Parc Jean-Drapeau's amphitheatre, new F1 facilities to open later this month

Though it seems construction on nearly every major project in this city ends up falling behind-schedule, work on at least one — the extensive refurbishment of Parc Jean-Drapeau — seems poised to finish when it was originally promised.

According to park officials, work on Île-Sainte-Hélène's new permanent amphitheatre and esplanade, known as Espace 67, is essentially complete and will re-open as scheduled in mid-May.

The expansive, landscaped performance space will be open to the public in time for the 2019 season of Piknic Électronik to begin on May 19th and 20th.  The weekly popup electronic-music festival, along with summer staples Osheaga, ÎleSoniq and Heavy Montreal, had all been relegated to temporary performance spaces on Île-Notre-Dame for the past two years.

In addition to a larger, dedicated space for the performances that draw hundreds of thousands to the islands every year, the new esplanade will feature directional speakers that are designed to prevent residents of the nearby south shore and Old Montreal from being disturbed by music from summertime concerts.

As well, the new Formula 1 paddocks on Île-Notre-Dame are expected to open in time for the Grand Prix next month. A press release late this week indicated that the facilities at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve will be inaugurated at a special ceremony before the end of May.

Both of the Parc Jean-Drapeau developement projects are products of former Mayor Denis Coderre's time in office.

The renovations to Montreal's Formula 1 facilities were demanded by officials the racing organization in the summer of 2017 to get the Grand Prix du Canada to remain in the city, and the amphitheatre was commissioned after pressure from Evenko, the concert-promoting firm that runs Osheaga and ÎleSoniq.

Projet Montréal and then-opposition leader Valérie Plante, as well as environmental organizations, opposed the Espace 67 project at the time Coderre announced it.  Over 1,000 trees on Île-Sainte-Hélène were cut down to make way for the project.  

However, in a February 2018 interview with CJAD 800 News, Plante said she and her party had dropped their opposition to the amphitheatre since "those trees are never coming back."

According to officials from the park, the revitalization projects kept to their $73 million budget.