Sainte-Catherine project: work is progressing as planned

Last updated April 22, 2021
Reading time: 3 min

The Rue Sainte-Catherine project is progressing and work continues around Square Phillips. Learn about the highlights of the last months as well as work currently in progress.

The challenges posed by the onset of winter and the snowfall did nothing to stop construction crews, which have been on the job site since last October, working on the redevelopment and modernization of Square Phillips and its adjacent streets (Lot 2D). These work operations are aimed at levelling century-old underground infrastructures and beautifying this iconic downtown square.

Burnishing the prestige of Square Phillips

Built more than 150 years ago, Square Phillips has been a star witness to the commercial evolution of downtown Montreal and Rue Sainte-Catherine. But after more than a century and a half of loyal services, a beauty makeover was in order.

The city is taking advantage of the opportunity afforded by the reconstruction of underground infrastructures – which themselves were long past their service life – to freshen up the surface of the square as well.

Work began last fall with the removal of the old public toilets. It continued with work on the underground mechanical room for the water plaza and the restoration of the monuments on the site, notably the monument to Edward VII (see note below).

A surprise awaited teams on site, however, when they discovered liquefiable soil beneath the old toilets, or soil saturated with water. The situation caused the soil to lose some bearing capacity, which could eventually cause a sink hole or a building collapse. Teams went back to the drawing board to review the design, and as a result the construction of the mechanical room was pushed back.

In spite of the surprise, the work schedule was not compromised and the square should be completed as planned by the summer of 2022.

Rue Place Phillips

On Rue Place Phillips, the reconstruction of underground telecommunications and gas networks was completed at the beginning of 2021. Just recently, teams put the final touches on the reconstruction of the underground electrical network, which made it possible to reopen the street.

The street will close again in September for two weeks so that permanent paving operations can be carried out. Paving on Rue Place Phillips (roads and sidewalks) will start this summer and is slated for completion at the end of 2021.

Avenue Union

At the Union-Cathcart intersection, some of the gas lines were rehabilitated in 2020, and the work will be completed in March. Initially planned for 2020, these work operations were postponed due to weather conditions and a shortage of skilled labour.

Since the start of the new year, teams have been working on the water supply, electrical and telecommunications systems. Still on the corner of Cathcart and Union, the reconstruction of electrical access vaults is progressing and will continue with the reconstruction of three valve chambers in the water supply system.

Rue Cathcart is expected to reopen in full at the end of August 2021. Permanent redevelopment work on Avenue Union will start in early spring and end in late summer.

Rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest, between Robert-Bourassa and Mansfield

Finally, work on sidewalks and streets between Robert-Bourassa and Mansfield will begin as soon as the weather permits and should be completed by the end of 2021. These work operations will consist of surfacing with concrete paving blocks and installing new street furniture. Once it is completed, there will only be one traffic lane.

A public information session scheduled this year will present the 2021 work in detail (Square Phillips and Avenue Union, and redevelopment work on Rue Sainte-Catherine O. between Mansfield and Robert-Bourassa). Details are pending.

Did you know?

Erected in 1914, the monument to Edward VII is the work of Quebec sculptor Louis-Philippe Hébert (1850-1917). Square Phillips served as the perfect home for the monument, owing to its choice location in the heart of downtown and to the fact that this public space did not yet have a monument. Heir to the throne at age 60 following the death of his mother, Queen Victoria, Edward VII had a profound influence on English foreign policy, for which he became known as “the Peacemaker.”