Restricted access to Notre-Dame-des-Neiges arouses discontent

 Notre-Dame-des-NeigesAlain Tremblay is furious. The director of the Ecomuseum of the Hereafter wants the leaders of Notre-Dame-des-Neiges that limit, he said, access to the best attractions of Montreal.

In recent years, the Notre-Dame-des-Neiges closes its gates at 17h in the summer when the sun does not set until 21h. Its neighbor, the Mount Royal Cemetery, closes three hours later. What is telling Mr. Tremblay – whose organization aims to raise awareness of the funerary heritage – all Montrealers are not treated fairly. “Protestants have greater access to their cemetery that Catholics” says Alain Tremblay.

A padlock on the door

The Notre-Dame-des-Neiges is not the only one to close early. Several cemeteries, including St. Francis of Assisi Repos, East of Montreal, close their doors before 17h. But Alain Tremblay believes that the Notre-Dame-des-Neiges has a special status as an integral part of Mount Royal, a historic district. It should therefore be more accessible to the public.

A view that Nicole Valois sharing, associate professor in the Faculty of Environmental Design at the University of Montreal “The Notre-Dame-des-Neiges is typical of garden cemeteries designed in the mid nineteenth century, notes the professor . They are places dedicated to the promenade built by landscape architects. There must be a way to respect this sacred place without putting a padlock on the door. ”

Nicole Valois says even more surprised by the restricted opening hours that currently developing a 10 km belt road supposed to improve accessibility to the mounting for pedestrians and cyclists. The journey must cross the Mount Royal Park, the Notre-Dame-des-Neiges and the University of Montreal. “We have not developed this new way for people to beat their nose at a closed door,” she observes.

A private place

But the general manager of the cemetery, Yoland Tremblay, do not hear well. “The cemetery is a sacred place, not a park, he says on the phone. Our primary goal is to serve our customers. I see people riding a bike, ski between the tombstones winter or walk their dogs without picking needs. This is unacceptable. ”

The director said that the cemetery is open 63 hours a week, seven days a week, and that the public has ample time to come walk there. He added that further closes access to the cemetery by the Camillien-Houde road weekends to prevent visitors from neighboring park to come to park, which damages the lawn and disturbs the serenity.

Next door, the Mount Royal Cemetery is nevertheless exposed to the same problems, which did not prevent him to stretch its opening hours in the evening and leave its gates open on weekends. “We also we prioritize our customers, says Alexandre Gonçalves, manager of operations, but we tolerate the bikes and cars. For now, it’s manageable. If it is not, we would notify. ”

Review the parking

Accessibility to the Notre-Dame-des-Neiges raises a fundamental question, according to the director of the Ecomuseum of the Hereafter: who owns this cemetery? In fact, it is the property of the Fabrique of the parish of Notre-Dame in Montreal, a non-profit organization that also administers the Notre Dame Basilica. “But Fabrique represents all Catholic parishioners of Montreal, insists Alain Tremblay. These parishioners is you and me even though we are not practicing Catholics, it is not only the customers of the cemetery. The factory manages the cemetery as if it were a private company. ”

At the City of Montreal, it is ready to analyze transportation access in common and the number of parking spaces on Mount Royal even increase, which could discourage visitors to leave their cars in one of two cemeteries . But for Réal Ménard, head of large parks to the Executive Committee of the City, no question of going to the cemetery to say how to manage its business hours. “We have several projects for Mount Royal and we’ve always had extraordinary cooperation and openness from the director of the cemetery,” he says.

Notre Dame des Neiges Cemetery
Inaugurated in 1854
Area: 341 acres
Property of the Fabrique of the parish of Notre-Dame in Montreal, non-profit organization
Mount Royal Cemetery
Founded in 1852
Area: 165 acres
Non-profit private organization administered by a committee of 21 directors

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