William Shatner is set to launch into space on Wednesday and, this time, it's not the set of Star Trek — it's real life. But did you know Shatner's journey from infancy to outer space actually started in Montreal?
In an interview with Professionally Speaking, the Ontario College of Teachers' magazine, Shatner is quoted as saying, "The Montreal Children's Theatre probably had a bigger influence on my life than any educational facility, other than McGill University."
"I wrote, directed and acted in McGill's Red and White Review three out of my four years at university. That was my education really," Shatner is quoted as saying in the Professionally Speaking article.
After finishing his undergrad at McGill, Shatner became a business manager for a Montreal theatre company called Mountain Playhouse before joining the Canadian National Repertory Theatre in Ottawa, according to the Canadian Encyclopedia.
From there, Shatner started acting at Stratford Festival, then on Broadway, and then on television where he gained notoriety as Star Trek's Captain James T. Kirk.
From the streets of NDG to countless TV screens to Canada's Walk Of Fame, Shatner carries a piece of Montreal with him. And, on October 13 at 10 a.m., that little piece of Montreal is set to be "beamed up" into outer space.
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."