City of Mount Royal | Not yet built, a new school is already dividing

The imminent arrival of a new French-language school in Mount Royal continues to shake things up as Mayor Peter Malouf still refuses to tell citizens the truth. A persistent rumor in the community that this new school will be on park land is worrying many residents, who are concerned about the loss of a “green lung” that is especially important for the most vulnerable.

Posted at 7:00 a.m.

Henri Ouellette-Vezina

Henri Ouellette-Vezina
The press

“We need to keep all our green spaces. We cannot afford to lose such a large green space. No, we need to go back to the source of the question and conduct a real study to identify the real needs,” said Maryam Kamali Nezhad, Independent Councilor for District 2 of Mount Royal City.

In this municipality of 22,000 inhabitants, discussions have been going on for more than a year about the construction of a new French-language primary school. The city, hit by a demographic shift that brought in a large number of new French-speaking students, came to the conclusion that it needed a fourth primary school to accommodate this young clientele.

A solution was launched from the start: build this school on land next to Dunrae Gardens School, an English-language primary school. However, this space, owned by the English-Montreal School Board (EMSB), has since been decommissioned. According to our sources, it is now Ernest-B.-Jubien Park that would be considered the most “suitable” place to house the new school.

Citizens who are impatient

A group of about 900 citizens has filed a petition in recent weeks against the construction of a school in Ernest-B.-Jubien Park, which is considered a “green lung”.

“The disappearance of this park would affect many people in the area, especially those who are quite deprived compared to other areas. There is a center for the elderly, renters in apartments, a CHSLD, so many people who use the park and for whom it is an essential value every day,” said spokesperson for the petition signatories, Françoise Grey.

She and her group also offered an “alternative solution” to the administration: 1000 Lucerne Road, the site of an old synagogue soon to be demolished.

It already has an institutional destination. It is currently the ideal place, which would not sacrifice green space and deprive people of islands of freshness in a context of climate crisis.

Françoise Le Gris, spokesperson for the signatories of the petition against the construction of a school in Parc Ernest-B.-Jubien


PHOTOGRAPH MARCO CAMPANOZZI, THE PRESS

1000 Lucerne Road

mme Le Gris also regrets that the government is “leaving the public in the dark” about its intentions. In June, in the middle of a council meeting, Mayor Peter Malouf had promised citizens a response at the chosen location within weeks, which has not yet happened. “There is a management committee behind the file whose members or mandate are not even known. Everything is blurry. We’re in really strange proceedings on both sides. The reality is that no residents are needed for a school,” she says.

An “extremely political” choice

Maryam Kamali Nezhad believes the government’s approach is “extremely political”. “They want a simple and quick choice and then say in the next election campaign that they have delivered the school. But you have to ask yourself: does the need come from surrounding areas such as Côte-des-Neiges, such as Saint-Laurent? If so, just imagine how much traffic it will bring to our neighborhoods,” she worries.

However, no decision has been “officially made,” said Mayor Peter Malouf, who says he has studied as many as “17 scenarios” with the Marguerite-Bourgeoys School Service Center (CSSMB), the possible administrator of the new school. “You have to work with the service center priorities for the type of site. It is not something that is easy to determine. […] Me, I work on facts, not on emotions’, says Mr Malouf.


PHOTOGRAPH PHILIPPE BOIVIN, LA PRESSE ARCHIVES

The Mayor of Mount Royal, Peter Malouf, in November 2021

“We are committed to the well-being of the children. At the moment we have young people who are in trailers and who don’t even have a yard to play in. We have to find a place for them, that’s the priority,” replies the mayor, criticizing the “activists” for “systematically attacking” his administration.

Mr Malouf says he has studied the file “from top to bottom”. “We know how many children will come from Mount Royal, how many from outside, we are looking at all of this thoroughly. And we will eventually be able to share all our analyzes with the citizens,” he assures, without giving an exact date. However, he adds at the end of the interview: “Remember, there are elections on October 3rd and we need to know who we are going to do business with. »

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