Spanning two islands in the middle of the St. Lawrence River, Parc Jean-Drapeau is home to some of the city’s most popular entertainment options (such as the Casino de Montréal) and to some of the city’s most picturesque green spaces. The all-season paradise is a quick subway ride away from downtown Montréal, and it offers many of Montréal’s most unique meeting and event spaces. In short, people love this park.
A quick glimpse back
Located east of downtown Montréal, Parc Jean-Drapeau was the site of one of the most historic events in the city's history: Expo 67. One of its two islands was created from scratch using tonnes of earth excavated during the construction of the Montréal underground Metro (subway system). The 1967 exposition was a massive success, attracting millions of people and establishing Montréal as a truly global destination. Fast forward a few decades, and many of the remaining facilities from Expo 67 have been dismantled and the two islands — Notre-Dame Island and St. Helen's Island — have been converted into a park. The park was named after the former mayor of Montréal, Jean Drapeau, who was a key figured in attracting Expo 67 to the city.
Moving into the future
These days, the park is governed by the Société du parc Jean-Drapeau (SPJD). The group recently unveiled major renovation plans, which included consultation with many groups who hold stakes in the future of the park: representatives of civil society, members of Montréal’s municipal services, the council of park administration and staff, island partners, event organizers, sports federations, and academics.
In many ways, the renovations will focus on “re-greening” the park space. The renewals include a one-kilometre riverside promenade on the shore of Île Ste-Hélène that will feature a ferry entrance and waterfront public square open to the river. The former Expo-Express bridge — which allowed movement from one island to another during Expo 67 — will be transformed into a "high line" type promenade, similar to that of New York City. Additionally, certain spaces in the park will be dedicated to wetlands.
Yes, there will be something new for events!
Once complete, the upgraded park will be just as much an attraction for locals as it has traditionally been for tourists. Montrealers can plan for picnics and walks by the river by day, followed by events and concerts in the evening. The type of local destination to spend an entire day with friends, family, or just strolling solo.
Also noteworthy: event professionals will have a new venue option! Located on the northeastern side of Île Ste-Hélène, next to the Jacques-Cartier Bridge, the park’s makeover plan includes a multifunctional building that will act as a reception centre and access point for the nearby amusement park (La Ronde). We’ll be sure to share more details as they become available!
Sport event planners also take note!
In 2016, the Montréal Strategy for Sporting Events assigned Montréal the goal of "being recognized by 2026 as THE sporting destination in Canada and as one of the best in the world." Parc Jean-Drapeau aims to further this vision by continuing to adopt technologies that increase its efficiency, profitability, and attractiveness in the domain of sports. This naturally means further modernization of athletic infrastructure, but also amplifying the overall sports offering of the park. Parc Jean-Drapeau will continue to host the Grand Prix du Canada (F1 car racing), the Montréal Triathlon, and the Dragon Boat Québec Cup. And the list of events will grow as the facilities continue to develop.
Over the next decade, driven by a desire to put sociability, sustainability, ecology, and culture at the forefront, Parc Jean-Drapeau will become one of Montréal's most emblematic parks and perhaps even one of the most recognized contemporary parks in the country.
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