Pierre-Dansereau Park



Main actors

Local Government

Project area

Inner City


2017 - 2020

A network of sustainable public spaces

The Pierre-Dansereau Park initiative was implemented as part of the MIL Montréal project and is located in the northern part of the City of Montreal’s Outremont borough.

The project included the redevelopment of the former Outremont marshalling yard and provided an opportunity to consolidate the urban and social fabric of the area by creating a network of public spaces that respects the city’s industrial and transport heritage. Amenities include a children’s playground and water play area; a multipurpose area; benches and picnic tables; a pedestrian walkway linking the site from east to west and green infrastructure to retain stormwater.

The new park meets the recreational needs of the community and simultaneously has increased green infrastructure and improved biodiversity 

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 impactsProtect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity lossPromote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
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 Ville de Montréal is the second largest city in Canada, with 1.8 million citizens and the largest city in the Province of Québec.  In Québec, the ‘Act respecting land use planning and development’ defines the planning and regulatory instruments that can be used to ensure the development of living environments. This law determines not only the obligations and powers of metropolitan, regional and local authorities but also the rules of governance between each different level. 

Montréal City Council shares jurisdictions with 19 borough councils. As determined by the City Charter, these boroughs are either fully or partially in charge of urban planning, culture, parks and recreation, community development, human resources and housing, among other issues.

The masterplan for the redevelopment project was adopted by council in 2011 and proposed the development of 4 hectares (40,000m2) including:

  • A central piazza, Place Alice-Girard (approximately 0.8 ha);
  • A neighbourhood park, Park P-3 (about 1.7 ha), near a community center (ICC);
  • Two neighbourhood parks, the Pierre-Dansereau Park (0.7 ha) and the future P-1 Park (0.7 ha).

This proposal was discussed with the Outremont community in 2013.

In 2017, the city adopted a framework document: "the development guidelines for the public domain of the Outremont site" and set the objectives as follows: 

  • maintain a strong landscape identity from the borough of Outremont to the Mount Royal, 
  • highlight the site's industrial and railway past, 
  • prioritise active and public transport modes,
  • adopt better sustainable development practices.
  • A public participation process was carried out to involve the community in the park’s design. During the consultation, citizens were asked to express their views on two design options. The outcome of this consultation led to a design that took aspects from both options into account. The choices endorsed by the citizens were ambitious and proved to be a challenge in practice, namely the curved steps.


  • The project’s technical committee included the city’s technical services, the borough of Outremont and the University of Montréal. The community was closely involved in the design stage of the project and was considered a key player in terms of gaining information, awareness and support.


  • The design of the Pierre-Dansereau Park began in 2017 and construction commenced in May 2019. 


  • The integrated and shared design process brought out innovative design solutions to ensure the dual function of retention and recreation of the park. The need to reconcile these two functions forced the team to take on new challenges in grading, structure, and planting.


  • A large open playground incorporating a drainage gutter was laid out below the level of the adjacent streets. To the east of the park, a rain garden combines rain retention functions with an entertainment space for children. These actions offered the opportunity to create a topographical variation in the park while ensuring the ecological retention of rainwater. This type of design makes stormwater management visible while contributing to the improvement of the living environment.


  • The park also proposes a greening strategy based on the creation of new wildlife and plant habitats through the planting of abundant and varied vegetation. The maximisation of these planted spaces also contributes to the infiltration of small amounts of rainfall, thus reducing the number of civil drainage infrastructures in the park.


  • The park was officially opened in July 2020, although citizens started using the park before the official opening date due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The lead agency for the project is the City of Montreal who also provided the funds. An additional government grant was received from the Chantier Québec -Canada Fund. 

The project's technical committee involved all the city's technical services, the borough of Outremont and the Université de Montréal.

  • The citizen participation process allowed us to raise community awareness of new practices for ecological water management.


  • The shared design process brought out innovative design solutions to ensure the park had two functions: water management and recreation functions forced the team to take on new challenges in terms of levelling, structure and planting. For instance, a rain garden combines rain retention functions with a play space for children to the east of the park. This allowed the topographical variations to be created to ensure that rainwater can be retained in an ecological way.


  • The park follows a greening strategy based on creating biodiversity by planting vegetation. This contributes to the infiltration of small amounts of rainfall, thus reducing the number of civil drainage infrastructures in the park.

The project, which won the award for “Innovative project” from the Québec Urban Planners Organisation (2021).

  • The development of a resilient public space with a participative approach required constant compromise between the technical objectives for water retention and the recreational needs of the community. The benefits of the consultation would have had more of an impact if the focus had been on the views and desired ambience of the landscape, rather than the finer details of the design.


  • Procurement processes for playgrounds and rigid safety standards have an impact on the quality of the design of the play equipment. Despite the specifications for the play equipment, the resulting play area is below the team’s expectations.


  • This new type of infrastructure could create maintenance challenges. Providing information on how to better care for the space is crucial for the park’s long-term conservation.

As with any innovative project, there is a need to convince and reassure the public. Good communication between all parties throughout the project development process was a major factor in building trust.

One of the main successes of the Park is its simple, inexpensive (except for the curved stones) and replicable design, which will encourage Montréal’s Water Department to change its practices and promote the inclusion of innovative stormwater management techniques in future green spaces.

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