An urban design and cultural activities plan to relaunch downtown Montréal

An urban design and cultural activities plan to relaunch downtown Montréal

Montréal, July 21, 2020 - Downtown Montréal has been seriously impacted by the pandemic, and concerted efforts are now required to revitalize the area. To address this unprecedented situation, the city’s mayor, Valérie Plante, is pleased to announce that her administration will allocate $400,000 for urban design and cultural activities in the downtown core.

As part of the work by Montréal’s steering committee on the reopening and economic relaunch, the Quartier des Spectacles Partnership and the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montréal have been mandated by the mayor to develop and implement an action plan to stimulate activity and increase visitor traffic in the downtown core.

Starting immediately and running until the fall, Montrealers and visitors alike will be able to take advantage of a wide array of cultural activities in a number of reconceived public spaces redesigned with public health guidelines in mind. This new public space experience will be developed in a downtown perimeter delimited by Atwater, Papineau and Sherbrooke streets and the St. Lawrence River. The temporary design features will allow merchants, restaurateurs and pedestrians to reclaim public space and enjoy the summer season.

The objective was to create urban designs and activities that inspire visitors to stroll and explore the area, while avoiding crowds and gatherings. Tapping into Montréal’s rich creative scene, the relaunch initiative features a variety of activities, art installations and self-guided walks that encourage everyone to (re)discover urban spaces. By turns playful, contemplative and entertaining, the program includes something for every taste.

Reconceiving the public space

The newly reimagined public spaces include seven large terrasses and public squares that will welcome individuals and families looking for a place to enjoy a drink or a snack from the nearby restaurants. Cultural animation, ambient music and spontaneous happenings will enhance these gathering places. Opening on July 31, the public terrasses will be set up at key locations, including Jardins du Centre St-Jax, with animation provided by Le Monastère in collaboration with XP_MTL; Place d’Youville, designed by Multicolore; and a surprise urban concept by La Pépinière, at the corner of Saint-Laurent and René-Lévesque boulevards. Within the Quartier des Spectacles, Place des Festivals is already welcoming residents and visitors to a green oasis with original ambient music by Patrick Watson. The vast central square features picnic tables painted by six artists affiliated with MU. And in Les Jardins Gamelin, visitors will find a new layout allowing for social distancing, as well as a wealth of musical surprises.

150+ artists and creators will animate the downtown core

Art installations have already started to appear throughout the territory. Seven Placott’arts or rest areas are being created by nine Montréal-based artists and designers and curated by Massivart. Judith Portier, Waxhead and Pelouse are among the artists designing the spaces, making them true works of art. The iconic 21 Swings installation by Daily tous les jours is also back in the Quartier des Spectacles for a tenth year, until early August.

Special performances, taking place in a variety of locations at various times of day, will bring life to downtown on weekends for the rest of the summer. A mobile cabaret, live music, theatre and circus arts will be presented throughout the area starting July 23. In all, some 200 surprise performances will be presented by more than 150 artists.

Many other initiatives by the area’s business associations, namely the Destination Centre-Ville, Quartier Latin, Old Montréal and Gay Village business development corporations (Sociétés de développement commercial - SDC) and the Old Port of Montreal, XP_MTL, Chinatown and the Quartier du Musée, will be unveiled over the coming weeks, providing a varied and safe set of cultural offerings for downtown visitors

A step toward economic recovery

The downtown relaunch involves nearly 20 business partners, including the area’s five business development corporations (SDC), their partners, as well as Desjardins. Activities are made possible by the contributions of more than 50 arts companies and cultural organizations active in visual arts, dance, film, digital art, street art, music and urban design.

In addition to the support from the Ville de Montréal, the downtown relaunch initiative is the product of a collaboration between the Quartier des Spectacles Partnership, the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montréal and Tourisme Montréal. The Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montréal was able to quickly rally its economic and commercial stakeholders around the project. Tourisme Montréal, for its part, has rolled out a new campaign, “Jump-start summer. Montréal is back. Let’s play.” for all of Montréal, including a specific downtown component. Visitors are invited to consult for details of activities and enticing discounts and packages for several attractions, hotels and restaurants. New offers will be added regularly.

The aim of the cultural animation and urban design initiatives in the downtown core is to encourage Montrealers to get out and discover the spaces available to them and support the economic recovery of the city’s commercial arteries, all while following public health guidelines.


