There are chickens laying eggs at community centres, volunteer gardeners sharing the work and the harvest in 45 collective gardens across the city, and vegetables growing on top of the Palais des congrès convention centre.
But the blossoming urban agriculture movement is running into municipal roadblocks, say proponents pushing city hall to consult the public about the future of farming in Montreal.
Existing city bylaws make it difficult for people who want to practise urban agriculture to get started. They forbid livestock within Montreal city limits, except for in very limited cases in Rosemont-La Petite Patrie where community groups can get permission to have chickens for educational purposes. People aren’t allowed to dig up their driveways to plant vegetables. Farmers delivering produce for community-supported agriculture projects try to stay on the good side of residents living around their drop-off points to avoid traffic complaints being made to the city. Even people who want to compost in their backyards have gotten into trouble with neighbours complaining to city officials that their compost piles are too smelly…
Montreal has no policy on urban agriculture, although it is included in the city’s sustainable-development plan as a way to help green the city and reduce heat-island effect between now and 2015, said city spokesperson Martine Painchaud.
A convergence of circumstances, including energy security, climate change and air quality concerns, have led to a rapid push toward sustainable transportation. Experts from across North America will present solutions and ideas related to sustainable transportation at the first-ever Forward Motion: Advancing Mobility in California & Quebecsymposium organized by Art Center College of Design, the Quebec Delegation in Los Angeles and the Universite de Montreal.
Earlier this year, the Quebec government unveiled its 2011-2020 Action Plan for Electric Vehicles, intended to transform Quebec into a North American leader in the field of sustainable mobility. Similarly, in 2009 California became the first state in America to mandate carbon-based reductions in transportation fuels in an attempt to cut the state’s overall greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.
In support of these larger sustainable mobility goals, Forward Motion will feature experts in the fields of electric vehicles and public transit as selected by the three partnering organizations. The experts will discuss the experimental programs, groundbreaking initiatives, new technologies and advanced materials developed in California and Quebec that are rapidly driving North America forward.
Many obstacles are slowing the development of urban agriculture in Montreal, including:
Pressure on land occupancy and use due to real estate development projects;
The presence of contaminants in certain soils;
The sub-optimal financing of initiatives and the absence of strategies in favor of urban agriculture;
The lack of availability of plots in community gardens in central neighborhoods.
In order to contribute to creating a green city, the Work Group on Urban Agriculture proposes a collective mobilization to demand a public consultation on the state of urban agriculture in Montreal.
The Work Group on Urban Agriculture invites all citizens to sign a petition which will support a public consultation on Urban Agriculture in Montreal. The petition must be signed by November 8, 2011. There are many locations around the island of Montreal to sign the petition. Find the location nearest you (n.b. The petition may be signed in NDG at Coop la Maison Verte – 5785, Sherbrooke street West).
If 15,000 Montrealers support this action within less than three months, the City of Montreal will be required to hold such a consultation.
There is a lot of great information and inspiring quotes in the Indigene Community web site. Their premise is that there is no need to re-invent the wheel in terms of re-learning how to live sustainably.
They argue that Indigenous Knowledge (IK) provides many blueprints for a post-post sustainable world. This organization was inspired by Stewart Brand’s Long Now project.
Built in 1955 by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, LASALLE-GARDENS was inspired by Frederick Law Olmstead’s ‘garden-city’ concept. It currently has 2000 people living in 700 apartments & 50 town-houses on a 33 acre property. Peripheral roads require 1/3rd the number of streets in similar population density as in the rest of Montreal. Park-lands surround most buildings where residents are commonly seen playing, walking and interacting. Some members planted over one hundred maples and pines over 45 years ago which currently reach 50 foot heights providing natural beauty, shade and clean air.
Blueprints for sustainable development and humaine society are still held by indigenous societies and indeed our own indigenous heritages worldwide. ‘Indigenous’ is not a function of race but of openess, involvement and inclusion for everyone. Around the world ethno-historical (indigenous worldview) efforts are being made to compile Indigenous Knowledge IK from thousands of First Nation societies and fragments held by all of us in order to reintegrate this into inclusive living-ecology-economy, abundance and connected cultures today for everyone….
