Mount Royal protection calls for stronger measures



    MONTREAL, Aug. 26 /CNW Telbec/ - 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.




For further information:

For further information: Luc Doray, (514) 872-3568, Cell.: 514 977-8365


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