Gardeners dig heels in over plan to toss community garden for new park
Community gardeners are against plans for a new park in Ville-Marie, saying they come at the expense of plots used to grow food for a well-known women's shelter.
The 2.3 hectare park would stretch from the corner of Guy and St-Antoine Sts. to St-Jacques and Jean-d'Estrees Sts., wiping out two community gardens in the process.
“It would be pretty hard to go somewhere else and start all over again, but c'est la vie,” said James Doucet, who has had a plot at the Georges-Vanier community garden for more than 24 years.
In total, 57 plots at Versailles St. and St-Antoine and 63 plots at St-Jacques and Jean-d'Estrees would be affected.
Some don’t understand the reasoning.
“They want to remove some green space and replace it with green space,” said Frank Delache, president of the Georges-Vanier community garden.
The borough said the park will connect an area booming with new condo development.
“We're changing existing green space and adding a few extra square feet,” explained independent Ville-Marie city councillor Steve Shanahan.
Shanahan says the $30 million price tag could be better spent elsewhere.
“How many millions of things are broken in this city that require fixing and we're going to put the city in further debt to fix something that isn't broken?” he said.
The borough said it would move the community gardens to a stretch of land overtop the Ville-Marie Expressway, but gardeners say there isn't enough room for all of the plots to fit there and the location is difficult to access.
“It's not an appropriate, adequate space for gardening,” said Doucet.
Further, twice a week, the Georges-Vanier garden donates some of its harvest to women’s shelter Chez Doris.
“It's the only really source of fresh salads and tomatoes and green beans that we get on a weekly basis,” explained Chez Doris executive director Marina Boulos.
The plan is being reviewed by the city's urban planning department.