Green Plan | Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery | Montreal

Our Efforts Towards an Ecological Restauration

Our Green Plan

Image credit : Antonia Leney-Granger

Concrete Actions for a Greener Future

Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery is undertaking a multi-year plan that will focus on an in-depth review of its development and maintenance practices to:

  • Continue to reduce its consumption of fuel, energy, abrasive products and water, as well as the pollution associated with its maintenance activities.
  • Improve its contribution to biodiversity on Mount Royal through the implementation of new initiatives that meet the needs of its clientele and the aspirations of its partners.
  • Respect, enhance and develop quality natural environments (flora and fauna) in a sustainable way.

    Some initiatives had already been launched prior to the implementation of the green plan:

    Water management – Last year, after carefully considering the environmental impacts of the development and maintenance of its 1.4 million m2 of grounds, criss-crossed by over 33 kilometres of private roads, the Cemetery stopped operating its antiquated water supply system, which wasted water due to frequent breakdowns and leaks. As a first step, 22 water tanks were installed at multiple locations on the site to meet the needs of visitors who wish to landscape or have flowers on their loved ones’ plots. Over the next few years, the Cemetery plans to recover rainwater and runoff water to meet all of its needs and those of its clients and visitors ecologically.

    Collaboration with partners – The Cemetery also worked in close collaboration with Les amis de la montagne, which organized the first meeting of Mount Royal's institutional owners about the ecological management of their property from a sustainable development perspective on December 1, 2020. This meeting identified the main development issues related to biodiversity and landscape quality on Mount Royal, including landscape and ecological planning, maintenance and waste management, energy efficiency and accessibility.

    Innovative projects – At this meeting, the Fabrique proposed the implementation of two new development projects: the conversion of a large grassy area (93,000 m2) into a space for native perennial plants and the creation of ecological burial areas that allow people who choose cremation to replace the installation of a monument with the planting of a tree of a quality native species.

    Moreover, the Cemetery surveyed over 4,000 clients about them in March 2021, as well as about the possibility of making visitors responsible for the recovery of their waste to considerably reduce the volume of residual materials. The families surveyed strongly supported these changes. Indeed, 88% of respondents were in favour of converting large areas of lawn into spaces sown with flowers and native perennials, 81% of respondents supported the project to develop new woodlands to place the ashes of deceased persons under new native-species trees, and 79% of respondents were in favour of visitors recovering residual materials.

    Image credit : Edge Dimension

    Ecological Interment in Remembrance Grove

    We have created the first ecological interment space on the island of Montreal. Located in a prime area overlooking Saint Joseph's Oratory and near the main entrance, Remembrance Grove is a space dedicated to the burial of biodegradable containers under young trees, so that the ashes of the deceased can be returned fully and quickly to nature. Bereaved relatives can therefore gather in front of this growing tree, chosen from a selection of native species adapted to the environment of the area. It is a poetic way to help improve the city's tree cover, thereby contributing to better air quality and biodiversity.

    Image credit : Antonia Leney-Granger

    Ecological Restoration of Grassy Areas

    The conversion of one of our large grass areas, which will not be used for burial for several generations, begins in 2021 and will continue over a period of many years. These areas will no longer be mown in the summer. They will be mowed in the fall, and the grass cuttings left to nourish the soil. A scientific process has also been undertaken with Université de Montréal sustainable development experts to plant and evaluate the growth of various plant combinations in four test plots at the Cemetery. This research will allow us to choose the plant combinations (grasses and wildflowers) that will be planted in the coming years. This project is carried out in collaboration with the Université de Montréal and Les Amis de la montagne.

    Residual Materials Management

    Inspired by the Leave No Trace movement, well known to hikers and wilderness campers, we are asking everyone who visits our site to help us preserve the flora and fauna of Mount Royal by bringing back everything they brought and by not leaving any waste behind.

    Moreover, the Cemetery will recover the majority of trees that need to be felled, as well as all branches and leaves, and convert them into soil amendment resources to improve the quality of the soil used for various plantings.