A project by the Laboratory of Possibilities
At the beginning of the 1930s, Brother Marie-Victorin and Henry Teuscher dreamed together of the ideal botanical garden, with the idea of reconnecting humans with nature at its core. Almost 100 years later, we are once again dreaming of the ideal garden in sync with the current times, which call for a necessary and unprecedented ecological transition.
We are convinced that plants play a key role in the ecological transition and, more than ever, the Garden is in a unique position to contribute to strengthening the relationship between humans and plants. How should the Botanical Garden contribute to this transformation? What expertise should it bring to bear around the world? What unique experience should the Garden offer its visitors? What story should it tell?
Supported in its action by the City of Montreal, which also places the ecological transition at the heart of its priorities, Space for Life believes the time has come to mark our era by building an inspired and meaningful legacy. This is the spirit in which the Garden launched a reflection and creation process to dream, together, of the Botanical Garden of 2031.
This participatory approach is based on three themes: international outreach, community roots, and space and beauty. Three days of workshops have been planned to address each of these topics during which some 300 participants will have the opportunity to contribute to the reflection. A complementary questionnaire will allow a wider audience to join in the discussion.
A participatory approach
A first day of dialogue and debate was held March 11, 2020, when experts, citizens and employees of Espace pour la vie and the Ville de Montréal took part in facilitated workshops on the theme of the Jardin botanique’s international outreach in 2031. The 80 participants underscored the need for the Botanical Garden to take steps in favour of the ecological transition and that it has the leadership required to be a flag bearer of the transition internationally, within the municipal organization and with respect to every citizen. A clear consensus was also reached to the effect that plants are the natural allies of human life and that the Garden should be conveying this message.
We are very pleased to share the observations, ideas and visions discussed in the workshop and that need to be considered as part of the revitalization.
- Ecological transition
The need for this transition is undeniable, as is the need to encourage changes in human behaviour consistent with the transition; it is hoped that the Garden will do its part to help develop a sustainable society.
- Role of plants
Plants are seen as natural allies, both for their aesthetics and ecosystem services, as well as for their increasing role in emerging technologies; the Garden must showcase all of this.
- Scientific character
Science brings credibility and a solid foundation, whether in the form of research in plant biology, horticultural practices or phytotechnologies; the Garden is and must continue to be a role model.
- Importance of connection with nature
With respect to both its importance in the transition process and the need to maintain the relationship with nature, the connection must transcend all our actions.
- Leadership and setting an example
The Garden is in a key position to drive the ecological transition. It can and must assume a leadership role in the transition and set an example.
- Expertise that benefits citizens
Expertise, in both research and know-how, at the service of citizens: whether elsewhere in the world, various local communities or visitors.
- Citizen involvement
The Garden must involve citizens and enable them to play an active role in the transition. It must respond to their concerns and incorporate them more in the life of the Garden.
- Sensory experience
The Garden must address the need for immersion in, contemplation of and discovery of nature, and help people reconnect with the living world by offering sensory-focused experiences and an emotional connection that showcase the benefits and beauty of nature.
- Model site
The Garden must implement best sustainability practices.
- Beyond our walls
There was agreement that the Garden must extend its influence and its presence outside the physical boundaries of its site..
Participatory process : what's next
To imagine the future Jardin botanique de Montréal, a garden that will help drive the ecological transition, the consultation process was organized around three days of workshops, with each day focusing on a specific theme:
- International outreach
- Community roots
- Space and beauty
To round out the consultation process, there is a complementary survey questionnaire to be filled out by people unable to attend the workshops.
The participatory process of Imagining the Jardin botanique of 2031 has been slowed down by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, but development of the related master plan is continuing, and we are workning on various scenarios we are working on different scenarios in order to continue this reflection exercise. This section will be updated regularly to keep you abreast of developments.