MONTREAL — Officials are expressing satisfaction with celebrations held to mark Montreal's 375th anniversary, despite the controversial multi-million dollar cost of lighting up a major Montreal bridge.
Alain Gignac, who is in charge of the celebrations, maintains the level of participation in year-long events by Montrealers hasn't been seen since Expo 67.
"It was a time when Canadians, and particularly Montrealers, were the most proud to be part of Montreal, Canada and Quebec," he recalled in a recent interview.
Gignac also noted that the level of satisfaction of people who took part in various activities reached 96 per cent.
He called that "magic" considering over 200 different activities were held throughout the year.
One of the highlights of the anniversary celebrations was the lighting of the Jacques-Cartier bridge.
Gignac says the event drew about 575,000 people. But the official lighting ceremony had to be held twice.
The first time it was disrupted by protesting Montreal police officers.
It cost almost $40 million to illuminate the bridge that links Montreal with its south shore.
The federal agency that runs the bridge kicked in $30 million while $9.5 million came from the other levels of government.
At the time, former mayor Denis Coderre defended what he called the city's new signature, adding that it showed Montreal is a great Metropolis.
Preliminary estimates indicate the 375th anniversary festivities will end with a budget surplus of about $7 million out of a total budget of $125 million.
A more exhaustive review of the turnout and the economic benefits from all activities will be released next March.
The year-long celebrations come to an end Dec. 31 with events planned throughout the day and into the night in Old Montreal.
The Canadian Press