LES AMIS DE LA MONTAGNE: Three Decades of Service to Mount Royal

2016-04-01

Les amis de la montagne was created 30 years ago today, on April 1st, 1986. Over the past three decades, we have endeavoured to protect and enhance the place Montrealers affectionately call ‘our mountain’, the landmark green space that defines the heart of our city: Mount Royal.

For over two centuries, the mountain has endured the relentless pressures of city building, urban densification and development, and all manner of projects which put its integrity at risk. It was the proposal to erect an elephantine communications tower in Mount Royal Park, along with assorted tourist amenities, that brought into being Les amis de la montagne in 1986. Once established, this vast coalition of citizens, business leaders and organisations including the Centre de la montagne, Heritage Montreal and Sauvons Montréal, wanted their firm opposition to the project, an assault upon the city’s largest green space, to be heard loud and clear.

The telecommunications tower project was ultimately abandoned as a result of the pressure effectively exerted by the newly created Les amis de la montagne.

Upholding a tradition of advocacy that dates back to the 1840s

Despite this victory, it was clear that efforts were still required to bring the challenges facing Mount Royal to the full attention of our public authorities. Inspired by the actions of citizen groups created over the decades since the mid-1800s to defend the mountain and to support the creation of Mount Royal Park, Les amis de la montagne published a manifesto entitled Mount Royal: Pride of Montreal. In this manifesto, Les Amis condemned the state of dereliction and disrepair of the park as well as the absence of a central administration to manage the territory coherently. It also laid out a proposal in favour of the effective management, conservation and enhancement of Mount Royal. The manifesto remains the bedrock of the advocacy work undertaken by Les amis de la montagne since 1986. 

L’union fait la force

Alongside Les amis, the Centre de la montagne, a not-for-profit organization created in 1981, was offering environmental education, conservation and other visitor programmes on Mount Royal. Recognizing the fit and complementarity of their respective missions, Les amis de la montagne and the Centre de la montagne chose to unite their strengths and expertise in 2006.  

Noteworthy achievements of Les amis and the Centre, henceforth operating under the name Les Amis de la montagne, include:

  • the annual Corvée du Mont-Royal, as well as ongoing tree and shrub planting activities to strengthen the biodiversity found on the mountain; 
  • the implementation of a public awareness-building conservation patrol and of environmental stewardship programmes;
  • the diversification of environmental education programmes aimed at preparing the next generation of custodians of Mount Royal;
  • the creation of a complete range of visitor services, including public cultural and outdoor recreation activities, offered as part of a fruitful partnership agreement with the City of Montréal;
  • ongoing advocacy work in favour of Mount Royal, in co-operation with public authorities, key institutional stakeholders, the business community and fellow citizens who share a common vision for the management and harmonious development of the territory; 
  • the organisation of summits on the protection of Mount Royal which led to the Québec government decree creating the Historic and Natural District of Mount Royal in 2005, classified as the Heritage Site of Mount Royal in 2012. 

A Promising Future

Today, Les amis de la montagne enjoys the full commitment as well as the knowledge and expertise of a dedicated team of twenty permanent staff, supported by some 80 seasonal and part-time employees, hundreds of volunteers, and over 200 governors, each determined to safeguard their mountain for the enjoyment of future generations.
 

Follow Les amis de la montagne over the year to find out more about the milestones in our three-decade-long record of accomplishment.

Image : Susan Evans & Mark London