A proper homage to the artist, or wasteful public spending?

I was leaving the fancy Caisse de Depot building downtown yesterday where I had just given an English class. A couple of years ago, Place Jean Paul Riopelle was erected between this building and the Palais des Congres. squarevictoria%20004.jpgThe park is lovely with a fountain and sculptures. During the summer, misters installed underground come to life, creating a spooky scene. In the evenings, fire dances around the fountain as “smoke” pours out everywhere. (Read about the full sequence here.) It’s quite a show. But as I was sitting there yesterday, I thought about what a colossal waste of money this is, and wondered how much it costs to maintain the infrastructure for such a park. It’s not surprising that we find this park amongst the most well-heeled wheelers and dealers in town. Oh and it’s impressive for tourists. But with bridges falling down and metro tunnels leaking, it sure seems like some of our public money is being unwisely spent.

7 Comments so far

  1. Justin (unregistered) on September 11th, 2007 @ 10:37 am

    “I thought about what a colossal waste of money this is”

    What do you figure it costs to run ?

  2. Mikel (unregistered) on September 11th, 2007 @ 11:32 am

    I would think that the real cost was bore back in the 60’s when the sculpture was built. Considering that the actual cost to run such a device is likely minimal. (Electric can’t cost more than a streetlight would to run all year) and a bit of gas to run the flames. It is certainly worthy to keep it running!! I have witnessed this fountain of fire on a few occasions and I found it to be a beautiful and pleasing item that one rarely sees in Canadian cities. Perhaps the author is jealous because they are not among the “well-heeled wheelers and dealers” but considering the location of this item, it is well placed.

    If you wanted to look at public waste head a bit further east to Square Viger. They have a beautiful water feature as well but the average “well-heeled wheelers and dealers” would never see it for all of the homeless people and other unpleasantness that abounds in that parc.

    Perhaps if the ville marie was to collapse in that area, it would be a good thing. Let’s pick on the metro, the giant potholes and ageing bridges, but leave the stuff that actually is working alone!! ‘k tks..

  3. tornwordo (unregistered) on September 11th, 2007 @ 3:11 pm

    Actually, I see men working on that contraption all the time. I’m sure safety is a priority when you are spouting fire in a public place. Yes it’s pretty, but there’s a lot of upkeep above and beyond a standard park.

    Oh and where would you like the homeless to go? Down into the hole that you suggest it should all fall into?

  4. Alain (unregistered) on September 11th, 2007 @ 4:10 pm

    Mi nombre es Alain y comencé mi propio blog:
    Se llama Bonjour Quebec

    Trata sobre mi proceso de inmigración a Canadá (Quebec-Montreal).
    Cualquier cosa estoy a la orden

    Muchas Gracias…

  5. Chris Lamothe (unregistered) on September 11th, 2007 @ 6:16 pm

    A few things to consider:
    1) Gas Metro sponsors the statue, so I’m guessing they pipe the gas, and do the maintenance.
    2) Gas Lighting, while admittedly more efficient than what you see at the statue, has been around for hundreds of years and is still used today in some cities, and not just for a retro effect.
    3) The amount of gas used probably costs a couple hundred dollars a month at most.
    4) If you remember what that area looked like only a few years ago then you really wouldn’t mind this remarkable piece of art. It’s been the subject of a great deal of conversation with both locals and tourists.
    5) Metroblogging Montreal sure has a lot of whiny voices lately, what’s up with that?

  6. Long (unregistered) on September 11th, 2007 @ 8:20 pm

    @Chris: about number 5, read the post I wrote yesterday about the subway being down. The best out of a bad situation ;)

  7. Mikel (unregistered) on September 12th, 2007 @ 12:09 pm

    In the grand scheme, I’d like to see the homeless people in HOMES, but since that doesn’t seem to work for them, a hole in the ground might work. The greater issue is that you are complaining about a gorgeous park that is likely privately funded and enjoyed by those who live/work near it. When really there are far worse parks in Montreal that are wasting just as much taxpayer money, yet they don’t have the pizazz of a ring of fire.. Instead they have rings of homeless people, with large dogs, and perhaps some used needles. I visited La Jute last night and I did not see a single needle, nor did I see any unruly folk, just some nice tourists enjoying what our city has to offer. On my way home I was accosted by 4 different people asking for money, some change, a smoke and even some beer. I have money (because I don’t give it away to everyone i see), i don’t smoke (and nor should they if they have no money!). If I had some beer, perhaps I would have shared….

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