Mount Royal Protection Calls for Stronger Measures
Montréal, August 26, 2008 – The Office de consultation publique de Montréal (OCPM) announces today the publication of its report on the draft Mount Royal Master Protection and Enhancement Plan. The consultation on the draft Plan ran from mid-March to the end of April, and attracted more than 3000 participants, who attended any of the 15 public meetings or answered the consultation questionnaire provided by the Office. Some 2785 people filled out the questionnaire, the greatest public participation in any OCPM consultation to date. The commission, composed of Office president Louise Roy and commissioners Jean Burton and Louis Dériger, received 35 briefs and oral presentations.
Over 85% of questionnaire respondents supported mountain heritage conservation objectives put forth by the Table de concertation du Mont-Royal, and the application of very strict real estate development control measures. They also commented on the importance of moving quickly to avoid irreparable acts. It should be noted that 14 institutions located on the mountain recently signed the Heritage Pact.
“It is important to formalize these agreements and to make them more explicit by strengthening mountain heritage protection measures announced by the City,” says Ms. Roy. “This cautionary approach is in keeping with the diagnosis pronounced: the mountain would find it difficulty to hold new constructions without altering its heritage elements,” she adds.
Many institutions have already begun to plan their development in areas other than the mountain. In that respect, the City should provide systematic assistance, and real estate development on Mount Royal should henceforth be considered a privilege, its necessity requiring public justification.
After three years of work by the Table de concertation, the elements of an ecological network and woods to be protected on Mount Royal have been identified, as well as 104 views of interest from and of the mountain. Eighteen of those views are endangered. Other work has been undertaken to inventory landscapes, facilities and built elements to be protected and enhanced.
The commission recommends that significant heritage elements already identified be fully and immediately set up as a reserve, to be enhanced for the benefit of current and future generations of Montrealers and visitors, until such time as the findings of the second round of work are revealed, allowing the fine-tuning of protection tools and, thereby:
- The establishment of the 423 ha of the ecological network mapped by the City as a minimum natural capital to be fully protected from construction through appropriate zoning or easement agreements;
- The inclusion in the Mount Royal Master Protection and Enhancement Plan of the no-net-loss-of-habitat principle, and of the parameters of a compensatory approach;
- Full protection of the 18 endangered views identified by the City, until a study is completed to evaluate the impact of such protection on downtown development. No construction exceeding obstruction thresholds should be permitted;
- The addition to the reserve, as inventories and studies are completed, of particularly significant built elements and landscapes, through negotiated easements and an approach that may involve compensation to the institutions, providing them with the means to protect and enhance their built heritage;
- The strengthening of the Heritage Pact, thought the signing of development agreements with the institutions. These should have a minimum term of ten years, and take the form of contracts rather than voluntary agreements;
- The employment of urgent measures to provide pedestrians and cyclists with suitable access routes to the mountain, notably by repairing and rehabilitating the stairs, and installing appropriate signage.
- Many other recommendations were made with respect to traffic, safety, and services.
“A second round of work should be undertaken to fine-tune protection tools and plans, and to enhance, complete and adjust initial forms of protection,” adds Office president Louise Roy. The commission recommends that the Mayors of Montréal, Westmount and the boroughs concerned produce a public progress report on the Protection Plan every five years.
Until such time as the complementary document is amended by city council, the interim control by-law should apply to all projects, not only those calling for borough council adoption of by-laws, as is currently the case.
Lastly, the commission recommends that the Table de concertation be assigned a leading role in the development of a renewed vision for the mountain, as well as a consulting role in the design of major implementation tools and financing strategies for the Plan. It also proposes that its role in controlling and monitoring the Plan’s application be confirmed.
The documentation pertaining to the consultation, including the report, is available in electronic format on the Web site of the Office de consultation publique de Montréal (www.ocpm.qc.ca) and, in print from, at the offices of the OCPM during regular business hours. An English version of the report will be available shortly.
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