After battling with the city, blacksmiths can stay put

A group of Montreal blacksmiths will be able to stay in a rented building near the Lachine Canal, after they had been threatened with eviction from the city.

Last year, members of Les Forges de Montréal were told they'd be tossed out of the 130-year-old building if they didn't honor a clause in their previous rental agreement, which required them to carry out $1 million worth of renovations.

But now, the city says it will drop that requirement, and negotiate a new lease with the blacksmiths.

Mathieu Collette, one of the blacksmiths, says he's delighted.

"The negotiations will start soon," Collette says. "It's very positive, and we'll stay where we are and we'll continue our mission."

The group was founded in 2000 as a way to preserve the centuries-old art of the blacksmith. The group holds demonstrations and workshops, and this coming Saturday night it will welcome visitors to its building on Riverside St. during Nuit Blanche festivities.

Since the news broke of their possible eviction last year, thousands of Montrealers, and fellow blacksmiths from around the world, signed a petition urging the city to drop the renovation requirement.