By: Sarah Bradley, Assistant Curator for Cities for People
The impetus behind the April 10th roundtable was to bring together students either studying or engaged with urban planning in their communities from the four universities in Montreal. We wanted to have a bilingual roundtable, as we felt this was an important part of Montreal’s culture.
The other element that we added to the proceedings was bringing in people’s engagement with their communities. This was particularly important during the who/what/when and scale-effort matrix activities: we wanted to recognize that many students are already engaged in planning practice and felt it was important to encourage sharing ideas and experiences to help other students get involved based on common interests.
Although we generally followed the activities provided in the toolkit, we thought it would be interesting to start by eliciting perspectives from different neighbourhoods to lead into a broader discussion about Montreal. During discussions, particularly about strengths/challenges and city archetypes, it was clear that Montreal is very much a city of neighbourhoods - like other large Canadian cities.
One of the ideas that emerged consistently was the strength of civil society and the wealth of community-led initiatives at the neighbourhood level. Yet despite people’s deep-rooted connection with their neighbourhoods, there is much work to be done to collaborate across figurative and literal borders - enclaving of socio-cultural communities is an ongoing challenge to making Montreal better for all of its residents.