A greening plan for the Quartier des spectacles


Place des Festivals © Vivien Gaumand

In the spring of 2023, the Quartier des Spectacles Partnership initiated a series of actions aimed at accelerating the greening of the entire district. In order to improve the quality of the experience in the Quartier des Spectacles and mitigate the effects of climatic warming, a greening strategy has been developed in collaboration with urban ecology experts.

Aligned with the Partnership’s and the Quartier’s 2022-26 strategic plan, the triennial greening plan will be implemented through initiatives that will green amenities, support university research and present relevant cultural programming. These actions have multiple goals: reducing heat islands, increasing available shade, improving air quality and developing expertise in urban greening, all accompanied by activities designed to raise public awareness.

Three main initiatives will stand out in the summer of 2023: the rooftop market garden on the Esplanade Tranquille pavilion, amenities enhanced with trees in planters and vegetation, and programming focused on public awareness.


Located in the Quartier des Spectacles’ newest public space, the Esplanade Tranquille rooftop market garden has 7000 sq. ft. of cultivable soil in the heart of downtown Montreal. The initiative is the result of a collaboration between the Quartier des Spectacles Partnership, the Laboratoire sur l’agriculture urbaine (AU/LAB) and the Ville de Montréal. It is intended to be a space for experimentation and a first step toward building a circular economy at Esplanade Tranquille.

The rooftop market garden is being cultivated by three start-ups selected through AU/LAB’s MontréalCulteurs program: Fleurs en Ville, Biome and Emporium Safran Québec. These complementary companies will share the garden, in operation year-round.


Founded in Montreal in 2019, Paola Saavedra’s Fleurs en Ville grows some 50 varieties of ornamental flowers at two sites: a field on Île-Bizard and a location in the Quartier des Spectacles. Using specialty tulip bulbs, Paola grows her flowers using eco-friendly methods aligned with natural cycles, and sells them locally – directly to the public from the roof of the Esplanade Tranquille pavilion. A dedicated flower grower, Paola studied horticulture before pursuing studies at UQAM in science, ecology, the environment and sustainable energy. She is eager to meet the public and raise awareness of urban flower cultivation and its positive environmental impacts.


Biome is a company founded by Stephan Senghor, a social entrepreneur working on the ecological transition in urban environments. With more than ten years of experience working on projects in Quebec and West Africa, he has developed an innovative vision for greener, more inclusive cities. Urban agriculture and the circular economy, respecting our planet’s limitations, play a central role in his work. On the Esplanade Tranquille rooftop market garden, Biome applies innovative concepts in pursuing its mission of promoting agriculture as a tool for building attractive, nourishing and resilient cities.


Since 2014, Micheline Sylvestre has been growing saffron on her small farm in Lanaudière. Her company, Safran Québec, has grown each year. It sells saffron-based products everywhere in Quebec, and crocus bulbs across Canada. Her mission: making more people aware of this rare spice and inspiring consumer enthusiasm for saffron grown right here. In 2021, Micheline turned to the city, aiming to develop expertise in growing saffron in Montreal. In the Esplanade Tranquille rooftop garden, she will continue her exploration by closely monitoring new techniques for growing this aromatic spice in urban areas.


The Quartier des Spectacles is a downtown district conceived as an enormous outdoor performance venue. As such, it includes extensive paved surfaces suitable for hosting events. During consultations held as part of the strategic planning process, it became clear that there is a strong desire for a greener Quartier that will be more resilient in the face of climate change. In response, the Quartier des Spectacles partnership has increased the number of greening initiatives.

Specifically, the placement of trees in planters, begun in 2020, and the installation of other green structures, are expanding. A discussion on the greening of the district was launched in collaboration with the Centre d’écologie urbaine de Montréal (CEUM) and the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM). The aim of this process, funded by the Fonds d’initiative et de rayonnement de la métropole (FIRM) and Tourisme Montréal, is not only to increase the amount of greenery in the district, but to develop expertise in urban greening.

  • 93 trees in planters

  • 38 furniture elements with vegetation

  • 7 gardeners

  • 1 vegetation-covered information booth

  • 7 thematic gardens in Les Jardins Gamelin

Click here to learn more about our potted trees and the two research projects.

While these initiatives have been an essential part of greening the district, there is still little scientific knowledge on the topic. In order to optimize its greening initiatives, the Quartier des Spectacles Partnership is working with a specialized greening team and university-based research partners. Two research projects are now in progress, in collaboration with UQAM and the Pôle sur la ville résiliente:

  • A study of ecosystem services provided by trees throughout the district, led by Alain Paquette (research chair on the urban forest);

  • A study of the beneficial effects of exposure to greenery in the Quartier for population mental and physical well-being, led by Janie Houle (research chair on the reduction of social inequalities in health).


During the summer of 2023, several urban ecology awareness activities will take place in the Quartier des Spectacles. Through installations, workshops and performances, the public will enjoy a varied program focused on the environment.

The closure of Sainte-Catherine St. W. to vehicle traffic is at the heart of the Quartier experience in summer and winter alike. Pedestrian zones in the district, including the one on Sainte-Catherine and another on Saint-Denis St., facilitate sustainable transportation in the district and offer user-friendly, versatile and increasingly green amenities.

For several years, the Partnership has been working with specialized collaborators such as Sentier Urbain, which presents around 20 awareness-raising activities each year in Les Jardins Gamelin. Throughout the season, other partners will participate in comparable activities and other relevant programming.