Welcome to Les amis' newsletter - February 2009

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The next public forum will be held Wednesday, February 4, 2009 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Smith House. 


"Municipal elections in 2009: what are your election wishes for the mountain?"

2008 was a year rich in public consultations for Mount Royal: draft plans were produced for the protection and enhancement of Mount Royal, a ring-road and north-south access, the Montreal General Hospital, the Radio-Canada antenna and the revision of the Cultural Properties Act. In this year of municipal elections, what would you make of the mountain’s protection and enhancement status and what message would you convey to elected officials? Are you reassured or worried about the future of the mountain?
For more information, contact François-Xavier Caron, public forum coordinator.



The Ville de Montréal and the MUHC sign a development agreement for the Montreal General Hospital expansion project 

The Ville de Montréal and the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) recently signed a development agreement for the expansion of the Montreal General Hospital that establishes the urban regulations applicable to the property, as well as the responsibilities and terms for the expansion.
Despite this agreement that aims to improve the project, it is important to remember that the Office de consultation publique de Montréal (OCPM) and numerous participants in the consultation process, including Les amis de la montagne, strongly questioned the necessity of the MUHC hospital expansion on the mountain, which will increase the above-ground size of the hospital by 30%.
The Mount Royal Protection and Enhancement Plan that was produced by the Ville de Montréal in 2008 recognizes the need to develop and apply the notion of “capacity limits” of the mountain. Considering the substantial projects that have been announced for this sector of the mountain (hospital expansion and development of the former Marianopolis College property), the capacity of Mount Royal to receive new construction must be defined at the earliest.
Illustration of the expansion project. The architectural treatment presented is not necessarily the definitive version of the project; it illustrates the volume of the expansion. (Adapted from Daniel Arbour & Associés, Campus de la Montagne : Projet d’intégration et de développement urbain, 15 janvier 2008, doc. 3.2, sec. 4.1.15).
According to the signed agreement, the MUHC commits to the following:
The public will have the chance to comment on the MUHC’s landscaping plans, once they are made public via the MUHC’s website next summer.
Documents available for consultation (in French):

Feeding wild animals: are you for or against? 

Many people question the wisdom of feeding wild animals.

Despite the endearing qualities of the grey squirrel, Montreal has a by-law prohibiting this practice, and with reason: the consequences for squirrels and their habitats can be serious. Feeding squirrels results in an increase in their population. This imbalance causes their habitats to deteriorate and increases the risks of an epidemic.
Photo: Samuel Montigné, 2008
Moreover, squirrels develop a dependency on this food source, which causes a change in their behaviour, occasionally rendering them aggressive. Even though some Montrealers believe that they are helping squirrels by providing them with food, the opposite is in fact true, as demonstrated by studies conducted in the United States that showed illness in squirrels that ate too many peanuts.
If you insist nonetheless on feeding wild animals, a more responsible gesture would be to install a bird feeder in your yard. The impact of feeders on the bird population is positive. Birds do not become dependent upon feeders for their food and the food in the feeders does not make them ill. The only behavioural change in birds is their likelihood to approach humans more easily – usually to our great enjoyment. But be careful – make sure the style of feeder you choose keeps away the squirrels! 


Help promote the Mount Royal interactive map

Help promote the Mount Royal interactive map to your web site visitors by downloading a “Discover Mount Royal” button from our web site!
The buttons are free of charge, easy to use and to install on your site. Choose the type of button that best fits your needs and then copy and paste the source code into any page on your web site. (Note: Your webmaster will know what to do!)

A brief history of snowshoeing on Mount Royal

It’s at the foot of the mountain, in 1840, that the Montreal Snow Shoe Club was formed, the first of its kind, with many other clubs to follow. Back then, snowshoes did not come equipped with fancy stainless-steel crampons, but snowshoers still managed to tramp for more 20 km in a single day, or challenged one another by running sprints or jumping hurdles. By the 1890s, however, snowshoeing began to lose its popularity to ice hockey.
Photo: Snowshoers, Mount-Royal (circa 1901), http://www.musee-mccord.qc.ca/
More recently, Quebecers have rediscovered snowshoeing as an enjoyable winter activity. Today, snowshoes are no longer made with bent-wood frames and rawhide webbing, but with lightweight aluminum-alloy frames, synthetic decking materials and crampons.
Snowshoeing is a sport for all ages and abilities – many people join Les amis for a guided snowshoe walk on Mount Royal to try the new equipment. They become quick converts to this increasingly popular sport. Regardless of the era or the modernity of the equipment, the mountain has remained a unique location to enjoy wintertime in the heart of the city!
For more information on Les amis’ guided snowshoe walks on Mount Royal, including a special St. Valentine’s Day outing with your sweetheart on February 14, visit the calendar of events on our website.



