New vo­ca­tion for the Grand Sémi­naire

Montreal Times - - News - By Ser­gio Mar­tinez mtl­times.ca

Well, in strict terms, a re­newed vo­ca­tion, since –ac­cord­ing to the di­rec­tor of the site, Fr. Guy Guin­don– the Or­der of the Sulpi­cians was al­ways com­mit­ted to ed­u­ca­tional work, since the be­gin­nings of the French set­tle­ment in Mon­treal.This week Fr. Guin­don met with mem­bers of the Peter McGill Com­mu­nity Coun­cil to in­form the res­i­dents of the plans for the his­toric area, as well as to hear sug­ges­tions from the down­town neigh­bours. Re­named the Cam­pus du Fort de la Mon­tagne, the site will com­prise five dis­tinct ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions: The Grand Sem­i­nary it­self and the The­o­log­i­cal In­sti­tute ded­i­cated to the train­ing of priests and the­olo­gians, the Col­lège de Mon­tréal, a pri­vate Catholic high school, in­deed the old­est high school in Mon­treal. These two are al­ready lo­cated there. In ad­di­tion to them, Cen­ten­nial Academy, a pri­vate high school, and Cen­ten­nial Col­lege, a pri­vate Cegep, and a pub­lic ele­men­tary school, will also be part of the cam­pus, thus cov­er­ing al­most all lev­els of ed­u­ca­tion (the need for a pre-school es­tab­lish­ment was men­tioned by one neigh­bour, but that doesn't de­pend on the cam­pus ad­min­is­tra­tion).

The project seems a win-win sit­u­a­tion: Fr. Guin­don points to the fact that, keep­ing this site, much of it clas­si­fied as her­itage build­ings, could not be done by the Sulpi­cians alone. On the other hand, Cen­ten­nial was look­ing for a suit­able place for its high school and col­lege stu­dents, and the cre­ation of a pub­lic pri­mary school in the area had long been a de­mand by res­i­dents in the Peter McGill dis­trict. The com­plex would then con­tain re­li­gious and sec­u­lar schools, re­flect­ing the di­ver­sity of the neigh­bour­hood. In ad­di­tion to the con­ver­sion of the site into a new hub for stu­dents of dif­fer­ent ages and back­grounds, what Fr. Guin­don calls "an in­ter­gen­er­a­tional cam­pus," some of the ex­ist­ing fa­cil­i­ties, par­tic­u­larly the green space com­pris­ing some of the old­est trees in the city, a soc­cer field, and a small basin, could also be­come ac­ces­si­ble to the pub­lic. How­ever, this ac­cess will be sub­ject to some re­stric­tions (lim­ited to day­time only).This pro­posed new park, how­ever, de­pends on the re­sult of ne­go­ti­a­tions with the City of Mon­treal, since it would re­quire main­te­nance, se­cu­rity, and light­ing.

To plan for its new vo­ca­tion, which is to last for the next fifty years, the site has been di­vided into 14 zones: the Sem­i­nary and the In­sti­tute of The­ol­ogy in zone 1 which is the core of the whole com­plex, in­clud­ing its beau­ti­ful chapel and the crypt that con­tains the rests of priests buried there since the 17th cen­tury. Zone 2 in­cludes the ex­ist­ing Col­lège de Mon­tréal. Zone 3 will be rented to Cen­ten­nial Academy (high school) and Cen­ten­nial Col­lege (Cegep). Zone 4 and 5 are his­toric sites too used by the Col­lège de Mon­tréal. Zone 6 will host the new pub­lic ele­men­tary school.

Zone 7 is cur­rently a ware­house which may be trans­formed into a gym­na­sium to be used by the new schools. Zones 8, 9 and 14 are park­ing spa­ces. Zones 10, 11, 12 and 13 are ar­eas de­signed for com­mon use.

This his­toric ed­u­ca­tional com­plex lo­cated on Sher­brooke Street but oc­cu­py­ing a large area with ac­cess from Côte des Neiges Rd. too, once it ma­te­ri­al­izes will be an im­por­tant con­tri­bu­tion to the west end sec­tion of down­town. Those res­i­dents who at­tended the meet­ing left favourably im­pressed by the prospect of the re­fur­bished Sem­i­nary, now to be known as the Cam­pus du Fort de la Mon­tagne.A new name, with a tra­di­tional ded­i­ca­tion to ed­u­ca­tion.

The mag­nif­i­cent com­plex of the Grand Sémi­naire will be­come the Cam­pus du Fort de la Mon­tagne

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