New park to be built on third summit of Mont-Royal

La Presse and The Gazette each reported this week that the city plans to begin the creation of a new park on the northern summit of the mountain in the borough of Outremont.  The third, and smallest summit is currently owned by the Université de Montréal and the Notre Dame des Neiges cemetery who have agreed to give the 23 hectares to the city on a fifty year lease.

The 2009 budget had already allocated money for the construction of the new park which has been in discussion for over 20 years.  Construction of a 10 kilometre ring-road accessible to pedestrians and cyclists should begin sometime next year with the adoption of a new bylaw.

The new park will make the summit accessible to the public and will also ensure that the mountain will not be further encroached upon by development, especially by the cemetery and U de M.  However, the construction of a park will obviously, in some ways, spoil this last remaining untouched section of the mountain.  This raises the point as to whether it is better to develop a fully forested and undeveloped part of the mountain as a public park to protect it from more intensive and damaging development in the future than to allow it to remain untouched, with the spectre of development hanging over it.

11 comments

  1. this is big news for those of us on the north side of the mountain. It’s time UdeM and the Cimitere gave something back.

  2. They should really get that lift back up and running; it’d be a very interesting winter amenity. It’s a solid pitch, there’re some good lines through the trees, it’s got the right exposure for holding snow, and the CEPSUM/stadium makes for a convenient base area.

    By the way, does anyone have any documentation/images of skiing on that side of the mountain? Most of what shows up on McCord or BANQ seems to deal with earlier periods, mostly with jumping, and mostly on the slopes down towards avenue du Parc.

  3. I’m really sorry that official paths will be made to accomodate cyclists and walkers. That stretch of the mountain, walking east along Mount Royal Ave. towards the Mount Royal Cemetery is really lovely, peaceful and relatively empty. I’m a cyclist,as well as a walker, but I do think that certain places should be bike free. Once you widen a path and put some sort of surface on it, it changes the rapport that a single walker, or small group of walkers, has with the flora on either side. For one, it’s no longer an organic path made by many years of people following it. It’s a path that an official body has defined a decreed. Something to be obeyed.

    Also, the rythmn and speed of a bike is totally different from walking and that changes your rapport with the surroundings. I treasure the timeless and forgotten feel to that section of the mountain and I’ll be sorry to lose it.

  4. “This raises the point as to whether it is better to develop a fully forested and undeveloped part of the mountain as a public park to protect it from more intensive and damaging development in the future than to allow it to remain untouched, with the spectre of development hanging over it.”

    For those of us who can count past two: It’s sad that a third option, though it might never have a realistic chance, given the mindsets of those with the power to propose and implement, apparently was not considered. That would be: creating a protected, pedestrian-only park without widened paths, using just what had already been trail-blazed by those who have been enjoying that area all along, with perhaps some minor safety enhancements, if needed (e.g. shoring up any areas that might be in danger of giving way from erosion and causing someone to fall down a slope.) The area is hardly untouched; it’s been touched quite lovingly by, and has touched, its many neighbours on that side of the mountain who have been venturing into it for years. As a recent immigrant to the city, I only really discovered it this past year, but it was immediately obvious to me that it had a steady stream of regular visitors.

    I agree with Bronwyn that even a bicycle (one’s own or someone else’s passing/zooming by) changes one’s relationship to a natural setting like this, and that a wide, graded path is a qualitatively different experience from an intimate woodland trail.

    When I lived in the San Francisco Bay area, there was a bit of a controversy about mountain biking trails being established on Mt. Tamalpais, north of the city in Marin County, basically on the same trails that heretofore had been the sole province of hikers. Besides the disruptiveness of someone hurling past you on a bike as you’re walking on a narrow trail, I felt then that “a bicycle is still a machine; at least some of one’s attention when riding it is inevitably drawn away towards its operation, making one less present in one’s surroundings than one can be on foot.”

    A place solely for quiet contemplative walks in the heart of a city is rare enough as it is.

  5. As someone who uses the main path on Mount Royal both as a walker and as a cyclist, I feel that there shouldn’t be another bike path in that area. I agree with other commenters. They should leave that area as untouched as possible.

  6. The new park should be turned into a public nature reserve with as little interference as possible. Widen only the pre-existing organic pathways, don’t cut down trees, focus on planting more flora rather than spending hundreds of thousands $$$ to put in unnecessary infrastructure.

    They should also create a pedestrian path across Voie Camilien-Houde so that locals and tourists don’t have to play chicken with traffic when they get off the westbound 11 bus at the lookout point. Such a shame to watch elderly folks and families with children running for their lives across Camilien-Houde..

  7. Creating a park doesn’t mean you have to “build” a park … check out Forest Park in Portland, Oregon, a huge, largely natural forest on a steep hillside in the northwestern part of the city, within city limits and ensuring that the downtown skyline will always be backed by green.

  8. Please don’t confuse the ring road with the 3rd Summit Park. The ring road has already gone through all the public and administrative vetting and is in the works. Check out the OCPM site and the work on CDN along the Cemetery that crosses over Remembrance to continue to behind Beaver Lake to join up to Olmsted Road and then down to the close to completed Peel Entrance. This means that those CDNers that currently walk downtown will have 1/2 hour cut from their trek as well as a happier disposition. There is also a Chemin de traverse planned where bikes will not be permitted. The stretch between the NDDN Cemetery, UdM to Mont Royal is next.
    The 3rd Summit announcement is the beginning of the process to CREATE (not BUILD) a new park starting with the September 14th announcement of the agreement by the owners to hand over the land. City Council has now to adopt the new zoning which should be finalized by spring. As to the concept, one thing is clear is that it will not be invasive. This will not be an amusement park but one that celebrates and integrates the Biodiversity and natural landscape of the Mtn given that the St Jean Baptiste Woods have the greatest eco-value of the whole Mtn and the view is awesome. So rest assured that there will be no clear cutting to accommodate a kiddiepark.
    It is not everyday when Mtlers have an opportunity to use all their talent and knowledge to plan a concept for a new 21st Century Park so stay tuned and start imagining! There will be a public process.

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