Nordic kicksled demonstration in Mount Royal Park 

Les amis de la montagne, in collaboration with LaGlisse.ca, invite you to try a Nordic kicksled this Saturday, January 31 in Mount Royal Park, a unique activity accessible to those 3 to 83 years-old!
Discover this Scandinavian tradition that is both fun for the whole family and environmentally friendly, already adopted by millions of Europeans! Enjoy the pleasures of winter either solo or accompanied by your child seated in front of the kicksled. The technique can easily be learned in minutes – and you’re off!
Photo: LaGlisse.ca


“Mount Royal, A Territory to Discover” as part of the Montreal All-Nighter 

On Saturday, February 28, join Les amis de la montagne for a virtual treasure hunt to explore and discover the many facets of the Mount Royal territory as part of the Montreal All-Nighter.
Discover the hidden treasures of the mountain’s historic and natural heritage via the projection of an interactive map in the warmth of the Redpath Museum, located on the McGill University campus: slideshows, videos, discovery files and true-false questionnaires will be featured.
For hardier explorers, we invite you to visit the area guided by downloadable podcasts along a variety of themes: “Mission Geology”, “In the footsteps of photographer William Notman”, “McGill University Campus” and “Historic Streets”. Multimedia players will be available on loan (quantity limited, identity card required.)

Launch of the 12th edition


Les amis de la montagne launch the 12th edition of the Tuques Bleues Celebration and Snowshoe Event 

As part of the MONTREAL HIGH LIGHTS Festival
Montreal, January 29, 2009 – As honorary co-chairs of the 12th edition of the Tuques Bleues Celebration and Snowshoe Event, Isabelle Hudon, President of Marketel and Rémi Racine, Chairman of the board of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal and President and Executive Producer of Artificial Mind and Movement (A2M), invite members of the community to become snowshoers for one evening by participating in this benefit event for Les amis de la montagne to be held on February 19 in Mount Royal Park.
Left to right: Philippe Batani, Chef de service, développement durable, Gaz Métro, David O’Connor, Vice President Quebec Operations, Group Benefits, Manulife Financial, honourary co-chair Rémi Racine, honourary co-chair Isabelle Hudon, Catherine Sévigny, city councillor, Ville-Marie Borough, Peter-McGill District, Peter A. Howlett, C.M., President, Les amis de la montagne. Photo: © Les amis de la montagne/Martin Roy, 2009
“I am very proud to be associated, this time as a company president, with Les amis de la montagne. Those who have the chance, like us, Montrealers, to live in a highly urban area with quick and privileged access to a mountain, have the duty to contribute to the preservation of such a precious asset,” said Isabelle Hudon.
“Once again this year, the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal is proud to support the Tuques Bleues Celebration and Snowshoe Event, an activity of special significance to the Board of Trade. Indeed, every metropolis must make an on-going effort to promote its attractions, whether they be of an economic, cultural, or environmental nature. And, for more than twenty years, Les amis de la montagne have worked hard to protect this crown jewel of our heritage, a central element of Montréal’s quality of life. It is therefore important for us all to do our part to promote, protect, and conserve Mount Royal. For this reason, we invite all members of the business community to participate in this colourful event, which enables us to discover or rediscover our mountain in all its glory,” declared Rémi Racine.
During the launch event at Smith House in Mount Royal Park, Isabelle Hudon and Rémi Racine thanked the major partners of the Tuques Bleues Celebration for their commitment and contribution: Gaz Métro, Manulife Financial, Atmosphere, Tubbs Snowshoes and Atlas Snowshoes. The co-chairs also warmly thanked the Ville de Montréal, Brasserie McAuslan, Domaine Pinnacle, Hewitt, Java U, Le Château, CHOM 97.7, CJAD 800 AM, Virgin Radio 96, La Presse and The Gazette for their contributions of products and services.
Les amis de la montagne organize this unique wintertime event where participants re-enact the snowshoeing tradition of sports clubs of the 1840s in support of their mission to protect and enhance Mount Royal. Nearly 800 individuals wearing blue toques either run or walk up the mountain in snowshoes along a 2.5 km trail through the forest, decorated by torchlight for the occasion. They make their way from Smith House to the Chalet near the lookout where the festivities begin with an outdoor barbecue, followed by a gastronomic buffet inside the Chalet.
For more information or to contribute to this benefit event, please contact Anna Coscia by calling 514 843-8240 ext. 239. Complete information on the Tuques Bleues Celebration, including online ticket purchase options, can also be found on Les amis’ website.

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