Here's what you can expect for security, transit and service disruptions during Montreal's COP15 event

There will be a heavy police presence in and around the Palais des Congrès until the end of COP15.  (Alison Northcott/CBC - image credit)
There will be a heavy police presence in and around the Palais des Congrès until the end of COP15. (Alison Northcott/CBC - image credit)

The Place-d'Armes Metro station in Montreal has been closed since last Thursday and that's just one of many ways downtown commuting is going to be a bit more challenging in the coming weeks.

If you've walked past the Palais des Congrès in recent days, you may have noticed the long fence surrounding it.

The 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, also known as COP15, is taking place at the convention centre. It will run from Wednesday to Dec. 19 and is expected to attract about 15,000 visitors from around the world, including heads of state, other dignitaries — and protesters.

That means a very robust police presence in the area and heavy logistics. Protests are expected as early as Wednesday morning.

As part of the overall security planning, the Place-d'Armes station will stay closed until Dec. 20, the day after the COP15 is scheduled to end. In both directions, Metro cars will skip that station and head straight to Champ-de-Mars and Square-Victoria-OACI.

Here's what else you have to keep in mind if you need to head to that part of the city between now and the end of the conference.

Alison Northcott/CBC
Alison Northcott/CBC

Security perimeter and lane closures

That large fence surrounding the Palais des Congrès lets you know which area is part of the outdoor security perimeter.

The fence is located on both Viger Avenue and Saint-Antoine Street, between Bleury Street and Jean-Paul-Riopelle Place.

The parking lot next to the centre is also off limits for the general population.

The sidewalks and bike lanes will still be available. Since last Thursday, however, only accredited people have been able to get past the fence. People working in businesses that are located within the security perimeter can get in, but their customer pool only includes the thousands of accredited COP15 guests.

As for drivers, the fence means they have one less lane available on Viger, Saint-Antoine and Saint-Urbain Street.

Alison Northcott/CBC
Alison Northcott/CBC

The interior of the convention centre will be a "blue zone," with the United Nations in charge of security there.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) as well as Montreal, Longueuil, Laval, Quebec City and Gatineau police officers are all part of the security team for the event.

COP15 is also pushing a large annual event out of the Palais des Congrès: The 66th annual edition of the Salon des métiers d'art du Québec will be held at the Olympic Stadium starting next Thursday.


Bus routes, elevator access and adapted transit

The security perimeter around the venue for COP15 is also part of a larger zone in the city's downtown core.

That zone is bordered by Notre-Dame Street to the south, René-Levesque Boulevard to the north, Beaver Hall Hill to the west, and Saint-Laurent Boulevard to the east.

Since Nov. 14, bus lines that travel within those boundaries have been rerouted.

For a full rundown of the changes to bus routes, click here.

Downtown transit users should also keep in mind that with Place-d'Armes closed, the Champ-de-Mars station is the nearest station with elevators. Square-Victoria-OACI doesn't have any.

The elevator that links the Champs-de-Mars station to the Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal (CHUM) is also closed and will reopen as of Dec. 21.

Montreal's transit authority (STM) says people heading to the CHUM from that station must use the street-level exit to head to the hospital entrance on Viger.

The STM is also warning adapted transit users who either live near the Palais des Congrès or need to travel there to expect some delays.

COP15 was originally scheduled to take place in China in 2020 but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event was broken down into two parts, with the first held virtually last fall. The second part was moved to Montreal.

Despite the location change, China is still the event's host.