Les AmiEs du parc des Gorilles brings together residents of the Petite-Patrie district of Montreal who wish to collectively re-appropriate land in the Marconi-Alexandra sector to restore an urban natural space and develop a landscaped public park.
Problems and Purpose
The destruction without a permit by a real estate developer of the urban jungle of the Petite-Patrie district of Montreal, prompted the residents of the district to regroup, in the form of a vigilance committee initially then in NPO ( Non-Profit Organization), to mobilize the community around the public re-appropriation of this land.
Background History and Context
Located in the former industrial district of Little Italy in Montreal, the land at the corner of Beaubien and Saint-Urbain streets housed factories for part of the 20th century before being left fallow by the railway company. Canadian, Canadian Pacific. A spontaneous urban jungle then developed on this land. The City of Montreal sees potential for the development of a linear park in 1991 and shows its interest in acquiring it. While the Urban, Economic and Social Development Plan (PDUES) for the Marconi-Alexandra, Atlantic, Beaumont and De Castelnau sectors, including this land as a public park project, is being studied by the City of Montreal, the land is sold to a real estate developer, Olymbec, in 2012.
On May 18, 2013, Olymbec felled around fifty mature trees and carried out earthworks on the land, without the necessary permits, thus reducing the urban jungle to nothing. The day after this event, the residents of the neighborhood formed an improvised public meeting leading to the creation of a vigilance committee called Les AmiEs du Parc des Gorilles, the gorillas referring to the residents of the neighborhood who inhabit this destroyed urban jungle.
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
Les AmiEs du Parc des Gorilles is a citizens' initiative born in 2013 in reaction to the destruction of the neighborhood's urban jungle, without a permit, by the real estate developer Olymbec. This initiative is supported by the borough town hall. In November 2015, after more than two years of mobilization, the AmiEs du parc des gorillas incorporated into a non-profit organization (NPO). Les AmiEs du parc des gorilles Inc. becomes the interlocutor between the community and the borough of Rosemont for the development and co-management of the park.
Recruitment and Selection participant
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Methods and Tools Used
The AmiEs du Parc des Gorilles approach is based on the principles of social ecology: the enhancement of ecological and human diversity, the recognition of the interdependence of social and environmental functions, the decentralization of powers, the autonomy of communities and popular participation. Their objective is to mobilize the community around the public re-appropriation of this land to make it a place that meets the needs of residents and not those of companies and developers investing in the neighborhood.
Les AmiEs du parc des Gorilles is made up of a core of active residents who meet regularly, lobby and work with the borough mayor, go door to door to educate other residents of the neighborhood, organize events on the ground etc. A blog and a Facebook page were quickly set up to inform and mobilize citizens about the project. Then, a website was created after three years of mobilization.
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
On May 18, 2013, Olymbec felled around fifty mature trees and carried out earthworks on the land, without the necessary permits, thus reducing the urban jungle to nothing.
The day after this event, the residents of the neighborhood formed an improvised public meeting leading to the creation of a vigilance committee called Les AmiEs du Parc des Gorilles, the gorillas referring to the residents of the neighborhood who inhabit this destroyed urban jungle.
In parallel with the occupation of the space by the citizens, a collaborative work was quickly initiated with the mayor of the borough of Rosemont Petite-Patrie which adopted on May 29, 2013 a motion to change the zoning of the land and in make a “green” zoned lot on which no construction can be done, this land reserve is valid until May 2017. Despite this motion, Olymbec begins excavation work on the land and transforms it into a parking lot in August 2013. The City of Montreal then formally undertakes to acquire the land and transfer to the borough the budget necessary for the development of a park in co-management with the Friends of the Parc des Gorilles.
In June 2014, the AmiEs du parc des Gorilles used Operation 100 in one day Montreal, a citizen action movement that aims to reclaim the city, to raise public awareness of their action, with the installation of plants, wooden pallets as street furniture or even stencils bearing the image of the citizen movement on concrete blocks
In June 2015, after having tolerated for a little over a year various installations on the ground, such as flower boxes for example, Olymbec gave formal notice to two members of the citizens' committee of the AmiEs du Parc des Gorilles by giving them five days. to dismantle the facilities on pain of holding them personally responsible for the costs associated with the operation. This action is perceived as an intimidation process, whereas the park development vision was unveiled a few days earlier in the local press. This work was carried out by citizens in collaboration with the Écoquartier Rosemont - La Petite-Patrie. The citizens finally clean up the land and thus avoid prosecution.
In September 2016, the AmiEs du parc des Gorilles joined forces with the Montreal Regional Environmental Council and participated in the fifth edition of PARK (ing) Day, an event that aims to question the occupation of space. public by car in town, concept developed by Rebar. Citizens are invited to come and have their picture taken in front of the site of the future Gorilla Park on the AmiEs du Parc des Gorilles website and Facebook page. Selfies can also be posted with the hashtag #PasUnParking.
Less than a hundred days before the expiration of the land reserve, the AmiEs du parc des gorilles asks the City of Montreal to initiate an expropriation process for Olymbec in order to allow the borough to go from there. before with the development of a park in co-management with the AmiEs du Parc des Gorilles. They invite citizens to contact Russel Copeman, responsible for management and real estate planning at the City of Montreal, who had promised to acquire the land as soon as possible in September 2014. They disclose the telephone number of his office. borough as well as its email address, a link to its Facebook page and its Twitter account.
It is finally on March 10, 2017 that the City of Montreal launches the process that will lead to the acquisition of the land by expropriation. The price of the transaction will be determined by an administrative judge after hearing both parties.
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
It is thanks to a rapid mobilization, from the day after the event, and continues, over several years, that the residents of the district have succeeded in raising awareness among elected officials, the media and the population about the future of this land. The occupation of the land, the holding of events and the use of social media have made it possible to act both offline and online to reach a greater number of people and make more noise.
Analysis and Lessons Learned
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Lead image: Les AmiEs du Parc des Gorilles | Facebook https://goo.gl/CAFHFe