Replacement for half-century old Champlain Bridge

By Robert Frank

Stephen Leopold plans to focus the minds of influential Montrealers, next Wednesday, on his vision for a new Champlain bridge that would become the city’s emblem.

The Montreal real estate magnate, who entered public life four decades ago as a Watergate investigator, has already rallied a clutch of top academic, industrial and financial leaders, who have bought-in to his vision of a new architectural and technological marvel to span the St. Lawrence.

Architecture advocate Phyllis Lambert, financier Stephen Jarislowski and Power Corporation chair Paul Desmarais Jr. are among those who have already expressed their support for Léopold’s initiative.

Now he wants to mobilize an even broader, influential base of support of all stripes. His goal is to return Montreal to an enduring world prominence that it enjoyed during Expo 67 and the 1976 Olympics.

“It’s Montreal’s moment of truth,” he said. “The Golden Gate Bridge says California; when you see the Sydney Opera House, you see Australia; and when you see the Eiffel Tower, you see France.”

Leopold formed an organization called AudaCité, in order to champion an equally iconic replacement for the existing span, which has linked Montreal with the South Shore since the early sixties.

He has already advocated a heated roadway for the new structure and is expected to reveal more details about his vision to the influential crowd who will attend the Montreal Chamber of Commerce’s meeting on the topic at the Hyatt Regency, on the afternoon of June 19.

“This is much more than a river crossing,” he said. “This is a historic opportunity to transform Montreal.”

Notables expected to attend Leopold’s Chamber of Commerce pitch include Mohawk grand chief Michael Delisle Jr.; Quebec Association of Architects ceo Cathérine Émond; Royal Bank vice-president Tony Loffreda; University of Montreal chancellor Louise Roy; Hydro Quebec ceo Thierry Vandal; former ambassador Raymond Chrétien; Tourism Montreal ceo Charles Lapointe and soon-to-be-announced-mayoral candidate Marcel Côté and Louise Harel.

After this speech, will he also be asked to run for mayor?

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