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Discussion of Restoring Urban Waterways in Montreal, Que...

Discussion of Restoring Urban Waterways in Montreal, Quebec Picks up Momentum

Is it realistic to think about exhuming or recreating the streams and rivers that have disappeared in the wake of urbanization in the city of Montreal? Over the last few years, this idea has gained traction, even becoming the topic of a documentary in 2012 – with “Lost Rivers,” by Caroline Bacle. Projet Montreal put the

by Bora Mici December 11, 2014

Lost Streams in Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Is it realistic to think about exhuming or recreating the streams and rivers that have disappeared in the wake of urbanization in the city of Montreal? Over the last few years, this idea has gained traction, even becoming the topic of a documentary in 2012 - with "Lost Rivers," by Caroline Bacle.

Projet Montreal put the subject on the agenda for their most recent session of municipal council, which took place Nov. 24. The opposition party at City Hall will present a motion for Montreal to engage in the protection of the existing streams and evaluate the possibility of creating others within the framework of development projects.

The rivers and streams of Montreal have shaped the development of the city since industries and dwellings have established themselves along their banks.

In a recent program on MAtv, Mario Robert, Department Head at the Archives of Montreal, recalled their history. During the 19th century, he explained, these water routes had become open-air sewers, arousing serious concerns about public sanitation.

Canalization work therefore began around 1837 and continued through the following decade. With urbanization, numerous water routes thus disappeared under concrete. This was notably the case with the Saint-Martin River, which had its source at the summit of Mont Royal and crossed the Plateau-Mont-Royal to get all the way to Old Montreal. Buried at the foot of the Saint-Jacques cliff, the lake at la Loutre is also part of the list of the disappeared.

Biodome in Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Since 1988, twenty streams and water routes have been the subject of a follow-up on water quality, and some among them, like the Anse-a-l'Orme and Montigny streams, are protected, says the Projet Montreal councilor, Sylvain Ouellet.

He highlights that the streams represent an ecological alternative to the construction of expensive retention ponds, which would help with the evacuation of storm water during large storms.

Mr. Ouellet invokes the possibility of being able to take advantage of the development of the old hippodrome site in order to recreate the stream that used to cross the Blue Bonnets site and the Meadowbrook district and cascade over the Saint-Jacques cliff. "Is it possible to recreate the stream on the surface in its entirety? Maybe not, but part of it on the surface? Probably," he said.

The streams offer a good number of other advantages on the level of biodiversity and quality of life, he said, on top of having aesthetic qualities.

Is this a realistic project? Have waterways been restored in your community? What example have you heard of?

Original article, originally published in French, here.

Credits: Data and images linked to sources.

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Bora Mici has a background in design and online writing. Most recently, she has worked as an online contributor for DC Mud, Patch.com, GoodSpeaks.org and WatchingAmerica.com, covering urban planning and visual and performing arts in the Washington, D...

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