This Thursday the new promenade and amphitheatre were officially opened at the Jean Drapeau Park, on the Ste. Hélène Island. The Esplanade was named Espace 67 as a way to remind Montrealers of Expo 67. When the project was first announced by former Mayor Denis Coderre, it created some heated debates because to renovate the new space a large number of trees were sacrificed. Certainly not a welcome move these days when people are becoming more environmentally-conscious. In the end, the construction went on, workers brought the bulldozers, removed trees and grass, put more cement on the ground, and yes, they also planted new trees, which must be able to provide some shade to festival-goers perhaps in a decade or so.
Jean Drapeau Park Open for festivals
Is the new facility worth the removal of the old natural landscape? Well, it all depends on what you look for in a place like Île Ste-Hélène. If you go there to attend Osheaga or Heavy Montreal, you will probably be delighted by the wide space created for concerts, capacity will be enlarged to 65 thousand people from the 45 thousand it was before, also the improvement of structures for lighting and sound, and even the new washroom facilities (very useful in the summer when you use to accompany the music with a few beers). In sum, the amphitheatre will provide a well-designed venue for music festivals, besides being surrounded by a beautiful natural ambience.
On the other hand, nature lovers may not be so happy with the intrusion of so much cement on the island, and especially since in order to accommodate so many people attending the concerts, the already limited roads within the island will be overwhelmed by traffic, with the consequent environmental impact. Unless people act wisely and, since the metro station is very close, they decide to use public transit.
The Société du Parc Jean-Drapeau
For now, however, it was the time to greet the opening of this new facility in the park. As Renaud Coulombe, the Société du parc Jean-Drapeau (SPJD) remarked, “With the completion of Espace 67, Parc Jean Drapeau now has international-calibre infrastructures for hosting events, along with being able to reinstate two magnificent works –the Biosphere and Alexander Calder ‘Les Trois Disques’ sculpture to a place of prominence.” For his part, Robert Beaudry, Head of Economic and Commercial Development, Housing and Design at the City of Montreal stated that “Montrealers have great aspirations for Parc Jean Drapeau, and so does our administration, Espace 67 will enable Montreal citizens to enjoy the park’s various activities, as a family, and it will also help in bringing exposure to Montreal’s cultural scene.”
Some of the main events for this season were announced during the opening of Espace 67: the Grand spectacle de la Fête nationale du Québec (better known as “La Saint-Jean”) will take place there on Sunday, June 23. On Thursday, June 27 the amphitheatre will host “L’OM Grandeur nature,” a concert by the Orchestre Metropolitaine under the direction of maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin.
Multicultural festivities at Parc Jean Drapeau
Multicultural festivities will take place on July 6-7 and 13-14 under the umbrella of the Weekends du Monde festival, featuring music and gastronomy from different ethnic communities. August is the month of the big music events: Osheaga, Heavy Montreal and ÎleSoniq will now be located in the new location.
Of course, these are just the events at the new facility, but elsewhere in the park, we will have the Grand Prix du Canada June 7-9 preceded by the traditional Open House Day on June 6, and from July 31 to August 24 at La Ronde, the Fireworks Competition (L’International des feux Loto-Québec).
For detailed information about all the events at Jean Drapeau Park visit: parcjeandrapeau.com or on social media @parcjeandrapeau