Saint-Michel environmental complex
|The area now called the Saint-Michel Environmental Complex began as a quarry in 1895. Its limestone was used in the production of cement there for many years, and at times dynamiting was known to rain rocks down on adjoining residential streets.
Starting in 1968 parts of the quarry were also used for garbage landfill, which also caused problems. The city acquired the quarry in 1984, and in 1988 the famous smokestacks of the Miron cement plant were finally taken down.
In 1995 the first phase of the environmental complex was built at the south end of the quarry, and in 1996 a plant that converts biogas to electric power was built.
The Cirque du Soleil's international headquarters opened in the area south of the quarry in 1997. The National Circus School followed in 2003, and 2004 saw the opening of TOHU, the Cité des arts du cirque, which has the first circular performance hall in North America.
The complete area covered by the old Miron quarry clocks in at 192 hectares, but only 48 of them are currently regarded as a park. Converting the deeply gouged terraces of the quarry into a green space is going to be quite a job, and is not expected to be completed for another 15 years.
The main park-like use of the quarry is in the 5-kilometre trail which runs around the perimeter and is used for walking and cycling, or for cross-country skiing or snowshoeing in wintertime. The visitor gets a constantly changing vista of the massive depths of the quarry that was dug into the bedrock of the city for decades, and there are views over to Mount Royal and across the roofs of northern Saint-Michel, which adjoins the park.
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