Les AmiEs du Parc des Gorilles aims to restore and collectively reclaim a green space developed with, by and for the community at the corner of St-Urbain and Beaubien streets in Montreal.
Mission and purpose
After having existed informally since 2013, the Les AmiEs du Parc des Gorilles collective was incorporated into a non-profit organization (NPO) in 2017. It aims at the collective reappropriation of the old railway right-of-way at the corner of rue St -Urbain and Beaubien in the Rosemont-Petite-Patrie borough in Montreal. The Friends of the Gorilla Park want to restore the natural and wild character of the old wasteland, in order to develop a public park there with, by and for the community of the Marconi-Alexandra sector. To do this, the approach is based on the principles of social ecology, wishing to put "the social and ecological dimensions at the forefront of responsible urban development in line with the needs and aspirations" of the district [i] .
The objectives of the organization are as follows:
o Restore the natural and wild character of the old Canadian Pacific railway right-of-way
o Develop and maintain a green and public space, intended to improve the urban environment, promote urban biodiversity and enhance the natural and human heritage of the neighborhood [ii]
Origin and developments
The land: an abandoned railway right-of-way
The land located in the Rosemont-Petite-Patrie borough, in the Marconi-Alexandra district, between Saint-Zotique streets to the north, Beaubien to the south, Saint-Urbain and Waverly was a railway right of way of the Canadian railway company. Pacific since the end of the 19th century. The land of more than 5,000 square meters was abandoned by the company in the 1990s and was replaced by wasteland in the wild. The site has been re-appropriated as a green space by the residents of the district, in an area with little greenery and particularly affected by heat islands [iii]. The name of the Gorilla Park was attributed to the site, in reference to the aspect of urban jungle that it represents in the middle of the city [iv].
A sector deforested by the owner: the construction of the public problem
In 2013, Canadian Pacific sold the land to developer Olymbec who, without authorization or permit, felled some fifty trees and carried out earthworks. The answer is twofold: the borough of Rosemont-Petite-Patrie and the City of Montreal give the owner a statement of offense, while residents mobilize in the face of deforestation to organize the conversion of the site into a public space. It is in this context and to defend this cause that the informal committee of Friends of the Gorilla Park was created in 2013. The collective arose out of the popular demonstration in reaction to the deforestation of the land, now covered with gravel.
2013-2017: mobilization to protect urban green space
The mobilization of citizens leads to the imposition of a land reserve for the end of the park by the borough from 2013. The objective is then to prevent the developer from implementing a construction project on the site. The group of AmiEs du Parc des Gorilles is then defined by a work of “political lobbying” with the bodies in charge of the file [v]. To do this, the demands of the citizen collective are in line with the priorities established for the sector by the Urban, Economic and Social Development Plan (PDUES) of the Rosemont-Petite-Patrie borough [vi] which already provides for a park in the area. west of Saint-Laurent Boulevard. In addition, the AmiEs du Parc des Gorilles committee, although informal, works in close collaboration with two formal bodies mandated by the borough, namely the Regroupement des tables de concertation de la Petite-Patrie and the Société de développement environnement de la Petite-Patrie. Rosemont (SODER). Thus, the demands of the committee to make this issue known can find an echo with interlocutors close to the public authorities.
From 2014, the borough formally undertakes to create a park in co-management with the residents of the district on the site of the Parc des Gorilles. Relations with the borough were facilitated by the direct link with SODER and by a favorable reception from the mayor of the borough, whom he met on several occasions. Regarding relations with the city center, the collective was able to meet the officials in charge of the file three times between 2013 and 2017 [vii]. A pressure campaign was put inworks to change the negotiations before the expiration of the land reserve for the end of the park.
The committee's vision for the park is regularly put forward, whether by the drafting of a manifesto by the AmiEs du Parc des Gorilles in 2014 [viii] or by consulting the district on the creation of development prototypes. for the site in 2015. Two development proposals emerge, synthesized with the collaboration of the Eco-neighborhood Rosemont-Petite-Patrie. They mainly aim to make the Gorilla Park an ultra local area of wild biodiversity [ix]. These co-creation, formalization and documentation efforts implemented by the AmiEs du Parc des Gorilles bear witness to the proposed co-management approach between the City and the committee. In 2015, a prize awarded by the grouping of Eco-Quartiers for the organization's 20th anniversary attests to the recognition and legitimacy granted to the Committee of Friends of the Gorilla Park.
