Saturday, 9 January 2010

Saturday Photo: Sun and the Importance of Urban Parks

The sun is out and the temperatures have plummeted after more than a week of gray skies and continual snow showers. When I was up in the cemetery early this morning, I met several runners dressed in spiffy new winter running clothes--Christmas presents? or Boxing Day bargains?--chugging their way up the hill. The footing is better than it has been for several days since the surface is frozen. The sun makes you feel like you want to be outside, too.

One of the nice things about Montreal is the way that parks are used intensely by the people who live here all year around. The two nearest us have skating rinks for casual skating, set up in what in summer time are ponds. Another park a little farther away has two rinks for hockey playing and practice, as well as a slope that that's good for sledding. The parks are not just pretty places to look at, they're also places to live, play and exercise. And, as the photo on the left suggests, places to sunbathe too.

The sign on the top photo, BTW, means "Look out for our children."


lagatta à montréal said...

Odd, I loved the veiled skies, mild temperatures and gentle snow flurries this past week and very much enjoyed long walks in that weather. I abhor cold - I can't breathe well - and while I'll certainly venture out for a walk a bit later it is a) because it is essential for health to walk at least half an hour daily, though of course that isn't enough exercise and b) because I have to run some errands - certainly not out of any pleasure being out in the biting cold. Perhaps it affects children less. But I won't walk down the Main to Prince-Arthur or Sherbrooke as I happily did earlier this week, or around parc Jarry.

Perhaps you've seen that we have a skating rink too - it is at Parc de la Petite-Italie (former Parc Martel) at the corner of St-Zotique and St-Laurent, just opposite "Les condos du Bon Dieu", former Église St-Jean-de-la-Croix. Behind the park on Clark St, there is a café-restaurant, "Zitto e Mangia" that has a beautiful view of the park.

There is also a practice-sized hockey rink in Parc de Gaspé, between Alma and de Gaspé east-west, between St-Zotique and Beaubien north-south. This park has a miniature soccer pitch in clement months.

And just a bit farther north in Parc Jarry, there is a much larger skating rink.

One thing I notice walking in the winter is the relative lack of urban parks in Mile End, between the Plateau and Outremont, except for Mont-Royal and parc Jeanne-Mance of course. That area is otherwise extremely pleasant and walkable, but it is lacking in neighbourhood parks.

Mary Soderstrom said...

You're right about the lack of parks in Mile End. A few have been added over the last few years, but not enough of the small kind which are useful for sitting around in summer (a example of a nice one is the Parc du Portugal on St. Laurent) and for neighborhood kids in the winter.

Some post war WW II, higher density neighborhoods have some bigger ones. There are at least three along St. Zotique going toward St. Leonard.

As for winter weather--give me sun over gloom any day, even when it's very cold!