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Grand Prix preparations underway in Montreal

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante says they’re about “99.6 per cent ready” for Grand Prix as preparations for the summer event are currently underway.

Race organizers say renovations on the paddock at the Gilles-Villeneuve race track will be ready in three weeks.

“We’re doing the fine-tuning right now,” says Plante.

Modernizing the paddocks was part of an agreement to improve the race facilities, including the track itself. It was part of the contract that extended the race in Montreal by five years to 2019.

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READ MORE: Grand Prix weekend brings more detours, construction and traffic to Montreal

The Formula 1 festivities are set to begin June 6, barring car circulation from entering Peel and Crescent streets to make way for expensive cars and activities.

Modernizing the paddocks was part of an agreement to improve the race facilities, including the track itself. It was part of the contract that extended the race in Montreal by five years to 2019.

A total of $59 million spent on improvements was a worthwhile investment, according to Plante.

“It is important because this is an infrastructure that supports the Grand Prix, which is a very important event that brings a lot of positive financial impacts,” she said.

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Organizers say it’s the biggest event in the country, which generates tens of millions of dollars in economic spinoffs for the city. Local businesses heavily profit from the Grand Prix weekend, according to the CEO of the Hotel Association of Greater Montreal.

“Typically we see an occupancy rate of about 95 per cent over the weekend of the Grand Prix and the rates are double what it is during the year,” said Eve Paré.

With just weeks to go before race day, Paré says the majority of hotel rooms are already booked.

Yves Lalumière, CEO of Tourisme Montréal, says the number of visitors is going up every year. This year he’s expecting the number of tourists to grow by at least eight per cent.

READ MORE: Montreal to target human trafficking during Grand Prix weekend

Lalumière says most visitors come from Ontario, the Unites States and the United Kingdom. He believes that the up and coming Canadian driver Lance Stroll could be drawing in Canadians from across the country.

However, the event’s popularity also comes with the need for an increased awareness as crime rises and sex trafficking increases in the city during the Grand Prix. Lalumière says one way to fight it is through public awareness.

“We’re trying every year to have more consciousness about this issue,” says Lalumière.

— With files from Global News’ Phil Carpenter

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