Montreal will look very different come 2017 thanks to the slew of projects that are slated for Montreal's 375th birthday. But even if they all get delayed (and this is Montreal, so that's likely) only one building projects needs to make it to 2017 to change the face of Montreal: the Mount Royal-Saint Lawrence Promenade.
Like the name suggests, the mountain to river path officially dubbed "Promenade Fleuve-Montagne" will connect two of the most iconic natural landmarks of Montreal, namely Mount Royal and the Saint Lawrence River.
Planned to begin at Pointe-à-Callière Museum and end at the foot of Mount Royal (or vice versa), the 3.8km walkway will connect Old Montreal to the Plateau, providing pedestrians with plenty to do and see along the way.
Given the amount of city the pathway will run through, a few major streets will be amalgamated into the promenade to make everything flow smoothly.
McGill, Viger, Beaver Hall, Saint Catherine, McGill College, Sherbrooke, McTavish, and des Pins will all be included in the planned path, with each street set to be revamped during the construction process.
Originally conceived in 2011, with the project's plans finalized in October 2015, the Promenade Fleuve-Montagne should be completely finished by May 2017, and will cost a total of $42 million.
A year and a half is a bit of time to wait, but the City of Montreal has already released a wealth of information on the city-spanning pedestrian pathway, which we've compiled below.
What The Promenade Will Look Like
Ensuring that no one gets lost on their way up from the river to the mountain (and since folks will be traversing through half the city, it's a definite possibility) the promenade's path will be outlined with two different kinds of visual markers.
The first will be placed at head-level on poles and street signs, with small orange triangles letting walkers know they're headed in the right direction. Both sides of a given pole will be wrapped by two triangles, and they'll probably be fixed on with screws or the like to ensure no one rips the markers off.
Visual cues will also be painted directly onto the streets of Montreal. Pixel-esque graphics will serve as the roadway markers, coloured onto street crossings to guide walkers while also adding a bit of retro gaming flair to the city.
Certain streets will also get a major makeover, notably McTavish past Dr. Penfield, Beaver Hall, and Place D'Youville. The first will become much more pedestrian-friendly and revitalized (see image above) while the latter two spots will be made more "fun," with the city taking inspiration from such art installations like 21 Balançoires in the as-of-yet-undetermined design for each.
There Will Be Plenty Of Green
Don't think you'll only be seeing trees at the Mount Royal end of the promenade, though the mountain will serve as the flora epicentre of the pathway that will extend all the way to the river. The result will be a far more vibrantly green Montreal, which the downtown ends of the city sorely needs.
A custom "greening strategy" was actually created for the entire project, a plan that includes planting a large number of trees all along the pathway, using the natural ability of the flora to manage various forms of precipitation, and increasing the number of small animals, birds, and pollinating insects in the city.
Plenty of street furniture is also planned to be placed all along the promenade. Each set of street furniture will be designed to reflect the character of its given area, though all seem to have a certain "natural" feel, being built with wood panelling and accompanied by planted trees.
Also included in the green strategy is an initiative to add more green to Mount Royal itself. The City of Montreal aims to add more native tree species on the mountain while respecting the existing ecosystem.
The Promenade's Technological Twists
Several technological innovations are to be fixtures of the Promenade Fleuve-Montagne, all of which will aid everyone in Montreal, no matter if they're taking the river-mountain walk or not.
To begin on the promenade, with plans to be launched throughout Montreal, are new pedestrian info signs. The signs will utilize an innovative system that will offer routes for folks to take, point out nearby attractions, and provide public transit info. Some will even have touch screens.
An app may also be developed to compliment the information offered on the new pedestrian info signs. Another app is possibly on the docket, described as a "virtual walk" that will be a sort of augmented reality adventure for those traversing the promenade. Neither have been confirmed.
Obviously the info signs and potential apps have a tourist-focus, but here's a digital aspect of the Promenade Fleuve-Montagne plan that will definitely benefit those actually living in Montreal: a free wireless network.
From the start of the walk to the end, a WiFi network will be in place that will allow everyone to use the 'net on their phone free of charge. Those walking the path could use the WiFi to interact with various installations, but the rest of us will simply have the boon of free internet in large chunks of the city.
When To Expect Construction
If there's one downside to a large city-spanning project like the Promenade Fleuve-Montagne is the months of construction it will take to get everything done.
Somewhat fortunately, only certain stretches of the pathway will need large overhauls, with others requiring some "mild" revamping.
Just so you know what streets to avoid and when, here's a rundown of when the city will be building the various sections of the promenade/where you'll be seeing plenty of orange cones:
- Winter 2016: Construction work will start on the water system on Dr. Penfield.
- Spring 2016: Redevelopment of des Pins and McTavish will begin. Viger and McGill streets will be modified to become more pedestrian-friendly. A public space on the west side of Place D'Youville will be built.
- 2017: Work will begin on McGill College and Beaver Hall at unspecified times. Sainte Catherine street and Saint Philips Square will be revamped in early May.
It's kind of odd that the city will be waiting until May 2017 to get started on St. Cats and Saint Philips Square, since that's supposed to be the promenade's completion date. Maybe those last two sections will require little work, or the project will just be delayed. Only time will tell.
Either way, we're seriously looking forward to Promenade Fleuve-Montagne. 2017 can't arrive fast enough.
*All photos courtesy of Ville de Montreal