Parc Jean-Drapeau



Main actors

Local Government, City Government, Community / Citizen Group

Project area

Inner City


Ongoing since 2020

By placing ecological transition, diversity, and inclusion among its guiding principles, and sustainable development and conservation among its primary strategic objectives, the park is broadening its social reach and its contribution to the issues facing society today. The Plan provides guidance on urban greening practices that promote re-naturalisation through the establishment of native plants, while enhancing biodiversity, pollinators, and cooling oases. Ornamental plantations, parking lots, and lawns are priority areas for this type of intervention. A significant portion of the green spaces will transition toward a sustainable management system, which will improve the contribution of green infrastructure in the park. In addition to the existing filtering marshes, wetlands will be restored and constructed, providing many additional ecosystem services. Not only will Parc Jean-Drapeau have more ecological green spaces that contribute to Montrealers’ public health, but the increased biodiversity of the urban green space will have a restorative effect and enhance a sense of well-being.

Originally published by AIPH World Green City Awards: LINK to Case Study

Sustainable Development Goals

Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all agesReduce inequality within and among countriesMake cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainableTake urgent action to combat climate change and its impactsPromote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

AIPH World Green City Awards

This project was shortlisted for the 'AIPH World Green City Awards' in 2022 in the following category: Living Green for Economic Recovery and Inclusive Growth.

Montréal, Canada
Size and population development
Montréal is the most populous city in the province of Quebec, with an approximate population of 2 million people as of 2017. Greater Montréal has more than 4 million people; with 2 million males and 2.09 million females. The 2030 population for Greater Montréal is forecast to reach 5.2 million people.
Population composition
2.2 million people in Montréal speak both French and English. 60,000 people in the Metropolitan area do not speak either of the official languages. These people speak Aboriginal languages like Inuit and Cree-montaignais, but also non-Aboriginal languages such as Afroasiatic ones (e.g. Creole, Yiddish) and Indo-European (e.g. Slavic variations, German). Minority populations comprise together over half a million inhabitants in the Metropolitan area of Montréal, and natives have been registered as approximately 42,000 people.
Main functions
Montréal is the most populous municipality in the Canadian province of Quebec and the second most populous municipality in Canada. The city is located in the southwest of Quebec and covers most of the Island of Montreal at the confluence of the Saint Lawrence and Ottawa Rivers. French is the city’s official language and is the language spoken at home by 49.8% of the city’s population, it is the second largest primarily French speaking city in the world, following Paris. Named after the three peak mount that stands in the middle of the city—“Mount Royal”—a site formally occupied by an indigenous village called Hochelaga. After the conquest, a French fur trading post grew into a city across the 1600s. Today, Montréal is a major tourist city and is recognised as a hub for technology research and development and the creative industries.
Main industries / business
After Toronto, Montréal is the biggest economy in Canada. The city of Montréal identifies as its principal and developing industries the following: aerospace, food, cinema and television, finance, fashion and clothing, life sciences (research and innovation), information technologies, transport and logistics. Certainly, Montréal excels in the area of aeronautics and technology development, as many of the world’s cutting-edge companies have set their headquarters there. Among the more famous companies installed in the city include the World Anti-Doping Agency, the Canadian Space Agency, the production company Alliance Films, and the videogame company Ubisoft. It has also gathered the attention of artificial intelligence developers, such as Facebook AI Research, Microsoft Research, Google Brain, DeepMind, etc. The Port of Montréal, another of Quebec’s economic features, located inland, transacts 26 million tonnes every year. Montréal is also considered a key cultural capital. It has strong film, television and theatre industries, with for example Cirque du Soleil being headquartered in this city. Also, its music scene has impacted worldwide through festivals such as the Montréal International Jazz Festival, the largest in the world. Another feature of Montréal is its ice hockey scene, with the local team “Montréal Canadiens” as a central participant of the NHL.
Sources for city budget
The budget of the city is elaborated by the mairesse and her executive committee for approval by the rest of the municipal council. It must include expenditure that relates to public security, subvention programmes for real estate and urbanization projects, the environment, and a three-year government plan.
Political structure
The government of Montréal is led by a mayor, the councils of the boroughs and the city council, with the municipal council being made up of 65 elected officials. The mayor, Valérie Plante, is the first woman to occupy the role since the founding of the city, and she is equal to the other 64 members of the council. In political matters, the mayor stands as the head of the executive committee, which she nominates, and is in charge of deciding local competencies, services relevant to the urban agglomeration of the île de Montréal (the island that comprehends the city as well as the surrounding suburbs), and the generation of documents that relate to the city budget and its rules. The opposition party (the second runner-up) has an active role of watchdog functions and freedom of expression regarding the decisions taken by the mayor.
Administrative structure
The municipal council is also in charge of the budget of Montréal. This includes the urban agglomeration of the île de Montréal: that is, its 19 arrondisements or boroughs and 15 banlieues or suburban areas. Each of the boroughs has a mayor, elected by the local citizens. They and the councils of the boroughs are tasked with matters regarding local urbanism, culture, parks and recreation, community development, human resources, housing, etc.

The Parc Jean-Drapeau Master Plan 2020-2030 is the result of a massive public outcry against a plan to develop a large open-air amphitheatre on Saint Helen’s Island in 2017. This major project, implemented without any public consultation process, included the removal of approximately 1,000 mature trees in the heart of the park and the destruction of an ecological water feature. The result, an expansive, mineralized surface that can accommodate up to 65,000 spectators, opened in November 2019.

The development of the Espace 67 amphitheatre in 2018 galvanized one of the most extensive public consultation processes in Montreal’s history and raised awareness of the park’s current state: the degraded condition of its green spaces due to a combination of overuse and neglect, the disconnection between residents and the park as a public place, and the lack of a shared vision or identity for the park.

