A Funeral for Montreal Culture and Heritage

The whole Quartier des Spectacles concept has been incredibly misguided and a general disgrace!

A funeral for Montreal culture and heritage

Artists, heritage activists and stakeholders are planning a funeral for Montreal’s heritage and culture. It is in response to the slow-moving train wreck that has been unfolding on the Lower Main over the past few years, which is set to reach its tragic and illogical conclusion on Monday, April 16. It’s the day the wrecking balls begin demolishing an irreplacable part of a cherished and endangered National Historic Site, Montreal’s storied Lower Main.

The story began several years ago when Mayor Tremblay, like many of his mayoral predecessors, desperately wanted to ”clean up” the Red Light District. Unlike Mayor Drapeau, who razed whole blocks of the historic neighbourhood to build the suburb-like Habitations Jeanne Mance, Tremblay decided to rebrand the entire neighbourhood as the Disney-like Quartier des Spectacles before going after the original “Red Light” culture.  The rebranding set off wholesale  demolition of historic theatres and performance venues, such as the Spectrum, Le Medley, and Saints, which were replaced by empty lots or questionable corporate buildings that are disconnected, architectually and vocationally,  from the historic neighbourhood. Disregarding the fact that St. Laurent Boulevard is a National Historic Site, the Mayor authorized his friend, developer Christian Yaccarini, to expropriate and demolish a series of heritage buildings between the Monument-Nationale and Sainte Catherine Street, including the celebrated Cafe Cleopatre. This sparked off a cultural war of unprecedented proportions.

A colaition of stakeholders called Save The Main was formed, and after a protracted battle that even involved pleas to heritage buff Prince Charles, the artists and activists won and the Cafe was saved. In an effort to convince the Mayor that there were better solutions to the wholesale destruction of Montreal’s culture and heritage, artists from the Save the Main coalition presented an alternative Urban Plan that would seamlessly incorporate the priceless heritage into the rebranded Entertainment district, while staying loyal to Parks Canada’s policies on commemorative integrity.

In retaliation, the Mayor permitted Yaccarini to use an unethical strategy of demolition-by-neglect to ensure the destruction of the remaining buildings, disregarding both Parks Canada’s policies to protect historic sites and Montreal by-laws on building maintenance.

Instead of listening to stakeholders in the community, the Mayor opted for a top-down approach, earning him more scorn from artists while fast-tracking the destruction of the historic site.

Despite last-minute pleas from the Save The Main coalition, Heritage Montreal, The National Theatre School and Phyllis Lambert of the Canadian Centre for Architecture, the Mayor refuses to listen to the stakeholders and experts and won’t budge. Failing a miracle, the irreplacable historic site will soon be reduced to a pile of rubble, and be followed up with an empty lot. Adam Bemma has been filming some of the artists and activists’ last thoughts before the demolition, and has been speaking on CKUT Radio about the scandal.

Mayor Tremblay has made it crysal clear that he has no regard for Montreal’s heritage or living culture. As such, with no options left, the artists and stakeholders have little choice but to plan a dramatic funeral for Montreal’s culture and heritage.

Please spread the word that those who wish to participate should email Save The Main organizer Donovan King (optatif@gmail.com)  with the word “funeral” in the subject to learn details about the plan as it unfolds. Generally, we are seeking both flamboyant burlesque artists and other people wearing black.

from OTL Blog

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