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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

MTQ to Expropriate Schoolyard for Highway Construction

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It may not be the most lush, nor the most welcoming patch of grass in the city, but it is none-the-less the school yard for 200 students who attend James Lyng, the high school nearly tucked under the Turcot interchange in Saint-Henri. In the spring they host a celebratory end-of-year BBQ here. Last year the students in the Green Team built composter and placed it in the space. Some of the younger students say they like to play in the little tunnels under the thick vines that grow over the chain-link fence.

When I began developing an urban planning unit for the secondary 1 geography class, in collaboration with CURA and Youth Fusion, the schoolyard seemed like a good place to start. Students were overflowing with creative ideas to improve their school yard: benches and picnic tables; a flower garden, more trees and fruit-bearing bushes; birdhouses, a graffiti wall, a fountain. As the students’ ideas began taking shape in 3D models, I suggested looking for a schoolyard greening grant so that the they could see some of their proposals realized in the real world.

But my hopes were dashed when I learned that the land, which belongs to the English Montreal School Board, is going to be expropriated by the Quebec government as part of the Turcot project. “We’re going to be losing this land for sure,” said Richard Lalonde, the EMSB School Commissioner responsible for this district. He added that the EMSB is currently trying to negotiate a better deal for compensation.

The MTQ’s map of Turcot “ameliorations” does not show how the schoolyard land will be used in the project.

Photos by James Lyng secondary 1 students, 2010.

Full Disclosure: I sit on the James Lyng Governing Board as a non-voting community representative.



  1. Who cares – James Lyng as a high school is closing and its students transferred to Marymount. It will remain an adult ed center but they don’t need a schoolyard.

  2. The whole handling of the Turcot rebuild is a disgrace over and over again. The city has a chance here to bring Montreal’s urban planning and infrastructure into the 21st century with green spaces, public transit and sustainable development, and instead they’re bulldozing houses, schoolyards and putting up another ugly, noisy freeway.

    If the MTQ had one tenth the imagination of those youngsters we wouldn’t even have considered this kind of backwards project.

  3. @GDS Although the emsb had considered relocating students from this school to Marymount, in January they volted unanimously to keep the school open.
    James Lyng has a large population of students with special needs who benefit from the attention that they receive at a smaller school.

  4. @Alanah : no, its pretty much decided that James Lyng won’t see 2015.
    Scenario 1
    James Lyng High School’s enrolment will be consolidated with the enrolment of Marymount
    Academy at the facility housing Marymount Academy, and the area vacated by James Lyng
    High School in the James Lyng facility will be used by James Lyng Adult Centre and by
    Vezina High School if relocated to that facility.
    Scenario 1 has been retained by the Administration as feasible.

  5. I am aware that merging the two schools was seen as feasible. However, the school commissioners unanimously voted against this solution. It your document date before or after the vote on Jan 12th?

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