Plan to cut down 1,000 trees for Parc Jean-Drapeau amphitheatre a 'tree massacre,' says city opposition

Plan to cut down 1,000 trees for Parc Jean-Drapeau amphitheatre a 'tree massacre,' says city opposition

​Parc Jean-Drapeau is losing some green space to make room for a 65,000-seat amphitheatre  — something the official opposition at city hall is calling a "tree massacre."

The project is on Île Sainte-Hélène's south sector and will let event promoters welcome more people to their large festivals such as the Osheaga music and arts festival which previously had an attendance capacity of 40,000.

To build the ampitheatre 1,061 trees are being cut down.

"It's a massacre," said Projet Montréal leader Valérie Plante.

"We have decided to cut 1,000 trees. Healthy trees, mature trees. And we are cutting them to make room for a concrete amphitheatre that will essentially be used by a few private promoters."

According to the Parc Jean-Drapeau website, for any tree that is cut down another will be planted elsewhere in the park. It also says that cut trees will be put to good use.

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre defended the project Thursday, saying construction was taking place on an exceptional spot for big events.

"When we have Osheaga or Week-ends du monde or other events, having the facilities that will accommodate these large-scale events is something extraordinary," Coderre said.

He said calling the construction "a massacre" was just the Opposition trying to get attention.

The city added that the site will be available to any promoter organizing a large-scale event in that location.

"The site will become a four season event location," said spokesperson for Montreal's executive committee​ Noémie Brière-Marquez. 

The project is expected to cost $73.4 million, more than half of which is coming from the city.

Preparation work is already being done at the site with construction slated to begin in May and continue until December 2018. The new site is expected to open in the summer of 2019.

The city said because of noise and dust caused by construction, the park's pools will be closed this summer, and possibly into 2018.

The Parc Jean-Drapeau Aquatic Complex is advising people to swim at Jean-Doré Beach instead. The beach opens June 21.