After contemplating the paucity of campfires in the city last week, I was excited to come home to news of the possibility of developing urban campsites here in Montreal.
Since the metro article left me with more questions than answers to I called up Vincent Léger who has been peddling the idea to various boroughs, as well as the provincial and federal governments.
Léger is part of a volunteer-run cooperative called Sustainable Tourism Montreal that currently organizes Rabaska canoe tours. He believes urban campgrounds would be a hit among French and other European tourists who want to experience open air activities without traveling far from the city.
His organization does not necessarily want a direct hand in designing or operating the campgrounds; they simply want to plant the seed of an idea he said. According to Léger, the campsites could be run either by a para-public municipal organization (à la Bixi), or through a partnership with Federal parks or SEPAQ. Léger says that the mayor of Rosemont has expressed interest in the idea, and he has also spoken with the Sud-Ouest borough about several sites near the waterfront. (Ed note: maybe he could look into Meadowbrook?)
Although the proposed campgrounds would be in the city centre, Léger says they would be re-naturalized as much as possible. He envisions a variety of accommodations including cabins made of recycled shipping containers and yurts. Eventually, he’d like to put out a call for designs to local architecture schools in order to get some innovative – and ecological – designs. As for the campfire, Léger suggests a collective bonfire (with a permit of course) rather than individual fire pits at each campsite.
Although the idea is a long way from being put into practice, Léger hopes to organize a temporary camping event before the year is through. He estimates “an 80% chance” that his group will be able to pull off a weekend of urban camping this summer. Three sites are being explored, although they remain confidential for the moment.
I, for one, will be awaiting news, and blogging about it here.