Category Archives for Island Report

When to sow seeds in Montreal

Are you wondering when to sow seeds in Montreal?

Here’s my guide to when you should sow seeds indoors before the season begins and outdoors when you see common plants blooming.

Date Bloom Sow inside Sow outside Other info
February 18, 2019 peppers, zinnias
February 25, 2019 datura, delphiniums, nicotiana
March 4, 2019 cabbage, tomatoes
March 11, 2019 brussel sprouts, celeriac
March 18, 2019 marigolds, green cauliflower
April 15, 2019
Spring 2012

April in the garden

daffodil, forsythia Cold hardy seeds such as: allysum, baby’s breath, chard, calendula, carrots, cornflower, hollyhock, impatiens, lovage, peas, poppies, radishes, rudbeckia, spinach, sweet pea flowers
lilac, dogwood Cold hardy seedlings such as: cabbage, broccoli, dusty miller, feathertop grass, larkspur, leek, onion, pansy, penstemon, salvia and snapdragon
May 20, 2019 summer savory
May 27, 2019 nicotiana
May 31, 2019 average last frost
June 3, 2019 datura, delphinium, brussel sprouts
spirea (all the pink types) Cold tender seeds such as: basil, beans, beets, borage, catnip, cilantro, corn, chervil, cucumber, dandelion, delphinium, green manures, lavatera, lettuce, okra, melon, marigold, mint, morning glory, nasturtiums, nicotiana, parsley, petunia, savory, sunflower, thyme, zinnia
black locust trees, Vanhoutte spirea (the white one) Cold tender plants, such as anise, datura, dahlia, dematis, grapes, ladies mantle, lavender, peppers, tomatoes
Mock orange, catalpa Fall seeds, such as broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, celeriac, cauliflower, fennel

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A Design Challenge to Define the Future Hickson-Dupuis

An urban design competition brought volunteers together for the entire last weekend of February. Together, they imagined how a five-hectare former industrial space in Verdun can be redeveloped for housing, small business and community use.

We want to increase and consolidate our knowledge of the territory,” said Verdun Mayor Jean-François Parenteau, who also sits on the executive committee. “By defining a vision with all stakeholders, we will promote innovation and encourage the best practices in planning and sustainable development.”

The industrial space in question sits east of the aquaduct, and west of Duquette Park between Hickson and Dupuis. It’s also next to the municipal works building and the junctions of highways 15 and 20. It used to house glass, tire, auto repair, and used car companies.

Design Process

Volunteers included people from four architectural firms  along with their interns. Local residents and non-profit leaders like Billy Walsh from SDC Wellington and Tania Gonzalez, from CRE-Montreal (Montreal’s regional environment council) also participated.

They spent Friday discussing the site in question. The teams walked around the territory considering what might be needed to make the noisy, busy space inhabitable.

Then the four teams began creating plans for the site. They aimed to present to the public on Sunday afternoon.

Commonalities

All four teams identified the need to use the site as a link between the aqueduct and the St. Lawrence waterfront to the south. They also included a daycare, grocery store and cafés in the future neighbourhood, which currently sits in a food dessert.

All four teams included different types of resident space, retail businesses, community centres, green space and bicycle lanes in their plans.

Each team identified the former Stewart Limited brick buildings as historic buildings to be saved.

Four Visions

Despite those commonalities, their plans for the space looked very different.

Two teams divided the space into distinct units, one with a common green space up the middle.

Another covered the space in modern residential towers with unusual designs, using street space, green roofs and alleys for greenery.

One team recommended slow grass roots development and emphasized specific elements to link the territory in a single design.

Competition viewers got to see how different themes drastically change potential site designs.

Thank you for your participation,” said Mayor Parenteau at the end of the contest. “Every team provided us with solid contributions to our planning process.”

The project appears on the cities “making Montreal” platform. For more information, visit the website. Be sure to look on the French version of the site for information about all 48 projects listed.

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Can the Lachine East Consultation Restore Trust?

Hundreds of people spent Sunday afternoon on February 24 talking about the 50- hectare plus Lachine East Development at the Maison du Brasseur.