Human culture has perverted its original kind and sustainable operating system due to a pervasive colonial (empire) ‘virus’ by which, we are destroying the planet’s ecological capacities and productivity. Analogy: When a computer has a ‘virus’, we reboot it back at a time when the Operating System was integrated, whole and vibrant. Indigene Community website compiles and attempts to describe the indigenous period, principles and practices, which cover hundreds of thousands and millions of years of human life on earth. Humanity can find abundance and guidance from indigenous roots. We won’t reinvent our way out of problems using the same understandings which create them.
It is unlawful to keep chickens or raise them in a coop in the city of Montreal although it is legal in Westmount.
A new pilot project this summer in the Montreal borough of Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie will test community interest and acceptance towards letting everyone on the island have the ability to raise chickens in their backyards.
While American cities are synchronizing green lights to improve traffic flow and offering apps to help drivers find parking, many European cities are doing the opposite: creating environments openly hostile to cars. The methods vary, but the mission is clear — to make car use expensive and just plain miserable enough to tilt drivers toward more environmentally friendly modes of transportation.
Cities including Vienna to Munich and Copenhagen have closed vast swaths of streets to car traffic. Barcelona and Paris have had car lanes eroded by popular bike-sharing programs. Drivers in London and Stockholm pay hefty congestion charges just for entering the heart of the city. And over the past two years, dozens of German cities have joined a national network of “environmental zones” where only cars with low carbon dioxide emissions may enter.
“In the United States, there has been much more of a tendency to adapt cities to accommodate driving,” said Peder Jensen, head of the Energy and Transport Group at the European Environment Agency. “Here there has been more movement to make cities more livable for people, to get cities relatively free of cars.”
A nice article featuring Marci Babineau and her urban farm. If you ever wondered how much food you could grow in a front or back yard, or how to keep urban chickens, this article is a good source of information.
On the sidewalk in front of Marci Babineau’s house, I craned my neck to see if I could spot the birds.
In the backyard, just beyond her root-vegetable garden and several fruit trees, a chicken stretched out a wing, then ruffled her black feathers back into place.
Not exactly what a passerby would expect to see on a quiet, tree-lined street minutes from downtown Montreal (I can’t say exactly where; more about that later).
But it’s what urban agriculture enthusiasts across North America would like to see – micro-farms where city dwellers could produce fruits, vegetables, eggs and honey, milk from goats, and meat from rabbits.
Some Montrealers have already enthusiastically embraced the growing urban agriculture movement, which took off after Michelle Obama planted a vegetable garden on the White House lawn two years ago.
Chickens are pecking away in Montreal backyards, bees are buzzing around hives in industrial areas, lettuce is growing in container gardens downtown, and the Lufa Farms rooftop greenhouse near Marché Centrale is producing enough fresh produce to feed more than 1,000 people a week.
It’s not easy, though. Municipal bylaws ban most island residents from keeping livestock, like chickens, and bees, and people are more used to seeing grass in front yards than tomatoes and peppers.
Still, if urbanites, who rely on food grown dozens, even thousands of kilometres away, want to try to become as self-sufficient as possible, how would they do it?
Using my own yard as a test case, I set about to find out.
The Green, Active, and Healthy Neighbourhoods project in the Plateau-Est, or Green Plateau-Est, aims to redesign streets and public spaces in order to prioritize walking, cycling, and other modes of active transportation. The project, launched in June 2010, involves a series of participatory activities for citizens during which design solutions for the following priority sites will be proposed and discussed.
> Mont-Royal Avenue East
> Key destinations for neighbourhood youth
> The Masson district
> The STM and Ford district
The project is made up of three phases (Understanding, Exploring, and Deciding). The Green Neighbourhood Plan for the Plateau-Est will be launched in Phase three. The launch is scheduled for mid-april 2011; the exact date will be revealed soon.