While the City is trying to negotiate with the Olymbec company that owns the land, residents are reclaiming the park through actions to occupy and animate the space. Thus, cleaning chores, gardening activities in tubs, social activities such as picnics or barbecue, and heritage transmission activities such as guided tours (Jane's walks in particular [x]) or walks are organized. in kind [xi]. Relations with the owner remain stormy since he refuses citizen appropriation, although transitory, of the space. In 2015, Olymbec thus issued a formal notice to two members of the Committee of Friends of the Gorilla Park to remove the urban agriculture bins and the temporary furniture installed [xii]. The committee is turning to ad hoc occupancy actions during events such as Parking Day, which aims to reflect on the issues relating to the use of parking spaces in Montreal. The occupations of the space then aim to challenge passers-by and mobilize residents on the issue of the site, inform about its history and promote the actions of the collective.
- 2017-2021: institutionalization and participatory approach in the management of the future Gorilla Park
On March 13, 2017, the Rosemont-Petite-Patrie borough council voted to expropriate Olymbec, for park purposes, for lack of common ground obtained through negotiation attempts by the City. If the transaction is effected at a cost of $ 250,000 [xiii], the City has made a provision of $ 5.4 million to cover the costs of acquiring and developing the site [xiv].
In reaction to this first victory, the Committee of Friends of the Gorilla Park was formed in September 2017 as a non-profit organization (NPO) and held its first general assembly. The organization's mandate is to prepare the ground for the redevelopment of a park in co-management with the borough of Rosemont-Petite-Patrie. The institutionalization of the committee as an NPO then aims to ensure negotiation with the public authorities in the development of the park. Once constituted as an NPO, the AmiEs du parc des Gorilles demand a meeting with the political leaders involved in the file as well as a contractual document stipulating a co-management agreement to ensure the "delegation to the organization of the responsibilities of maintenance and animation of the site and the installations of the future park ”[xv].
In this regard, the co-management agreement as discussed provides for the collaboration of the public authorities with the organization of the AmiEs du Parc des Gorille on several levels: the development of the redevelopment of the park with the citizens of the sector to meet the needs. of the citizens on the site, as well as a legacy of the maintenance of the space to the residents. This model of governance through public participation responds to an opening up of the production of public action to new actors alongside the public authorities. There is then a decentralization of the provision of services to external actors, such as private companies or non-profit organizations [xvi], such as the AmiEs du Parc des Gorilles. Collaboration between citizens engaged and organized in NPOs allows the sharing of collective decision-making but carries a risk of disengagement of the State and delegation of the management of public spaces to weakened entities because not funded and voluntary.
The efforts to formalize a site redevelopment proposal led the AmiEs du Parc des Gorilles to receive the special mention of the jury during the competition.rs of the Urban Design Association of Quebec (ADUQ) in 2017 for the installation “Redesigning the Saint-Urbain / Beaubien intersection” during Park (ing) Day Montreal. The installation was carried out in collaboration with other informal community and collective organizations in Montreal.
In 2019, the “political lobbying” work of the AmiEs du Parc des Gorilles led to the implementation of a citizen participation process linked to the development of the future park, in collaboration with the City and the borough. It materializes the NPO's efforts towards a co-management agreement, although it has still not been signed. But the consultation process is also part of a major urban project to redevelop an industrial wasteland in the Outremont sector and its surroundings, under the name of the MIL Montreal project [xvii]. This development project is led by the City of Montreal in partnership with the University of Montreal and represents nearly $ 175 million.
Regarding the Gorilla Park sector, the citizen participation approach takes shape in space co-design workshops as well as online surveys with residents of the sector. The consultation process will continue throughout 2020, to make way for work on the site in 2021.
In addition to the consultation process carried out with the City, the AmiEs du Parc des Gorilles organization organizes festive and cultural activities on the site of the Parc des Gorilles to inform and mobilize the neighborhood as well as local stakeholders. We can mention in this regard the realization of a mural representing an urban jungle in August 2018, the organization of a street party entitled "Bloc Party" in a musical and festive atmosphere in August 2019 as well as the holding of a retrospective exhibition. artistic and activist interventions by AmiEs du Parc des Gorilles in October 2019.
