Opening of a refrigerated outdoor skating rink in downtown Montreal

With a multipurpose building and cafe, it’s a cool, swinging spot. The free Esplanade Tranquille ice rink, which can accommodate up to 400 people, will be open from November to March.

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A space that once housed an influential bookstore and later became a parking lot has been transformed into a sprawling outdoor skating rink in downtown Montreal.

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The free Esplanade Tranquille ice rink – which will be open seasonally from November to March and can accommodate up to 400 people at a time – was inaugurated on Monday evening, with music and figure skating performances and free skating later .

The public square at the corner of Clark and Ste-Catherine streets. was inaugurated last summer by the mayoress of Montreal Valérie Plante and other elected officials, marking the last phase of construction of the Quartier des spectacles. It bears the name of a bookstore owned by Henri Tranquille until 1975, when a group of artists launched the Refus global manifesto.

The Esplanade Tranquille “was once a parking lot, it was a bit sad,” said Mayor Valérie Plante. Photo by Pierre Obendrauf /Montreal Gazette

“Some people may have known it used to be a parking lot, it was kind of sad,” Plante said Monday, standing on a red carpet alongside other officials at the north end of the rink. “Long before, there was a bookstore, the Librairie Tranquille, which has become important in the cultural sector… and now, voila, it’s a place that we reclaim as citizens.”

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She added that she was excited and proud that the rink was finally open and that it “shows how Montreal is a winter city”.

“To celebrate winter, you have to take advantage of it, and for that, well, you need beautiful facilities like here at the Esplanade Tranquille.”

Unlike the outdoor rinks in local parks, this one is refrigerated, meaning it can be used as soon as the temperature drops to 10C. multi-purpose building that aims to offer Montrealers a place to relax.

“The whole project was really inspired by the backyards of Montrealers, the green alleys,” said Éric Lefebvre, general manager of the Quartier des Spectacles partnership. “It’s a space that will allow events to take place but really feels like a big backyard, a big patio where people can come hang out, take their time in the neighborhood.”

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The building houses a locker room with skate rentals, a conference room, a library with a café, and a multipurpose room that can be used as a production space for local shows or a place for fielding students to gather before and after. performances. A yet to be unveiled restaurant will also be added to the ground floor, with indoor and outdoor dining in the summer.

The project was funded by all three levels of government, whose representatives attended the inauguration on Monday.

Tibeau Mathews helps his daughter Leila up her stakes and the newly opened outdoor rink.
Tibeau Mathews helps his daughter Leila up her stakes and the newly opened outdoor rink. Photo by Pierre Obendrauf /Montreal Gazette

Federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault stressed the importance of investing in recreational spaces like the Esplanade Tranquille.

“These projects help Quebecers adopt healthy lifestyle habits in addition to helping us create ties with our fellow citizens,” he said.

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Chantal Rouleau, minister responsible for the Montreal region, said the rink will help “the beating heart of the metropolis[…]regain its appeal and vitality.

“This is a bold project that will allow the citizens of Greater Montreal to enjoy the joys of winter in a friendly and unifying atmosphere,” she said.

The hope is that the project will draw more people downtown, which is all the more crucial as the city recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A place like this is great because it brings people in who will come and have hot chocolate, potentially at the nice chalet here or around the corner,” Plante said Monday. “These are people who come to shop, then come skate at the end of the day with their families…it’s good for morale, it’s good for the economy.”

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