Most people don’t venture into Saint-Pierre unless they live there, work there, or are truly lost. The neighbourhood is islated between two railway lines and a highway; its main street, a segment of Saint-Jacques, doubles as a trucking route.
But despite these challenges, this part of the Lachine borough is close to the city centre and is currently experiencing a boom in housing.
A committee of citizens and municipal employees recently took on the daunting task of revitalizing Saint-Pierre’s main street and came to the conclusion that the neighbourhood lacked a distinctive monument or signature with which community members could identify. According to Alexandre Campeau-Vallée, who co-ordinated the revitalization project, the neighbourhood’s architecture is more-or-less “moche” and the only public art consists of one graffiti mural.
Until this summer, that is, when the revitalization group recruited Roadsworth to apply a fresh coat of paint to main street.
The artist developed a naval theme, which alludes to Saint-Pierre’s proximity to the Lachine Canal and the historic Saint-Pierre River. The naval rope the winds along the sidewalks of Saint-Jacques also symbolizes the ties between local residents that are the strength of the isolated community. The anchor points, which are painted on benches, garbage cans and flower boxes, symbolize people’s attachment to their neighbourhood.
Local businesses donated paint and supplied water and electricity for the project. The hope is that Roadsworth’s street art – the same stencil work that got him arrested for public mischief in 2004 – will make Saint-Jacques more attractive to pedestrians, encourage people to walk to local businesses, and create a unique local signature that residents can be proud of.
Since the street art appeared in August, Alexandre Campeau-Vallée has had one citizen complain that their tax dollars are being spent on “scribbles”. On the other hand, local children have appropriated the street art, excitedly following the rope motif on their way to and from school.
Next spring, the revitalization committee will plant flower boxes and wall gardens and, to celebrate Saint-Pierre’s centennial and they plan to restore the bell of an historic church that burnt down in 2001.
Images provided by Alexandre Campeau-Vallée, Chargé du Projet Revitalisation urbaine intégrée du Quartier Saint-Pierre.