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Green Alleyways in the City-Centre of Montreal, Quebec

Green Alleyways in the City-Centre of Montreal, Quebec

The Ruelles Market is at the corner of Peel Street, in an alleyway adjacent to Sainte-Catherine Street. While their counterparts in residential neighborhoods are becoming greener and livelier, the alleyways of the city-centre are, on the contrary, nearly empty. They are less welcoming, very somber in the evenings, scorching during the dogdays of summer, and

by Bora Mici September 25, 2014 No comments

The Ruelles Market is at the corner of Peel Street, in an alleyway adjacent to Sainte-Catherine Street.

Peel Street, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

While their counterparts in residential neighborhoods are becoming greener and livelier, the alleyways of the city-centre are, on the contrary, nearly empty. They are less welcoming, very somber in the evenings, scorching during the dogdays of summer, and passersby, who by far prefer the busy sidewalks of the large arterials, leave them behind. At the moment, these asphalted sections therefore serve mainly as storage for the garbage of the merchants. In addition, with the increased densification in the area, the lack of public and green spaces is obvious.

It's following the acknowledgement of this fact that the DCV (Destination Centre-City), with the authorization of the Ville-Marie arrondisement, decided to erect the Ruelles Market, a temporary market in one of the alleyways adjacent to Sainte-Catherine Street, at the corner of Peel Street. Open from Wednesday to Friday in the evenings, this new planned space will allow for buying fresh fruits and vegetables in the heart of the city through mid-September.

The pilot project has entered its second week, and public reception is already very good - to the point that the DCV envisions to repeat the initiative next year.

"We are currently working with the City to get recurring projects underway," explains the General Director of the organization, Andre Poulin. "The alleyways are in the public domain, but contrary to what we see in the other arrondisements, the residents of the neighborhood do not really have access to them."

It is up to the municipality, he maintains, to turn them into a pleasant experience. "We do not hesitate to say that we are lacking space in the centre-city! It's not normal that the alleyways are not utilized beyond waste storage." According to him, around a dozen of these, which criss-cross the centre-city could be transformed into public spaces.

Ruelle Verde Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Accumulating Inspiration

The reputation of Quebec metropolis' green alleyways is no longer a secret, but it still pales in comparison to other cities in the planning and implementation of these commercial alleyways. "We are always talking about Melbourne (in Australia)," suggests Andre Poulin. "But let's take London: nearly all of its alleyways have been converted to gardens." Closer to us, Boston, Brooklyn and Philadelphia have also successfully planned and set up these spaces to make them welcoming. "The idea is to give people a reason to enter the alleyways, and then occupy them."

For the general director of the DCV, it's also a matter of demystifying the alleyway. "People are under the impression that they are dirty, and even dangerous," he deplores.

How have alleyways been transformed in your community? What other temporal uses could alleyways accommodate? 

Original article, originally published in French, here.

Credits: Data and images linked to sources.

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Bora Mici has a background in design and online writing. Most recently, she has worked as an online contributor for DC Mud, Patch.com, GoodSpeaks.org and WatchingAmerica.com, covering urban planning and visual and performing arts in the Washington, D...

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