An update on what happened
The borough held its regularly scheduled monthly borough council meeting last Tuesday evening, where city officials and politicians meet virtually to answer questions from citizens and vote on borough initiatives.
Being discussed were several hot-button topics such as the railroad crossing at Ogilvy and Castelnau, a potential social housing project on Jarry as well as the announcement of a participative budget to fund community initiatives.
The meeting takes place the first Tuesday of each month and citizens can attend virtually by joining the live stream on the city’s website. Citizens can also send in their questions to be answered by the mayor and city councillors.
Present were Mayor Giuliana Fumagalli and city councillors Mary Deros, Sylvain Ouellet, Rosannie Filato and Josué Corvil, along with city employees.
Blocked Ogilvy crossing
The big topic on the minds of many citizens this month was the crossing between Ogilvy and Castelnau at the Parc Exo station. The crossing, used by many in the area to cross the train tracks, has been blocked since May 13 when Exo erected a fence citing safety concerns.
Both the Mayor and city councillors expressed their disapproval and frustration over the decision and underlined that the borough of Villeray—Saint-Michel—Parc-Extension couldn’t do anything to expedite its reopening.
The completion of a safe walking path at the crossing is the responsibility of the city center. A permanent solution is set to be completed in September but talks are in progress on a temporary solution for the summer.
“These kinds of local issues should be handled locally, in the borough,” said Mayor Fumagalli, adding that that way the borough wouldn’t have to “wait for this to become a priority with the city.”
City councillor Sylvain Ouellet, who is also on Vice President of the Executive Committee, rebuffed this saying that the issue was a major priority in Mayor Valérie Plante’s administration. “The only reason it’s not being done at the speed we want is that the work will have to be completed by Canadian Pacific,” explained Ouellet.
Nonetheless, city councillor for Park Extension Mary Deros derided how long the process was taking. “In 1999 to 2000 we created the pedestrian crossing at Saint-Roch Park from Ball to Jarry Park, it was done in 6 months,” stated Deros. Ouellet again rebuffed this stating that the railroad corporation had since changed its policy regarding construction on its property.
690-700 Jarry West
Another issue that came up at the council meeting was that of the future of 690-700 Jarry West. The lot, once housing an auto mechanic shop, is up for sale and could potentially see the construction of a new condo building.
The issue has attracted controversy, as many citizens and housing groups feel it could further contribute to the gentrification of the area and the displacement of low-income residents. Local housing organization Comité d’Action de Parc-Extension (CAPE) has long called for a social housing project at the location.
Amy Darwish, interim coordinator at CAPE, asked a question at the council meeting on what would be done to the lot. She also asked whether the city would use its right of first refusal, which would permit the city to block the sale and acquire the building.
Both Mayor Fumagalli and city councillor Mary Deros backed the social housing project and said they would accord their full support. “It’s an excellent location, it’s in the middle of the neighbourhood and in front of all the busses,” underlined Deros, adding that “it’s a project I will support.”
Sylvain Ouellet nonetheless explained that the city’s right of first refusal could only be used once the lot had been sold. “It’s only when there’s a property transaction,” explained Ouellet, clarifying that only then the city could “make an equivalent offer which has precedence.”
The participatory budget is a process that allows the population to decide on the allocation of part of the municipal budget by voting. The city has allocated $10 million in investment funds for citizen-led initiatives.
The borough also announced it had proposed three separate community initiatives to the program. Cuisinons ensemble! Would bring large-capacity collective kitchens to local arenas and allow citizens to cook and transform food in them.
Jardins d’éducation cycliste is another proposed project that would create fun cycling parc installations where children can develop their cycling skills. The last is Notre serre 4 saisons which would see the construction of a 4 season greenhouse in Saint-Michel, that could ensure the locally produced and distributed fruits and vegetables.
Citizens have between Jun. 11 and Jul. 11 to vote for their favourite projects. Residents can vote on the city’s portal Réalisons MTL and choose up to 5 projects.