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Families reclaim alley as playground
Article mis en ligne le jeudi 12 mai 2011

Local families who use the alley located behind the condo development to be built at the corner of Melrose and Monkland are looking for a better way to benefit from Montreal’s stated family policy in their back alley.

NDG resident Dominique Barsalou says the borough allows families and children to use back alleys as a playground. The action plan states that they want to foster safe access to the alley. The Wilson Street resident adds that there are four times fewer parks per family than in the south-west.

The public space is clearly not officially designated as a playground. The challenge is to keep this wide and popular NDG alley safe and clean for the local residents of Wilson and Melrose. “It’s the place where people meet, children run or play hockey, and people walk their dogs,” she said.

The neighbours gather for an annual spring cleanup, but it’s not enough to keep up with the waste made up of debris carried in by the wind. People tend to dump garbage if there’s already some trash present, and dog walkers don’t always see the need to scoop their dog poop.
Dominique Barsalou feels the measures taken fall short of the intent of the city’s intended policy, even after mitigation measures were put in place in 2007 after a child was hit and seriously injured by a car in the alley. Cars zoom by too fast in the both directions.

Peter McQueen says the alley is particularly vulnerable because it’s close to Monkland and there are restaurants and bars in the area. “It’s important to make it safe,’ he said.

The policy is a challenge to enforce for city planners. Michael Applebaum says that the alley can’t be closed to traffic because some homes have parking spaces there and it’s still used by trucks delivering heating oil to some homes, but that other measures can be implemented, like speed bumps.

Borough director Stéphane Plante said that over the next few weeks street sweepers will be cleaning the borough’s alleys. Some speed reduction measures will be put into place. The borough will try out new flexible variable-message signs at this location, like the ones used in the middle of streets to reduce their size and send a clear signal. “It would be interesting to try it out on that street and perhaps later extend it to other streets,” he said.

[ Marie Cicchini ]

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