We were pleased to learn on June 1st, that two public primary schools would be built in the Peter-McGill district over the course of the coming years. The first will be located in the Académie Bourget building, located on De La Montagne Street. The second will be on the Grey Nuns site, which belongs to Concordia Universiry and is located at the corner of St. Mathieu and René-Lévesque. These schools will help families and new comers to stay downtown in the long-term, in a sector which has been struggling to retain families. Two schools also means there will be less distance for local children to travel in the morning and evening, who currently attend schools in other neighbourhoods. This is a big day for residents and groups in Peter-McGill, who have been advocating for a primary school downtown for many years.
We also learned that 24 classes on the Grey Nuns site will be built, bringing the neighbourhood very close to the total of 37 classes needed to accommodate local children by 2021. However, the Grey Nuns site also has a vast green space, which is another longstanding need for the downtown community. Unfortunately building a school on this site means removing a large section of green space that could have been opened up to the public. Over the course of the year through various surveys and meetings, the community has expressed their preference for a school on the Grand Séminaire site, which could have included a larger number of classrooms without compromising any significant green space in the neighbourhood. Many residents have also expressed their concern regarding the fact that they haven’t been consulted about the school project on the Grey Nun’s site ahead of the announcement.
In the context of the announcement of the schools on the Grey-Nuns site, we sent out a quick survey asking our members their opinions. Here is a summary of the 188 responses:
The 15.5% remaining are mostly staff from Concordia university.
Here are the main comments attached to the survey :
IN FAVOR (51 comments)
Central, safe space, next to the metro, green space for the kids, educationnal purpose of the site, daycare on site, better a school than nothing at all
NOT IN FAVOR (131 comments)
Loss of a green space (mature trees), potential loss of a green space open to public, surrounding trafic (noise, polution, etc.), historical and patrimonial value of the site, many respondants suggest the Grand Séminaire instead, not the safest space (bars, shops, students, etc.)
The Community Council and its partner’s position
On Tuesday 19th, this topic has been deeply discussed among community groups, citizen’s associations representatives and the Community Council. Our common position is to express our concerns to the ministry of education with a letter signed by all the partners, while keeping pushing forward the Sulpcian’s site option, which is also the CSDM’s first choice. We will keep you posted and in the meantime, feel free to contact us and share your thoughts.