Instructions for the Montreal of tomorrow

The City of Montreal has launched a vast project to dust off its urban plan and update the 2008 transportation plan for the next 25 years. Montreal has come a long way since the adoption of the first urban plan by the Jean Doré administration 30 years ago, but the climate crisis now imposes an urgency on decision-makers.

The reference documents for urban planning, urban plans are a requirement of the Land Management and Territory Planning Law. The one that Montreal wants to develop will be inspired by discussions with citizens and will be the subject of consultations in the coming months by the Montreal Public Consultation Office (OWHC).

The working document made public by the City Council includes the main objectives aimed at designing the city of tomorrow around three axes: the metropolis, the district and the building. There is a bit of everything in this document, where the main virtuous principles are described: access to banks all year round, green streets, cycle paths for citizens of all ages, green roofs, buildings that are not energy intensive, housing adapted to all Montrealers, regardless of status or income, and many other statements that make you dream.

In the images that illustrate the document, the cars are scarce, even non-existent. Responsible for planning in the executive committee, Robert Beaudry had not noticed this detail. “It is a working document, and we do not deny that there will be [en 2050]Trucks will also follow, but we want freight transport to evolve. It is above all a reflection on the distribution of types of mobility”, he explains.

If Montreal has chosen the 2050 horizon to develop its plan, it is because it has set itself the goal of achieving carbon neutrality at that time. This carbon neutrality applies for the time being to the institution of the City, but citizens will also have to participate in it, advances Robert Beaudry. “We still have to make a collective effort. Go through transportation and buildings. But the goal is to inspire this movement. Beyond our personal goals, there are the goals of the IPCC [Groupe intergouvernemental d’experts sur l’évolution du climat] “remember the chosen one.

According to Robert Beaudry, the climate crisis requires strong action to make the city more resilient. And while the City does not have control over all aspects of its development, the Plante administration intends to make housing a central issue. “Today we find middle class people who cannot, on the island of Montreal, find housing that respects their ability to pay. If we want to build a city with living neighborhoods, we have to take this issue forward”, he argues.

We still have to make a collective effort. Go through transportation and buildings. But the goal is to inspire this movement. [de la carboneutralité].

The vast construction site of 1992

On June 9, 1992, Duty titled “Montrealians Will Be Forced to Convert to Public Transportation”. The day before, the person in charge of planning and urban development under the Jean Doré administration, André Lavallée, had presented the urban plan, the first for the City of Montreal.

Considered a “social contract” with Montrealers and public and private partners, this plan provided for a set of measures, such as the development of several reserved bus lanes, a parking policy to encourage Montrealers to opt for public transport, the greening of the city with massive tree planting and the creation of parks in alleys and schoolyards. It detailed numerous ambitions, including the construction of 60,000 new housing units, particularly downtown, the transformation of the former Miron quarry into green space, the revitalization of Sainte-Catherine Street, and the restoration of Mount Royal.

But the urban plan was much more than a list of projects to be carried out in the more or less long term. It had been simmering in the militant base of the Montreal Citizens Rally (RCM), while Montreal was run by Jean Drapeau, who had launched several “urban revitalization” projects that disfigured certain neighborhoods.

At that time, despite the inauguration of the subway, the car was king. “The vision that the city of Montreal had was: we demolish and we start again. Modernity went through demolition”, recalls André Lavallée, in an interview with To have to. “And 25% of downtown Montreal was made up of vacant lots. City Hall was littered with parking lots and abandoned lots, he says. the suburb I’m tired it had been demolished to make way for Radio-Canada.

Thirty years later, André Lavallée points out that many projects that appeared in the first urban plan have been completed, be it the Center de commerce mondial, the rehabilitation of rue de la Commune or the revitalization of the old Angus factories. The Urban Plan was anchored in the “real city” and was the result of a democratic exercise unprecedented at the time, he insists.

The city center was also a centerpiece of the urban plan. Under the impetus of the RCM and a new regulatory framework, the residential function of the city center has increased with the concern of maintaining the identity of the neighborhoods that comprise it.

a huge puzzle

If he salutes the exercise launched by the Plante administration for the new urban plan, André Lavallée nonetheless judges that the “generous” proposals dwell too much on the details without defining the real priorities. “It’s like starting a big 10,000-piece puzzle, but not taking the time to group the pieces by color,” he says. But I understand that the exercise is beginning. I have no choice but to give the broker a try. »

The president of the Ordre des urbanistes du Québec, Sylvain Gariépy acknowledges that the guidelines described in the City’s working document are “a bit generic”. “It’s a way to launch the project and then arrive in the most concrete way,” he believes.

He points out that the Red Express Metropolitana del Este y del Oeste (REM) projects will have an inevitable impact on the development of the future PUM and will modify living environments. “It will greatly influence the way we rethink the territory. It will be necessary to draw up an urban plan that takes these networks into account. »

He wonders, however, if the city will have the means to live up to its ambitions and if the future national policy on architecture and land use planning that Quebec is preparing will have an effect on the urban plan of Montreal and other cities in Québec.

“The urban plan is a living document and will change throughout its existence”, recalls, however, Robert Beaudry.

The development process of the PUM is in its infancy and its adoption is scheduled for 2023. The municipalities will also have their local plans that will detail the regulatory frameworks related to the development of their territory.

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