On Sunday 5th of November the first ever mayoress, Valérie Plante, of Montreal was elected. This creates a major issue for Formula E as one of Plante’s major pledges is to move the Montreal ePrix away from its current location, the Ville-Marie borough.
This was on the cards even before the election due to construction being undertaken on the adjacent Radio Canada building which makes setting up the circuit for season 4 untenable. However, this is not what has motivated Plante’s pledge.
In a press conference Plante ruled out moving the race to another borough: “It’s not going to happen in the streets of Montreal because we have seen how difficult it was for both businesses and citizens as well.”
Plante’s claims are not unfounded amongst the populace that voted for her in favour of the previous mayor Denis Corderre, who was criticised for his management of the event and also for withholding information about ticket sales. It was revealed 5 days before the election that of the 45,000 people who attended the two races in Montreal last season, 20,000 tickets were given away for free.
A CROP poll issued in the run up to the election indicated that 63% of Montreal residents didn’t feel that the race benefitted the city at all, with only 30% responding that the city did benefit in some way. This is not surprising given that Corderre spent $30 million of tax payers’ money to fund the race for 3 years.
There is even a local group known as “Formula Euh?” which campaigned against the race; similar in many ways to the Battersea Park Action Group in London last year.
The Mayor, instead, plans to move the Formula E race to Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, host of the F1 Grand Prix, on the grounds of saving money and using existing facilities. However, not only is the track an unsuitable circuit for Formula E, given the length of its straights which will prevent the cars from being able to regen and greatly reduce the battery range, but a new pitlane building is to be constructed immediately after the Grand Prix on June 10th, and will not be finished in time for the Formula E races on July 28th and 29th.
Despite these issues, Plante claims to be committed to making the race happen: “My conviction or my will is to make sure that we will honour the contract of Formula E, there are two editions left. That said I don’t have all the documents of what needs to be done, for example (at) the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.” A spokesperson for the Montreal ePrix claimed they would meet with Plante’s administration in the next few weeks to discuss the situation.