Valérie Plante, mayor of Montréal

« The unprecedented crisis we are navigating presents significant challenges on multiple fronts. One of them is the survival of downtown Montréal, an important district whose economic vitality has ripple effects throughout Québec. Normally a very lively, animated, festive and diverse place, the area has been almost entirely deserted by the millions of tourists, workers and students who spend time here each year. In that spirit, I asked for a relaunch plan to be put together, and I am pleased to announce today that the Ville de Montréal will allocate $400,000 to the initiative. »

Michel Leblanc, président et chef de la direction de la Chambre de commerce du Montréal métropolitain

« Downtown Montréal is currently the part of Quebec that has suffered the worst economic impacts from the crisis. It was urgent to take action to bring Montrealers back to this critical part of the city, and restore its vitality. We are pleased that the Ville de Montréal has made a commitment to the area by supporting the Quartier des Spectacles Partnership in organizing activities and animation designed to attract more visitors. The initiative is also an excellent way to showcase the creativity and dynamism of the artists who help put Montréal on the map. We invite all Montrealers to take advantage of the summer to be tourists at home, support our merchants and participate in relaunching the economy »

Yves Lalumière, président-directeur général de Tourisme Montréal

« This summer, Montréal is experiencing a very different reality from past years, slowly coming back to life after it became necessary to cancel many different kinds of activities. The time has come for Montrealers and Quebecers to come together to relaunch Montréal and its downtown. Tourisme Montréal invites everyone to be tourists in their city, and help restore the colour and energy of the city’s streets and public spaces, which make our city such a popular destination. The initiatives announced today are a powerful reflection of Montréal’s deep creativity, originality and culture. Let’s get together to celebrate our downtown and relaunch summer in the city.»

Monique Simard, Présidente du conseil d’administration du Partenariat du Quartier des spectacles

«The initiative to relaunch downtown Montréal’s business and cultural activities gathers artistic players from all disciplines around a common, unifying and collaborative project to make the city very lively this summer. I am delighted to see the enthusiastic response to our rallying call, and to participate in the impressive scale of concerted efforts being made to implement the initiative. This unprecedented revitalization effort is made possible by the support and unwavering confidence the Ville de Montréal has shown toward the Quartier des Spectacles Partnership. It’s official: everyone in Montréal and neighbouring areas is invited to visit us to have fun, be entertained and bring life to our city’s downtown core this summer.»

Getting to downtown Montréal

  • Public transportation: numerous STM bus routes and more than 10 metro stations, on the orange and green lines, serve the area
  • Cycling: the area has many bike paths and lanes, countless BIXI stations, four free parking areas for bicycles in the form of Destination Centre-Ville’s Rally stations (Rally station Guy, Rally station Place des Arts, Rally Peel and Rally Bishop)
  • The area includes accommodations for persons with reduced mobility. Please consult the venue’s site for details.

About the downtown relaunch initiative

Montréal’s economic and cultural stakeholders are joining forces to help relaunch the city’s downtown core. With a mandate from the Ville de Montréal, the project is spearheaded by the Quartier des Spectacles Partnership in collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montréal, Tourisme Montréal and Desjardins. The economic and cultural relaunch supports merchants and artists, and will bring life back to the downtown core, specifically the area delimited by Atwater, Sherbrooke and Papineau streets and the St. Lawrence River. An evolving and progressive project, the multifaceted downtown animation initiative includes special pedestrian zones, redesigned public spaces, special performances and an enhanced cultural offering. The initiatives are an invitation to everyone in the Greater Montréal area to be part of the city’s recovery by having a safe experience within public health guidelines.

About QUARTIER DES SPECTACLES and The partnership

The Quartier des Spectacles is Montréal’s cultural heart, boasting North America’s most concentrated and diverse group of cultural venues as well as numerous festivals and events. The Quartier also hosts innovative urban installations involving cutting-edge lighting design and immersive environments. The Quartier des Spectacles has become an international showcase for digital public art. The Quartier des Spectacles Partnership, founded in 2003, is a non-profit organization with more than 85 members active in the district. It is responsible for animating the Quartier des Spectacles by programming cultural activities, managing and animating public spaces, providing distinctive illumination and promoting the Quartier as a must-visit cultural destination. The Partnership benefits from the support of the Ville de Montréal.

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À propos de la Chambre de commerce du Montréal métropolitain

With a network of over 8,000 members, the CCMM is active on two fronts: being the voice of the Montréal business community and delivering specialized services to businesses and their representatives. With its finger on the pulse of current events, it acts on issues that are decisive for the prosperity of the city’s businesses. With the support of the Acclr experts, the CCMM’s goal is to accelerate the creation and growth of businesses of all sizes, at home and around the world.

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À propos de Tourisme Montréal

Tourisme Montréal is a private, non-profit organization that has been positioning Montréal as a world-class leisure and business travel destination for over 100 years. The organization leads innovative tourism strategies that have a twofold objective: to ensure visitors enjoy a quality experience and to balance economic growth with the city’s long-term interests. Tourisme Montréal plays a leading role in the management and development of Montréal’s tourism industry, and advises on issues related to the city’s economic, urban and cultural development. It brings together more than 1,000 tourism professionals.

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