Lucia Kowaluk, a longtime community and political activist who passed away Friday at age 84, is being remembered by friends as a fearless fighter for the Milton Park area.
According to family, Kowaluk's health declined over the last year before she fell into a coma on Friday morning.
For decades, she was a driving force behind the Milton Park Citizens committee, as well as the Montreal Urban Ecology Centre.
Kowaluk moved to Milton Park in the 1970's, and became one of the community's most ardent defenders.
She once faced down bulldozers to save the area between McGill University and St-Laurent, which was in danger of being turned almost entirely into apartment towers.
"If it wasn't for Lucia (and the people around her), there wouldn't be a Milton Park today, it would just be soulless high rises," said housing rights advocate Arnold Bennett.
"She brought housing to the forefront, she was a big advocate of social housing," added Milton Park Recreation Association former director Terrence Regan.
Kowaluk was also deeply involved in the campaign for nuclear disarmament and was instrumental in creating a new political party in Montreal, aimed opposing then-mayor Jean Drapeau.
"That lead to the creation of the Montreal Citizen's Movement, the whole English wing of which basically started in Lucia's living room," said Bennett.
Among her other causes were campaigning for fewer roads and more bike paths in the city and looking out for the city's homeless.
"We lost a spokesperson for the man in the street who can't speak for himself. She spoke loud and clear," said George Greene, director of the St-Michael's Mission.
Kowaluk's work earned her membership into the Order of Canada in 2013 and the Order of Quebec in 2015.
"Her work will live for many, many years and I think that's all you can ask for as a reference to a person's life," said Regan.
Plateau mayor and executive committee member Luc Ferrandez took to Twitter to express his condolences, calling Kowaluk a "pillar of the Milton Park community."
Very saddened to learn of the death last night of Lucia Kowaluk, social justice advocate, community activist and pillar of the Milton Park community on the Plateau.— Luc Ferrandez (@LucFerrandez) February 2, 2019
She is survived by her partner, Dimitri Roussopoulos, one son, Riel, and two grandchildren, Natasha and Orion.
A memorial is being planned.