St. Michel Environmental Complex: A Park and Public Service

The Story Behind One of North America's Most Ambitious Revitilizations

St. Michel Environmental Complex as imagined by 2023.
••• Above: the St. Michel Environmental Complex as imagined by 2023. Image courtesy of Ville de Montréal

St. Michel Environmental Complex: From Quarry to Landfill to Park

The St. Michel Environmental Complex is one of Montreal's best examples of sustainable development and by 2023, it will be one of the city's two largest green spaces, comparable in size to Mount Royal Park.

St. Michel Environmental Complex: Turning Trash Into Treasure

What used to be a limestone quarry and city dump is now 48 hectares (119 acres) of family-friendly green space with bikes paths, cross country ski trails and various outdoor sports facilities connecting to the park, including a soccer stadium and extreme sports center.

This award-winning ecological centre is also a recycling sorting plant and a micro-power station sharing space with circus mecca La TOHU, Montreal's "circus city," home to the National Circus School and Cirque du Soleil headquarters.

By 2023, what remains of the grounds' 192 hectares (474 acres) will also be turned into parkland roughly the size of Montreal's largest park, Parc Mont-Royal, representing one of the most ambitious environmental revitalization programs attempted in North America.

How the Project Began: Transforming Biogas Into Electricity

After the  city acquired the land in 1984, the complex began a lofty project as of 1996: turn North America's largest landfills and what used to be a major source of pollution in Montreal into a viable resource by converting the area's release of biogas -a flammable combination of methane and carbon dioxide produced by bacterial degradation of organic matter- into useable electricity.

In that same year, Hydro-Québec signed a 25-year contract to buy the converted energy. In concert with its biogas conversion project, the St. Michel Environmental Complex also serves as a city recycling sorting centre and composting site. The resulting compost is given out, twice a year, to residents on the lookout for a natural, effective fertilizer and pesticide.

And of course, turning the old dump site into one of the city's largest parks was in the cards all along, and it's one that's paying off, with plans for park and ecosystem completion expected by 2023.

St. Michel Environmental Complex Activities

Location: 2235 Michel-Jurdant, corner of Iberville (MAP)
Neighborhood: Villeray–Saint-Michel–Parc-Extension
Get There:Jarry Metro, Bus 193
Parking: available, call for details
More INFO: (514) 872-1264, (514) 376-TOHU (8648) or 1-888-376-TOHU (8648)
St. Michel Environmental Complex Website