Environmentalist David Suzuki spoke to reporters after signing the city’s golden book with Mayor Valérie Plante at City Hall on Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019. Suzuki, Stephen Lewis and other conservationists will speak about the current issues facing young people who inherit the challenges of a planet undergoing profound change as part of their Climate First Tour, Tuesday, Oct. 1 at the Rialto Theatre on Park Ave. More details at climatefirsttour.ca.
Dave Sidaway / Montreal Gazette
Following similar protests around the world, an estimated 300,000 people are expected to participate in what’s being described as a historic climate march in Montreal on Friday.
The demonstration is part of a global movement to demand action against climate change and will be marked by Swedish schoolgirl activist Greta Thunberg visiting the city.
Here’s what you need to know ahead of the event.
How to get there?
The march will begin at noon, with people being asked to gather at the George-Étienne Cartier Monument in Mount Royal Park.
Organizers have not announced the march’s route or end point, saying they don’t want to unveil more details for “logistical and security reasons.”
The Montreal police force is warning motorists to avoid a large area between Berri and Peel Sts., as well as between St-Joseph Blvd. and de la Commune St.
Robert-Bourassa Blvd. and the Bonaventure Expressway will be completely closed throughout the day. Two lanes will be open on the Victoria Bridge toward the South Shore, but the bridge will be closed toward Montreal.
Public transit will be free in Montreal and on the South Shore and municipalities north of Montreal, but more than 50 bus lines and trains will be cancelled because of the rally.
Bus lines affected in Montreal include the 24 on Sherbrooke St., the 80 along Parc Ave., the 427 Express on St-Joseph Blvd. and the 465 Express on Côte-des-Neiges Rd., among others. The 747 shuttle line will only be in service between the Lionel-Groulx métro station and the Montreal airport. An increase in ridership is expected on the métro system’s Orange, Green and Yellow lines.
According to Exo, service will be interrupted as of 11 a.m. on all lines serving the Mansfield and downtown stations. The lines will be redirected toward the Longueuil and Angrignon stations.
Bixi service will be free from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Who will be there?
Part of the Fridays for Future and Global Climate Strike movements that have been growing in popularity, the march follows a series of similar demonstrations held in Montreal in the spring.
“On Sept. 27, the planet is on strike,” organizers have said. “Not just students, but also workers and citizens. Because the climate crisis spares nobody, we must all be mobilized.”
Unions, community organizations, professional groups and student-led movements will be joining the march.
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, who took centre stage at the opening of the United Nations Climate Action Summit this week, will be in attendance, as will Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May.
Some anarchist groups, known to infiltrate peaceful protests, have taken to social media to say they plan to attend.
In response on Thursday, Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault asked everyone to respect the rules, remain peaceful and remember the cause behind the march. The Montreal police will also have a heavy presence throughout the day.
Schools closed, students participating
Quebec’s largest school board, the Commission scolaire de Montréal, has given all of its 114,000 students the day off. About 35 of the province’s 48 public colleges, or CÉGEPs, have declared Friday an “institutional day.”
The English Montreal School Board will hold classes as usual but said it’s giving parents the choice to allow their children to attend the rally. It has asked parents to notify their schools in writing if they chose to do so. The Lester B. Pearson School Board already had a pedagogical day scheduled for Friday.
Several universities, including Concordia, the Université de Montréal and the Université de Sherbrooke, have cancelled afternoon courses. McGill University will hold classes as usual, but the administration has asked teaching staff to accommodate students who want to participate in the march.
After the march ends, Plante will be holding a private meeting with Thunberg at city hall.
Presse Canadienne contributed to this report