The thousand and one facets of Parc Jean-Drapeau
As 2016 winds down, it's the time for year-end reports, and it gives me a great deal of pride as I look back on all that was done at Parc Jean-Drapeau over the last 12 months. In 2016, the Parc welcomed some 79 events and more than 8.5 million visitors. Again this year, we managed to meet the challenge of ensuring a successful co-existence of all of these events and activities on the Parc's 268 hectares. This is what makes the Parc such a one-of-a-kind place in the province of Québec, providing a diversified offering all year long, just a few steps from downtown Montréal!
Ask motor-sports enthusiasts what Parc Jean-Drapeau means to them, and they'll talk about the Formula One race, the Grand Prix du Canada. Ask children the same question and they will tell you about La Ronde, the Beach or the Fête des neiges event. Baby boomers will evoke their memories of Expo 67 and the pavilions, which have now been transformed into museums, the Casino, or rental halls. Sports practitioners will mention the international calibre facilities that are the Olympic Basin and the Aquatic Complex swimming pools. Cyclists will extol the superb quality of the paved surface of the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve racetrack, the best place in Montréal to work out. Music-festival lovers will enthusiastically share their memories of the concerts they attended last summer. These are just a few examples. This diversity of viewpoints marvellously exemplifies what best describes Parc Jean-Drapeau: variety. This is exactly the resource we have again drawn on in 2016, so that visitors who come to the Parc are provided with a fun and enjoyable experience.
A full and diversified program
In 2016, the Parc Jean-Drapeau team has enhanced its program for families, by providing fun new theme days which afforded access to the Beach and Aquatic Complex. These special days included everything from free Wednesdays to Pirates Day and Introduction to the Olympics Day; it enabled families to enjoy a wide array of activities over the summer months, much to the tiny tots' delight. The Week-ends du monde event was a resounding success again this year, attracting close to 160,000 visitors in just two weekends, thanks to the involvement and creativity of a wealth of cultural communities.
The summer season was highlighted by a series of major music events, including Osheaga, Ile Soniq and Heavy Montréal, along with the already renowned Piknic électronik program. We also had the pleasure of playing host to five sports disciplines in conjunction with the Québec Games, as well as numerous swimming, diving and rowing competitions. Fun events such as The Color Run, the Montréal Marathon and the Big Bubble Tour also added some spice to the summer program.
Maintenance and development
A favourite entertainment spot of Montrealers dating to the 19th century, Parc Jean-Drpeau boasts many historic buildings that attest to the various major eras and events that have distinguished the Parc. In 2016, a $4.3 million investment was conducted to completely renovate the Athletes' Quarters, the indoor training venue for high-performance athletes in the sport of rowing, a facility that was built in 1976 for the Olympic Games in Montréal. Other investments were made in 2016 to maintain the Parc's assets, notably at the Pavillon du Canada which dates back to the Expo 67 era.
2017: a year of festivities and transition
In 2017, Montréal will be celebrating its 375th anniversary and Parc Jean-Drapeau will be marking the 50th anniversary of Expo 67. The festivities will get underway in January, starting with a special edition of the Fête des neiges de Montréal, which promises to be a vibrant event with many features and activities for the entire family. Next year also marks the official start of work in conjunction with the development and enhancement plan for the south sector of île Sainte-Hélène. The summer program will be maintained and new sites will be set up for the occasion. All of the required efforts will be expended to provide our visitors with a thoroughly enjoyable experience, as we look forward to an enhanced site starting in 2019.
As promised, I will continue to keep you informed about developments in the various public matters pertaining to Parc Jean-Drapeau. I will also ensure that I exhibit transparency about the strategic guidelines stemming from the thought processes currently being conducted on the future of this great Parc.
To one and all, have a joyful holiday season and best wishes for a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year.