Privatize the Lafontaine pavilion and fence off the lookout?

I like that the Plateau’s new Borough Mayor, Luc Ferrandez, has kept his blog. I love that he recaps his various mayoral duties and meetings in candid, anglicisme-ridden Plateau vernacular.

But I’m less impressed with some of the news he reports with regards to limiting access to parks.

On December 9th, Ferrandez was incensed to learn that the City is considering selling the pavilion Lafontaine to a private owner (this is not the chalet, but the building on Cherrier that was originally a school and currently houses the Direction de Santé Publique de Montréal (map)).

“Au détour d’une rencontre avec le services des grands parcs, j’apprends que la ville centre a comme projet de vendre le pavillon Lafontaine pour engranger un peu de fric. Donc non seulement on nous étouffe en coupant les budget au minimum mais en plus on veut vendre nos actifs. Mon sang ne fait qu’un tour. Voir si c’est sous notre administration qu’une partie du parc va être privatisé.”

The health board offices aren’t exactly a functional public space, but it would make sense that, if the offices are no longer required, the locale could gain a more community-oriented, park-friendly vocation like a community centre (great spot for a summer camp), art space or market. Ferrandez seems particularly concerned that the parking lot – not prime use of park space – would become a permanent fixture.

While we’re on the topic, what about plans for the chalet? Back in December 2007, we reported that local residents and Plateau councillors were hoping to open a café, either managed by either a private or non-profit organization. It turns out that plan is a no-go because, once upon a time, the building contained a restaurant run by blue-collar workers and it is illegal to transfer an activity done by (unionized) blue-collar workers to the private or non-profit sectors. To make matters worse, renovations to the structure are estimated at a couple million, which will no doubt have multiplied by the time they’ve untangled all that red tape.

Then, at a meeting with the Table de concertation du Mont-Royal on December 11th, Ferrandez came out in favour of fencing off the lookout on Mount Royal to prevent late-night partying and through-traffic:

La police nous apprend que l’observatoire est full pack de chars à 1h00 du matin du jeudi au dimanche: essentiellement des jeunes qui viennent fêter (bière, musique forte, start – disco en plein air – pas rap pantoute avec l’esprit du lieu). Elle propose l’installation d’une clôture. Ça tombe bien ça fait 3 ans que je la demande pour limiter le trafic de transit sur la montagne et faire de Camilien Houde un chemin d’accès au parc et non une piste de course pour les jeunes ou un raccourci pour les pressés.

Here I’m not so sure I agree with Ferrandez. After all, does tam-tams fit with the “spirit of the place”? How about the tradition of watching the sun rise from the lookout on Prom night? Shouldn’t city kids be allowed some spot to party under the stars? At least the young’uns won’t wake up the neighbourhood from way up there…

Is this behaviour behaviour really dessicrating the mountain? Is it threatening the integrity of the ecosystem? Is it disturbing a great number of folks’ midnight strolls along chemin Camilien-Houde?

Is Mount Royal too precious to moonlight as make-out hill?


  1. i love that he is doing those weekly updates, as well. hopefully he can keep them up.

    about the parking lot on mont-royal. i figured he was more interested in closing down that road as an easy short-cut, rather than really keeping kids from having fun (although the one would probably lead to the other).

    i’m not sure how that would work, but i think that road should be reconsidered.

  2. So we can’t turn the chalet in Parc Lafontaine into a functioning café/community centre because once upon a time the unions used to run it? Don’t their over-priced strangleholds have a date limité?

  3. Yeah, that seems weird to talk about l’esprit de lieu but then you want to close it off so nobody can appreciate it at night?

    Perhaps these partying kids are causing a problem, but this is the first time I’ve ever heard about it. I have seen the fires that are lit up there and the results from partying kids (presumably the ones who don’t have cars) and I can see how that’s a problem. But a bunch of kids hanging out at the lookout at night seems to be a pretty classic teenage pasttime for most of the 20th century up until today.

  4. Getting cars off the mountain is a good idea, but attempted banning of rites of passage is a bad idea. Some things just can’t be messed with no matter what the rules are, I would prefer to think. As long as they don’t wreck the place, well, you won’t ever catch me up there with a flashlight looking for bad partyers.

    Of course being a card carrying member of Projet Montreal makes me very biased, but I think think the Plateau gang is off to a great start. There is going to be a learning curve and there will be some snags here and there, but these people are committed to running the borough responsibly and listening to the people. It’s an adjustment period and the future looks very good!

    I’ve been slamming the Tremblay administration for years, expect almost nothing they do to be relevant or rational, let alone not destructive, and, still, I am sometimes finding myself doing a double take when I read of their latest adventures into “development” or “administration”. Selling any part of Parc Lafontaine to private interests is pure madness. Has New York slowly sold off chunks of Central Park? Golden Gate Park in San Francisco? And you can bet there are developers with endless amounts of cash to buy who drool at the thought of getting a piece of such real estates. Most cities know where to draw the line. So why do we encroach on Mount Royal or consider selling buildings in Parc Lafontaine to private interests? Because the Tremblay administration has never been about making Montreal a great place for Montrealers. It’s been completely about making it’s friends rich. End of story, bottom line!

  5. Thanks for your efforts researching and reporting these articles! I live near the Lafontaine Park Tea Roooms and often wondered why they are empty and not used for one purpose or another, and now I know.

    RE: the health authorities buildings, I support your idea in principal, but surely if any space should be used for “community purposes” it should be the aforementioned forgotten tea room? The health authority buildings are rather large and I can’t imagine what they could be used for. On the other hand, new offices in the area could give a helpful boost to the local economy on Amherst/Ontario Streets and offer new jobs opportunities to people living in the area. If your sticking point is the privatization of the building, maybe it could be used as a Pépinière d’entreprises (business incubator) for new, local SMEs.

  6. “Plateau vernacular” Does this exist? Or is this in the imaginations of Plateau people? (I am a Plateau person)

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