Jacques Nadeau Le Devoir Véronique Doucet wants to advance the planning of the transformation projects for Parc Jean-Drapeau, namely the reconstruction of the Place des Nations, the reopening of the Hélène-de-Champlain pavilion, the development of the canal gardens and the construction of the mobility plan.
Montréal intends to move up the start of work on the flagship projects that will transform Parc Jean-Drapeau in the coming years. The director general of the Société du parc Jean-Drapeau (SPJD), Véronique Doucet, says she wants to weigh on the accelerator to ensure the realization of the master plan unveiled in 2021. However, several elements remain to be clarified, such as the vocation of the Hélène-de-Champlain pavilion, the place given to automobile traffic on the two islands and the financial participation of the other levels of government in this plan estimated at close to a billion dollars.
Arrival in position in April 2022, Véronique Doucet knows that she will have to find a balance between the accessibility of Parc Jean-Drapeau to the general public and the event vocation of the site, which hosts Formula 1 and major shows.
< p>In the spring of 2021, the administration of Valérie Plante unveiled the master plan for Parc Jean-Drapeau, then estimated at $970 million. Its objective: to enhance the site's natural heritage and make it more welcoming to visitors over a ten-year horizon. To achieve this, the City promised to increase the canopy by 30%, redevelop several areas of the park and reduce parking areas by 80%.
Employed by the City for 29 years — having notably held the position of director of the Economic Development Department —, Véronique Doucet must now implement the park's master plan.
In an interview at Devoir, as part of International Women's Day, Ms. Doucet says she is staying the course on the objectives of the plan, but says she wants to advance the planning of the four flagship projects, namely the reconstruction of the Place des Nations, the reopening of the Hélène pavilion -de-Champlain, the development of the canal gardens and the implementation of the mobility plan, which will reduce the place of the automobile on the two islands. “The objective for the four flagship projects is for there to be a milestone in 2024, whether for plans and specifications or the completion of works,” she says.
Last month, the executive committee also awarded the contract for the plans and specifications for the Place des Nations, the bill for which is now estimated at 75 million. Work should begin in 2024 and end in 2026.
Closed since 2009 and after several failed attempts to renovate it, the Hélène-de-Champlain pavilion has still not found a new vocation. The SPJD has already spent $16 million there, but there is still a lot of investment to be made to bring the heritage building up to standard, admits Ms. Doucet. However, it does not exclude the possibility that a restaurant will set up there. “The food issue on the islands is a need. Currently, we don't have much. You could say next to nothing,” she said. Until a vocation is defined, the SPJD is working on planning the layout of the rose garden.
The SPJD also wants to restore the canal gardens laid out for Expo 67, some parts of which were the subject of backfilling work over the years. A contract for the plans and specifications for the project should be awarded next year.
Reduce the place of the car
The question of car traffic and parking lots, which occupy 10% of the area of the islands, remains to be clarified. When the master plan was unveiled, the City said it wanted to reduce parking areas by 80% and limit automobile traffic in the park to buses, maintenance vehicles and delivery trucks. Except that the reality is more complex.
“In the paddocks, we can accommodate up to 12,000 people. So to think that everyone will arrive by bus is not playable. We need alternative solutions, ”admits Véronique Doucet. Two “mobility hubs” with parking lots are thus envisaged, one on each island, she says. “It will allow us to eliminate all the other parking lots, including that of La Ronde, the P8 on the shore and Cap sur mer.” The elimination of the P8 parking lot will eventually allow the development of a river promenade.
It will also be necessary to rethink the bus transportation offer and the facilities for active transportation and, above all, encourage people to go to the park by metro. “Currently, we have a rush hour in the islands because it is used as a transit. We have nine million visitors a year, but of that number, just over a million pass through the metro station. You have to remember that at Expo 67, there were 50 million visitors and not a car. So it must be possible. »
One of the challenges of Parc Jean-Drapeau is to reconcile the vocation of a green space accessible to the general public and the commercial activities of the park. Unlike Parc du Mont-Royal, Parc Jean-Drapeau has many buildings (65) and major infrastructure such as Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve and Espace 67, the outdoor amphitheater inaugurated in 2019. events and festivals always want more space, but they are aware that we are at a turning point and that they must reduce their footprint,” explains Ms. Doucet.
“The spirit of the master plan , is to give the spaces back to the population while keeping an economic vocation with the festivals and the Grand Prix. These are events that have immense economic spinoffs and international significance for Montreal. We seek balance through all of this.
However, the funding strings for the master plan are not yet tied. The City had initially committed for 340 million. Responsible for large parks on the City's Executive Committee, Caroline Bourgeois indicates, however, that the City's participation is now rising to 600 million, an amount which has been included in the Ten-Year Capital Assets Plan (PDI). “It shows how much the City believes in Parc Jean-Drapeau,” she says. We are working with partners, provincially and federally, so that they can join the City for these investments. The private sector could also invest. It is a collective challenge. »