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By Karen Herland
Converting concrete sprawl into a green oasis is always a welcome strategy. Building bridges between Concordia and local residents is an added bonus.
On April 1, members of Sustainable Concordia and other campus reps sat down with some of the residents and shopkeepers from the area around the Hall Building to strategize about making it happen.
Sustainable Concordia Coordinator Jenn Davis said this was the first formal opportunity for representatives from the community and the university to brainstorm ways to improve the immediate vicinity of this section of Quartier Concordia. But far from the last.
Davis’s team went door-to-door on both Mackay and Bishop between De Maisonneuve and Sherbrooke to encourage locals to attend. “We were looking to breathe some inspiration into a project that’s been discussed for 30 years,” she said, of various initiatives to unify and revitalize that area of the Sir George Campus.
In the end, the discussions focused on very basic and easily adopted modifications. “People talked about traffic calming, and having a bulletin board so that neighbours could learn about campus events and post their own,” said Davis. “One person suggested offering passes to residents for outdoor concerts and events, especially during student orientation.” Davis added that CSU representatives at the meeting were positive about the idea.
The biggest plans involve cleaning up, and greening up, the area. Davis has the support of design professor pk langshaw who set her students to the task. Their final projects for DART 392 involve elaborate plans to construct planters, seating and other environmentally aware initiatives intended to encourage interaction along Mackay and on the terrace behind the Hall Building. The projects include analyses of sun patterns and the possibility of a vertical herb garden.
Davis said that the Sustainability Action Fund and the Quartier Concordia Committee are committed to supporting projects to revitalize the space.
Davis knows this is the first step in an ongoing conversation. “There wasn’t total agreement,” she said of the initial meeting held off campus at Burritoville. More conversations will likely take place over the summer, as the clean-up gets underway. And some urban planning students intend to take the neighbours’ comments to the city to integrate into their plans for the area.
Other suggestions included a local farmers’ market and more weekend activities to involve residents who work during the week. Davis hopes to include those located one block south (on Mackay and Bishop between De Maisonneuve and St. Catherine) in the fall. The project will be led by Allison Reid (urban planning) and Pauline Lambton (urban studies) in September.