holding the Grand Prix here at least until now has shown itself to outdo its possible drawbacks.