Here's what you need to know about the Pope's visit to Quebec

·7 min read
Pope Francis will be in Quebec City from July 27 to July 29. For many people, the best way to see the pontiff will be to go to the Plains of Abraham and watch on a big screen. (Filippo Monteforte/Getty Images - image credit)
Pope Francis will be in Quebec City from July 27 to July 29. For many people, the best way to see the pontiff will be to go to the Plains of Abraham and watch on a big screen. (Filippo Monteforte/Getty Images - image credit)

Pope Francis will be in Quebec City from July 27 to July 29 as part of a week-long trip to Canada to advance reconciliation and healing between the Roman Catholic Church and the First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities who suffered from years of abuse in the residential school system.

Here's a guide to the events you can expect during the visit.

What public events are planned when the Pope comes to Quebec City?

The Pope will arrive in Quebec City on Wednesday, July 27 just after 3 p.m. ET.

There will two spots where it will be possible to watch him drive in from the airport toward Old Quebec: along De l'Aéroport Road and along Grande Allée Street by the Plains of Abraham.

His arrival and subsequent public address and meeting with government officials will be broadcast on giant screens on the Plains of Abraham at two locations: behind the Manège militaire de Québec and in front of the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec. The sites on the Plains will be able to welcome up to 160,000 people and will be on a first-come, first-served basis.

On Thursday, July 28, the Pope will do a short driving procession from the Archdiocese of Quebec to the Plains of Abraham early in the morning.

He will then hold a mass at 10 a.m. ET at the Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré Basilica, about 30 kilometres northeast of Quebec City.

Guylaine Bussière/Radio-Canada
Guylaine Bussière/Radio-Canada

Spots at the basilica are limited and tickets for the general public are already sold out, but the event will also be broadcast on the Plains.

According to the papal visit website there will also be cultural activities before and after these main events, but details about those activities are still being determined.

All of these events are free to the public.

The Pope will leave Quebec City for Iqaluit on July 29.

Where can I watch the mass on July 28?

Seats inside the Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré Basilica are reserved for Indigenous participants, delegations from Eastern Canadian dioceses and some government officials. The planning committee for the papal visit has confirmed residential school survivors will get front-row seats to the event.

Some 10,000 seats will be set up outside of the shrine, with the mass being broadcast there on giant screens. Two thousand of those seats are for the general public, but all the tickets have already been snatched up.

The Assembly of First Nations of Quebec is in charge of making sure spots are distributed fairly among Indigenous communities in the province. Indigenous people who wish to participate in the event must contact their nation's designated representative to secure a spot.

The planning committee for the papal visit in Quebec is asking those who don't have tickets to avoid the area and to watch the mass on the Plains of Abraham instead, where the mass will be broadcast on giant screens for anyone to watch.

The city of Quebec will have special seating for those who have reduced mobility and who wish to watch the event on the plains. People in this situation should call 418 641-6050 to reserve a spot.

Émilie Warren/CBC
Émilie Warren/CBC

CBC News Network will broadcast the mass during a special program hosted by Andrew Chang. It will be possible to watch the CBC's live coverage on a number of different platforms including CBC TV, the CBC News app and CBC Gem.

People can also watch the mass on the papal visit website, which will have a live translation of the event into 12 Indigenous languages.

The mass will be held in Spanish, the Pope's native language, but there will be English and French subtitles on the outdoor screens.

What should I bring if I plan to attend the events?

The planning committee is advising people to bring their own lawn chairs, small umbrellas or parasols to protect themselves from the sun, and coolers with food and snacks. People should also bring plenty of water and sunscreen.

Water bottles will be distributed for anyone who needs one at the basilica, and water bottle refill stations will be available at all the sites where the mass is broadcast. The city of Quebec has also said there will be misting machines on the Plains of Abraham to help people cool off.

The planning committee says there will be sufficient washrooms at each site. Medical personnel will also be stationed at each site.

How can I get to the site?

No car traffic will be allowed to and from the Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré Basilica. Ticket holders must use a shuttle service that will bring them to the site. Over 80 shuttles are planned for this event. The shuttles will be departing from two locations: the Vidéotron ExpoCité Centre in Quebec City, and the Mont-Sainte-Anne parking lot.

The shuttles will run between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m., but people are asked to arrive between 4:30 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. because they must go through a security checkpoint before they can embark.

Émilie Warren/CBC
Émilie Warren/CBC

Those who are camping or staying at a hotel in Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré will be able to walk to the basilica and pass the security checkpoint directly at the site.

The city of Quebec is asking those who plan to attend the event on the Plains of Abraham to walk there or take public transportation to avoid traffic congestion downtown.

The Réseau de transport de la Capitale, Quebec City's public transit agency, will have a shuttle service on July 27 and 28 to get to the events on the plains. The shuttles will depart from: Université Laval near the Alphonse-Desjardins pavillion, the parking lot on the corner of 41 Street East and Henri-Bourassa, and the Hydro-Quebec parking lot on De Celles Street.

What sort of support will be available for survivors and their families?

Indigenous Services Canada has partnered with the Catholic Church to ensure residential school survivors and their loved ones have access to trauma-informed wellness support systems, including traditional healers and elders, throughout the papal visit. Mental health support workers will also be present at each site.

National helplines and other mental wellness services will continue to be available during the papal visit:

What impact will there be on traffic?

Highway 138 will be closed to traffic in both directions from 3 a.m. to 3 p.m. on July 28, when the Pope delivers his mass. The eastbound lane will be closed off from des Montagnards Street in Beaupré to Paré Street in Château-Richer, and the westbound lane will be closed off from des Montagnards Street to Côte de l'Église in Boischatel.

The highway will be completely closed off to trucks, RVs, cars with trailers and any other kind of heavy vehicle between the bridge to Île d'Orléans and Highway 360 in Beaupré. Those vehicles will have to do a detour through the Saguenay region highways 175 and 172. The Transport Ministry said trucker associations and companies have already been warned of this disruption.

Traffic disruptions for the Pope's mass in Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré on July 28

Small cars will be able to take a detour through Avenue Royale, Côte Sainte-Anne, des Montagnards Street, des Chutes Boulevard and Highway A-40. There will be signs and traffic control officers directing vehicles.

Emergency vehicles will still be allowed to circulate. Residents and businesses located along Highway 138 have already been notified of the disruptions, according to Quebec provincial police.

In Quebec City, Mayor Bruno Marchand is asking people to avoid driving in Old Quebec and the Plains of Abraham as much as possible, and to work from home if they can. There will be traffic disruptions in the downtown area and in the area around the Jean Lesage airport.

Traffic disruptions in Quebec City

Parking in some streets in Old Quebec will be temporarily banned from July 25 to July 30. The city is opening up some parking spaces at the city hall parking lot for residents who have a street parking permit during that time.

More details on these disruptions are available on the city's website.

There will also be no public access to the airport Jean Lesage between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. on July 27, when the Pope arrives. The airport is asking passengers who have flights in the afternoon to arrive before 2 p.m.

More details will be shared on this page as new information becomes available.

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