Coming next in our series on urban quirks in Montreal: the unavoidable impact of winter on urban design and transport planning, which rarely plays the same role on our practice of planning in London.
Winter is coming
Indeed, one cannot think about Montreal, without thinking about its long and cold winter. Winter comes with its own challenges for designing public spaces and the current city hall administration led by the new Mayor Valérie Plante is particularly encouraging architects, landscape architects and designers to plan urban spaces outdoors not only for the summer but also for the winter.
Momentum attended a presentation of shortlisted entries for a public realm project called Place des Montréalaises and the one question that was asked automatically to all presenters was: “what would happen in your proposed space in the winter?” Although one would naturally think that open spaces cannot be used when snowed in and with -25 degrees Celsius, there are in reality many uses that spaces can and should allow during winter: recreational activities, clear desire lines to ensure shortest walking times, lighting to provide a safe and secure space, etc.
As Sonia Lavadinho from fluid rightly put it in another conference organized in Montreal by the AUAMQ (Quebec Urbanists Association), the public space does not need to be used every day of the winter or even the year, but we should make sure a space is planned properly and maintained so that it can be used when it’s sunny and not too cold and people want to go out. And if it is, it will be used.