“Finally we have the developers, government and citizens all in the same room,” said Lachine Mayor Maja Vodanovic. “Now we can create the neighbourhood of our dreams together.”

Montreal’s public consultation office (OCPM) organized the open house and information session as the first part in a process that will continue through April 7. This is the first time that a borough and the city have asked for a public consultation prior to a private development plan submission.

Three Commissioners

Three commissioners will be in charge of a report due out next summer. Marie Leahey, a coordinator from the Régime de retraite des groupes communautaires et de femmes, leads the commission. She is joined by cultural manager Danielle Sauvage and Les Tourelles Milton Park cofounder Joshua Wolfe.

Hopes remain high for what might be built on the former industrial land over the next twenty years. Several of the organizations that want to be involved in the project staffed tables during the open house.

Imagine Lachine East

One of them contained people from a new non-profit association called Imagine Lachine-Est, which wants to ensure that the new Lachine East development becomes an eco-district. More than a hundred citizens have joined so far. UQAM urbanism professor Jean-Francois Lefebvre serves as their president.

“I started working with the group as part of an internship, but I’ve been volunteering with them ever since because I really believe in this project,” said Imagine Lachine-Est coordinator Charles Grenier. “Eco-districts are the hope for the future.”

Grenier handed out pamphlets inviting visitors to the group’s Lachine-East summit. Organizers have added a series of talks in English to make sure that everyone who wants to learn about eco-districts can do so. The summit takes place on Saturday March 9, from 9:15 until 5 at the Guy-Descary culturel complexe, 2901 boul. Saint-Joseph. For more information, visit their website.

 

Revitalisation Saint-Pierre

At another table were Inass El Adnany and Vincent Eggen from Revitalisation Saint-Pierre. They asked visitors to complete a survey about their vision for a bicycle path to link Lachine and Saint-Pierre through the former industrial area.

Villa Nova

Yves Comeau from Villa Nova stood in front of his table to talk to everyone passing by. He said that the company looks forward to continuing to develop its land, despite the clean-up costs, which turned out to be much higher than they once anticipated.

We carted truckloads of contaminated soil from the property,” said Comeau. “There’s going to be a lot of clean-up necessary on the rest of the land as well.”

Tensions between the government and Villa Nova have eased since tests discovered that the land had not been properly decontaminated despite receiving certification from the Quebec Environment Ministry. The borough itself tested the land after Vodanovic raised concerns. City, borough and company discussions got so heated that the company went into bankruptcy protection while the clean-up took place.

During that same period, co-owner Paulo Catania faced fraud charges. They were dropped last May. A month later, Catania made more positive headlines with his announcement that half of the Villa Nova units on the Jenkins property sold within six hours of coming onto the market.

Comeau said the company remains confident they’ll be able to duplicate that success on the rest of their property.

Questions to OCPM

During the information session that followed the open house, residents expressed concern and hope. One resident asked how the borough could protect local heritage if they couldn’t stop the recent Dominion Bridge demolition. How does the city justify building 4,000 units in a sector that has few transportation options? How much community and social housing will be built? What about schools, day cares and grocery stores?

The next sessions during the OCPM consultation may answer some of those questions. Anyone interested can sign up for small group design workshops at two different libraries.

You can also present a written or verbal submission to the commission. Written submissions are due in March. Hearings will take place during the first week of April. To register, go to the website.

Note: This article appeared on pages 1 and 11 of the February 27 issue of the West Island Edition of the Suburban.

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Verdun Business Community Honours National Women’s Day

More than a hundred women and a few men celebrated International Women’s Day a week early at Quai 5160 in Verdun.

The event, which was organized by volunteers with the Réseau Affaires Verdun (RAV)  featured well-being, with presenters spending ten minutes inspiring people to create better lives.

Sure you can enjoy hamburgers and fries every day if you want,” said nutritionist Isabelle Huot. “But you may find yourself struggling to move.”

Jean Airoldi, the only male presenter, spoke about fashion. Thankfully, he didn’t point out faux pas in the wardrobe of participants like me.

Anne Joyal, from Strom spa, relationship coach Geneviève Desautels and workplace calm and design specialists Danielle Gagnon and Mélanie Boivin gave us all ways to create more peace in our lives. Josée Leger spoke about the pleasures of wine.

