Parc Jean-Drapeau to get overhaul

Over the next ten years, green spaces will be added, parking spots reduced and visitors will have more access to the water

Parc Jean-Drapeau to get overhaul

Credit: Ville de Montréal

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante and the Société du parc Jean-Drapeau (SPJD), recently released their Master Plan for the Conservation, Planning and Development of Parc Jean-Drapeau.

Over the next decade and with investments of $100 million annually, the plan aims to rejuvenate and showcase Parc Jean-Drapeau as a destination for Montrealers and visitors alike. The announcement comes after years of planning and a vast public consultation conducted in 2018 by the Office de consultation publique de Montréal (OCPM). The culmination is a major overhaul for the large urban park on Ile Sainte-Hélène and Ile Notre-Dame that balances nature with sports and space for events, and highlights and protects the park’s natural environment and its waterfront.

Reduced parking and more green spaces

The extensive renovations will include the transformation of the bridge linking the two islands, a ferry entrance, development of Lac des cygnes and riverbanks, and revitalized green spaces. Eighty per cent of parking space will be eliminated, while remaining spaces will be redistributed to two main lots near LaRonde and the casino.

Parking spots won’t disappear overnight and will require studies to evaluate needs and mobility issues. “If you decide to take your car for different reasons, then you will park in a place where there might be an electric shuttle or where you can rent a bike. So accessibility will be there,” said Plante at a news conference presenting the plan. “But right now [parking] is all spread out and it’s taking about 10 per cent of the park. So how about we concentrate the parking, make it more efficient, make it more durable, and find ways so we can circulate in a very safe way within the park.”

Green spaces for recreational activities will increase by 25 per cent, wetlands by 40 per cent, the use of sports facilities will go up by 28 per cent, and there will be a total of 15 kilometres of shoreline promenade around the two islands.

lac des Cygnes. Credit: Ville de Montréal

Expo 67 site to undergo renovations

Also undergoing massive renovations will be the historic Place des Nations, which became a favourite destination for many Montrealers during the Expo 67 World’s Fair, when more than 50 million people descended on the site. Abandoned since 2016, Place des Nations will be completely redone and preserved for generations to come. Montrealers have fond memories of the space and reminisce about its glory days. “My husband and I spent the whole summer of 1967 on what was then called Ile Sainte-Hélène and Ile Notre-Dame. We met in February of that year and every single one of our dates was at Expo 67. It was the most amazing summer ever,” recalls Susan Barrett, formerly of Lachine.

Place des nations. Credit: Ville de Montréal

More access to the water and shoreline

“What we’re presenting today is a long-term vision over the next 10 years,” Plante said. “Though there are things that we have already started to work on — Place des Nations is one of those things — along the way we definitely want to concentrate all the parking and make it easier for people to circulate within the site.”

Plante noted that she is excited to give people more access to the water and shoreline, and create a more accessible space. “This is a legacy for Montrealers,” she said. “We’re making sure that not only do we invest in parks, but also that we’re doing infrastructure and a cool place for tourists in the future — because people love Montreal. So I’m very, very proud of this.”

Renovations will be carried out in sections, while ensuring that visitors still have access to the park. Plante says she is excited about the work ahead and the completed project. “The idea will be for people to come to Parc Jean-Drapeau to spend the entire day,” she said. “They will have a picnic somewhere, they will be able to walk, be close to the water, and have beautiful gorgeous views of Montreal. Then maybe in the evening they’ll go to Piknic Électronik or go see a concert happening at Place des Nations. I think that more than ever, during COVID, Montrealers have said very clear and loud: “We love our parks. We want more parks, we want more green, and we need that space.” We want to have a green recovery plan and this is exactly what we’re doing right now.”