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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered



  1. Although this isn’t listed on Google Maps, a sign across the street from the end of the “Alleyway” says that it’s in fact an extension of Ste Emilie street.
    You can see the sign on street view here:

  2. Maybe it would be better to use the term “home zone” or “zone résidentielle” (terms suggested by Wikipedia) – language is an important part of politics, and I can understand why some people might feel alienated or patronized by the jargony term “woonerf.”

  3. “Yet some residents described the proposal as “extremist” or even “dangerous” for it’s conversion of concrete into greenspace.”

    Could you further elaborate on this? i’ve heard the mentioned now and then, but i really do not understand the thinking behind it.

    I’m sure these people don’t think an asphalt alley is an ideal situation, so what do they actually want instead?

  4. @William: I love the term WOONERF! I understand your point, but it’s just so fun to say! The James Lyng students seem to really dig it as well. We all just go around saying woonerf all the time :) Try it – you’ll probably like it. Plus, it’s kinda bilingual…

    @Faiz: some residents proposed keeping 40% of the space paved, or using technological solutions, rather than vegetable cover, to reduce heat-island effect. One said that the trees would block out light and create a dangerous place at night. You’d be surprised how attached people can be to free parking…

  5. Don’t get me wrong, I love the word “woonerf” too (I also happen to love the word “autostrade”, the original Canadian French word for autoroute.) It’s just that jargon is a dangerous road to go down – it can come across as elitist. I’m also not to sure how many people would consider it to be both English and French either (English more-or-less readily adopts foreign words, French… well it takes a bit longer!)

    Anyway, that’s just my recommendation as a professional research communicator. C’est un beau projet.

  6. The Collecteur Saint-Pierre, as the river-which-runs-through-the-sewers is called, regularly overflows during big rainstorms. I wonder what plans there are to control this.

  7. Why are we dumping tax money into this project? Did developers put pressure on the city to clean up that place? 

    “One said that the trees would block out light and create a dangerous place at night.” — It’s true Westmount and Outremont are notoriously dangerous because of their vegetation!

  8. @Jack, as mentioned in the post, the funder is the Institut national de santé publique, and the justification has to do wtih improving environmental health by reducing heat-island effect, increasing permeable surfaces, encouraging active transportation, providing a place for urban agriculture.
    While there there have obviously been public investments alongside new private development in the whole sector (along the canal, for instance), I believe that there is just 1 lot adjacent to the woonerf site that is currently up for development and the owner/developer wasn’t present at the meeting I attended.

  9. Isn’t Duluth Montreal’s first woonerf? It certainly seems like a shared space to me, without curbs and most typical traffic control devices.

  10. I would like to congratulate the author for the thought of involving the Secondary High School students for their input. Having children of that age myself, it is important to acknowledge the thoughts/views of our future decision makers and the reciprocal benefits are potentialy large. Well done! PS Spacing Montreal is great..

  11. Friendly editing advice: possessive ‘its’ has NO apostrophe. The apostrophes needs to be removed from (1) “once found it’s way”;
    (2) “of the woonerf is it’s participatory nature”; (3) “more than it’s width”; (4) “it’s conversion of concrete”. But informative article and nice slice of Montreal history.

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