MUPpets in the field: Pauline

Happy Monday – we’re starting off with a guest post from MUP student Pauline. This summer she’s in Montreal interning on lots of different projects in Montreal largely related to citizen engagement and transportation projects.

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I decided to go with the theme of variety this summer and have 3 different internships. One with the Concertation Interquartiers (CIQ) which involves a lot of meetings and discussions about policy, one as stagiaire en aménagement at the neighbourhood coalition of Saint-Henri which is extremely hands-on, and one as a researcher for CURA. I spend about half of my time sharing an office in Saint-Henri with 2-3 coworkers- learning a lot about the neighbourhood I live in, and the other half either at McGill or at a CIQ meeting.

The CIQ is a coalition between nine member organizations from the NDG, Westmount and Saint-Henri neighbourhoods. In November 2004, the MUHC (McGill University Health Centre) and the CIQ signed a Partnership Agreement regarding the new hospital to be built. In the Agreement, both parties agreed to work together to maximize the positive impacts of the hospital and specified an open list of areas of joint concern, including economic development, employment, housing, health care delivery and transportation, among others. My role is to attend their meetings and help them with their action plan.

My internship as stagiaire en aménagement at the neighbourhood coalition of Saint-Henri started with my interest and involvement in a public consultation taking place in my neighbourhood around the redevelopment on the Lionel-Groulx metro station. To give you some background information: Because of the reconstruction of the Turcot interchange and the closing of many traffic lanes, the MTQ (provincial ministry) has created three new bus lines destined to the Lionel Groulx Metro station. In order to accommodate these buses, the STM (Montreal transit) plans to completely redesign the site around the metro. However, the announcement of the plan triggered a strong reaction and many questions among the residents and certain community groups in Saint-Henri and Little Burgundy. The metro station is already overcrowded with approximately 700 bus arrivals and departures each day. These buses already contribute to circulation problems in the area and the lack of safety felt by the pedestrians and cyclists. Problems that have already been identified around the metro include insufficient pedestrian crossing time, inadequate infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists, the high speed of vehicles and the overall lack of ‘good urban design’ for a walkable neighbourhood.

In order to inform the residents about the upcoming changes and to offer them a means of expression regarding the project, the comité d’aménagement de Solidarité Saint-Henri, in collaboration with the Coalition de la Petite Bourgogne, and the Centre d’Écology Urbaine, organized a public consultation on April 26th, 2012. Representatives from the STM and the sud-ouest borough were invited to give presentations about the project and answer questions. More than 120 people, of which the majority live near the metro, participated in the event. The participants were divided into nine groups that worked with individual and group maps to identify problems in the area that need to be resolved in order to make the project acceptable. I was asked to write the report, summarising the results from the consultation, with policy recommendations to the STM, the sud-ouest borough and the city of Montreal. There was then a second consultation that was based on this report where representatives came back to the neighbourhood and proposed changes to the plan, as well as solutions to other problems in the area around the metro (as a compromise for the “nuisance” to be caused by the Lionel-Groulx plan).

The whole process was extremely interesting and got me thinking about stakeholder relations in the planning process, especially with the new PMAD’s objective to accommodate at least 40 % of the new population on the island, over the next 20 years, within mixed use, compact TOD neighbourhoods, most likely around metro stations and commuter train lines. To compliment my “action research” with the comité d’aménagement at Solidarité Saint-Henri, I have been doing some more academic research with CURA about best practices for collaborative planning around transit hubs. For these projects to be successfully integrated and welcomed by the surrounding community, public involvement in the planning and design process is necessary.

I have made some really interesting connections and am becoming more and more familiar with the projects, policies and people that are changing my neighbourhood. I look forward to developing my interest in stakeholder relations and collaborative planning and design processes throughout the next year. Thanks for the opportunity to share my internship experience and to hear about what some of the other (now official) 1/2 planners have been up to!

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MUPpets in the field: Pauline

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