City still has to come up with the balance for the $180 million project
The City of Laval was gifted on Friday last week with a windfall of funding for its $180 million central library and cultural centre project, scheduled to be completed in 2027 in the downtown Montmorency district.
Quebec Culture and Communications Minister Mathieu Lacombe’s announcement of $44 million from the CAQ government was greeted enthusiastically by Mayor Stéphane Boyer along with councillors from his team, with three Laval-area CAQ National Assembly members and one of Laval’s two Liberal MNAs also giving thumbs up.
That said, the Legault government seemed to agree with the mayor’s frequent assertion that Laval had previously been underserved by the provincial government in funding ($59 per local resident on average, compared to $87 elsewhere in Quebec) for the city’s cultural needs.
However, the city may have to get down and do some creative thinking in order to come up with the $136 million balance that will still be owing on the project, although they’ll have at least the next three years to pull some strings.
In the education district
“I would like to thank the government of Quebec for the financial aid announced today, which will enable the construction of cultural infrastructure for Laval,” Mayor Boyer told officials and reps from local cultural organizations at the Maison des Arts de Laval in the heart of the city’s higher-education district. (Both the Université de Montréal and Collège Montmorency have nearby campuses.)
“This commitment is clearly a clear sign of endorsement for this project which is crucial for a large city like Laval,” said Boyer.
“Unique for this kind of project, this pole of discovery and experience has long been awaited by the Laval cultural and artistic community, and will serve to enhance the experience of being downtown, while also benefiting all of the population. Our teams are already at work to turn this into a signature project for the centre of our city.”
Arts and economic synergy
“Access to culture is an important priority for our government and I believe that today we are proving this beyond a doubt,” said Lacombe. “Thanks to this investment, culture in Laval will be undergoing a transformation. The existence of this infrastructure in the heart of downtown Laval will give rise to a synergy in the arts and the economy that will prove to be beneficial for the greater agglomeration.”
“As a Laval resident, I feel especially proud to be participating in this phase of very important cultural development of my city,” said Sainte-Rose CAQ MNA Christopher Skeete, the delegated Minister for the Economy as well as Minister for the Laval Region. “This major project announced today will push our region forward so that it stands out even more.”
‘Audacious and distinctive’
While the city has yet to release any substantial preliminary information on what the building could look like, a press release issued last Friday by the city referred to the building being designed with “audacious and distinctive architecture” in line with the cultural development of Laval as a theme.
“It will allow the cultural experience of Laval by creators as well as the public to be reinforced, just as it will be part of the dynamics and effervescence of the Montmorency pole, but also of all the centre city.”
Boyer claimed that combining a library and a cultural centre into a single building with overlapping multimedia functions would be a first-of-its-kind in Canada, while adding that it would also help to substantially expand the city’s network of public library branches.
Green space with library
Last summer, Laval city council’s two opposition parties, the Parti Laval and Action Laval, came together to say they agreed that the site chosen by the city, on Jacques Tétreault St. a short distance from the Montmorency Metro, should also serve for the creation of a new park, because green space downtown is seriously lacking.
In a short interview last Friday, Mayor Boyer confirmed to The Laval News that the city is taking the park recommendation under serious consideration and that some green space will be set aside on the central library grounds for a public park.
According to the city, applications from architects and developers bidding on the project got underway in September 2023, from which three were chosen based on a point rating system. Subsequently, an invitation to submit design proposals was made just before the end of last year, although that process has not yet been completed.