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2nd Mount Royal Summit:
TO PROTECT MOUNT ROYAL, THE MONTREAL COMMUNITY MUST SHOW BOLDNESS AND CREATIVITY
Montreal, June 10, 2013 – More than 175 representatives of the community, institutions and levels of municipal and provincial government participated in the second Mount Royal Summit on June 7 at Polytechnique Montréal. If the discussions illustrated the extent of the progress made over the last 10 years in efforts to protect the mountain, the discussions on each of the four challenges addressed during the day arrived at the same conclusion: the Montreal community will have to work together and demonstrate pragmatism, boldness and creativity to develop the solutions needed to address the mountain’s challenges, in particular, the reuse of institutional buildings located on its flanks.
The first challenge addressed the protection of views, landscapes and the emblematic presence of Mount Royal. The discussion centred on the need to evaluate the tools currently in place and to strengthen the criteria to ensure the protection of views from and towards Mount Royal, as required. Certain panelists insisted on the need to protect views of the mountain by paying particular attention to the towers being built along the periphery of the island that change Montreal’s skyline. Panelists further expressed the importance of not only protecting the mountain’s historic heritage, but also its cultural heritage and identity, and its emblematic role for Montreal.
During the discussions on the natural environment, the question of “green corridors” was debated, or the creation of ecological corridors to link existing green spaces within the Mount Royal territory, as well as with other green spaces in Montreal, and more importantly, to neighbourhoods where the mountain is less accessible. There seemed to be unanimous concern for the management of the natural environment on the mountain, particularly the reconciliation between accessibility and protection. This concern takes numerous forms from the constant need to restore and maintain these environments, to problems related to the anarchic fragmentation of the territory by the creation of rogue pathways or the uncontrolled presence of domestic animals.
The debate on the future of the great institutions located on the Mount Royal territory led participants to ask numerous questions, such as: Are the buildings that are becoming increasingly dilapidated for wont of sufficient capital investment to ensure their upkeep and that will shortly be vacated considered assets or liabilities?
Panelists agreed that the solution to finding a new vocation for these buildings lies in the development of a master plan created with the participation of all stakeholders. The ultimate solution will most likely combine a variety of uses and should provide value to the institutional investors. Panelists underlined that many potential uses for these buildings exist and that collaboration between public and private entities is essential in order to arrive at a financial and social return for the long term. All agreed that the Québec government has a leadership role to play in this challenge.
In the final debate of the day concerning governance, panelists discussed the ideal conditions to find effective solutions to the complex issue of Mount Royal’s management. First, the need was expressed to reinforce the current management structure and mechanisms in place and their scope, namely that of the Bureau du Mont-Royal and the Table de concertation du Mont-Royal. This reinforcement would ensure that the management model meets the expectations of the community and reflect the high level of attention required by the authorities. Discussions also pointed to the importance of clearly establishing priorities for the mountain, to defining the criteria for arriving at decisions and to bringing key decision-makers from Montreal and Québec to the same table. Finally, panelists suggested the establishment of a regulatory framework as a means to coordinate interventions on Mount Royal and that criteria to evaluate the acceptability of projects be clearly defined.
At the close of the summit, Josée Duplessis, member of the Executive Committee of the Ville de Montréal, responsible for sustainable development, the environment, large parks and green spaces, was pleased to detect a paradigm shift in the approach to Mount Royal: “We are past the stage of conserving and preserving,” she said. “Now, we want the diversity of the mountain to descend into the city. Our collective capacity will allow us to develop projects in line with the challenges that await us.”
Peter A. Howlett, C.M., President of Les amis de la montagne, noted that Montrealers demonstrated their readiness to rise to the challenges before us: “We are not faced with a crisis, but with opportunities.”
Organized by the Ville de Montréal and Les amis de la montagne, following a consensus established by the Table de concertation du Mont-Royal, the Mount Royal Summit 2013 was made possible through the financial support of the Fondation Écho, Les amis de la montagne, and the Ville de Montréal and the Ministère de la Culture et des Communications as part of the Entente sur le développement culturel de Montréal.
SOURCE: Ville de Montréal - Cabinet du maire et du comité exécutif
L: The official spokespersons of the Mount Royal Summit 2013, Josée Duplessis and Peter A. Howlett, C.M.
R: The executive director of Polytechnique Montréal, Christophe Guy
L: Panel #1 - Aurèle Cardinal, Julian Smith, Françoise Caron et Ronald Delcourt
R: Panel #2 - Karel Mayrand, Daniel Hodder, Peter Trent, Pierre Bélec
L & R: Exchange between Marcel Côté and Claude Corbo
R: Panel #3 - Giovanni De Paoli, Robert Couvrette, Pierre Major, Sylvain Villiard, Pierre Marc Johnson
L: Panel #3 - Cameron Charlebois, Nancy Neamtam, Jean Laberge, Élaine M. Gauthier, Claude Dauphinais
L: Synthethis provided by Michel Gariépy and Joshua Wolfe
Photos: Andrew Dobrowolskyj