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5 Totally Absurd Things Montreal Has Spent Money On Over The Years

From electric race cars to entire islands, the city hasn't been shy about splashing cash.
Staff Writer
5 Totally Absurd Things Montreal Has Spent Money On Over The Years

We all like to spend our money on silly stuff sometimes. And that's why the City of Montreal is known for many things: good food, beautiful parks, and totally absurd projects that cost several millions and sometimes billions of dollars. 

Montreal has a rich history of financial blunders that are arguably equal levels of hilarious and completely depressing. 

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Here are five totally absurd things that the city has spent money on over the years. 

The Formula E Race

The agreement between the City of Montreal and Formula E went about as well as that driver took that corner in the above video.

Former mayor Denis Coderre defended the $24-million dollar price tag for the race in 2017, saying that the race would show that Montreal was a leader in green energy, according to CBC News.

Formula E's lawyers sued the city for $25 milliion dollars after newly elected mayor Valérie Plante cancelled the race. The Plante administration spent $600,000 in public funding on legal fees to defend themselves.

In 2018, the race took the infamous Teddy Award for the "biggest waste of taxpayer money."

A mayor's severance pay... after he went to jail for frauding the city

abdallahh | Wikimedia Commons

In 2013, Montreal was reeling from a succession of mayors that straight up just frauded the entire city out of millions of dollars. Perhaps the most notorious of these mayors was former NDG borough mayor and current real-estate agent Michael Applebaum.

Applebaum resigned after he was accused of corruption and was eventually tried and convicted on eight corruption and fraud-related charges, but not before taking a healthy $268,000 severance package from the public coffers.

In January 2020, Quebec courts ruled that Applebaum could keep his severance pay, which really aggravated Valérie Plante, who said that the city would see if they could get the money back.

Île Notre-Dame

In the years leading up to Expo 67, Montreal had a problem: there wasn't enough land to build the pavilions at the Expo. It was way too late to change the plans, so what did former mayor Jean Drapeau and his team cook up?

Build an island with the near 15 million tons of rock and dirt taken from the STM metro construction, of course!

With Expo 67 already on the books for $320 million dollars (in 1966 money no less), adding another $40 million to build the island was no big deal, apparently.

The island even has its own Heritage Minute!

These days, millions of tourists and Montrealers go to the island to get high at music festivals, enjoy the scenery, and have an all-around great time.

The Mirabel Airport

Michel Bussieres | Dreamstime

In the 1970s, Montreal was all about grand ideas and rapid expansion. It was the future, after all, and the city had big plans.

Government officials decided to run with it and build a new airport, which was allegedly funded by both the provincial and federal governments. So it may not have been Montreal per se, but Montrealers' tax dollars went into it.

The result of that grand idea was the Mirabel International Airport. Intended to replace the Dorval International Airport, Mirabel never really lived up to its expectations and was basically abandoned.

Costing around $500 million dollars in 1975, Mirabel was the gift that kept on giving, with $3 to $5 million per year maintenance fees, according to a Montreal Gazette report.

In 2014, Mirabel's terminal was demolished, costing upwards of $15 million dollars.

The Olympic Stadium

Even if you barely know anything about Montreal, you've probably heard about the Olympic Stadium and the enormous amount of money it cost the city.

While it looks good on Instagram, the Olympic Stadium, cleverly nicknamed "The Big Owe," cost $937 million in 1976 due to cost overruns and wasn't even finished on time for the Olympics.

Over the years, the Olympic Stadium went through two roofs and several renovation projects that cost a total of $819 million as of 2017.

According to the Parc Olympique, indexed to 2017 prices, the total cost of the Olympic Stadium amounts to $5.2 billion dollars.

So yeah, it really hurt the city, but hey, at least we all have pretty Instagram pictures, right?

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the views of Narcity Media.

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