A word from the Board Chair
Board Chair of the Société du parc Jean‑Drapeau
April 27, 2017
Recent announcements about the construction works and changes in some of the activities at Parc Jean-Drapeau for the summer of 2017 have prompted reactions and questions from the public. In the interest of transparency, I hope that, through this letter, I will be able to provide some enlightenment on the Parc's current situation and the efforts being expended to make it a prime destination in the coming years. It is important that people who visit and love the Parc understand all of the circumstances surrounding this project and realize that despite the inconveniences stemming from the construction of a new amphitheatre, a great program of activities is in store for them at the Parc this summer.
Every year, Parc Jean-Drapeau welcomes millions of visitors who come to have fun, engage in training sessions, relax, and enjoy the entertainment. The synergy between all of these vocations is at the core of the Parc's identity and its charm, but this sometimes entails logistical challenges. And this underlines the importance of sharing the Parc's facilities, and the need for an friendly co-existence in doing so.
It is also important to understand that, as a not-for-profit, para-municipal organization, the Parc annually hosts some 80 sports, cultural or charitable events, on an international as well as a community level. Besides the substantial exposure from all of these events produced in Montréal, generated notably by the Grand Prix du Canada and the music festivals, they also bring in independent sources of income which accounts for almost half of the Parc's yearly operating budget. Every year, these revenues are re-invested into facilities, including Jean-Doré Beach, the - cycling and pedestrian - Circuit Gilles‑Villeneuve and the Olympic Basin, to name just a few. These revenues allow us to organize free events for the families, including Fête des neiges and Week‑ends du monde, and to maintain, on a daily basis, the 268 hectares and green spaces for the benefit of Montrealers and visitors from outside the region. They also enable us to play host to sports events on Circuit Gilles‑Villeneuve, such as the Défi sportif Altergo (April 28‑29), which brings together elite and up‑and‑coming athletes with all types of deficiencies, in the spirit of social inclusion. It is also part of the Parc's mission to open its doors to this type of event, to provide widespread access to our facilities.
A diversified summer program
All types of events are held at the Parc: charitable‑cause sports events such as the Scotia Bank 21K run, the Triathlon Esprit, the Color Run, 24H Roller Montréal and the Light the Night Walk, sports competitions at the Olympic Basin all summer long, the popular Week‑ends du monde event and many other high‑profile music shows. Not to mention Jean‑Doré Beach which, starting on June 21, will be welcoming people of all ages and offer special theme days, free Wednesdays promotion for children, and numerous activities such as Aquazilla, stand‑up‑paddle yoga, canoeing, kayaking, pedal boats, and the new volleyball courts.
Along with this, there is the fun‑filled program of our insular partners, which includes La Ronde, the Casino, the Stewart Museum and the Biosphere, Environment Museum, all of whom have used the opportunity of the 50th anniversary of Expo 67 to add a feature to their shows/exhibitions to commemorate this outstanding event that was staged right here, 50 years ago.
Development and Enhancement Plan (PAMV)
In tandem with all of these activities, over the course of the next few weeks we will be starting construction work to carry out the Development and Enhancement Plan of the south sector of Île Sainte‑Hélène (PAMV), which will see the building of a natural amphitheatre and the complete redesigning of the main concourse, which was originally constructed in 1992.This work is being done to combine nature and culture into a safer environment, one that is more accommodating and which provides magnificent views of Montréal. Carrying out a project of this magnitude has a certain impact on the Parc's activities, since the construction work will be done over a span of 18 consecutive months, sometimes seven days a week in the months when the weather is nice. The work is going to cause certain limitations, and we felt this would be an appropriate time to fully outline what the project entails, in response to questions that have been raised and to clear up certain misconceptions that have occurred. It is important to note the Parc Jean‑Drapeau staff has been working diligently for many months going over the various logistical scenarios surrounding all of these events and activities, in an effort to make the Parc safe and attractive. Here's a summary on the construction‑site impacts:
Since the Aquatic Complex is situated next to the construction site, it was decided, after recommendations by professionals in charge of the Development and Enhancement Plan work, to close the Aquatic Complex for the 2017 season, for the following reasons:
- The replacing of Île Sainte‑Hélène main water pipes which date back to Expo 67;
- The building of a retaining wall in front of the swimming pools in order to safely move the mechanical ventilation shafts for the subway system;
- Demolition, excavation and backfilling work, leading to a lot of dust which will affect the water quality of the pools;
- The construction of three buildings which will require the installation of some 288 foundation piles close to the pools;
- Daily noise from the coming and going of the trucks and the use of heavy equipment for excavation work.
Under these circumstances, we are unable to provide our users and employees with a safe environment and good water quality. In collaboration with the City of Montréal's sports department, all the clubs and federations that train at the Aquatic Complex have been contacted to help them relocate for the 2017 season. Swimmers and children attending day camps will be redirected to Jean‑Doré Beach.
The closure is solely for the 2017 season and we are committed to opening the Aquatic Complex for the 2018 season, so that swimmers and athletes will be able to go back to the pools next year.
Access to Jean‑Doré Beach
Jean‑Doré Beach is open to the public all summer long, from June 21 to September 4, but there is going to be a new bus route. As a result, Parc visitors arriving by bus will use the north entrance of the Beach and an unloading area will be set up behind the Pavillon du Canada. This route will also be shorter than it used to be, increasing the frequency of trips. Like last year, a family program will be offered at the Beach. There will also be special promotions for children.
The shifting of many events to Île Notre‑Dame and the changes to the bus route forces the SPJD, for safety reasons and the inaccessibility of many sections of the track, to reduce the number of days of access to the Circuit Gilles‑Villeneuve bike route for the 2017 season. Overall, for the season the cycling track will be open 17 weeks out of 31. The Circuit's cycling track, which has been open since April 7, will be closed from May 8 to September 4, 2017.
During this time span, the SPJD will set up a 2.5 kilometres training path devoted strictly to training bikes Access times to this track will be posted on the Parc's website and social media.
The decision to close the circuit during this time period is due to the presence of many heavy vehicles on Île Notre‑Dame, the work being conducted by hundreds of construction workers and suppliers, the moving around of various structures and the use of the circuit as an event site. Under these circumstances, for safety reasons a co‑existence with the cyclists simply is not possible. An information campaign for Circuit Gilles‑Villeneuve users will be coming out by May 8, 2017.
Meanwhile, the Société du parc Jean‑Drapeau plans to continue talks with various sports federations to combine efforts to ensure extensive communication with its members about the Circuit's opening and closing hours of operation, and giving some thought to possible permanent time slots for training in 2019. It should also be noted that the bike route connecting the South Shore and Montréal remains open all summer long.
Safety above all
Parc Jean‑Drapeau's priority is to ensure the safety of its visitors, within the context of co‑existing with the construction site and many event sites. Rest assured we are well aware of the inconveniences caused by the Development and Enhancement Plan work, and we are doing everything we can to minimize the ensuing impact. I sincerely hope these explanations have helped in providing further insight into the Société du parc Jean‑Drapeau's position on this matter. Thank you for your understanding and I hope you have a wonderful summer.