Future of Mount Royal to be discussed

What will become of Mount Royal after the Royal Vic moves out and leaves so much tasty land to be developed is the subject of a discussion to be held next month among interested players. It’s been more than ten years since the last one, although not so long since various other meetings have been held and promises made.

Unfortunately, promises about the protected status of Mount Royal have generally proven to be hot air. The mountain has been chipped away at by the Sulpicians, by McGill, by MUHC hospitals (the Vic’s many parking lots), and by the city itself.

Here’s what I find in my old blog archives on the progression of this story over the last 10 years. Most of the news story links are dead, but I’ll link some that still work.

February 2003: Quebec gives special status to Mount Royal and surrounding areas.

June 2003: Notre-Dame-des-Neiges’ plan to build a large mausoleum is contested.

December 2003: Marianopolis prepares to move. People are concerned about plans for the school’s old site.

December 2004: Another major mausoleum project is floated by NDN.

February 2005: McGill is given an OK to construct two new buildings on the mountain. No public consultation has taken place.

March 2005: Mount Royal is classed as a heritage site by Quebec, which supposedly will give it “the last word” on the massive mausoleum projects. As you’ll see, the last word was “D’accord!”

May 2005: Les Amis de la montagne express dissatisfaction about the Montreal General’s plan to construct a new building on Cedar. This building plan later becomes a very hot potato. January 2013 retrospective on this story of a dodgy deal gone wrong.

August 2005: Giant mausoleum gets go-ahead.

October 2005: Alouettes fans begin to agitate to enlarge Molson Stadium. (Now I wonder who these “fans” were and what was in it for them.)

January 2008: The city comes up with a new plan for the protection of Mount Royal.

April 2008: Blogger Neath comments on one of the public hearings mandated by this protection plan. Also in April, the Montreal General is making more moves towards construction on Cedar.

August 2008: Public consultation has found that the vast majority of Montrealers want Mount Royal preserved as a public benefice. La Presse finds that Notre-Dame-des-Neiges has a dump on the hill behind the UdeM.

October 2008: Montreal General gets permission to do its expansion. The Journal de Montréal goes to the Institut économique de Montréal asking for a list of things to perk the city up, and one of their ideas is to turn Mount Royal over to private hands. (Others include medical tourism, reserving more university spots for high-paying foreigners, and the abolition of rent controls and subsidized housing.)

November 2008: The Sulpicians sell the old Marianopolis site. Despite statements that they want the site to keep an educational purpose, it’s clear this is never going to happen. Also this month, more on the new bike and pedestrian path promised to make the mountain more accessible, and the announcement of an annex to Mount Royal park, 22 hectares of the third summit land that has been used as a dump.

March 2009: Another theme comes in, the fate of 1420 Mont-Royal, the Jésus-Marie convent in Outremont, bought then flipped by the UdeM with a sale to Construction Frank Catania for condo conversion. Coalitions of nearby residents and of professors from the university make attempts to block the sale and conversion, holding that the building should be preserved for educational purposes and that the extra traffic brought by a big condo conversion would be unwelcome.

April 2009: The plan for the protection of Mount Royal is adopted by city council.

September 2009: height limits on buildings (PDF) to preserve the view.

October 2009: people gather on Mount Royal in a peaceful demonstration to show how much they love it.

December 2009: work begins on enlarging Molson Stadium.

March 2010: The Tremblay administration pushes very hard to change the zoning to make the Catania project possible, and succeeds.

May 2010: the initial project for the Marianopolis site is scaled back to a transformation of the existing buildings rather than construction of new ones. Also this month, Remembrance Road is altered and a new piece of art is installed near the Peel Street entrance to the park.

June 2010: Enlarged Molson Stadium opens. Alouettes play first game in the enlarged facility in July.

October 2010: Vélo-Québec objects to part of the bike path over the mountain and asks for it to be removed, saying it’s badly conceived and unsafe.

November 2010: the city announces it would spruce up the lookout in spring 2011.

January 2011: A condo developer plans to demolish what’s left of the Redpath mansion and construct a building that would defy the city’s guidelines for sightlines on Mount Royal. The Museum of Fine Arts has just made plans for a nice view from their church conversion pavilion, and it’s angry that this is about to be blocked.

February 2011: The developers of the Redpath site are not given their zoning exception and the project is stymied.

June 2011: Public consultations on the Montreal General’s construction plans. There are objections.

July 2011: A delay is announced in the start of work for the new 22-hectare third-summit park.

November 2011: The Quebec culture ministry gives the 1420 Mont-Royal condo conversion the nod.

February 2012: The public consultation office asks for finer-grained regulations governing building heights, so’s not to obscure the view of the mountain.

March 2012: major repairs on Beaver Lake are announced to start in June with the first phase of work on the lake basin to wrap up in February 2013. A second phase is also expected.

July 2012: The Montreal General gives up its enlargement plans on Cedar Avenue.

November 2012: Mount Royal gets its own official section on the city website.

December 2012: UdeM cancels the sale of 1420 Mont-Royal to Catania because of the Faubourg Contrecœur scandal and other objections to the deal.

February 2013: announcement that work on the third summit park would begin this June.