The imminent arrival of a new French-language school in Mount Royal continues to stir up excitement, while Mayor Peter Maloof still refuses to tell the truth to citizens. In the town, the persistent rumor that this new school will be built on the grounds of the park worries many inhabitants, who fear losing an important “green lung”, especially for the most vulnerable.

Henri Ouellette-Vezina

“We need to protect all of our green spaces. We cannot afford to lose such a large green space. No, we have to go back to the source of the demand and do a real study to identify the real needs,” said Maryam Kamali Nejad, Independent Councilor for District 2 of the Town of Mount Royal.

For more than a year now, the municipality of 22,000 inhabitants has been discussing a new French-language elementary school. The city, hit by a demographic boom that created a large number of French-speaking students, decided that it needed a fourth primary school to accommodate this young clientele.

A solution was floated from the start: build the school on land adjacent to Dunray Gardens School, an English-language primary school. The site was owned by the English-Montreal School Board (EMSB), although it was later abandoned. According to our sources, Ernst-B.-Jubian Park is now considered the most “appropriate” place to host the new school.

Impatient Citizens

A group of approximately 900 citizens filed a petition in recent weeks to oppose the construction of a school in Ernest-B.-Jubien Park, considered a “green lung”.

“The disappearance of this park will affect many people in the area, especially those who are more disadvantaged compared to other areas. The park is used by many people, such as the elders’ house, apartment dwellers, CHSLD, and it is a must on a daily basis, ”explains Françoise Gray, spokesperson for the signatories of the petition.

She and her team presented the administration with an “alternative solution”: 1000 Luzerne Road, the site of a former synagogue that was soon to be demolished.

It’s already a zoned business. It’s the best place right now, it doesn’t sacrifice a green space, and it doesn’t make islanders lose their cool in the context of the climate crisis.

Françoise Le Criss, spokesperson for the signatories of the petition opposing the construction of a school in Parc Ernest-B.-Jubien

Photo by Marco Campanosi, La Presse

1000 Lucerne Road

Mme Le Gris also lamented that the administration is “keeping people in the dark” about his intentions. In June, in the middle of a council meeting, Mayor Peter Maloof promised citizens that he would have answers on the location chosen within a few weeks, which has not yet been done. “Behind the file hides a management committee whose members or mandate are not even known. Everything is blurry. We are on very strange practices on both sides. The truth is, a school doesn’t need residents,” he says.

A “highly political” choice

Maryam Kamali Nejad believes that the administration’s approach is “too political”. “They want a simple and quick choice, and in the next election campaign they say they have offered the school. But you have to ask yourself a question: is there a demand from neighboring regions such as Côte-des-Neiges, Saint-Laurent? If so, imagine the traffic this will bring to our neighborhoods. Look, she worries.

No decision has yet been “officially” made, however, Mayor Peter Maloof says he has read no less than “17 scenarios” to Center de services scolaire Marguerite-Borgeoys (CSSMB), a potential manager of the new school. “You have to work with the priorities of the service desk for the type of site. It is not something that can be easily determined. […] Me, I work on facts, not on emotions, ”explains Mr. Maloof.

Photo by Philippe Bovin, La Presse Archives

The Mayor of Mount Royal, Peter Maloof, in November 2021

“We focus on the well-being of children. At the moment, we have young people in trailers, they don’t even have a yard to go play. We have to find a place for them, that’s the priority, ”replies the mayor, who criticizes the “activists” for “systematically attacking” his administration. .

Mr. Malouf says he read the file “from top to bottom”. “We know how many children will come from Mount Royal, how many children will come from outside, and we are examining all of this in depth. All of our analyzes will eventually be shared with citizens,” he promises, without giving a specific date. However, at the end of the interview, he adds: “Remember that there is an election on October 3 and we have to know who we are going to do business with. »