Thursday, January 31, 2013

Green roofs over the Decarie

500 feet of green space should be built atop the
Decarie at Queen Mary
   The Decarie Expressway ripped out the heart of the west end and has been an open wound on the city since the scar was sliced in 1964.
   The city knew it needed a north-south route and looked at every possibility from the Main, to St. Denis, to Cote-des-Neiges and Cavendish before sacrificing the once-glorious Decarie strip for the route.
   The ultimate insult was that the expressway was left uncovered and nobody has been able to put enough pressure on the government to cover it since.
15,000 sq ft of green could easily be
made at Upper Lachine 
   Such great spots as the old Snowdon Junction and a nice Royal Bank building were demolished, as were countless homes on such streets as Minto and one side of Prud'homme and Addington. The Notre Dame de Grace School was spared, however as the city agreed to tunnel about 500 feet below that.
   The usual explanation for not putting a roof on the Decarie is that the value of the land created wouldn't justify the cost of contstruction.
   Land value has increased considerably since that argument was first made, however.
   But rather than covering the whole thing immediately, small segments of the expressway could get a lid for the purposes of alleviating the shortage of green space in that part of town.
   A simple lawn does not carry much weight, therefore the supporting pillars would be relatively easy and cheap to install.
   One section should cover 500-feet over the Decarie just above Queen Mary. This would be considered reparations for demolition of Snowdon Junction and could be seen as tossing a bone to that community which was forced to sacrifice while the school down the road was spared. It would also put a nice lawn in front of the borough offices and the Snowdon Theatre, a lovely building which deserves to be celebrated.
   The other green roof which would be quite easy to create would sit between Upper Lachine and the tracks. The structure could be held up partially by those existing bridges and would add 15,000 square feet of green space to a place that is currently starved of green space (thanks partially to the Projet Montreal councillor who greenlighted the paving of a large section of Oxford Park). The St. Raymond's borough currently has only 1/10 th of the standard amount of green space and this would help alleviate that shortage.


Marc said...

CDN-NDG is not run by a Project Montreal council. At that time it was 5 Union and 1 Project. And although he did support it, it wouldn't have mattered how McQueen voted. The park would have been paved over. The whole council is to blame for the Oxford Park fiasco.

Kristian Gravenor said...

Peter McQueen actively embraced the paving project, offered to sacrifice that piece of green space without asking anybody in the area. He just unilaterally decided to obliterate 14,000 square feet of green space in an already green-embattled area.

He even agreed to fence the whole thing off, which would even have been more ghetto than the two awful fences that ended up coming with the monstrosity. (Would be interested to know if the contractors were paid for fences that never got put in).

The group asking for the court, something called Jeunes Leaders NDG, would have been happy with a court anywhere in NDG. There was never any need to put it there, or even sacrifice green space anywhere at all.

The other councillors voted in favour of this nonsense but they didn't even know what it was about, it wasn't their backyards.

Someone like Marvin Rotrand would never have agreed to something like this in his area, he regularly shoots down such requests.

I know this stuff because I interviewed the parties personally about this bizarre turn of events.

So this anti-green park paving blunder is on Peter unfortunately and he's stuck still defending the de-greening the park. So that's a real sad headshaker.

Dave said...

Covering the trench at Jean Talon would give SPCA dogs a much-needed run.

JM said...

You are absolutely right in saying the Decarie Expressway cut out the heart of the West End and left an open wound through the neighbourhood.

While covering the section from Queen Mary north to Isabella would be nice, covering it south of Queen Mary to Cote St. Luc would also be a major improvement.

The Queen Mary to Isabella stretch still has some commercial life especially on the east side. The section from Queen Mary to Cote St. Luc however, is relatively a dead zone, especially on the east side.

When that stretch of Decarie was roughly only as wide as the south bound service road is today, there were stores on both sides practically all the way to Cote St. Luc. People who lived on the east side could easily cross the street to shop at stores on the west side.

As soon as the expressway went in, all the stores (along with many residential units) on the east side were demolished. The stores on the west side never really recovered either because everyone on the east side was now separated. If you had to walk to Cote St. Luc or Snowdon Avenue to cross, you may as well just walk to Queen Mary and get what you needed there. And that's exactly what happened.

Suddenly those duplexes whose sides now border Decarie and the apartment buildings along the street would certainly go up in value.

Anonymous said...

In Bill Conrod's book, "Memories of Snowdon in the 50s" so many people refer to the joys of cruising the shops along Queen Mary Rd. and Decarie Blvd. in their youth. A tiny greenspace close by would be a pleasant place to reminisce, especially if the Snowdon Theatre kept its familiar architecture.
MacDonald Boy

UrbanLegend said...

All of these reminiscences and "why don't they's" have already been well-covered in earlier sections of this blog and elsewhere, but until we can get decent municipal and provincial governments to smarten up and do the right thing for once, we will all be stuck having to tolerate the "Decarie Fume Pit".

emdx said...

The Royal Bank building being torn down is the oldest memory I can muster from my brain… At the time, we lived on Queen Mary right next to old the private streetcar right of way.

(Who else remembers that, when it opened, Décarie had a gravel bottom with two 2-lane asphalt strips???)

I remember in the 1970’s a project to cover up the hole between Queen-Mary and côte St-Luc, but nothing ever came of it.

It’s interesting to note the contrast in which Décarie and Ville-Marie were received… In the east, it was mostly tenant housing and the numerous displaced tenants were able to raise a ruckus with the help of unions, whereas Décarie in NDG knocked-down duplexes, and the expropriated residents (I would say half of them…) simply got themselves houses in the West-Island, and the tenants were likely rich enough to be able to relocate without too much trouble, hence the lack of protests…

But, again, in the early 1960’s, cars were much more the rage than after the 1970’s oil crisis…

haroldro said...

I grew up on the east side of Decarie, between Queen Mary and Cote St. Luc. Our house ended up on the corner of the Decarie service road, after the expressway was built.
For years, our neighbour met with gov't electees Marvin Rotrand and George Springate to try and get a noise baffle of some sort erected over or beside the expressway.

Nothing was ever done.

Erydan said...

Forget greenspace. Cover from Queen Mary to at least Isabella and put PARKING for crying out loud.

Marc said...

"Cover from Queen Mary to at least Isabella and put PARKING for crying out loud."

You are aware there's a metro line running right along the strip, right?

BdgBill said...

Fast forward to 2045...."60 people were killed today when Decarie park collapsed onto the Decarie expressway. This is just the latest in a series of deadly failures of structures built during the long decades of Montreal's runaway municipal and construction corruption. As per usual, a commision is being formed to investigate the accident and find a way to blame nobody"

Erydan said...

"You are aware there's a metro line running right along the strip, right?"

Can we park in it?

Zeke said...


Go talk to Luc Durand

Anonymous said...

"You are aware there's a metro line running right along the strip, right?"

"Can we park in it?"

Hopefully you understand that the whole point of that comment was to use public transportation, as there is perfect access to this location by the metro. The LAST thing the area needs is parking, this is not Laval...

Marc said...

"You are aware there's a metro line running right along the strip, right?"

Can we park in it?"

Have you ever heard of using transit or walking at least some of the time? Or do you use your car for every single errand? In other words, why do wish to have 95,000 parking spots in a part of town very well served by transit?

Anonymous said...

As Zeke mentioned: Urban Planner Luc Durand tried to sell his elaborate plans for covering the expressway to whoever would listen (or not) during the 80s and 90s. He came to public meetings and wrote articles. Some considered him a visionary and others a bit silly.