June 10, 2012 § Leave a comment
Two months ago, I posted this about film-maker Scott MacLeod‘s fundraising attempts for a documentary on Griffintown. I’m happy to report he raised enough money and all systems are go. Today, I will be meeting up with Scott and his crew for a bit of filming before Ireland takes on Croatia in its first match of Euro 2012. I am slated to discuss the destruction of Griffintown in the 20th century, due to both bureaucratic inertia on the part of Hôtel de Ville, and depopulation due to deindustrialisation in Griffintown. Of course, all the Lachine Canal-side neighbourhoods of Montréal experienced deindustrialisation, but Pointe-Saint-Charles, Little Burgundy, Saint-Henri, Côte-Saint-Paul and the like didn’t become ghost towns like the Griff. The difference? A combination of local populations resisting deindustrialisation and depopulation (the Pointe, in particular, was home to a radical, populist resistance), as well as political support. Griffintown got none of that. The city abandoned Griffintown, left it to die.
Fast-forward 50 years and now there is nothing the Ville de Montréal loves more than Griffintown. You can practically see the dollar signs in Mayor Gerald Tremblay’s eyes whenever someone mentions the word “Griffintown.” All the city can see is the tax dollars that will come in from all the condo dwellers there once Devimco and a handful of other developers are done with the neighbourhood. Did I say neighbourhood? Oops, sorry. To me, neighbourhood means a form of community, there is common cause amongst neighbours. In some cases, this is organic, in other cases, communities can be planned to encourage neighbourliness. The re-jigged Griffintown, however, is not one of those. No parks, no schools. None of that. Can’t have that, that’d steal space from condos!
So we are going to get a district of high rise condominiums, populated by harried, busy urban dwellers with no real, organic chances for community living, unless they seize the chances themselves. Maybe they’ll become the condo dwellers here in the Pointe, many of whom have joined the casseroles protests, such as they exist in the Pointe, and have joined the community gardens, and have joined the old populist community organisations of the Pointe? Or maybe they won’t. I’m not optimistic, because the Pointe already had this community-based model when the condos went up and when we gentrifiers moved into remodelled tenements. The Griff has none of that.
But don’t tell Gerald Tremblay. Actually, go ahead, he’s not listening anyway.