Keepin’ it Green


Montreal has launched a new protection plan for Mount Royal. It’s effective immediately once it goes through council this week. Helen Fotopolous, who’s the City’s executive committee member responsible for environment, says this isn’t just another exercise in planting bushes. Rather it is a $30-million plan to be rolled out over five years. It deals with everything from improving public transit access to the Mountain, to protecting views of the mountain from about 100 points in the city. Ruining the view, she warns, will damage both Montreal’s identity and economic interest in the city. She says 18 of these protected views are currently threatened by proposed projects.

Building requirements will consider the height of structures, and builders will also have to consider rules about landscaping. Fotopolous says they’re not interested in putting a stop to development and this has the group Friends of the Mountain concerned. They’ve been one of the groups contributing to the plan. They’re happy to actually see the word “protection” in the plan, but they’re not sure the City will ever say no to expansions of the hospitals and educational institutions that share the mountain. Fotopolous says they’re still open for input.

The part of the plan I’m looking forward to is an upgrade of the trail network on the mountain. The plans show they want to link the three summits so the 5-million visitors each year can enjoy more of the park.

For more coverage check out the Gazette’s article.

Photo by Christopher DeWolf


  1. I guess this is the end of skyscrapers in Montreal. Not that we have developers lining up to build them. I guess for some of us architecture fans, it is a sad day.

  2. Yes we all know that it doesn’t count as architecture unless it’s taller than 50 storeys. All for the sake of some silly mountain thingy that no one ever uses. Every city has a mountain thingy downtown, we should build lots of really tall green-glass condos and bank buildings. Be unique, like every other city. Stupid mountain thingy.

  3. We have no bloody vision in this city. I’d be more than glad to see a forest of skyscrapers surrounding Mount Royal, as long as they are tasteful. I don’t get this anti-skyscraper mentality… Are you saying that we should tear down all of our current skyscrapers because that would make us unique?? That wouldn’t make us unique, that would make us a small town! BTW The banks all moved to Toronto in the 70s, so you don’t have to fear the Royal Bank or BMO building anything over 10 floors here………

  4. I am not anti-skyscraper I merely suggest that in our case, they needn’t be taller than 50 storeys and they needn’t be built right next to Mount Royal!
    I don’t get the “my erection is taller than your erection” mentality. Does the thought of an architectural tour of Houston excite you more than Rome? Pittsburgh over Paris? Does Toronto’s awe-inspiring condofront impress you more than Vieux Port?
    The banks are gone-get over it! As a financial centre, Toronto will always play second fiddle to the likes of New York, London, Hong Kong etc so it’s no great loss. Montréal, with our stubby, non-bank towers will have to settle for ‘small town’ status along with the likes of Berlin, Beunos Aires, Barcelona… we’re so backwards we’d probably even shoot down a Dundas Square proposal. Pity!

  5. Why is it that all anti-skyscraper comments refer to green glass condos towers?? People in Montreal have a tendency to oppose theoretical development projects – projects that don’t even exist. It is the most ridiculous mentality I have even encountered. I think all of us agree that no building should ever go higher than the summit. That is a very reasonable and fair restriction…even in Hong Kong you cannot build taller than Victoria peak. But this automatic and reactionary hatred of tall buildings is extreme. Buildings can be beautiful and, newsflash: they can be unique. It is the matter of the right project and architecture; You can have inspiring, visionary, and exciting architecture in the form of sksycrapers that aren’t green condo towers that make a city VERY unique. There is so much incredible architecture being built today is other world centres and whether you like it or not, buildings create a perception of a city’s wealth, ingenuity, and imagination.

    Montreal was an incredible lowe-rise city pre-1960, comparable to London neighborhoods in terms of Victorian character and architecture. Sadly, much of that was bulldozed and we have been left with parking lots. In this era, we will never be able to get low-rise buildings of the same quality and style. And while all you skyscraper haters out there probably don’t know is that 4 out of 5 of our tallest are by some of the most celebrated architects of our civilization, including Pier Luigi Nervi, Henry Cobb and IM Pei, Gordon Bunshaft, Peter Dickinson and KPF. That is an incredible architectural heritage for our city. It’s not all about the mountain. While Mount Royal is an important monument, Montreal is also a commercial centre and a city and a city is where buildings belong.

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