Chesnot/Getty Images(PARIS) — For years, placing “love locks” on a bridge in Paris had become a romantic ritual and a symbol of permanent love.
Couples walked on the famous Pont des Arts bridge to attach padlocks with their names on them and throw away the keys into the Seine River below.
But the mass of the locks damaged the bridge, since it wasn’t engineered to hold the extra weight. The keys thrown into the Seine river can also pollute the water. So in summer of 2015, the city decided it was time to remove hundreds of thousands of locks that had built up and stop the ritual.
Now, the city of Paris has found a purpose for some of the locks that have been removed: an auction to raise money in support of refugees.
“Members of the public can buy five or 10 locks, or even clusters of them, all at an affordable price. All of the proceeds will be given to those who work in support and in solidarity of the refugees in Paris,” Bruno Julliard, first deputy mayor of Paris, told journalists last week.
No Love Locks, a group that was founded to advocate for a ban on the locks, supported the plan to sell them.
Paris closed the bridge and began removing locks from the Pont des Arts pedestrian bridge in June of 2015. The year before, people had to be evacuated from the bridge after part of the structure collapsed under the weight of the locks.
Out of 65 tons of metal removed from the bridge, 10 tons will be sold, a Paris City Hall spokesperson told ABC News. The city plans to hold the auction in the spring, but an exact date has not been set. The city of Paris is currently working with experts to assess the value of the potential auction value of the locks and estimate how much could be raised for refugees.
More than 80,000 refugees applied for asylum in France in 2015, a 23.6 percent increase compared to the year before, the French Interior Ministry said in July.
Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.