Ahead: A brighter horizon for Cabot Square
Plans due; Downtown area in search of an identity
Source: The Gazette
Cty councillor Karim Boulos is standing in the Canadian Centre for Architecture, airing his optimism over a scale model of what is known as "the Cabot Square area" - a part of the Peter McGill district he represents.
But the Cabot Square area is also a stretch of Ste. Catherine St. that makes many Montrealers wince.
The thoroughfare between Lambert Closse and Chomedey Sts. has been this city's version of a picture of Dorian Gray, a pastiche of boarded-up storefronts, crumbling facades and grafitti that seems to have spread while other neighbourhoods renewed themselves.
However, by this time next Monday, Boulos and the rest of the city will get a bigger glimpse of what might happen to the piece of downtown that's been in search of an identity for nearly a generation. That's when three teams of architects and urban planners will submit their versions of what should be done to revive the Cabot Square area.
Boulos, Ville Marie borough mayor Benoit Labonté and members of an alliance of neighbourhood businesses and residents met the press yesterday to detail the attempts to revitalize the neighbourhood.
The planning teams were formed after a collection of 25 business, property owners and residents' associations started the Table de concertation du centre-ville ouest.
"The properties may be empty but the owners are still paying taxes," Boulos said. "They haven't left, they're waiting to see what's going to happen."
The plans submitted by the teams will be judged by a jury that includes architect and Harvard professor Joan Busquest, Dinu Bumbaru of Heritage Montreal and founding director Phyllis Lambert of the Canadian Centre for Architecture.
The successful submission will form the basis for an urban plan that will produced by the borough and submitted to public consultations.
Boulos suggests that if everything goes well, changes in the district might begin "by this fall."
And for Lambert, whose architectural centre sprawls across the neighbourhood's southern edge, change is what's needed for a district that spent decades losing more than it's gained.
"Over the last years, this area has deteriorated miserably," she said. "There used to be the Forum and all those stores where the Faubourg (Ste. Catherine) is. ... But it just goes down the drain further and further.
"Then there's the block ... just to the east of the Forum with the (Seville) theatre on it, which has been boarded up for years.
"And this just destroys the whole area. People have no respect (for the neighbourhood), and why would you? People just walk down the street and it's so miserable."
Lambert's nephew, Stephen Bronfman, is chairman of Claridge Inc., an investment company that owns the Seville Theatre block.
Asked in October about the condition of the block, Lambert told The Gazette: "It is coming along. Slowly, but we are working closely with the city and other landlords in the area. It takes time to do properly."
Labonté says a development project for the Seville block is under study by the borough's urban committee. Boulos has said in earlier interviews that a private investor plans to turn the block into student residences.
"What I can tell you about this project," Labonté said, "is that that there will be lots of room for students - especially for Concordia University - and the design of the building will be quite impressive. ... I'm pretty confident this project at the Seville Theatre will start the renewal of this leg of Ste. Catherine St."
A decision by the borough on which development plan will be used is expected in May. But final approval will rest with the city's executive committee.
In the meantime, Montrealers and the people who own the storefronts that make them wince wait to see what's going to happen.
The jury members are:
- Melvin Charney, architect; - Odile Decq, architect and Director of the École Spéciale d'Architecture, Paris; - Jacques Des Rochers, Curator of Canadian Art, Montréal Museum of Fine Arts; - Michel Dionne, architect, Cooper, Robertson & Partners, New York; - Raphaël Fischler, urban planner and professor at the School of Urban Planning, McGill University; - Mario Masson, landscape architect and Division Manager, Service du développement culturel, de la qualité du milieu de vie et de la diversité ethnoculturelle, Ville de Montréal; - Alessandra Ponte, associate professor, School of Architecture, Université de Montréal; - Philippe Poullaouec-Gonidec, landscape architect and holder of the UNESCO Chair in Landscape and Environmental Design at Université de Montréal.
Instructions for prospective entrants
(Courtesy of CNW Telbec)
Pas de Camion à Déchets dans le QDS
Source: Spacing Montreal
There aren’t going to be any dump trucks blocking up the streets in Montreal’s new Quartier des Spectacles. Last Wednesday, the City approved a proposition to replace public trash cans with receptacles for garbage, recyclables and compostables, all hooked up to an vacuum-powered collection system. Waste placed in each receptacle would be sucked into a network of underground tubes and transported to a central processing location (possibly located in Place Desjardins).
At first glance, this system may seem unduly costly and invasive, not to mention energy intensive. But since the streets in the QDS are already slotted to be ripped up in order to replace ageing sewers, aqueducts and power-lines, throwing in the waste-collection system will only cost an additional $8.2 million (according to a planner who worked on the proposal). Under the new system, garbage collection in the neighborhood would rely on electricity rather than fossil fuels, which may not be a bad idea given the cost and environmental impacts of burning fuel.
Most importantly, the new garbage collection system would also apply to residents and businesses located in the Quartier des Spectacles. For instance, the restaurants in Place Desjardins would be able to be compost food scraps, saving several hundred tons of waste from landfills each year.
Although Montreal is behind cities like Toronto who offer composting for household waste, this initiative would be the first in North America to offer composting on the public domain and for businesses.
ENVAC, the European company that engineers these systems worldwide, built their first trash-vacuuming system in Stockholm in 1961 and it is still in operation (it has an expected lifespan of about 50 years, although that is probably standard for sewers and other infrastructure).
Teaching the hoards of drunken festival-goers and clueless tourists to sort trash from recyclables and organic waste is a challenge for the future…