Ville-Marie Borough Council – The Ville-Marie Borough Council meeting held this past Tuesday at L’Ermitage in the Peter McGill District wasn’t too exciting to attend, but at least there were two important announcements made by Mayor Valerie Plante. The first –concerning the west-end district where the meeting took place– was the official announcement that the development currently planned for the former site of the Montreal Children’s Hospital would indeed include a community and cultural centre. The Mayor’s confirmation was in response to a demand that neighbours in the area have had for a long time. Indeed when some years ago news broke that the hospital would be vacated, a number of local initiatives were presented to the City aiming at keeping the building in place. The residents argue then that instead of tearing the structure down, it could be converted into various facilities for the community, a complex that would include from some first-line clinics to a school, to social housing, and a community centre. In the end only the latter would materialize, although the actual setting and management of that public place in what will be a private space –a new real estate development being built in the site of the former hospital– hasn’t yet been explained.
Another important announcement made by Mayor Plante was the allocation of 2 million dollars to improve crossings in the eastern section of the borough. This money would also be used to improve facilities for bikes and access of families to parks and other public areas, with special attention to make it safer for children.
Mayor Plante also informed of the appointment of Guy Charbonneau as new Director of Public Works, a job particularly sensitive since he would oversee the changes to Ste. Catherine Street.
During question period the Mayor was asked about a series of other issues that concern citizens in the whole borough. Accessibility and security in the Place du Marché Frontenac and in the market itself were some of the questions that the Mayor answered indicating that measures are being taken in that respect.
Another question dealt with the old building of the now abandoned La Misericorde Hospital on René Levesque, and the possibility that the City could buy the heritage building to convert it into a museum, given its historical importance. Mayor Plante appreciated the idea but was non-committal on the proposed scheme.
For residents in the west-end of downtown, the news of the community and cultural centre was well-received, although there was frustration over the fact that no public school will be built in the site of the former Children’s Hospital nor anywhere in that area, at least for now. The announced renovations of Ste. Catherine Street is another source of concern since there are conflicting visions as to what should happen to that main commercial artery in our city. Should it be transformed into a more pedestrian-and-biker-friendly place, with reduced access to cars? Or should it keep its more or less multiuse character that now has? No doubt, a debate that could make future meetings of the borough council more exciting.
Feature image: Montreal Children’s Hospital Demo 2018 Photo By: Sonia LaRonde