Organizational structure, membership and funding
Initially organized in the form of an informal committee, the AmiEs du Parc des Gorilles collective has gradually become institutionalized to gain legitimacy vis-à-vis the public authorities. It was incorporated into a non-profit organization in 2017 and set up offices, located near the Gorilla Park, on Waverly Street.
Membership within the NPO is based on a principle of proximity to the park. The organization thus defines three types of members, namely the status of regular members for people domiciled in the sector; the status of associate members for people whose workplace is located in the sector and finally the status of sympathetic members for people who do not correspond to the first criteria [xviii]. If any member has the right to speak, the draft resolutions must be proposed and seconded by a regular member to be put to a vote, which aims to ensure the representativeness of residents within the organization.
If the organization operates with a membership system, it was established in 2019 since a first membership campaign was organized in October 2019. Since the committee began, it should be noted that the various activities organized have spontaneously mobilized up to two hundred citizens of the neighborhood and elsewhere.
Board of directors
Made up of five to seven people, the board of directors brings together profiles with skills that are beneficial to the organization. Thus, between 2017 and 2020 there followed one another in particular an urban planner - designer, a journalist, two landscape architects and planning consultants and visual artists. It should also be noted the presence of a representative of SODER, then of Réseau Quartiers Vertes of the Montreal Urban Ecology Center, confirming the partnership with these two organizations [xix]. Relatively stable, the board of directors relies on a core of five people involved from the start in the preservation of space [xx].
The AmiEs du Parc des Gorilles organization, once incorporated as an NPO, now requires funds. A campaign to join the NPO is organized in October 2019. The search for funding also leads to the allocation of a $ 3,000 scholarship by participants in the participatory budget "Round trip" organized by the provincial deputy of sector, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois for the allocation of his discretionary budget. The sum offered to the Friends of the Gorilla Park will allow "the organization of cultural and social activitiess aiming to bring together and mobilize the community around the park project ”[xxi].
Specializations, methods and tools
Political lobbying: advocacy with elected officials
- Means deployed
Les AmiEs du parc des Gorilles specializes in political lobbying activities with institutions. Indeed, formalization as a non-profit organization aims to play a mediating role between the citizens of the sector and the borough. To requests to meet with elected officials to advance the acquisition and management of the park, Les AmiEs du Parc des Gorilles put pressure on elected officials by several means, such as meeting requests, speeches during city council meetings of the City of Montreal but also massive sending of emails or letters to politicians.
These advocacy activities require the support of citizens around the project, to gain legitimacy with elected officials and support lobbying activities. Thus, to inform and mobilize passers-by and residents of the area, the Friends of the Gorilla Park also organize various actions around the park: speaking out on the site, spontaneous groups organized to denounce the work by the owner, mobilizations on social networks and various festive and artistic activities such as a musical parade in the streets of the district to distribute pamphlets on the situation of the park for example [xxii].
- Framing of mobilizations
Les AmiEs du parc des Gorilles asked their partners to make their voices heard by elected officials and municipal councilors. Collaborations are in this sense crucial and also come to determine the form that the collective struggles take. Thus, the Rosemont Environmental Development Society (SODER) played a leading role with the collective, one of its members being involved from the start of the mobilization within the Friends of the Gorilla Park. By acting as an intermediary with the representatives of the borough, SODER has enabled the collective's demands to find an institutional voice that has made the fight for the restoration of green space gain credibility. In addition, the support provided by SODER has greatly contributed to the institutionalization of the collective through the evolution of the mission and its constitution as an NPO [xxiii].
An institutionalization strategy chosen among others
The institutionalization of the collective responds to a change in strategy since the first activities of the collective consisted of occupying the space of the old park in an informal way, in particular by transitional arrangements on the site. While the owner Olymbec sends a formal notice to two members of the collective, Les AmiEs du Parc des Gorilles decide to change tactics. Rather than mobilizing the community on the site to counter the owner's actions, the collective is moving towards advocacy with the municipal authorities in charge of the file.
Bringing its demands to the institutional scene then leads to a formalization of collective practices. To ensure their long-term mobilization, the AmiEs du Parc des Gorilles are adopting a new tactic of political advocacy and framing their demands in a formal approach consistent with the plans and priorities of the borough for the sector. To do this, the collective relies on institutional documents such as the Urban, Economic and Social Development Plan (PDUES) of the Rosemont-Petite-Patrie borough [xxiv] which provides for a park on the site of the old abandoned wasteland.
