What do you think of Montreal’s new park site?
Montreal’s new park – A survey was sent to residents in the Peter McGill District of the downtown area, making it clear that it is based on a hypothetical scenario: the possibility (how remote or feasible we don’t know), that the corner of MacKay and Sainte Catherine becomes a small green area. In fact—if the idea materializes— it would be a “mini-park,” but lacking enough green space in the area, any little piece of land with some grass, flowers, and trees on it is welcome.
The survey, however, gave us, residents in the area, some interesting points to consider for the development of this or any other green space in the area. What do we would like to see in a park? That was more or less the wording of one of the questions. And indeed it is an interesting thing to ask: we tend to take for granted the characteristics that such a venue should have, without much attention being given to specific aspects of the public that such place would serve. On this, it is interesting to point out that although the residents in the downtown area tend to be over 40, with a large proportion of retirees as well, at the same time, it attracts some young families, mainly from immigrant communities which also means that they may have small children. Taking into consideration this demographics with some contradictory data, one may argue that a park must be at the same time a place that should accommodate seniors as well as some little children.
In the case of the site object of that particular survey, it is evident that even if the park is ever built (the location is currently a commercial one, with three to four stores occupying the space), it would be a small place where given the intense traffic on neighbouring streets, it is unlikely to be suitable for a small playground for kids. The vicinity of the little green area in front of the Saint James the Apostle Anglican Church could, in fact, enlarge the site and make it more attractive to a variety of visitors. However, there is another problem: homeless men especially tend to hang around the Church garden, and although most of them don’t pose any danger to kids or seniors, there is a strong stereotypical notion about these people which makes many families avoid them. Of course, as long as a practical solution to homelessness is not implemented, in the form of adequate shelters and places where homeless people can stay, many of those in that marginalized condition have no other place to go than to sleep on park benches. A scene that usually discourages families from using those facilities or let their children go there.
In any case, given the frustrating situations of missing opportunities for former public locations such as the Children’s Hospital site or old religious sites such as the Franciscans to have been devoted to some public use, the talking of a possible new park in the area is still good news. Let’s hope it materializes.