This summer, Montrealers will have a brand new destination to enjoy the sun. From June 23rd until early September, the space between the Atwater Market and the Lachine Canal will be transformed, offering visitors more opportunities to meet, eat, relax, catch some music, or even a movie.
The South-West borough project, which will cost some $164,000, was awarded to non-profit La Pépinière, the name behind other local projects such as Les samedis Saint-Henri. La Pépinière’s co-founder, Jérôme Glad, says to expect everything from free-service barbecues where you can grill your own food, to jazz concerts, a giant sandbox, games, and a library – all of it free. He’s also looking to breathe new life into the area after hours, with parklet benches that will convert into night-market kiosks.
“The idea is to keep the sale of food going after the Market closes, to gradually breathe new life into the Market at night,” he says.
The new site, to be known as La Place du Marché, will make use of some parking spaces on St-Ambroise opposite Greene Street (just a dozen or so out of the more than 600 spaces that serve the Atwater Market, promises South-West Mayor Benoit Dorais) and expand the existing pedestrian area that runs from the Havre-aux-Glaces ice cream store to the Canal.
While the project was initially meant to make the stretch of St-Ambroise between Bérard and Atwater into a completely pedestrian zone, public consultations held earlier this year made it clear local residents wanted the street kept open to cars, particularly as the roadwork on Notre-Dame continues. The borough has agreed to keep it open this year.
For Mayor Dorais, La Place du Marché is a way for people to reconnect with an area in the neighbourhood they may not have visited for awhile.
“You’re going to rediscover what you may never have noticed before,” says the Mayor. “Maybe you’ve never noticed the artwork, or the excerpts from works about the South-West, or the outdoor chess tables. They’ve been there every year for the last 11 years.”
The site will feature trees, picnic tables and shaded benches, a food truck, and strings of yellow lights like the ones on display around the Market. Dorais hopes the new greenery will create an inviting place to stop and relax.
From the start, a key goal of the project was to make the Place du Marché a space that welcomes everybody, not just people who shop at the Market. Glad says there aren’t many non-commercial places for people to meet.
“The idea is to turn it into a non-commercial meeting place for the neighbourhood,” says Glad. “The fact that it’s a non-commercial area means that the terrasse will be a public space, so anybody can bring their meal and go eat there.”