Montreal’s Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce (CDN-NDG) borough is getting the short end of the stick when it comes to public parks, Alex Montagano, of Équipe CDN-NDG / Team CDN-NDG, told MTL Blog.
The president and leader of the borough-level party vying for power in the upcoming November 7 municipal election is arguing the city’s most populous neighbourhood is being denied an equitable share of green space while chipping in more than its share to the city budget.
And he’s a little upset about that: "Do you feel sold out? You should," he told MTL Blog.
"Projet Montréal is spending a billion dollars on Parc Jean-Drapeau," he said. "But what about us and what about our needs? We're not exercising our political power effectively and politicians forget about us."
CDN-NDG 'is always getting the short end of the stick,' he says
Montagano argued that when it comes to investments in public parks and green spaces, CDN-NDG being underserved.
According to a 2019 parks plan for the Sud-Ouest borough, CDN-NDG had 0.58 hectares of parkland for every thousand residents, which was about half the Montreal average of 1.19 hectares per thousand.
Moreover — despite contributing a substantial amount in property taxes to the city’s coffers — the borough’s 172,118 residents will be receiving only $20.5 million in scheduled expenditures over two years, which is the smallest per capita investment budget in the city, according to the City of Montreal's 2020 budget.
"We're an economic powerhouse," said Montagano. "We give the city a wack load of money and the city doesn't invest here. They spend the money elsewhere. So now we're in this situation where other boroughs have better services and infrastructure than we do and we're paying for it."
"It's like we're giving to a charity and the benefactors are better off than we are."
'People should be upset'
For pandemic-weary Montrealers, the city’s public parks have offered refuge from the anxieties of life under lockdown over the past year, making them all the more important, said Montagano.
"With the pandemic, the whole dynamic in the way people live in cities has completely changed," he said. "Local community has become a lot more important. People are staying close to home and they're using the parks."
During a recent community clean-up of Parc Georges-Saint-Pierre, Montagano noted residents collected a number of bags of unsightly garbage.
"The park was a mess," he said. "People should be upset. This is not acceptable. We should demand better from our elected representatives and they're not delivering."
'Some spaces are a little beat up'
France Stohner, a mental health counsellor and community organizer, echoed the sentiment.
Stohner is representing the Snowdon district under Côte-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough mayor Sue Montgomery’s new party, Courage – Équipe Sue Montgomery.
"We have to find a way to have more public green spaces as well as cleaner spaces," she told MTL Blog. "I'm sure you've walked around Côte-des-Neiges and some spaces are a little bit beat up."
She noted CDN-NDG is a neighbourhood of young families, with 47% of residents having at least one child, she said, making clean parks especially important.
"The situation we have here in Côte-des-Neiges is we have a lot of families living intergenerationally in smaller spaces," she said. "Our parks are well-loved and well used. You can show up on a Saturday morning and the park is already beginning to fill up."
"We have to make sure the infrastructure is there to support the community and make people more comfortable so they can use these outdoor spaces in a safe way."