As construction gets under way once again, we take a look at the progress of the site & how its students can possibly add to the success of local commerce & how construction has been affected by Covid-19, thus affecting the Park Ex economy.
Of course on the surface, many would assume that the University of Montréal Campus has little to do with the community of Park Extension, but we’d tend to disagree with that, as even now, with very few students on campus, business is sure to pick up for many vendors and businesses in the area. I spoke to a security guard on site who stated that the university would be fully functional as of the 31st of this month.
But when I visited the inside of the school, you could hear a pin drop it was so secluded.
Plans for the future
We spoke to a source in administration and he stated that yes, there are plans for two other buildings for the campus to be built, and even in wing A of the current campus, construction is still ongoing.
He stated that all classes will be from afar, students studying and taking their classes online. But he also stated that some will come in for labs, as it is a science-based campus, the programs ranging in the sciences predominantly.
When I visited, some students were already there, trickling along the campus here and there, but a college campus it sure did not resemble.
Locals stated that construction just picked up again after a long hiatus—construction specifically on the dormitories that were slated to be built for students attending the school. A local boy also said a park is in the works and when he pointed, I saw that yes, there was a park in the early stages of construction as well.
A bridge between two worlds
The only way to campus is by a pedestrian bridge, or you can go around by way of Park Avenue and take a tangle of streets to reach the campus parking lot, but the bridge is the easiest way … that is if you’re on foot.
The rattling metal and sounds of construction could be heard as I made my walk towards the campus, the sounds resonating all the way to Park Ex by way of the bridge and the sound tunnel created by wings A and B of the campus as it stands right now. Workers on site said they were happy to be back at it.
All courses are projected to be given online, as our source stated, or rather at a distance for this fall and perhaps the future. The planned buildings are not on the radar just yet, as Covid-19 presented delays—a massive problem obviously—and the buildings can definitely take a long time to get under way. Heavy security measures are being taken on campus … security guards seem to outnumber students at this stage.
Mum is the word
So in reality, everything is up in the air … no one has any answers as to what the future holds. During my investigation, no one wanted to give their names if they informed us at all and even security was worried about me taking any pictures. No answers by phone either … none of my calls returned. Some would call it a mystery … but something so big and daunting on the horizon to the South of Park Ex … how could we not have any answers?
The answer to this question comes in one simple name, however … the name we’ve come to dread and one that has changed our very existence and perhaps for good: Covid-19.
How the campus could be good for Park Extension and its business owners
One student said: “It doesn’t somehow feel like school if I can’t come onto the campus.” She sat lonely among empty stone picnic tables at the foot of the bridge towards the south—the sight a veritable ghost town—it had me wondering if she had even been there at all as I walked away.
Mostly locals are using the bridge that leads to the campus and away from it towards L’Acadie for a nice bit of exercise. Many older people jogging or enjoying the beautiful Park Extension skyline. The whole borough can be seen from up there it’s so high. A beautiful view for sure.
Covid-19 has put a hold on the possible boom in commerce—all students—coming in and living there, studying there, coming into the borough to shop, eat and spend in the community … this has all been put on hold, postponed to who knows when.
There were such high hopes for the campus when it was announced and finally started up in 2019, but of course nobody expected the pandemic, which is an understatement but a needful one.
But for now the pedestrian bridge remains a shortcut for locals visiting Outremont and vice-versa.
So, with very little info, I took the long walk back over the pedestrian bridge to write this piece and found myself in very much the same boat as the locals, the staff and the students—very much in the dark.
In the end, all we can do is wait, the pandemic proving to be quite the detriment to many facets of this fast-paced world of ours. But we promised you an update and we have one for you in a sense: Construction has resumed. How long we’ll have to wait to reap the benefits, remains among the unknown.