Montreal Urban Design Plan Threatens Community Garden

Gardeners growing fruits and vegetables in the designated community spaces at the Ville-Marie borough are worrying whether their crops will be displaced to make way for a new park.

Approximately 20 people—including a few local elected officials—gathered in the rain at the Versailles community garden on St. Jacques St. and de la Montagne St. on Saturday to discuss the fate of the Versailles and Georges-Vanier community gardens.

Over 50 plots that make up the community gardens are threatened by plans for Quartier des gares renovations—an ongoing project for the renewal and remodelling of the business hub south of the Bell Centre.

Ironically, the effort to have more green spaces in the neighbourhood called Quartier des gares will dismantle the community gardens to build a park in their place.

Steven Shanahan, city councillor of the Peter-McGill district of Ville-Marie, said that despite the city’s aim of building an aesthetically pleasing and modern park for the neighbourhood, it’s an “unnecessary” $30 million that will put the city further into debt.

“Is it really worth it to spend all that money to fix something that is not broken?” he said.

According to the Ville-Marie website, the Quartier des gares project proposal aims to offer a high quality urban lifestyle that will include new public spaces like an urban park, a bike path and working to make the streets more green.

The Georges-Vanier garden opened 30 years ago. It takes a lot of hard work and effort to cultivate a garden, and gardeners will be disappointed to see their efforts go to waste, said Jerry Bull, President of the Versailles community garden and owner a plot.

Mayor Denis Coderre addressed the garden community on Wednesday, saying that he wants to find a “suitable” solution for the relocation of the gardens. However, the solution they were offered is not satisfactory, said Bull. The gardens will be moved next to the Ville-Marie highway, where most of the terrain is on a slant.

This summer for the first time, the community gardens provided breakfast and lunch to Chez Doris, a day shelter for women in difficulty. Marina Boulos, executive director of Chez Doris, hopes to see the partnership continue for years to come.

“I’ve already registered for another garden in case we are forced to move,” said Diane Parr, 57, owner of a plot at the Versailles garden. “I don’t want to be forced to relocate to a space that I do not find fit for a garden.”

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