Earth Day in a working class neighborhood

imageVille Emard is a struggling enclave of working class, welfare and small businesses in the South West corner of Montreal.  Seems M. Emard was a great city counsellor back in the day and so his borough was named after him.  I wonder what he would think now of the boarded up storefronts on Monk Blvd.  The only really thriving merchants are the tattoo parlour and a few dodgy bars.  The Siri Lankan grocery store does pretty well on suspect produce and discount cheese and the dollar store seems to be staying alive.  There have been a few attempts at gentrification based on hopes that a hideous superhospital recently opened not too far away would bring new residents and  prosperity to this little backwater.  The subsidized housing block has a long waiting list, however, and the new block of condos is yet to be filled.  The problem is that the superhospital sits just out of reach behind a tangle of overpasses and highways, now being demolished.  This is going to be an agonizing process dragged out over several years.  We can hardly blame the employees of the hospital for not venturing through the miles of orange cones and bumpy dirt tracks to discover what lies below their leggo-block design facility.

The old-time residents of Ville Emard are Italian, Poles and French Canadian.  Now Koreans, South Asians and immigrants from the Maghreb are more likely to be my neighbours.  I love my “hood”.  It has an air of evolving nostalgia with its huge church now converted into a theatre, its library named for a young Quebecois poet (Marie Uguay).  I love my little duplex with the lush city garden.  I am lucky to live on a “green lane” , one of the “rouelles vertes” fostered by the city of Montreal.  We even made a mention in the New York Times once.  That is about as Earth Day as we get around here.

And yet, on my way home yesterday I noticed this new installation, a charging station for electric cars.  I have been considering selling my own little car.  My frequent stays in Northern Ontario make it more of a nuisance than a convenience these days.  My typical city row house  has no garage and so quite often I have to find a place to park for extended periods.  Most of the time I use the Metro to go downtown as parking is an expensive nightmare.  I was looking into the communal auto scheme that operates in Montreal.  I still have to do the math but it looks like it might work.  Just seeing the slender pole with its long cord made me hopeful for Ville Emard.  if we can do it, surely there is hope for freeing ourselves from our slavery to the auto.  Next project – having a chat with someone who is actually charging their car there!

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