The highlight of the evening took place right at the end, when Fanny Gauthier from Ateliers & Saveurs, created three different cocktails for participants to try using Quebec wines from Les Vignes des Bacchantes. Each of them featured a different herb. What a great experience drinking the flavours of rosemary and basil.

Verdun Business Personalities of the Month

RAV recognized Strom Spa co-founder Guillaume Lemoine as their business personality of the month for January 2019. Maxime Bissonnette from Système Intégration Global Inc. (SIG) won for February 2019. For more information, visit the RAV website.

Four Southwest Mayors Speak

The next event to connect the business community takes place on Tuesday, March 19 at 11:30 a.m. at Sofie Reception, 420 Avenue Lafleur. That’s when the Grand Sud-Ouest 5.0 will hold a panel discussion featuring the mayors from Lachine, LaSalle, Verdun and the Southwest boroughs. Manon Barbe, Benoit Dorais, Jean-François Parenteau and Maja Vodanovic will speak about their visions for the future. Tickets cost $95 or $45 for students. For more information and tickets, visit the Grand Sud-Ouest 5 website.

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Consulting Residents Prior to Development

Last weekend, the mayors of Lachine and Verdun tested new ways to determine how neighbourhoods get created. Each consulted local experts and residents prior to creating plans for new development.

Their methods differed, but if either or both methods work to make residents comfortable and attached to new projects, municipal land use planning in Montreal could change forever.

Either way, residents appreciated efforts to bring them into the fold early in the planning. Both consultations attracted hundreds of participants. Covering them for my local paper marked a pleasant change.

Residents Usually Get Little Say

I’ve followed municipal land use development in the city for years. Most of the time, residents have little or no influence about what happens in their neighbourhoods.

The usual land use planning routine features city officials privately meeting with developers to negotiate a new project.

Their plan then goes through an internal planning committee of residents and local municipal planning experts.

The committee makes changes.

Developers pay architects for more concept plans.

By the time the development gets approved, both the city and the developer are wed to a project. Only then do local residents get a say.

From the developer and city official perspective, residents who notice problems are trouble-makers.

Hidden Consultations

Traditionally, politicians deal with the potential conflict by attempting to hide legally-required consultations from residents.

Journalists and citizens with an interest in land use planning pay careful attention to official consultations set for December, January, July, August, and holidays. Consultations set for those times are likely to represent very unpopular developments. The consultation for one particularly touchy development took place on the night of the Stanley Cup Playoff! Only four people attended.

Too often, major changes are made to neighbourhoods without property owners being informed at all.

I know of one case where residents in fancy skyscrapers didn’t discover that future developments would eliminate their precious views of the mountain, the river or both until shovels went into the ground.

Usually, public consultations pit residents against developers. If possible, politicians try to divide critics. Advocates for projects with condos and townhouses work hard to set people with environmental concerns against social housing activists.

Residents Forced to Stop Projects

From the resident perspective, city officials and developers care little about neighbourhoods.

Residents who notice problems must work hard to prevent developments from occurring as planned. I’ve seen local residents prevent a former school from becoming a senior’s home shortly after a baby boom because they knew that more schools would be needed in the neighbourhood a few years later. They stopped grocery store owners from expanding because they knew that the resulting traffic would create safety hazards for children attending the school across the street. Schools haven’t opened for years because neighbours use every avenue open to them to stop projects.

Local residents prevented one major development near the highway three different times. In that case, it was hard to believe that the city and the developer kept bringing back the same unpopular project.

Fun Consultations

In contrast, the presentations in Lachine and Verdun during the weekend felt lively and fun.

The Lachine event featured an open house with developers, local activists and business groups staffing tables to share their visions with residents. A video camera taped attendee visions for the future neighbourhood. It felt so positive and inviting, a few people wondered if it were some kind of trick.

The Verdun event felt equally positive. Set up like a competition, the presentation featured volunteer teams of architects, interns and citizens presenting extraordinarily-well-thought-out plans for the new development. After each team presented, attendees could ask questions or make comments. It was not only informative as a process, but kind of fun too.

I hope these two events usher in new practices in municipal land use planning.

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