Thanks to the institutionalization of the struggles, the AmiEs du Parc des Gorilles organization is calling for joint management of the green space in collaboration with the borough. Co-management thus constitutes the culmination of a political lobbying process to legitimize the collective as a formal partner of municipal authorities.
Major projects and events
Initiatives carried out
- May 2013: informal constitution of the collective and occupation of the space following the felling of fifty trees by the owner
- 2014: drafting of a manifesto
- 2015: district consultation on the prototyping of co-constructed development solutions for the park
- & nbsp; September 2016: occupation of the site as part of the Parking Day
- March 2017: political pressure campaign 100 days before the expiration of the land reserve
- 7,000 people watching a pressure video
- 2017: constitution as a non-profit organization Les AmiEs du Parc des Gorilles
- July 2019: exploratory walk and cleaning chore on the site
- October 2019: The Art of Gorillas - exhibition and cocktail
- 50 participants
- September 2017: Installation “Redrawing the Saint-Urbain / Beaubien intersection” as part of Parking Day, in collaboration with the Montreal Bike Coalition, the Montreal Regional Environmental Council, Copenhagenize Design Co., Pedestrians Quebec and Vélo Ghost Montreal.
- August 2018: Mural produced in collaboration with SODER
- 25 people present
- June 2019: Open house, launch of the participatory approach and citizen walk in collaboration with the City
- 200 participants
- August 2019: Bloc Party - Gorilla street party in collaboration with the City and the borough.
- 75 people participating
Recognitions, representation and advisory activities
- 2015: prize by the grouping of Eco-Quartiers for the Committee of Friends of Gorilla Park.
- 2017: special mention of the jury during the competition of the Urban Design Association of Quebec (ADUQ) for the installation “Redesigning the Saint-Urbain / Beaubien intersection” during Park (ing) Day Montreal.
- 2019: participation in the Park People Webinar on the three stages of creating a group "Friends of the park"
- 2019: Case study conducted by Concordia students in the Urban Laboratory of the Department of Geography, Urban Planning and Environment in collaboration with Le Monde Festival [xxv] .
Les AmiEs du parc des Gorilles, “Le parc des Gorilles, towards a co-managed space”, working document, 2014.
Eco-neighborhood Rosemont - La Petite-Patrie For the Friends of the Parc des Gorilles, “The Gorilles disembark. Development proposal for the Gorilla Park. May 2015 ”, 2015. http://www.parcdesgorilles.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/vision_parc-des-gorilles.pdf
Les AmiEs du parc des Gorilles, “Bilan 2017”, Annual report, 2018. http://www.parcdesgorilles.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/bilan-2017-pdg_.pdf
Les AmiEs du parc des Gorilles, “Statutes and regulations”, 2020. http://www.parcdesgorilles.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Statuts-et-re%CC%80glements-des-Gorilles-Janvier -2020.pdf
Les AmiEs du parc des Gorilles, “Towards a park. Activity report 2020 ” , 2020. http://www.parcdesgorilles.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/apdg-_-rapport-2020.pdf
See as well
Bherer, Laurence. "The ambiguous relations between participation and public policies",; Participations , vol. 1, no. 1, 2011, pp. 105-133. https://www.cairn.info/revue-participations-2011-1-page-105.htm
Nadeau Alexandra, “Citizen Roots. The role of citizen initiatives in urban governance of climate change: the case of Montreal ”, UQAM, INRS, June 2018. http://espace.inrs.ca/7615/1/Nadeau-AM-Juin2018.pdf
[i] Les AmiEs du parc des Gorilles, “Le parc des Gorilles, towards a co-managed space”, working document, 2014, p.5.
[ii] Les AmiEs du parc des Gorilles, “Bilan 2017”, Annual report, 2018, p. 3. http://www.parcdesgorilles.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/bilan-2017-pdg_.pdf
[iii] Les AmiEs du parc des Gorilles, “Le parc des Gorilles, towards a co-managed space”, working document, 2014, p.8.
