Whether you’re looking to settle in a cool future neighborhood, whether you’re a fan of architecture or urban planning or simply in love with Montreal, you have to see the free exhibition Le Montréal du futur, which is in full swing until the 20 June at 1000 De La Gauchetière.
Even those who believe that Montreal is doing poorly have an interest in discovering the approximately 75 exhibitors, among which are real estate developers, architectural firms and the City of Montreal. With models, photos or paintings, they present residential, institutional and commercial projects that will change the face of Greater Montreal.
“Montreal is in a renaissance. This is unheard of for decades, says Robert J. Vézina, founder of the exhibition. There are many towers in the city center under construction, but it is also the entire immediate outskirts that will be transformed into new districts. »
A map signed by the band of geeks from Agora Montreal shows what the silhouette of downtown Montreal will look like once all the announced and ongoing construction sites have been completed, including those of the National Bank Tower (which will be distinguished by a curved glass facade) and 900 Saint-Jacques (which will have 62 floors of rental accommodation).
“Agora has 1,000 volunteer members who love architecture and urban development,” explains Robert J. Vézina. They create 3D models that they overlay on Google Earth. At a single glance, one can see the city center of the present and the future with colors. »
A large wooden model also allows you to see more closely what the huge space around the former Molson brewery will look like, which offers a large window on the St. Lawrence River. This is without counting the Quartier des lumière (on the former site of Radio-Canada) and the Esplanade Cartier, on the other side of the Jacques-Cartier bridge, to the east.
Further west, the Bridge-Bonaventure project will completely change the scene. “It strengthens the urban fabric,” enthuses Robert J. Vézina. What is good is that these are mixed projects with a vision of sustainable development. Rental, condos, commercial, new parks, new streets, local services…”
Few city centers still have so much growth potential. “With Bridge-Bonaventure, we are redeveloping an abandoned space at the entrance to downtown. With the REM passing through it, it’s big, “he illustrates.
Another project that the exhibition raises awareness: Odea, which involves the Cree community and pays homage to its culture with a complex of condos, rental apartments and commercial spaces at the junction of Old Montreal and Griffintown . The building, designed with emeritus Indigenous architect Douglas Cardinal, will be distinguished by the representation of a canoe on its facade.
On a smaller scale, the exhibition tells us that the northern portion of Pierre-Bédard Park, located east of Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital, will be developed to collect surface water from neighboring streets in order to reduce the risk of flooding in the area.
An ambitious plan to revitalize Vieux-Pointe-aux-Trembles is also underway, which includes the acquisition of the Saint-Enfant-Jésus church and a large river showcase.
The biannual exhibition Le Montréal du futur is in its eighth edition, but the pandemic has forced it to skip a year. For the first time, it is taking place at 1000 De La Gauchetière West, a few steps from the Atrium Le 1000 ice rink. “There are a lot of passers-by,” says Robert J. Vézina.
It was during his studies at McGill University that he became passionate about urban development. In 1986, he was entrusted with the organization of open days with Phyllis Lambert as a personality of honor. McGill College Avenue was then undergoing profound change and the young Robert J. Vézina asked the partners involved to have visuals to bear witness to it.
He then pursued a career in events, where he orchestrated the inauguration of well-known buildings, then it was in 2006 that he created the first exhibition Le Montréal du futur.
“The City has agreed to become a partner of the exhibition, on the condition that it be free. It was not easy to convince promoters to provide us with images, photos, models…”, he says.
Urban plans and major real estate projects do not happen overnight. However, the exhibition reassures us with the idea that a vision can indeed be translated into action and that the painful construction sites will bear fruit.
In Parc Jean-Drapeau, the rehabilitation of Lac des Cygnes, the canal gardens and the Place des Nations is planned for the summer of 2027. In the borough of Ahuntsic-Cartierville, the Central District and Louvain Est projects are also very promising.
In Montreal East, there are 23 million square feet to which we plan to give another life. A veritable “blank slate,” even Canada’s greatest potential for industrial reskilling, reads a sign in the City of Montreal.
“It’s going to be a new city,” promises Robert J. Vézina.