Letters to “Santa Proulx”
Back in December 2017, a local Peter-McGill resident named Hector, age 8, attended the Ville-Marie Borough Council Meeting with a specific request: while handing Mayor Valérie Plante a pile of drawings, decorated by several neighbourhood children, he asked that she send them to “Santa Proulx” (in reference to the previous Minister of Education, Sébastien Proulx) to ask him to build a school on ther former Montreal Children’s Hospital site. In response to this touching event, Ms. Plante confirmed the support of the Borough Council in establishing a primary public school in Peter-McGill.
2 New Schools in the Neighbourhood Announced
Last June, the former Education Minister, Sébastien Proulx, announced that 2 primary public schools would be built in the neighbourhood, one in the current Bourget Academy and the other on the Grey Nun’s site owned by Concordia University at the corner of St. Mathieu and René-Lévesque. While the news of having 2 new schools in the neighbourhood was a big win for the community, there was not unanimous support for the sites chosen. The consturction of this second school on the Grey Nun’s site was met with doubt and incomprehension in the community because it would mean losing a significant green space in our neighbourhood, where the number of green spaces is is already six times lower than the Montreal average. The site also has heritage status as well as trees that are hundreds of years old. . We have also been taking steps together over the last several years to obtain public access to this underused space.
The Grand Séminaire de Montréal: A New Space to Consider
There is another space that could house a primary school in place of the Grey Nun’s garden – that of the Grand Séminaire de Montréal. The capacity of this site, owned by the Sulpicians, is even larger than the site offered by Concordia. This site has an unused parking lot that could be transformed into a primary school, a much more environmentally friendly solution. The Council and its partners circulated numerous surveys collecting opinions from residents, community groups, students and workers, including Concordia employees. The results were clear: a large majority saw the Grand Séminaire as the ideal site for a primary school.
Lastly, we know that the previous government ordered a feasability study ($4 million) to evaluate the Grey Nun’s site. We believe this expense is unjustified for the simple reason that the choice is between building a school on top of a green space or on an unused parking lot. We are convinced that chidlren of any age would prefer to lose parking over a green space!
Next Steps with the New Minister of Education
As a result, we senta letter to the new Minister of Education, Mr. Jean-François Roberge, in October to convene a meeting that would bring together all key decision makers. We want to ensure that primary schools in our neighbourhood are a priority for our new Minister.
Valérie Plante also confirmed her support at the last Borough Council meeting on December 5th. Although she did not specify that she was in favour of the Grand Séminaire site over the Grey Nun’s, she assured us that she would show the Minister at an upcoming meeting that there are other sites available to house a school, other than the two selected by the previous Minister.
Many steps have been taken over the past year to mobilise around public primary schools in our neighbourhood. We are expecting new developments before the new year. Stay informed!
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