The City has the ball in its court on the future of Park des cèdres. Hundreds of residents packed the Ernest-Lattion Community Centre, October 11, for the public consultation about the park’s future. Some of these folks have a general interest in the future of the waterfront public property. Others have a deeper interest in the site because of their involvement in sailing, softball, exercise groups and family activities. Many of the same people attended the 2007 public consultation about the site, and will have seen many changes from that version of 11 years ago.
The room was full of plans with sticky-notes, paper and pencils so that the public could sketch out what they’d do differently with the plan. City officials especially wanted to know what neighbours felt about a plan to open Metcalfe Street as an access to an automobile parking area where the boat storage site is now. Some 86 boats could still be stored there, many fewer than today.
Other changes include building a parking area across from the sailboat marina, where parking is now. A major complaint of the sailing community is the distance between their cars and their sailboats. Sailors bring all types of equipment on their craft, and carrying this the distance from the parking is an added burden. They also question putting the boat-lift into public traffic as this creates a security risk, they said.
The sailing community sees a major challenge with the new pavilion. Today, Quebec’s biggest public sailing school, Club de voile Grande-Rivière, is located in a temporary building near the pavilion. It should be a water-front site because the person in charge there must keep an eye on the river at all times, looking for weather changes and watching for crafts needing help. This allows them to communicate with sailors on the river to warn of shifts in winds, rains, etc. But the building plan as it is now, adjusted for size changes, has this observatory and school located in the back of the building facing east. Negotiations are progressing and the club seems to have convinced the planners to put them back at the safe position facing the water, but with equipment storage in nearby sheds.
Upgrades to the neighbourhood may be enough to get the residents on board, say, if the sidewalks are re-done and some beautification is brought in as a result of the park investment. But the consensus in the neighbourhood – except for a sole dissenting voice – is a call to the planners to reduce the impact on the neighbourhood. The business community seems shocked that the entrance to the park will be spread throughout the residential neighbourhood, and not focused at the bottom of Principale Street, where so much investment to beautify the business community has been focused over the last ten years.
City officials have their work cut out for them following the consultation. First, they’ll need to integrate the requests for a functioning park. And then a budget will need to be worked out. As it is, it stands at zero. Now is the time for interested organizations to band together to help the city produce a plan that meets everyone’s needs.