On the spot

Valérie Plante

Mayor, City of  Montréal

The City of Montréal has decided to renew its membership in the World Union of Olympic Cities and we are delighted. What do you expect from the Association and how do you wish to contribute to the life and work of the Union?

The World Union of Olympic Cities (WUOC) brings together Olympic cities from all over the world and we are proud to be part of it. We wish to contribute to this collective wealth, to continue to work together and to share best practices with other Olympic Cities. Montréal still has many infrastructures built for the 1976 Olympic Games that are an integral part of the Montréal landscape and that serve the population in various ways. Our objective is to maintain these assets, while ensuring that their operation is in line with the ecological transition that must take place. We want to take advantage of the vibrant ecosystem of Olympic Cities to build bridges to the smartcities & sport summit 2022, being held this fall in Lausanne. This summit will be an opportunity for us to discuss many sports and environmental issues, in line with our desire to be a leader in carbon neutrality and the fight against climate change.

The City of Montréal is focusing on sports and physical activity for everyone and in every neighbourhood of the city. What tools does the City use to implement its policy of rebalancing access to sport throughout its territory?

The City has adopted a strategic plan to collectively increase the quality of life and the quality of services offered to Montrealers. It is based on four orientations. One of its priorities is to ensure that no one is left behind and to strengthen solidarity and resilience within the community. The city is committed to reducing inequities and gaps among its diverse population, particularly through sports.
To this end, the City supports a wide range of free or low-cost sports activities. It also has a program that allows families, adults and seniors with modest incomes to register for free recreational and sports activities in their neighbourhood.
Montréal also uses gender-based analysis from an intersectional perspective (ADS+) to understand the realities and discriminations experienced by the population. This approach is gradually being implemented in the City’s sports projects to better respond to the needs and different realities of its population.
In addition, the City of Montréal is committed to territorial equity. Our administration is making sure that, when renovating and building new sports facilities, the City gives priority to neighbourhoods that have historically been less well served by sports facilities. Montréal is also in the process of implementing a regional sport recognition policy to build a cohesive and dynamic Montréal sport system. Thanks to this policy, the city is exercising leadership by encouraging all organizations and boroughs to work together in order to contribute to the accessibility of facilities on the territory and to the complementary nature and quality of the services offered to Montrealers.

Montréal is known for its proactive approach to active design. What are the city’s latest initiatives on this issue and how does this fit into the City’s overall vision?

Montréal aims to transform the city through simple actions that promote a physically active lifestyle on a daily basis and that are consistent with the City’s efforts to make a green transition. One of the most recent initiatives is the development of the Bicycle Express Network (REV), a 184 km protected bike lane system that allows citizens to get around efficiently, safely and enjoyably. Another excellent example is pedestrian streets. This summer, ten Montréal streets were pedestrianized. This promotes active transportation as a means of travel, creates meeting places for the population and supports local businesses that benefit from the flow of people. On a larger scale, we are also promoting an active lifestyle by rethinking our development and by not redesigning our streets as they were previously when they need repair.

As the host of the 1976 Summer Olympic Games, Montréal has a rich Olympic heritage that is now being promoted and enhanced. What are the experiences and lessons the city of Montréal would like to share with other Olympic cities?

Montréal’s Olympic Games provided an important legacy that remains alive and well almost 50 years later. The vast majority of Olympic facilities are still in use and have a variety of functions. These facilities are part of the daily life of the Montréal population. For example, the Claude-Robillard Sports Complex, which, in addition to its regular programming, hosts events on a municipal, national and international scale. Or the magnificent Biodome, which was created from the former velodrome of the Olympic Park, with its five ecosystems of the Americas under one roof. The biggest lesson we’ve learned from the Montréal Olympics is the need to take care of our sports facilities over time and to make sure we make every decision based on a long-term vision of the infrastructure, based on present and future needs. In recent years, we have invested heavily in the maintenance and redevelopment of these facilities to ensure that the legacy of the 1976 Games remains strong and vibrant for future generations.