Ever since the Villeray Saint-Michel and Parc-Extension borough council meeting earlier this month, many St-michel residents have been wearing pink hearts on their chests to demonstrate their opposition to the city’s plans for their Quarry.
At the borough meeting, a motion was brought forward by Rosannie Filato, council person for Villeray, to mandate borough management to work with the city to establish a new publics works facility in the Francon quarry located in St-Michel.
The borough currently has its civil servants and their facilities spread out across its three neighbourhoods.
“The hearts represent our desire to have the Francon quarry be the heart of our neighbourhood,” said
Jean Panet-Raymond a project manager at Vivre Saint-Michel en Santé. “Many places around the world have been able to turn their quarries into favorable living environments, and we want the same thing.”
Panet-Raymon’s organization is proposing using the area for the development of an urban agriculture farm, a public market, green spaces, and social and community housing.
The motion was signed by all elected officials present at the meeting, except Gillianna Fumaguali, the borough mayor, who said she wasn’t aware of it until then, and opposed it. Mary Deros, counsel person for Parc-Extention, was on vacation at the time, but according to Sylvain Ouellet, council person for François-Perrault, verbally agreed to support it.
“I am here to listen and gather what the community tells me,” said Fumaguali earlier this week. “I adhere to their vision, and I am convinced that the Francon quarry must be used to open up Saint-Michel.” She said the area is currently an urban divide “like the Metropolitan or Decarie” and believes the quarry should be used to ease circulation between both sides of Saint Michel.
“We are the representative of the people, and we have evaluated all the elements” said Ouellet at the council meeting. He said he and the four other elected officials considered alternative sites. But due to size restrictions and time constraints they “made the responsible decision to choose the site studies show is consistent with our needs”.
When reached by telephone earlier this week Deros said the city gave the borough council a deadline of the end of the month to make a decision on the location of the proposed public works facility. She claimed if the motion wouldn’t have been proposed the borough would have most likely lost the up to $45 million the city planned for the project in its Three-Year Capital Works Program.
“That’s the kind of money we don’t have,” said Deros, “so it is a nice investment from the City to the borough.”
Fumagali said she wasn’t aware of any deadline put in place by the city.
Last weekend many out of the several hundred who marched throughout St-Michel in a demonstration organised by the Front d’Action Populaire en Réaménagement Urbain many could be seen wearing the pink hearts.
The organisation, and those in attendance, were pleading for the Plante admiration to finance 50 000 new social housing units in five years and to improve recourses for people facing discrimination.
“We will not stop fighting,” said Pannet-Raymond while handing out pink hearts at the march.” “We are ready to work with the borough mayor to develop our famous long-term vision for the neighborhood.”
I think it is essential that the people of St-Michel team up with other housing groups and demonstrate like they did,” said France Emond, Executive Director of Vivre Montreal en Santé and member of Fugamali’s cabinet. “It is the citizen’s voices that need to be heard. And that’s the only way to changes the minds of our elected officials.
The motion will be debated at the next borough council meeting on May 7, at 405, avenue Ogilvy #201.
Feature image: Jean Panet-Raymond giving out hearts at the demonstration for the right to housing for all in the St-Michel neighbourhood on April 6.
By: Sacha Obas