Welcome to Les amis' newsletter - December 2010

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The City of Westmount adds a touch of green to the mountain territory!

Thanks to funding support from the Ministère de la Culture, des Communications et de la Condition feminine and the Ville de Montréal as part of the Entente sur le développement culturel de Montréal, the City of Westmount acquired a plot of land on Chemin de la Côte-des-Neiges near the entrance to Mount Royal Park in order to transform the vacant lot into a wooded area. What a fine gesture to cap this International Year of Biodiversity!

The Mount Royal forest now has 140 new indigenous trees and 1,215 new indigenous shrubs. A sampling of the species planted includes Sugar Maple, Grey Birch, American Hornbeam, Canada Fly Honeysuckle and Shadblow Serviceberry. Although only small wisps of trees and naked branches are currently visible, in two years time, a forest will have grown.

The first intervention initiated to expand the green spaces in this sector of the mountain was undertaken almost 10 years ago. In December 2001, thanks to a partnership with the City of Westmount and The EJLB Foundation, Les amis de la montagne acquired the Clifton Apartments, a building located on the Chemin de la Côte-des-Neiges facing the Chemin Remembrance interchange, in order to demolish the abandoned building. The site was renaturalized by the City of Westmount and zoned as park space to prevent any future construction on the site.

These two interventions contribute to the extension of the mountain’s ecological network. This network consists of primary core zones of great ecological value, such as Summit Park and the summit of Mount Royal Park; and buffer zones and green corridors joining the core zones between them.

For over 10 years, the environmental actions undertaken by Les amis de la montagne in partnership with the Ville de Montréal, have formed part of a greater environmental stewardship program that aims to maintain the biodiversity and the health of the forests of Mount Royal.

Expansion project on the former Outremont rail yards
Les amis de la montagne commend the Université de Montréal’s decision to preserve the environmental integrity of Mount Royal

Les amis de la montagne commend the leadership demonstrated by the Université de Montréal in its decision to preserve the environmental integrity of Mount Royal by confirming its project to expand on the former Outremont rail yards. This gesture serves as a viable solution to the prickly question of the mountain’s capacity to receive new construction, a notion consistent with the values expressed in the Mount Royal Protection and Enhancement Plan.

Photo: Jacques Dorais

In a speech presented November 30th before members of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal, Rector Guy Breton of the Université de Montréal said, “We are friends of the mountain. We believe the expansion of our campus, a necessary, even urgent expansion, must move forward through the removal of the rail yard tracks in Outremont rather the cutting of trees on Mount Royal.”

“This expansion project outside the limits of Mount Royal is an option that we support for the institutions located on the mountain,” said Sylvie Guilbault, Executive Director of Les amis de la montagne. “More than its trees however, Mount Royal is a site rich in built and landscape heritage. We encourage the University to continue investing in its mountain campus to ensure the maintenance, enhancement and accessibility of this site that is of great symbolic value to Montreal.”

Last May, the Ville de Montréal refused a project on the site of the former Sulpicians’ philosophy seminary located on the southern flank of Mount Royal, requiring the project on the mountain to be reduced to the existing built footprint of the site. This decision requires that guiding principals and more clearly defined rules direct future construction on all institutional properties on the mountain.

The work at Smith House is moving along nicely

As you may have noticed during your last visit on the mountain, Smith House is undergoing a transformation in preparation for the opening of the new permanent exhibit, Mount Royal, A Territory to Discover. On the main floor, the building’s original staircase has been stripped of its paint, new flooring has been laid, the walls have been painted and the electricity has been upgraded in most rooms.

The work continues through March 2011, but the house, café, information service and nature-boutique will all continue to operate as usual during this coming winter season.

We apologize for any inconvenience caused by this important renovation work.

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