[iv] Nadeau Alexandra, “Racines Citoyennes. The role of citizen initiatives in urban governance of climate change: the case of Montreal ”, UQAM, INRS, June 2018, p. 73. http://espace.inrs.ca/7615/1/Nadeau-AM-Juin2018.pdf
[v] Les AmiEs du parc des Gorilles, “Bilan 2017”, Annual report, 2018, p. 3. http://www.parcdesgorilles.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/bilan-2017-pdg_.pdf
[vi] Service for the enhancement of the territory, “Urban, economic and social development plan (PDUES); Sectors Marconi-Alexandra, Atlantic, Beaumont, De Castelnau. »Montreal, 2013. http://ville.montreal.qc.ca/pls/portal/docs/PAGE/PLAN_URBANISME_FR/MEDIA/DOCUMENTS/PDUES.PDF
[vii] Les AmiEs du parc des Gorilles, “Bilan 2017”, Annual report, 2018, p. 9. http://www.parcdesgorilles.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/bilan-2017-pdg_.pdf
[viii] Les AmiEs du parc des Gorilles, “Le parc des Gorilles, towards a co-managed space”, working document, 2014.
[ix] Écoquartier Rosemont - La Petite-Patrie For the Friends of the Parc des Gorilles, “The Gorilles disembark. Development proposal for the Gorilla Park. May 2015 ”, 2015. http://www.parcdesgorilles.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/vision_parc-des-gorilles.pdf
[xi] Park People, “Les AmiEs du parc des Gorilles”, 2020. https://parkpeople.ca/listings/groupes/?lang=fr&n=les-amies-du-parc-des-gorilles-friends-of- gorilla-park & id = 1644
[xii] Corriveau Jeanne, “Montreal expropriates the Gorilla Park”, Le Devoir , March 14, 2017. https://www.ledevoir.com/politique/montreal/493912/montreal-exproprie-le-parc-des-gorilles
[xiii] Delacour Emmanuel, “Citizens will soon be able to redesign the gorilla park”, Metro, May 7, 2019. https://journalmetro.com/local/villeray-st-michel-parc-extension / 2318417 / citizens-will-soon-be able-to-redesign-the-gorilla-park /
[xiv] Corriveau Jeanne, “Montreal expropriates the Gorilla Park”, Le Devoir , March 14, 2017. https://www.ledevoir.com/politique/montreal/493912/montreal-exproprie-le-parc-des-gorilles
[xv] AmiEs du parc des Gorilles, “The Gorilles take stock and present their requests”, Parc des Gorilles, January 2018. http://www.parcdesgorilles.net/2018/01/
[xvi] Bherer, Laurence. “The ambiguous relations between participation and public policies”, Participations , vol. 1, no. 1, 2011, pp. 105-133. https://www.cairn.info/revue-participations-2011-1-page-105.htm
[xvii] Let's realize MTL, “Project MIL Montreal: towards a Gorilla Park! », 2020. https://www.realisonsmtl.ca/milmontreal
[xviii] Les AmiEs du parc des Gorilles, “Statuts et regulations”, 2020. http://www.parcdesgorilles.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Statuts-et-re%CC%80glements-des- Gorillas-January-2020.pdf
[xix] Les AmiEs du parc des Gorilles, “The Gorilles take stock and present their requests”, 2018. http://www.parcdesgorilles.net/2018/01/26/gorilles-font-point-et-presentent- requests /
[xx] Nadeau Alexandra, op. cit. , June 2018, p. 75.
[xxi] Les AmiEs du parc des Gorilles, “Towards a park. Activity report 2020 ” , 2020. http://www.parcdesgorilles.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/apdg-_-rapport-2020.pdf
[xxii] Nadeau Alexandra, op. cit. , June 2018, p. 75.
[xxiv] Service for the enhancement of the territory, “Urban, economic and social development plan (PDUES); Sectors Marconi-Alexandra, Atlantic, Beaumont, De Castelnau. »Montreal, 2013. http://ville.montreal.qc.ca/pls/portal/docs/PAGE/PLAN_URBANISME_FR/MEDIA/DOCUMENTS/PDUES.PDF
[xxv] Les AmiEs du parc des Gorilles, “The Gorilla Park: a textbook case! », October 2019. http://www.parcdesgorilles.net/2019/10/28/le-parc-des-gorilles-un-cas-decole/