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Old Montréal
The Lighting Plan
Lights on Old Montréal!

A reflection

Lighting our city for its citizens means allowing them to inhabit space and time in different ways: historically, symbolically and psychologically. There are also the entertainment and signage functions of lighting to consider. For visitors, the lighting plan helps forge cherished memories, shaping the forms that catch the eye and stir the heart. For those who live here, the changing diurnal-nocturnal cycle, tied to the seasons' ebb and flow, alters behaviours and moods. Light, and its dynamics, exert a profound influence on our health, and thus our lives.

The need for light

Ours is a Nordic city, where, once the days begin to grow shorter in September, we know long, dark nights will be with us through April. Urban lighting design substitutes for this vital absence; indeed it can be viewed as an act of civilization – a measure of our democratization of public spaces. To make the city their own, residents must be able to see its outline day after day, and night after night. Thus it becomes a familiar, comforting presence – and a strikingly beautiful one, thanks to the play of light on the gradually evolving skyline.

Evolved tools

The technological advances of the past 30 years now enable architectural lighting designers to go wherever their dreams take them.

For one thing, the sources of available illumination have multiplied, diversified and become more sophisticated. From traditional incandescent and fluorescent lighting to discharge lamps and induction lamps to more recent innovations such as fibre-optic, LED and light-guide systems, designers now enjoy an expanded array of basic tools for lighting control, enabling them to further enhance quality of life in urban settings, while ensuring compliance with the energy efficiency provisions of today.

Public acclaim

A CROP survey of 1,200 respondents conducted in 2003 confirms the high degree of satisfaction with the Lighting Plan among Montréal residents and visitors alike.

Results show the completion of the Old Montréal Lighting Plan is viewed as having a positive impact on the attractiveness and safety of the historical district, on quality of life in the neighbourhood, and on the appeal of its heritage architecture to visitors.


The document L'Opération lumière du Vieux-Montréal was produced by Groupe Cardinal Hardy, Aménagement et design urbain. The orientations set forth in the document were adopted by the city Executive Committee on March 3, 1999. The document was drafted by a team of professionals that included Aurèle Cardinal, Architect and Urban Planner; Michèle Gauthier, Landscape Architect and Project Manager; Guy Pelletier, M. urb., Environmental Designer; and Gilles Arpin, Lighting Designer. Alain Guilhot, a lighting designer based in Lyon, France, participated in the lighting scheme for Saint-Paul Street.

The Old Montréal Lighting Plan was produced under the Entente sur le développement culturel de Montréal between the Québec Ministry of Culture and Communications and the City of Montréal.

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