The ceremonial ribbon has finally been cut on Montreal's long-awaited Esplanade Tranquille, a 5,000-square-metre public square that the mayor says will "breathe new life" into downtown's commercial vitality.
"We are developing the downtown area for Montreal families," said Valérie Plante on Twitter Monday.
Located west of Clark Street between Ste-Catherine and de Montigny streets, the new space has been in development for a number of years, delayed in part by the pandemic.
In the winter, the square will be home to a large, refrigerated ice rink and in the warmer months, visitors can expect a mix of urban furniture, green space, a multifunctional pavilion and a food court.
The space will be used to host various events and festivals all year round as it is complementary to the Place des Festivals, the city says in a Monday statement.
The project was launched in the fall of 2017 by former mayor Denis Coderre.
It was partly funded by the provincial and federal governments, though the price tag ballooned from $67 million to $78.8 million thanks to a harsh winter in 2018 and construction delays.
The square was supposed to open in 2019, and then the pandemic hit. Finally, the ribbon was snipped on Monday and the skating rink is slated to open in December.
It is estimated that the space can accommodate up to 5,000 people for outdoor shows and as many as 400 skaters can use the rink at one time.
The space was named after writer Henri Tranquille whose bookshop opened there on Ste-Catherine Street back in the '40s. A small library was set up to honour him.
"This project allows us to transform a heat island into a place of relaxation and entertainment for the entire population, which will make Montreal and its downtown shine throughout the year," said Plante in a statement.