Cor­ner of MacKay and Ste. Cather­ine:The subject of a sur­vey on a pos­si­ble site for a park

Montreal Times - - Front Page - By: Ser­gio Martinez - mtl­

Asur­vey was sent to res­i­dents in the Peter McGill District of the down­town area, mak­ing it clear that it is based on a hy­po­thet­i­cal sce­nario: the pos­si­bil­ity (how re­mote or fea­si­ble we don't know), that the cor­ner of MacKay and Sainte Cather­ine be­comes a small green area. In fact—if the idea ma­te­ri­al­izes— it would be a "mini-park," but lack­ing enough green space in the area, any lit­tle piece of land with some grass, flow­ers, and trees on it is wel­come.

The sur­vey, how­ever, gave us, res­i­dents in the area, some in­ter­est­ing points to con­sider for the de­vel­op­ment of this or any other green space in the area. What do we would like to see in a park? That was more or less the word­ing of one of the ques­tions.

And in­deed it is an in­ter­est­ing thing to ask: we tend to take for granted the char­ac­ter­is­tics that such a venue should have, with­out much at­ten­tion be­ing given to spe­cific as­pects of the pub­lic that such place would serve. On this, it is in­ter­est­ing to point out that al­though the res­i­dents in the down­town area tend to be over 40, with a large pro­por­tion of re­tirees as well, at the same time, it at­tracts some young fam­i­lies, mainly from im­mi­grant com­mu­ni­ties which also means that they may have small chil­dren.Tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion this de­mo­graph­ics with some con­tra­dic­tory data, one may ar­gue that a park must be at the same time a place that should ac­com­mo­date se­niors as well as some lit­tle chil­dren. In the case of the site ob­ject of that par­tic­u­lar sur­vey, it is ev­i­dent that even if the park is ever built (the lo­ca­tion is cur­rently a com­mer­cial one, with three to four stores oc­cu­py­ing the space), it would be a small place where given the in­tense traf­fic on neigh­bour­ing streets, it is un­likely to be suit­able for a small play­ground for kids.The vicin­ity of the lit­tle green area in front of the Saint James the Apos­tle Angli­can Church could, in fact, en­large the site and make it more at­trac­tive to a va­ri­ety of vis­i­tors. How­ever, there is an­other prob­lem: home­less men es­pe­cially tend to hang around the Church gar­den, and al­though most of them don't pose any dan­ger to kids or se­niors, there is a strong stereo­typ­i­cal no­tion about th­ese peo­ple which makes many fam­i­lies avoid them. Of course, as long as a prac­ti­cal so­lu­tion to home­less­ness is not im­ple­mented, in the form of ad­e­quate shel­ters and places where home­less peo­ple can stay, many of those in that marginal­ized con­di­tion have no other place to go than to sleep on park benches. A scene that usu­ally dis­cour­ages fam­i­lies from us­ing those fa­cil­i­ties or let their chil­dren go there.

In any case, given the frus­trat­ing sit­u­a­tions of miss­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for for­mer pub­lic lo­ca­tions such as the Chil­dren's Hos­pi­tal site or old re­li­gious sites such as the Fran­cis­cans to have been de­voted to some pub­lic use, the talk­ing of a pos­si­ble new park in the area is still good news. Let's hope it ma­te­ri­al­izes.

MacKay and Ste. Cather­ine is cur­rently a com­mer­cial space

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