Skip to content

Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Eight simple ways to cool a city

Read more articles by

A shady street in Montreal

It continues to get hotter in Toronto, with summer temperatures in the high 30s becoming common. We must make immediate changes to our city if we want to combat this scorching trend. A place that is having real success on this front is Montreal.

Here are eight simple ideas Toronto can borrow from Montreal to cool our city and its residents in the face of climate change.

1) Misting stations! These are connected to fire hydrants throughout Montréal. They are easy way for people and pets to cool down. Toronto should order 200 of these tomorrow.

Street with bump-outs holding plants

2) Bump-outs at intersections stuffed full of perennial plants.

  • Reduce heat island
  • Improve safety for pedestrians
  • Calm traffic
  • Support bees, butterflies and other insects
  • Beautify

Water retention feature

3) Downtown parks should also be bioretention gardens. This new park at Mont-Royal Ave. and Mentana St. captures and stores fallen rainwater. The park is filled with trees, shrubs and plants. There’s a large water fountain where children can play and cool off.

Water truck

4) Trees and gardens need to be maintained and watered during the hot summer months. This City of Montreal water truck was going from park to park watering the trees and plants.

Tree in sidewalk tree pit surrounded by plants

5) Tree pits should be filled with plants and covered in mulch.

  • Shade from plants keeps tree roots cool
  • Support bees, butterflies and other insects
  • Encourage people to water plants, which cares for trees as well
  • Looks beautiful

Pedestrianized street

Sign indicating pedestrian priority street

6) Montreal has pedestrianized popular main streets, such as Mont-Royal Ave. and Saint-Catherine St., for the entire summer. Signs celebrate “slow zones” for walking, cycling & rollerblading. Car and truck engines produce lots of heat & low-level emissions. Getting them off beloved streets like Queen and College in Toronto would create a cooler, cleaner, & safer place for people to enjoy.

Tree-lined street

7) Montreal doesn’t prune their trees as aggressively as Toronto. As a result, trees have fuller canopies to block more sunlight and the lower branches shade more asphalt, keeping temperatures down. And the streets look awesome!

Benches on street in shade

8) Shaded public seating! On hot days people need to take lots of breaks to catch their breath and cool down. Montréal understands that. Toronto should provide thousands more shady places to sit throughout the city.

Toronto is only getting hotter. There are many simple ways we can cool our city and make it a more hospitable place to live. Montreal has shown it can be done. We just need the advocacy and political will to make it happen here. Vote for the ‘cool’ candidate running in your ward this election.

All photos by Todd Irvine. For additional photos see the Twitter thread.



One comment

  1. Montreal is civilized. Toronto is not. Ain’t gonna happen!