Montreal Photo of the Day – May 4th 2015

Watering the Skyscrapers - May 3rd 2015
Watering the Skyscrapers – May 3rd 2015

Taken from Saint Jacques and Rue de la Montagne.

From left to right: you can just see the penthouse of Place Ville Marie behind the fifteen-floor tower of the Romanesque Revival styled Windsor Station (capped with emblematic green copper roof). Next is the Marriott Chateau Champlain (with iconic half-moon convex windows giving the impression, it’s often been said, of an immense cheese grater), and then the Place du Canada office tower. Rising behind Place du Canada is 1000 de la Gauchetiere West, tallest skyscraper in Montreal and one of several postmodern skyscrapers erected in the city in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Below the tower, in the photo’s lower right hand corner, an elderly citizen dutifully waters the tower’s foundation :)

No no no…

She was one of a handful of people out and about in the community garden put in place over the Ville Marie Tunnel. According to new development plans released from the public consultation office, this space is a priority for redevelopment (basically, the aim is draw the central business district down from its current ‘southern border’ at Saint Antoine to better integrate the city with new residential developments in Griffintown).

Of note, the master plan released by the City of Montreal aims to focus development investment in an area roughly the same size as the current Quartier International, mirrored along the north-south axis formed by the Bonaventure Expressway, whose viaduct is supposed to be eliminated in favour of a wide, ground-level urban boulevard. The same plan calls for a linear park to stretch over the Ville Marie Expressway tunnel from Guy to Jean D’Estrées, which will eliminate this community garden while maintaining the area as green space.

While the plan is encouraging (in that it aims to focus development in an area that would benefit immensely from redevelopment, and further sew up the still open wound created by the highway tunnel project back in the 1960s and 1970s) there’s not much in terms of major services for so many new residents. Community gardening is just one component. Some kind of local public school is going to need to be provided, a public library branch would be nice, not to mention a CLSC, CPE(s) and various community and cultural spaces would be great too.

I don’t think we should wait to see what kind of people move into the neighbourhood over the next decade or so. Better to provide the bare minimum to support a vibrant and diverse community, rather than simply letting market forces figure it all out. If anything, the market may adjust its offering over time if the city came out first and identified how it will most directly support families in the area. Not all families will be keen to live north of Griffintown, but some will, and the centrality of the location would support families living in adjoining established communities downtown. In other words, if it’s in our best interest to have communities with diverse types of residents (e.g. singles, young couples, couples with young children, re-located empty nesters etc.), the city needs to prepare for just that level of diversity and ensure the range of core community services are provided. This is how the public sector can best stimulate private sector investment – by establishing the foundations of a veritable community.

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