(Présence-info) Saint Joseph's Oratory of Mount Royal is getting a facelift thanks to an $80 million development project to be carried out from 2017 to 2021.

The work will mainly consist of the construction of a new visitor and service pavilion, the restoration of the carillon, the reconfiguration of the monumental garden, the updating of the site's lighting, the installation of vertical mechanical transportation to make the climb easier for visitors, the creation of an observation centre in the dome of the Basilica, the renovation of the museum, and the reorganization of the parking areas. The stated goal is to offer a "modern experience" and "enhance the historic and cultural heritage" of the Oratory.

Saint Joseph's Oratory is providing $26.4 million for this project, while the Government of Canada is contributing $22 million, the Government of Quebec $30.8 million, and the City of Montreal $10 million.

"This major renovation and development project will enable us to significantly improve our visitor and service facilities to better meet the needs of Montrealers and visitors from all over the world," said Father Claude Grou, CSC, Rector of Saint Joseph's Oratory of Mount Royal. "When this project is complete, they will be able to enjoy a greener, more accessible, more user-friendly site."

"The reconfiguration of the Basilica's inner-dome area and addition of the Observatory will provide a unique view. Already part of the Basilica's initial plans, the Observatory will meet expectations often expressed by pilgrims and visitors from Montreal and abroad, and will most certainly become a popular attraction among tourists. This investment will add a very interesting dimension to this flagship site of our cultural, historic and religious heritage. In this sense, it will complete Saint Brother André's vision," said the Rector, who believes that this could "develop the sanctuary's full tourist potential."

The Mayor of Montreal pointed out that the Oratory is part of the city's "emblematic signature." "Its sanctuary will be transformed and restored by major work worthy of its renown and its calibre," Denis Coderre said with much enthusiasm.

For the announcement on Monday, Mayor Coderre was accompanied by the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Mélanie Joly, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Land Occupancy, Minister of Public Security, and Minister responsible for the Montreal region, Martin Coiteux, the Minister of Finance, Carlos Leitão, the Minister of Higher Education, Hélène David, and the leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada and Member of Parliament for Outremont, Thomas Mulcair. This initiative constitutes a significant legacy on behalf of the Government of Quebec as part of the celebrations of Montreal's 375th anniversary.

The Oratory already completed part of the work in 2009. On Monday, it was announced that phases 2 and 3 will be carried out from 2017 to 2019. A new visitor and service pavilion will be built with green roofs to better blend into the mountain landscape, and a large pedestrian area will be added at the level of the Crypt. The monumental garden will include more greenery, and the lighting of the Oratory's areas and buildings will be updated.

Phase 4, from 2019 to 2021, will be dedicated to the construction of the Observatory that, once completed, will provide a 360 degree view of Montreal, 243 meters above the St. Lawrence River.

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