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Montreal, July 6, 2016 –Les amis de la montagne disagrees with the approval given by the Quebec Minister of Culture and Communications (MCC) to a proposal by the City of Montreal to turn Rutherford Park into a sports hub, which is to include an artificial turf multisport playing field, light towers, an adjacent car & bus drop-off area, bleachers and related facilities.
Since April 2014, Les amis de la montagne has worked alongside grass-roots organisations, community associations and urban planning and land use professionals to convince the City to drop the artificial turf project in favour of an exemplary landscaping proposal for this public space which has served the neighbourhood for decades as a place to enjoy informal leisure and sports activities.
The park is located on the surface of the McTavish Water Reservoir which recently underwent major refurbishing. Les amis de la montagne maintains that Rutherford Park should have preserved its vocation and been developed as a key feature of the River-Mountain Urban Walkway, a major City of Montreal 375th Anniversary Legacy Project currently under construction. Instead, the park’s new function as a formal sports hub – with adjacent bus and car drop-off section on McTavish – stands in conflict with the goals set for the Legacy Walkway. In addition to hindering the flow of pedestrian traffic, the proposal will increase, rather than curb, the existing circulation and parking problems in the neighbouring area.
Furthermore, outfitting the park with artificial turf will add to, rather than mitigate, Montreal’s growing urban heat island problems. The installation of four 30-metre light towers will contribute to nighttime light pollution which opposes the will to preserve the mountain’s nighttime darkness, a unique quality rarely found in an urban environment which is highly valued for Mount Royal. Ultimately, these impacts will compromise the overall integrity of Mount Royal’s landscape as well as the iconic views to and from the mountain.
The City’s proposal will inhibit the unrestricted public enjoyment of overall space in Rutherford Park through partial privatisation, as planned in a partnership agreement that gives McGill University the exclusive use of the playing field (which occupies the greater part of the accessible area of the park) for 47% of the field’s opening hours.
A vision document entitled Vision et recommandations pour le réaménagement du parc Rutherford was brought to the attention of the municipal and provincial authorities in August 2015. In it, Les amis de la montagne recommended the development of a plan that would meet the highest standards of excellence expected for this site and neighbourhood, both integral features of the Mount Royal Heritage Site they are located in.
The City’s proposal flies against a barrage of directions, guiding principles, measures and goals devised by the City of Montréal and the Quebec Government to guarantee the protection and enhancement of the Mount Royal Heritage Site and to promote sustainable development.
According to Les amis de la montagne, the proposal approved by the MCC is a major missed opportunity to improve and enhance a public space which has held a special place in the lives of generations of Montrealers, and holds such potential in celebrating the connection between the City and its Mountain.
Les amis de la montagne seek to understand the Minister of Culture and Communications’ rationale for approving such a proposal on May 6.
Rutherford Park: A Heritage Site which has Defined
Montreal’s Landscape Since the XIXth Century
View of the McTavish Reservoir and the City of Montréal from Mount Royal, 1911.
Leisurely sports activities to be enjoyed on a natural grass lawn in Rutherford Park,
with the signature crest and curve of Mount Royal in the background.
Snowshoers in Rutherford Park. A spectacular view of Rutherford Park’s icy rock face, winter 2008.
Rutherford Park holds exceptional landscape potential which will be compromised by the installation of a multisport playing field and related amenities.
 Atlas du paysage du Mont Royal, Caractérisation du paysage à l’échelle de la montagne,City of Montréal, Culture et communication Québec, 2012, page 74.