Have Your Say:
The future of Westmount Park

Three features of the city-wide debate stand out

September 9, 2021

Dear Westmount Magazine,

I have been living in the municipality of Westmount for three decades, right next to Westmount Park, a highly used and successful model of landscape design that is an important part of the patrimony of all Montreal. Now the municipal authorities in Westmount appear determined to make some very unwise changes that would mar this park. The following quite simple argument represents the views of many citizens, so it only makes sense to also share these perceptions in the pages of Westmount Magazine.

 *  *  *  *  *

During the city-wide discussion about the future of Westmount Park, three features of the debate stand out.

  1. Public opinion
    Citizens have made it abundantly clear that they want the park to be properly maintained, not spoilt by unwise interventions. In consultations and in public discussion, residents have been adamant about not wanting unneeded infrastructure, such as an amphitheatre or suspended walkways.
  1. Westmount’s landscape tradition
    Westmount Park has been designed following North American landscape practice. Frederick Law Olmsted did not work personally here, but his success with Mount Royal Park inspired city leaders in 1898 to have their own Olmsted approach and they corresponded with the Olmsted firm in Brookline, Mass. (see Olmsted Brothers to Chairman of the Park Committee, Town of Westmount, August 1, 1899, Library of Congress, Wash. D.C.). The Olmsted Brothers stressed the “landscape effect” for Westmount Park and emphasized that “features should be so contrived as to interfere with the landscape in the least possible degree.” [Emphasis added]
  1. Municipal democracy
    Westmounter Jason Prince has just co-edited a very important book – Montréal: A Citizens Guide To City Politics. Veteran reporter Linda Gyulai contributes a chapter, “Power and City Hall,” that demonstrates the deeply undemocratic rules governing all municipalities in Quebec, and this includes Westmount, which has the same closed room meetings governing executive decisions that all other Quebec cities have.

These facts converge. The public in Westmount is against uncontrolled ambitions to re-make Westmount Park. And public opinion fits in with the landscape tradition that Westmount has followed for more than 100 years. Finally, Westmount suffers from the same democratic deficit as other Quebec municipalities – so the Mayor and councillors should listen to citizens and not cling stubbornly to grandiose ideas that will spoil Westmount Park.

Patrick Barnard
251 Melville Ave.
Westmount, PQ.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of WestmountMag.ca or its publishers.

Dear reader,

Have Your Say allows you, the WestmountMag.ca reader, to submit an opinion on local news and events or any topic that you feel may be of concern or interest to the community.

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names and city of residence must appear with each submission – pseudonyms are not permitted. By submitting an opinion, you accept that WestmountMag.ca has the right to edit and publish that opinion in whole or in part.

An opinion may be submitted in either official language at info@westmountmag.ca. Please note that WestmountMag.ca does not endorse the opinions expressed in Have Your Say.

Image: Pixabay

There are no comments

Add yours