The City of Montreal is pushing to make its most recognizable landmark into a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
On Wednesday, non-profit organization Les amis de la montagne (Friends of the mountain) launched a campaign with the goal of collecting 30,000 signatures to support Montreal's bid to have Mount Royal recognized as a UNESCO site.
"Mount Royal is an iconic symbol of the city. The mountain is also fundamental to the quality of life of hundreds of thousands of Montrealers," said Sylvie Guilbault, the organization's executive director in a release.
Two people look down over Montreal from Mount Royal. (Photo: Thierry Tronnel/Corbis via Getty Images)
If selected, Mount Royal would join 18 other UNESCO sites in Canada, including Alberta's Dinosaur Provincial Park, Old Quebec and Ottawa's Rideau Canal.
To be included on the list, sites need to meet one out of 10 selection criteria, for example "to be outstanding examples representing major stages of earth's history" or "to represent a masterpiece of human creative genius."
The mountain does have an important place in Canadian history.
The first written record of the mountain is by European explorer Jacques Cartier, who climbed it in 1535 after he landed at the nearby Iroquois village Hochelaga. Later, Montreal's founder Paul de Chomedey planted a cross at the mountain's peak — now, a LED cross sits on the same location.
It's also the site of one of the city's biggest parks, McGill University and two historic cemeteries.
A Montrealer looks up at the cross on Mount Royal in 2005. (Photo: Christinne Muschi/Reuters)
Montreal has been working with the Government of Quebec to make a recommendation to the federal government, Radio-Canada reported. The Canadian government makes a list of prospective World Heritage Sites, which is then submitted to UNESCO.
Friends of the mountain spokesperson Helene Panaoiti says the designation would help protect the site for future generations.
“Mount Royal is really the heart of the city, it’s the heart of our lives,” she told CTV News.