With winter on the horizon in Quebec and the COVID-19 pandemic pressing on, Montrealers will likely be unable to partake in many of the winter activities they know and love including the Montreal Snow Festival, which is cancelled.
However, Mayor Valérie Plante announced the city's plan to roll out new winter activities for the pandemic for the entirety of the winter season.
In a press conference on November 26, the mayor Plante said the new activities were designed to help relieve Montrealers of the "collective fatigue" they may be feeling due to the ongoing COVID-19 lockdown and to help them "enjoy the outside during winter and breathe a little."
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Twenty-five winter stations in 17 Montreal boroughs
The mayor announced the implementation of 25 "winter stations" designed to allow Montrealers to enjoy the city's outdoor public places — including squares, parks or vacant spaces near commercial hubs — during the winter.
"Seventeen boroughs answered the call to animate [the areas] with the joy of winter," Plante said.
The mayor said the winter stations were designed in collaboration with local architects and designers.
According to Plante, the stations will place an emphasis on light installations for "luminotherapy" and will bring a "dose of magic" to Montreal's boroughs.
The winter stations are part of the city's effort to encourage Montrealers to buy local, as the downtown stations will be situated near shops.
"Commercial giants don't need us to survive," Plante said. "But our local merchants [do]."
Plante also revealed that the city plans to light up downtown Montreal for the holidays, in addition to Rue Saint-Denis and Rue Centrale in Lasalle.
Winter activities in Montreal parks and beyond
The city will also implement new winter markets in Old Pointe-aux-Trembles, Atwater Market, Jean-Talon Market and more across the island.
But the big news is the implementation of winter sporting activities in almost every major Montreal park beginning in December.
Since sports-related activities are prohibited in COVID-19 red zones, the city is allowing for outdoor play by making cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, tobogganing, ice skating and fat biking available.
Cross-country skiing will be made available along the Lachine Canal, as well as Angrignon, Jarry, La Fontaine and Maisonneuve parks.
Parc Grovehill in Lachine and Parc Ignace-Bourget in the Sud-Ouest will be opening up tobogganing hills for the winter, Plante said.
The mayor said that in the absence of Montreal's regular Fête des Neiges, Parc Jean-Drapeau will offer ice skating in a refrigerated skating rink.
She said heated areas and restrooms will be available to allow Montrealers to warm up after a day of activities.
The park will also offer an outdoor "ocean" expedition presented by the Biosphere, to allow Montrealers to observe the birds, flora and fauna of the area, according to Plante.
How much will the activities cost?
Plante said that equipment rentals will be free of charge for Montrealers under 18.
She said the city wanted to promote outdoor winter activities to CEGEP and new university students, so they might take advantage of the city's parks between online classes.
It's also to help families who do not have the means to afford activities for multiple children, she said.
The mayor said the city will boost its walkways as well so that Montrealers can enjoy regular winter walks through their desired parks.
"Much has been done to lift our spirits," Plante said.
"I hope that many Montrealers will see winter differently. The city of Montreal is there to support your mental and physical health."
Activities can be booked online through the city's website.
More details will be made available in the coming weeks on the city of Montreal's web portal.