January 21, 2014 ─ With everything from vast playing fields and nature parks to tiny hidden gardens and “green” alleys, locals and visitors alike can enjoy the bounty of nature without leaving the city.
Mount Royal Park
The brainchild of Frederick Law Olmsted (perhaps best known for designing New York City’s Central Park), Mount Royal Park is undoubtedly the jewel of Montréal’s city parks and a symbol of the city’s dedication to green living. Located right in the heart of the city and covering more than 200 hectares, it offers an easy escape from the hustle and bustle below.
It’s also a place for Montrealers to get involved in the environment on a local level. Founded in 2007 by Les amis de la montagne, the Environmental Stewardship Program (ESP) solicits volunteers to partake in the planting and nurturing of new trees on Mount Royal, all under the supervision of trained professionals.
A similar commitment is evident in Montréal’s seventeen large parks—covering an area of nearly 2,000 hectares—almost half are designated nature parks, a special distinction that includes commitments to environmental conservation, architectural heritage, and the preservation of diverse plant and animal life.
Saint-Michel Environmental Complex
One of Montréal’s newest green spaces, the Saint-Michel Environmental Complex, was conceived out of the desire to promote sustainable development and decrease the city’s environmental footprint. Part of the vast complex is home to a recovery centre, where recyclables are processed, a power station that converts the biogas produced at the landfill site into electricity, as well as composting stations.
The areas where waste was landfilled for more than 30 years are being developed into a large and beautiful park that will bring together nature, culture, science and sports. Visitors can explore the complex independently or go on an environmental “safari,” which takes them on a guided tour of this stunning transformation.
The Road Not Taken
While many of Montréal’s parks are well known, some of its smaller gems are hidden in areas known only to locals. Find the city’s more inconspicuous green spaces using the DistrictMontréal app.
Protecting and Enhancing Blue and Green Spaces for the Future
Concerned with urban planning and sustainable development in its territory, the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal (Montréal Metropolitan Community) implemented the Blue and Green Spaces in an effort to protect the environment and to showcase the city’s natural environment, built environment and landscapes. This framework includes a recreation and tourism network that will offer residents and visitors new places to enjoy cultural and leisure activities in addition to rest areas to simply stop and stay a while.