Montreal invests $59.9 Million on Circuit Gilles‑Villeneuve
Circuit Gilles‑Villeneuve – The city has been in negotiations for several years with Formula One race organizers, since they were told the facilities at the Gilles‑Villeneuve race track needed to be upgraded to meet their requirements, which included rebuilding the paddocks and hospitality area.
At the time, then Mayor Denis Coderre felt it was too expensive but wanted to find a way to keep the annual Grand Prix race here. Now the new administration under Mayor Valérie Plante, has decided it is indeed well-worth the investment and willing to take it even further. Not only will they be taking down the present paddocks and rebuilding them to requirements, but the work will include increasing the seating capacity in the boxes from 1800 seats to 5,000.
As well, the estimated $59.9 million project will include the installation of pile foundations to minimize the impacts on cyclists and will also permit other activities to take place at the park during the Grand Prix.
On Wednesday, Mayor Plante told reporters, ‘The Formula One is well established in Montrealers’ hearts and as well as for tourists’ and that ‘the renovations originally announced in 2015 would be much more extensive. It is an investment that will bring much more back to the city’.
The tourism impact on the city is great and it makes economic sense with Montreal being one of the top four race hosts with the highest attendance. “The impacts have been measured. We’ve re-measured them again and it’s a decision that economically makes sense,” said member of the executive committee responsible for large parks, Luc Ferrandez. “Fifty-two per cent of visitors to the Grand Prix are from outside Montreal.”
According to the Société du Parc Jean‑Drapeau (SPJD) who made the commitment to renovate and expand the Circuit Gilles‑Villeneuve as part of the renewal of the agreement to stage the Canadian Grand Prix from 2015 to 2029 – ‘the current infrastructure has exceeded its serviceable lifespan and in need of an upgrade. Formula One World Championship requirements have changed substantially since the first Grand Prix in 1978, particularly in terms of hosting the F1 teams and the technological needs related to the garages, control tower and media areas’.
They also state that while work is being carried out on the project there will be no impact for users of the Olympic Basin (which is located behind the paddocks) – and for the many cyclists who use the Gilles‑Villeneuve circuit, there might be ‘a few slow-down measures implemented in the area for safety reasons’, but the work is not expected to result in any closures of the track.
The upgrades and renovations are expected to be completed by May of 2019 and it looks like the Grand Prix races and all the events that accompany it, is here to stay for a long while to come.