As the pandemic drags on, Montrealers have found a friend in fowl times. That much was revealed by NDG resident Angel Ng, who woke up on Sunday morning to an unexpected visitor in her driveway: Butters the NDG turkey.
“I called my daughter to check out the window,” she said. “I knew who he was when I approached the driveway. I told my family members: ‘That’s Butters the NDG turkey people have been looking for!'”
“If you're social like me, being cooped up will get to you at times,” she quipped. “I think he just gives us something fun and different to talk about during these times and that's why he's become so popular.”
NDG resident Bryan Weiss also spotted Butters last week and was impressed by the bird’s large size and impressive strut.
“When I saw the bird, I was shocked,” he said. “I just came off the bus and was walking down the street and in the distance I saw him… a wild turkey roaming the streets of Montreal!”
From his bright plumage and lack of a beard, Canadian Wild Turkey Federation biologist Tadeusz Splawinski explained Butters appears to be a young male and was probably born this past spring.
While turkeys are relatively docile and typically scared of humans, he strongly discouraged residents from approaching the bird to avoid public safety issues for both humans and Butters.
“Your readers, and those feeding Butters in particular, likely won't want to hear this, but in order to minimize potential conflict, I highly suggest not feeding the bird or trying to tame it,” he said.
“It may seem like a kind thing to do, particularly in the winter, but this will lead to problematic issues down the line.”
Specifically, Coderre and his party, Ensemble Montréal, say their administration would study the possibility of turning the surface above a stretch of sunken highway between chemins Queen Mary and Côte-Sainte-Catherine into a "new green urban park" with "outdoor sports facilities, family facilities and a relaxation area with a fountain."
🏗️ Le recouvrement de Ville-Marie mettra la table pour l’agrandissement du Palais des Congrès, qui permettra à Mont… https://t.co/E5o0nS5jba
"It's been 50 years since we've been talking about covering the Décarie Expressway and no one has yet taken the time to commission a detailed and ingenious feasibility study with a budget and a timetable for the project to become a reality," Ensemble Montréal candidate for CDN-NDG borough mayor, Lionel Perez, said in a statement.
The party says it would reduce the roads on either side of the highway to two lanes each.
Coderre also has a plan to cover part of the Ville-Marie Expressway downtown through the expansion of the Palais des congrès and the creation of a public square between rue Sanguinet and boulevard Saint-Laurent.
Ensemble Montréal says covering the Décarie would cost $700 million and covering the Ville-Marie Expressway would cost $400 million.
Located at the corner of Chemin de la Côte-Saint-Antoine and Avenue Harvard, the flowers average about 7 feet tall, with the tallest ones reaching close to 10 feet, according to Jérôme Lussier, who planted them.
Lussier told MTL Blog he has been growing flowers and vegetables in the curb extension near his house — with permission from the borough — since last summer, turning the space into a community garden.
The Flowers Get The Boot
Lussier said he was alerted to an August 3 Facebook post by Peter McQueen, city councillor for Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, stating that the flowers exceed a three-foot height limit. According to the post, the sunflowers had to be replanted within six days or the city would cut them down.
"I'm all for planting, beautifying [...] residents doing their own thing," McQueen told MTL Blog. "But they are right where a car coming up Harvard [would be] looking to see if a car is coming down Côte-Saint-Antoine, blocking their view of that car. And that is no question a dangerous situation."
Residents React To The News
Lussier told MTL Blog he understands why he needs to take down the sunflowers — especially since the seeds came from a kit and he didn't know which variety they were or how high they'd grow. But other neighbourhood residents criticized the city's decision on an NDG Facebook group.
"Beware the killer sunflowers!" wrote Tanya Maria. "My point is that a compromise could've been found instead of just ripping them up."
"People need to see beauty now, colour and feel good again especially after the long haul of Covid," wrote Missy M. "Let it grow it's a special magical site that brings people joy, sunflowers have amazing energy."
Missy, who referred to the situation as "Sunflowermagedden," also questioned why the borough wasn't more concerned with bigger issues, such as renovictions and malfunctioning street lights, instead of focusing on the sunflowers.
Meanwhile, other commenters agreed with the city's decision.
"No way you'd be able to see me crossing the street in my wheelchair with these in the way. Safety first," wrote Alison Levine.
Montrealers Can Adopt A Sunflower
People have already begun reaching out to Lussier, he said, expressing interest in adopting the plants in an attempt to replant them.
Lussier said he plans to remove the plants Friday morning at 9:30 a.m.
If you're interested in taking some home, he asks you to show up to the corner of Côte-Saint-Antoine and Avenue with appropriate containers.
"I can totally understand why people have become attached to them. I have become attached to them in a way. You know, they're flowers with big personalities. And they are an unusual sight," Lussier said.
For now, there are a number of other plants still thriving in the community garden, including cucumber and basil. Lussier said he may plant sunflowers in the same spot next year — but "a smaller variety."