Pretty much anyone who spends time in the west end of downtown will agree that Norman Bethune Square, at the corner of Guy and de Maisonneuve, desperately needs a makeover. Although plans for renovating the square have been floating around for almost three years, there hasn’t been any funding or concrete timeline announced for the project — until now.
Earlier today, the city unveiled new plans for the square and it announced that $22.4 million has been committed to its redevelopment. If the renderings released today are any indication, the new square will be leafy, spacious and almost double its current size. In some ways, though, it won’t be a square at all, at least not in the traditional sense. The plans call for two new plazas to be built on either side of de Maisonneuve, one in front of the Tim Horton’s and another in front of the Guy Metro building.
Norman Bethune Square’s new design will probably prove more effective than the decrepit, pigeon-infested traffic island that has existed since the late 1960s. It responds well to the flow of pedestrians between Concordia’s main buildings and Guy metro, creating a spacious plaza right where the volume of pedestrian traffic is at its highest, and it adds some greenery to a corner that needs it badly.
Construction of the new square will start this May and will continue into 2009. At the same time, the city will widen sidewalks and plant trees along the entire length of de Maisonneuve between Peel and St. Mathieu. This comes as several large new condominium towers and retail developments are infusing new life into this once moribund corner of downtown. After decades spent as a glorified service lane, de Maisonneuve could soon become a pleasant, more relaxed counterpart to Ste. Catherine.
Thanks to Matt Brett for alerting us to this announcement!