Whither the Monkland Street Fest?
Monkland Street fest – I lived in NDG for a little over five years, until my ex-wife and I bought a cottage in Cote Saint Luc. But we always missed NDG. I wasn’t raised there, but it’s where I spent some of the happiest days of my life. My son was just over 2 years old when we moved there, my daughter was born there. Summers were memory-filled glory days, on sun-drenched balconies beneath leafy canopies, just a block down from what was surely the best splash-pad in the city, in a park that was always crowded with young families who went to Girouard Park to find their laughter.
We were just a short walk down from Monkland Avenue where, again, people would flock in the summer time, especially during the vaunted Monkland street festival.
The event – there had always been two a summer – had been plagued with problems – well, more like irritants – of late, because of complaints from residents about noise, traffic, and garbage. Noise, traffic, and garbage have always been a problem in Montreal. And it’s not the fault of the Monkland street festival organizers. Some may say “Yeah, but it always gets worse during the event.” And that may indeed be true.
But so what?
NDG is not the poor man’s Westmount, and was never meant to be. It’s a community, and Monkland has always been its hub. And the street fair was something we looked forward to every year. Even now, as I drive down congested, wintry Monkland, I’m not thinking “I can’t wait for winter to end,” I’m thinking “I can’t wait until the Monkland street festival.”
And now I’m disappointed to hear that there won’t be one this summer. There’s probably more to the story than we’re being told. But basically the organizers have given in to the complaints of the few, whose loudness has somehow outweighed the needs of the many.
I’m angry at the residents who complained, and I’m disappointed in the organizers for giving in to their complaints. And I shudder to think of the adverse effects this will have on the area. Think of the sheer number of Montrealers who converge on NDG for those two events, think of the joy, the sights, the sounds, the smells, and tastes. I saw the John Jacob Magistery there, for cryin’ out loud! Montrealers got together to watch The Hip’s last concert on Monkland! Think of the money those people spend, and the boon for local merchants who, in case you haven’t noticed, have been pulling up stakes and going elsewhere. Some of them blame the Monkland street fest, and the proliferation of food trucks. I say to them that the people who come for the food trucks are potential new customers who just appear on their doorstep, in full view of their storefronts and signage. “Here,” they might say to them, “come on in and see what we’re all about.” Those customers just might come back after the festival just because they liked what they saw or tasted.
But what do I know? Goodness knows I’m not a businessman. But I do spend a lot of time on Monkland, at places like Ye Olde Orchard, Lucille’s, Pizzedelic, Yeh, Pizza Pinoli… Sound like failing businesses to you? Yeah, me neither.
I don’t know how many residents complained about the street fests. But it doesn’t matter. The festivals run for three days. Three days of fun and joy that has finally been stomped to death by people who likely never leave their houses and can’t stand it when the wind blows.
I hope the organizers change their minds, and the community has a change of heart, and that the Monkland street fests continue. Otherwise we might as well go ahead and board up an entire town.
By: Dan Laxer – mtltimes.ca