Here are Montreal's plans to fill your summer staycation with entertainment
Mayor Valérie Plante says she wants residents to enjoy their summer even if they can't travel far
This summer will be a long, pandemic-induced staycation for most Montrealers, as travel within Quebec is discouraged and visiting abroad is largely impossible, but the city is cooking up a gamut of safe, outdoor activities so citizens can stay entertained all season long.
From spontaneous performances on makeshift pedestrian-only streets to audio tours of local attractions, Mayor Valérie Plante says there will be plenty of surprises to look forward to as her administration invests heavily in arts and entertainment.
"I definitely want Montrealers to enjoy this summer," Plante said Wednesday, adding that everything has to be done with public health guidelines in mind.
"We want to take some pressure off the parks. People love them, but we want people walking, enjoying the city differently."
The third objective is to support local businesses and artists by investing in the cultural sector and attracting potential customers to areas like Ste-Catherine Street and Old Montreal.
Terrasse rules to be relaxed
At the same time, she said the city is relaxing the rules surrounding permits for terrasses, so restaurants and cafés can more easily install outdoor dining areas come reopening day on June 22.
It will be possible to expand those outdoor patios by up to 50 per cent on public property, the mayor said, and restaurant owners will be able to design their layout without a platform and in collaboration with their neighbours.
Permit fees will be minimized, she said, in an effort to make the process faster and more affordable.
$800K invested in street entertainment
Sipping cool drinks on makeshift terrasses will be far from the only activity on tap this summer.
Starting July 6, the city's new bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly streets will be loaded with artistic installations as Montreal invests $800,000 — most of which comes from the province — in digital and visual presentations along these closed or partially closed roads.
There will be pop-up demonstrations and entertainment offered by Space for Life, a group of the city's four most prominent natural science museums, such as the Botanical Garden and the Biodome.
There will be performances sponsored by the Montreal Arts Council and a design contest to spice up car-free commercial arteries in collaboration with local merchants' associations.
Watch Montreal mayor outline the city's summer plans:
Closed-off pedestrian streets include large sections of St-Denis and Ste-Catherine streets and Mount-Royal Avenue.
"There will be a lot of cultural discoveries — surprises," said Plante. "There will be a lot of sports and recreational activities being done on the pedestrian and cycling areas."
The Quartier des spectacles and Old Montreal will also be hopping with activities as cultural and business groups collaborate to bring outdoor entertainment that still allows people to have fun while keeping a safe distance from each other.
The Partenariat du Quartier des spectacles is one of the groups co-ordinating plans for a sector that is usually filled with festivals and concerts all summer long.
'A completely magical place'
The director of the Partenariat du Quartier des spectacles, Monique Simard, said the alternative programming offered this summer will evolve with the ever-changing public health restrictions.
These plans have been in development for some time, she said, and will expand to public spaces in other popular parts of downtown Montreal.
"The Place des Festivals is going to become a completely magical place — a forest — and there will be all sorts of surprises," she said.
"It will also have spontaneous performances throughout it in all disciplines."
The goal, Simard said, is to allow people to "rediscover the city. To discover the surprises that are going to be sprinkled throughout the city."