Blog by Sylvie Guilbault on Cyberpresse
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Every Monday, as part of the “Quel avenir pour Montréal?” blog (What future for Montreal?), La Presse asks a guest blogger to answer the question, “What does Montreal need?” Sylvie Guilbault, Executive Director of Les amis de la montagne, is today's featured guest blogger. The translation of her blog follows. Click here to view the original blog online. Your feedback is welcome.
MONTREAL NEEDS MOUNT ROYAL TO BE GREEN AND ACCESSIBLE
Photo: Ville de Montréal
According to the 2011 Mercer survey, Montreal ranked 22nd out of 221 cities with the best quality of living standards in the world. If quality of life can be measured by the unique character of a city and its attractions, among other things, then the preservation and enhancement of Mount Royal in this context should be manifestly obvious.
Mount Royal is a park where in the heart of the city, we can relax, ski, skate, jog, picnic, and experience an astonishing array of nature, for free. It’s also a mountain in the centre of our island. The large institutions that settled on its flanks allow for the mountain to remain accessible and non-privatised right up to the limits of the park.
For example, we can cross the McGill University campus from downtown straight to Mount Royal Park, a wonderful promenade amid this city’s finest architectural, historic and natural heritage. From the Notre-Dame-des-Neiges and Mont-Royal cemeteries, pathways take you to the park via a universe of peace and beauty; last week, a red fox was caught on film napping in the sunshine.
Mount Royal is more than just a park: it’s a mountain rich in history, heritage and nature in the heart of downtown, unique in North America.
Currently, many of the mountain’s great institutions are undergoing transformation: the Royal Victoria, Shriners and Hôtel-Dieu hospitals are moving; the Montreal General Hospital is expanding; religious congregations are selling their properties; the universities are growing. As a society, we need to make choices and a site like Mount Royal is worth more than its weight in gold knowing that our cities plan to densify exponentially over the next several years.
Montreal needs to extend the mountain towards the city, preserve public access to the site in addition to the park, create pedestrian and bicycle pathways, maintain its heritage buildings, enhance its silhouette in the urban landscape.
Since Mount Royal contributes to our collective quality of life in Montreal, we must take action to manage the site like a non-renewable resource, with the obligation to preserve it for future generations.