The closure of Camillien-Houde Way in Montreal’s Parc du Mont-Royal has sparked a significant debate regarding the balance between conservation and transportation. Designed by renowned landscape artist Frederick Law Olmsted, the park is a cherished green space in the heart of the city. The closure of Camillien-Houde Way, one of the roads leading up to the mountain, is at the center of this controversy.
Montreal commissioned Olmsted to create a plan for Parc du Mont-Royal in 1872. However, Camillien-Houde Way was not part of his original proposal. The road was built in the late 1950s as part of the city’s efforts to expand automobile infrastructure and connects with Remembrance Road to form a continuous route through the mountain.
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante recently announced plans to close Camillien-Houde Way to automobile traffic in 2027 and reopen it as a pedestrian and bicycle path in 2029, allowing access only for emergency vehicles. This decision comes after a previous pilot project, which blocked traffic through the mountain for five months in 2018. While a subsequent public consultation recommended keeping the access roads open to cars, Mayor Plante’s administration argues that the closure is necessary to protect biodiversity in Mont-Royal and improve accessibility for pedestrians, cyclists, and individuals with reduced mobility.
The closure aligns with Olmsted’s original vision of the park as a universally accessible destination for all city residents. Parc du Mont-Royal has always been a symbol of exclusivity due to its location and popularity among the bourgeoisie. The introduction of Camillien-Houde Way further challenged Olmsted’s vision, transforming the park into an obstacle rather than an oasis outside the city.
Compared to New York City’s Central Park, which gradually allowed cars, Parc du Mont-Royal still has the opportunity to reclaim its original intent. The closure of Camillien-Houde Way, though a deviation from Olmsted’s design, reinforces the park’s central role in the city’s life.
– The Canadian Press (September 16, 2023)
Camillien-Houde Way: A road in Montreal that leads to Parc du Mont-Royal.
Parc du Mont-Royal: A park in Montreal designed by Frederick Law Olmsted.
Conservation: The protection and preservation of natural resources and ecosystems.
Transportation: The movement of people, goods, or vehicles from one place to another.
The Canadian Press (September 16, 2023)