Playground and picnic areas: Fun for everyone
Major improvements are under way in this section of the park near Beaver Lake. The existing play area is being refitted with new equipment that will take the shape of a salamander, a reminder of the rich biodiversity of Mount Royal. Children ages 2 to 5 and 6 to 12 will have access to a water display and equipment that is stimulating, safe and respectful of the environmental and historical character of the parc du Mont-Royal. Another innovation is a new path nearby with illustrated panels that children can explore. Designed as an educational aid, the path focuses on children’s rights and is inspired by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Current facilities in the play area date from the mid-1960s and, understandably, the equipment and furniture are obsolete. The neighbouring picnic area will also see improvements with the addition of more tables and the installation of bins for recyclable waste, including barbecue ashes.
The picnic and play areas near Beaver Lake are part of one of Mount Royal’s ecological corridors. Reorganizing the existing trails in this 8,600 m2 space was necessary to protect the park’s natural heritage and to link Olmsted Road to a future belt road that will circle the mountain. All work will be completed in the spring of 2009. These improvements represent an investment of $2.1M, funded jointly by the Ville de Montréal and the Ministère de la Culture et des Communications et de la Condition féminine du Québec, under the terms of the Entente sur le développement culturel de Montréal.
Rue Peel: a more welcoming entrance
From the summit of the parc du Mont-Royal, there is an unobstructed view of downtown Montréal. But the opposite is true for the access points to the park from the downtown area. These are barely visible and, therefore, unknown except by regular users. The main downtown access to the park is a pedestrian entrance at the corner of Peel Street and Pine Avenue.
Work has begun in this sector to repair degradation to the eight-hectare area, which has a vertical drop of 45 metres, the equivalent of a 15-storey building. The landing on Pine Avenue will be improved to make it more inviting and safe. Major drainage work will be done to better control runoff. Two stairways will be built, one on the east side and the other on the west side, to make the climb easier to the summit of the park. Artwork will be integrated into the upper portion of the Serpentine to create an inviting rest stop en route to the other areas of the park, especially Olmsted Road and the stairs leading to the Escarpment.
Efforts are being made to preserve the park’s biodiversity by limiting the propagation of invasive vegetation, which compromises the natural arboreal heritage of the site. Part of the project entails plans to plant some 600 trees and 2,500 shrubs.
The magnitude of this project requires an investment of $4,365,679, to be funded jointly by the Ville de Montréal and the Ministère de la Culture et des Communications et de la Condition féminine du Québec, under the terms of the Entente sur le développement culturel de Montréal. By fall 2009, Montrealers will be able to enjoy a completely refurbished entrance worthy of the parc du Mont-Royal.
Mount Royal Cross restored and illuminated
As of February 4, 2009, the cross atop Mount Royal, which has been under restoration since September 2008, is lighting the skies above Montréal once again.
The imposing, 26-tonne monument, erected by the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste in 1924, was in urgent need of solidification, sanding and painting, as its exposed metal structure was becoming corroded. The cross is composed of nearly 830 pieces connected by more than 6,000 rivets and rests on eight concrete pilastres. The monument is 33 metres high and 10 metres wide.
The city decided to change the lighting system as part of restoration work on the cross, as the previous system had reached the end of its useful life. The new LED (light-emitting diode) system is more energy-efficient and makes it easier to change colours, with several million colour choices.
The first two phases of the restoration project, which cost $1.8 million, were funded jointly by the city and Québec's Ministère de la Culture et des Communications et de la Condition féminine as part of the Montréal cultural development agreement.
The third and final phase of the project, which will begin in the spring, involves designing the area around the monument and the paths leading to it to make it more inviting.
A unique pathway: the belt road
This multipurpose pathway, which will extend some 10 km around Mount Royal and run past some outstanding heritage sites, is intended for both pedestrians and cyclists. Users will be able to circle the mountain via the road, which will link the summit of Mount Royal, occupied by the parc du Mont-Royal, with the Outremont and Westmount summits.
The planned route will traverse the western part of the parc du Mont-Royal, passing behind the Côte-des-Neiges funeral complex and through various parts of Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery, including the Saint-Jean-Baptiste woods, onto Université de Montréal land, to Mount Royal Boulevard onto Outremont, before closing the loop, where it rejoins Olmstead Road near Camillien-Houde Road, in the eastern part of the parc du Mont-Royal.
The average width of the predominantly stonedust path will be 4 to 5 m. Benches, garbage bins, bicycle stands and drinking fountains will be provided along the way for the comfort of users.
The belt road will significantly improve public access to the parc du Mont-Royal and the mountain. Residents of the boroughs of Outremont and Côte-des-Neiges/Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, as well as all Montrealers eager to make their way to the mountain via this quiet path, will now have several entry points from Côte-des-Neiges Road, Decelles Street, Mount Royal Boulevard and Polytechnique Road.
The belt road promises to open up landscapes, vistas, ecological environments and sites of exceptional quality that Montrealers are often unaware exist.
The total cost of the project, which will be carried out in six progressive stages, is estimated at $7.5M and will be completed in 2010.