Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Big New Park for Montreal, or Real Estate Dream?

After a week of heat, we’ve had more than a week of cool weather, with good rain the last couple of days. The garden has taken off, quite literally. The grape vine—a volunteer from the compost heap—is now climbing into the pear trees and approaching the neighbors’ porch. I must get out the long pruning knife and cut things back.

At the same time, Le Devoir has a story about a plan for a huge park where an freeway interchange is now. The highway structure must come down over the next 10 years anyway, we’re told: elevated roads don’t weather well here, probably due ot the amount of salt used t keep them snow- and ice-free in the winter. In its place a consortium which includes interests close to the current Conservative Federal government would like to put up a complex including a lake, wooded areas, much open space…and luxury housing.

That figures. Real estate promoters have frequently been behind the development of parks. As I recount in the Chicago chapter of my book Green City: People, Nature and Urban Places, one of the first public parks there was fully developed by an entrereneur Samuel H. Kerfoot (p. 84) specifically to make the houses he was building around it more attractive to buyers.

In this case, the idea might have some merit, but we should be careful to make sure this trial balloon has more than hot air in it.

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