From our Experts

Photo : © Mario Francoeur

From our Experts

2023 Assessment of Advocacy Activities to Protect Mount Royal: Managing large-scale planning and critical challenges

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Jean-François Roy, our advisor for urban planning, environment and heritage, has written the following assessment of advocacy activities undertaken by Les Amis de la montagne in 2023, in addition to defining the broad outlines of what 2024 holds in store.

Les Amis, in action for metropolitan and regional planning

Protecting the mountain is a goal that needs to be part of every planning exercise for the territory. Over the last year, Les Amis has worked hard to ensure that the Mount Royal Heritage Site (MRHS) is a consideration in every urban planning tool used at the municipal, metropolitan and provincial level, as well as in a number of major urban projects. All of this, while also piloting innovative and independent initiatives that aim to reconcile the challenges and solutions faced by institutions and stakeholders who are involved in managing the mountain.

Major urban planning and development issues are currently at a crossroads in Quebec and in Montréal. Public decision-makers are dusting off critically important regulatory frameworks to adjust them to the new realities facing our cities and territories. Now try not to get lost in the many acronyms that follow!

Les Amis defended the mountain's interests to the Quebec government when the Ministère des Affaires municipales et de l'Habitation (MAMH) consulted civil society prior to publishing new governmental orientations for land-use planning. We also contributed to initial reflections on how to update the metropolitan land use and development plan (PMAD) by participating in the fifth edition of the Agora métropolitaine and suggesting key elements to the Communauté Métropolitaine de Montréal (CMM).

By integrating Mount Royal into urban planning tools, we reinforce protection measures and enhance the heritage value of our mountain at the local and regional level.

Les Amis de la montagne at the 2023 Agora métropolitaine. Left to right: Jean-François Roy and Anaïs Légaré Morasse, from Les Amis de la montagne, Marie-Odile Trépanier, co-chair of Les Amis's Comité d’orientation en aménagement et concertation, and Massimo Iezzoni, General Director, CMM.

Giving Mount Royal its rightful place in the City of Montréal’s 2050 Land Use and Mobility Plan

This year, the Montréal Office of Public Consultation (OCPM) tabled its report on City Vision, following a public consultation in 2022. Les Amis participated in this exercise and our recommendations were added to a proposal from the OCPM to adopt a heritage charter that would define, inventory and protect built, natural, intangible and landscape heritage sites, while also respecting the natural evolution of these assets.

At the same time, Les Amis continued to work on the Urban and Mobility Plan by contributing to the work conducted by the Table de concertation du Mont-Royal (TCMR) on this subject. We delivered a strong message: All views of and from Mount Royal constitute a heritage that must be protected and cannot be sacrificed for private or economic interests.

A vision for Griffintown that must consider protection and enhancement of mountain views

The OCPM retained many of Les Amis’ recommendations during a public consultation on the assessment of the implementation of Griffintown’s urban planning proposal (PPU).

In its first recommendation, which aims to update the development vision for the sector released in 2013, the OCPM placed great emphasis on protecting and enhancing the mountain's iconic presence and views. It also echoes our comments by recommending the introduction and validation of the seven principles of urban planning proposed in municipal bylaws, including criteria for the clearance of views of and from emblematic sights associated with Montreal's identity, such as Mount Royal and the Lachine Canal.

Our recommendations reached the South-West borough. Currently, the borough administration has the elements needed to make Mount Royal a priority in the planning of future developments in Griffintown.

Read our full brief and the OCPM public consultation report (French only).

Strengthening regulatory tools to protect views of Mount Royal in the Bridge-Bonaventure district

In its public consultation report on the future of the Bridge-Bonaventure district, the OCPM insisted on several important recommendations made by Les Amis and recognized the challenges posed by sector development in terms of protecting views of the mountain.

Thanks to our intervention, the OCPM is calling on the City of Montréal and the Ville-Marie and Sud-Ouest boroughs to improve their regulatory tools, making them more effective in protecting views. This includes density and permeability guidelines for the urban fabric, as well as separating distances between buildings.

The adoption of these innovative measures in this sector could set a new benchmark and ultimately reduce the visual barrier effect of new construction between the river and the mountain–and in the process, protect the views.

Read our full brief and the OCPM public consultation report (French only).

5 factors for the successful redevelopment of Camillien-Houde

Following the City of Montréal’s unveiling of its vision for Camillien-Houde, Les Amis outlined five foundational principles that should guide the development of this planned project:

  • The new road crossing the park should enhance the biodiversity of the ecological network on the Mount Royal Heritage Site;
  • The “mountain experience” offered to users of Mount Royal must be optimized;
  • The project must guarantee the coexistence of varied uses that is both respectful of the site's vocation and safe for citizens;
  • The project must be integrated into a global vision of accessibility for the Mount Royal Heritage Site and the optimization of mobility throughout the city; and,
  • The redevelopment of Camillien-Houde must be an exemplary project that expresses the shared commitment of public authorities and the community.

In coming months, Les Amis will lean into the development of this project, with particular attention to accessibility to the mountain, especially for residents of Montréal’s east end.

Read all of our recommendations here.

A first conservation plan that unifies and promotes collective action to protect Mount Royal's ecological network

Following extensive scientific work undertaken with the Coalition des Montérégiennes, Les Amis de la montagne has launched the Conservation Plan for Mount Royal’s Natural Habitats and Green Space. This document identifies the pressures impacting the mountain's ecological network, and the conservation actions to be taken.

The plan is a tool to rally the mountain’s stakeholders and municipal authorities around the implementation of concrete actions that protect the unique natural and historical heritage of the Mount Royal Heritage Site.

Furthermore, our document will guide next steps in the process that Les Amis is coordinating for a third consecutive year, to coordinate a dozen Mount Royal institutions on various environmental themes. As part of this process, we organized a community of practice on the management of invasive plant species—a conservation priority on Mount Royal.

Learn more about the Les Amis Conservation Plan.


  • The 2023 Montréal Park Forum was a success!
    Les Amis helped organize the third annual forum, which was a resounding success. The four partner organizations —namely, Les ami·es des parcs (Park People), Les Amis de la montagne, Urban Ecology Centre, and Conseil régional de l’environnement de Montréal—worked together to create the ideal environment for open encounters and exchanges with members of the network.
  • An adapted approach to water management on Mount Royal
    Improved water management on the Mount Royal Heritage Site is no longer an option, but a priority. Consequently, Les Amis submitted recommendations to the public consultation organized by the City of Montréal to reshape water management.
  • A new future for the old Royal Victoria Hospital?
    Les Amis contributed their expertise, from the start, to a feasibility assessment of the inter-university campus that could one day be built on the former Royal Victoria Hospital site.

Outlook for 2024

2024 will be a busy year for Les Amis de la montagne, as our team continues to advocate on behalf of Mount Royal. Les Amis and members of the Coalition des Montérégiennes will strive to reinforce protection measures for natural environments throughout the Montérégie hills. Furthermore, we will actively work to ensure that Mount Royal is integrated into urban planning tools such as the PMAD and the City's Urban Plan.

Les Amis will also be pursuing efforts to represent the mountain in a number of major urban planning projects, such as the redevelopment of Camillien-Houde and the Royal Victoria Hospital site. In addition, we will be coordinating new initiatives to bring local stakeholders together, in order to create partnerships that will lead to the realization of projects that are both environmentally friendly and respectful of Mount Royal's heritage.


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