The Parc Jean-Drapeau Master Plan responds directly to the recommendations from this public consultation process and commits to regenerate, reconnect, and reinvent the park in a way that puts people and nature (and their relationship with each other) at the centre of all its discussions and actions.

The Master Plan embodies a commitment to transform decision-making processes and to update the practices and operations of Société du parc Jean-Drapeau Corporation (SDJP)in a way that is both people- and nature-centred. The strategic framework of the Master Plan – comprised of guiding principles, design principles, development axes, and strategic orientations – provides a comprehensive structure upon which all processes and actions are based.

With this Master Plan, Parc Jean-Drapeau is making a clear socio-ecological shift. While greatly enhancing the diversity, quality, and quantity of its open spaces for visitors, the Plan sets bold targets: to increase the tree canopy by 30% and wetland areas by 40% and to decrease high-maintenance horticultural zones by 50%. The creation of an ecological corridor between two biodiversity hotspots where fauna and flora are particularly abundant – the Mont Boullé hackberry stand on Saint Helen’s Island and the riparian zones of Notre-Dame Island – illustrates a commitment to restore the ecological connectivity within the park.

The Master Plan aims to improve ecological complexity by integrating the concepts of landscape performance and ecosystem services into the design and management plan, which will also incorporate traditional indigenous knowledge. Most lawn areas (which primarily align the roadways) will evolve into more diversified natural landscapes as the three-stratum forest expands. The introduction of sustainable management practices allow for the expansion of unmanicured herbaceous lands. Among the new types of plant habitats in the park, shrublands will provide new littoral environments near the river, which will differentiate the renewed contact with the water from inland landscape experiences. The uniqueness of these spaces will be reinforced by the development of new wetlands and the use of phytotechnologies.

In addition to the development and management of its lands, the park aims to achieve 85% of materials recycled, carbon-neutrality of all development activities, and 100% eco-responsible programming while introducing urban agriculture on the roofs of several buildings.

The Master Plan lays the groundwork for many educational opportunities and exchanges of knowledge. Learning and sharing knowledge are facilitated through several efforts, both internally, within the park, and externally, in exchange with other municipal entities and partners. For example, bio-indicator surveys and monitoring in the forested area will be part of research-action projects in collaboration with universities and the Ecological Transition Campus as well as in partnership with indigenous traditional knowledge experts to inform both park operations staff and the project design team to guide the redevelopment and restoration plans. Communication strategies include adding informational signs to explain our ecological practices and ways to enhance and protect biodiversity in urban parks. In addition, parks grounds staff are engaged in a process of learning and adopting new ecological management practices, including methods to reduce pesticide and herbicide use, planting strategies that augment biodiversity, and operations that encourage naturalisation in the park.

The Plan includes an ambitious funding target of nearly $970 million. $490 million, 50% of the total, is financed by the City of Montréal through an annual budget of $49 million in its 10-year capital investment plan. This sum is dedicated to the projects proposed in the Plan, with the budget being divided between new development projects and the maintenance and renovation of existing park facilities. The City’s contribution includes amounts it allocates to the SPJD as part of the three-year investment plan, which represents almost half the annual budget allocated to restore existing buildings and infrastructure. The remaining $480 million will be covered through public-private partnerships.

Given the radical transformation encapsulated by its mission and the massive infrastructure investments planned, the SPJD has developed a sequencing and financing plan to minimize the time required to implement the Plan and match the investments required with the sequencing of the realization of the various projects.

The Plan’s feasibility requires a transitional period to allow the SPJD to initiate its organizational transformation and acquire the skills necessary to begin the first projects. Spreading expenditures over time also helps ensure the availability of required human and financial resources.

Project planning was carried out using the cascade principle to take into account the many dependencies that exist between completion of certain projects and the start of others. This approach also assumes that refinement of the planning for each project will provide regular opportunities to adapt and update the overall sequencing of the Plan.

The completion of the Master Plan required a new performance-based management process that was specific and measurable enough to be able to monitor and report on

In a progressive way, the park is currently:

  • Establishing priority initiatives and action plans to be deployed, based on targeted objectives.
  • Investing significantly to ensure profitable, sustainable, responsible development and efficient use of resources.
  • Adopting a results-based management approach that will allow the gradual implementation of a management dashboard.

The SPJD has moved from a means-based management approach to a results-based approach. This evolution allows the SPJD to meet the targets defined in the Master Plan and ensures accountability for their achievement. The SPJD is committed to maintaining transparency in its governance by communicating all relevant information to the public.

The SPJD aims to achieve a high level of excellence in all its areas of activity. Performance management will allow for benchmarking, monitoring, evaluation, and reporting on project progress. This reform will enable the organization to measure and be evaluated on the quality of its service delivery.

Due to the previous lack of a plan to guide development, Parc Jean-Drapeau has long suffered from a paradox of chronic neglect and intense, one-off modifications that failed to respect its essence as an insular urban public park. Over previous decades, the natural areas and heritage buildings degraded, and the park became more fragmented as private uses took hold of public spaces.

The Master Plan has established itself as a model in Montréal and an example for others to follow. Representatives from SPJD have been invited to present the Master Plan at several conferences, notably the World Urban Parks Congress and The Nature of Cities Festival.

The SPJD also shares its initiatives through multiple discussion and exchange spaces bringing together, among others, municipalities, institutional organizations, and non-profit parks organisations. Issues such as responsible procurement, low-impact event organization, responsible waste management aiming at zero waste, and carbon neutrality are all addressed. The objective is not only to inform and promote their targets and practices in terms of sustainable development, but also to mobilize these institutional actors to work toward ecological and social transition.

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Katharina Metz
Berlin, Germany

Katharina Metz

Individual | Project & Communications Manager

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