Montreal spending big money on a makeover for Parc Jean-Drapeau

Mayor Valérie Plante has unveiled a 10-year plan valued at $970 million to make Parc Jean-Drapeau into a renowned green space, with a focus on access to the river and sustainable mobility options. The city is contributing $570 million toward making the plan a reality.

City has come up with a 10-year plan valued at $970M to turn park into a renowned green space

Revamping Parc Jean-Drapeau is part of the city’s green recovery plan, Mayor Valérie Plante said, which includes investing in parks and creating infrastructure. (Kwabena Oduro/CBC)

The City of Montreal wants to transform Parc Jean-Drapeau into a place that people the world over will want to visit.

It created a 10-year plan valued at $970 million to achieve that goal, with a focus on access to the river and creating sustainable mobility options.

About 60 per cent of the total cost, $570 million, will come from the city — $57 million every year for 10 years. The other $400 million will come from public and private partnerships.

"I think that more than ever, during COVID, Montrealers have said very clear and loud, we love our parks, we want more parks, we want more green [space], we need it," Mayor Valérie Plante said.

Revamping the park is part of the city's green recovery plan, she said, which includes investing in parks and creating infrastructure.

Plante said, having visited the park before, she knows what it's like to drive around to multiple parking lots, looking for somewhere to leave her car.

A big part of the plan is reducing the number of parking areas by 80 per cent and centralizing the lots, which are currently scattered across Île Sainte-Hélène and Île Notre-Dame.

In turn, the city plans to turn those concrete spaces, the equivalent of 25 football fields, into green space. It also plans to improve mobility within the park itself so that people can still get around after they ditch their cars.

They're doing studies to figure out what, exactly, those options will look like but they could include bike rentals or electric shuttles, Plante said.

They're also planning to create a riverside promenade and to give a facelift to Place des Nations, a space created for Expo 67 where public performances took place for years.

A look at the riverside promenade included in the plans for Parc Jean-Drapeau. (City of Montreal)

There will also be more activities going on in the winter — giving it a more neighborhood park feel, with cross country skiing, sliding, snowshoeing and walking along the promenade.

Earlier this week, the city announced the Biosphere, the environment museum in the park, will be joining the city-run Space for Life museum network.

Reducing parking lots among recommendations

The plan is the result of a three-year process that included a public consultation carried out by the Office de consultation publique de Montréal, an independent body. 

Reducing the number of parking lots and prioritizing cyclists and pedestrians was one of the recommendations. The report also said the presence of private vehicles should be reduced on the park's road network. 

Lionel Perez, a member of the opposition Ensemble Montréal party, said while motorists should be given less space, he does not believe all vehicle traffic should be banned.

He also criticized the administration for making the announcement about the plan before finalizing the mobility study.


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