Montreal Forum in Focus: The power of Montreal’s city parks
May 14, 2021
Take a moment to think about what places brought you the most joy, peace, or escape during the pandemic. Does your local park come to mind? Your daily walk through the shaded trees? Seeing your neighbours, friends, and community enjoying the sun on a scorching summer day or a cold winter one? Perhaps seeing dogs run after a frisbee, unaware of the global crisis? Or hearing kids laugh on the playground, unfazed by it all?
City parks were a central part of our communities, neighbourhoods, and daily lives long before the pandemic began. However, this past year has really shone a light on how essential they are for our well-being.
The Montreal Park Forum
It is in this context that we are launching the very first Montreal Park Forum. The Forum is the first event of the new Réseau des amis des parcs de Montréal – a new collaboration between Les amis de la montagne, le Centre d’Écologie Urbaine de Montréal, le Conseil Régional de l’Environnement and Park People – all supported by the Fonds d’initiative et de rayonnement de la métropole (FIRM) and TD Ready Commitment, Founding Sponsors of Park People’s National City Park Network.
At the Montreal Park Forum, we’re inviting park enthusiasts, community park groups, urban planning and park professionals and non-profit organizations dedicated to city parks to come together to promote, protect and activate the power of Montreal’s awesome green spaces.
What’s on the Agenda?
The Forum will feature a keynote presentation from Adrian Benepe and Nathalie Boucher on the power of city parks. You can also attend a powerful panel highlighting multiple perspectives on environmental justice. Finally, attendees can participate in several engaging networking sessions connecting Montrealers to the park issues they care about and the people who make up the Montreal park movement.
The panel discussion focuses on equity in city parks, from both environmental and social perspectives. The panellists include Anne Pelletier from the Public Health of Quebec, Jérôme Dupras, Director of the Laboratory of Ecological Economy at the Institute of Temperate Forest Sciences, Michel Lafleur, President of the citizens’ group Les Amis du CAP Jarry, and Lourdenie Jean, founder of “L’Environnement, C’est Intersectionnel” (The environment is intersectional).
Lourdenie Jean, fondatrice de «L’environnement, c’est intersectionnel»
Lourdenie Jean has long been a leader and advocates for intersectionality in the environmental movement. Two years ago, she created the initiative “L’Environnement, C’est Intersectionnel” (ECI) in order to deepen and inform the discourse on environmentalism including removing barriers to participating in the movement, how environmental impacts are differently experienced by marginalized communities and how to avoid reproducing power problematic structures.
“Environmentalism is an intersectional issue. Often, ecological crises result in a loss of autonomy for marginalized communities,” Lourdenie explains. She researches how ecological crises do not impact communities equally. People, living in more marginalized, less well-served urban developments with less green space, are more likely to face other, related issues: “I talk about how racialized neighbourhoods, where developments are made out of concrete, are spaces where racialized people are far more likely to experience police brutality and domestic violence.”
Anne Pelletier, Regional Program and Research Coordinator of Public Health at the CIUSSS du Center-Sud de Montréal echoes Jean’s perspective: “Having green spaces in urban areas increases our resilience in times of crisis.” Indeed, it has been proven that in addition to being beneficial for our mental health, parks build social connections in our communities.
Pelletier’s research also shows the links between lack of green space, climate change and health. For example, in cities, the loss of the urban tree canopy creates urban heat islands and increased pollution, which can have devastating health consequences in vulnerable communities, explains Pelletier.
“The pandemic has allowed us to make connections, and deepen our approach to the concept of resilience in times of crisis and how it particularly impacts vulnerable populations. Above all, it showed us how parks build both social and environmental resilience”.
As Montrealers, we’re proud of our green spaces. From the smallest parkette to the most majestic large urban park, we identify with our green spaces. Parks are spaces that Parks are where we have meetings, exercise, escape, find peace and connect with nature. Now, more than just spaces for our health, we see the role of city parks in addressing social cohesion, equity and well-being.
Join the Réseau des amis des parcs de Montréal May 26 & 27 and discover, celebrate and activate the power of parks at the first Montreal Park Forum.
The Montreal Park Forum is hosted with Les amis de montagne and in partnership with le Centre d’écologie urbaine de Montréal and le Conseil régional en environnement de Montréal
The Montreal Park Forum is supported by the Government of Québec and the TD Ready Commitment.