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Library or park? Future of grassy lot divides Laval political parties | CBC News


It may look like just an ordinary stretch of grass sandwiched between metal fencing and high-rise buildings, but an unoccupied lot in the heart of Laval has become a matter of heated debate.

While the city of Laval is planning to build a library with an arts centre, the city’s two opposition parties — and some locals armed with a petition — are calling for an urban park instead.

In defiance of the library project, members of the opposition party, Parti Laval, and some local residents planted a tree in the lot, only to have it removed by the city soon after.

Claude Larochelle, head of Parti Laval, the city’s Official Opposition, and City Councillor for the Fabreville district, was one of the people who planted the tree.

Larochelle described the library and arts centre project as a “crime against urbanity.”

He believes a park instead would be “so important for the health and the quality of life of the citizens of downtown Laval who are living here,” he said. “There is no green space, no trees, and we need it.”

The petition against the library was started by residents who live near the Montmorency Metro station and has already managed to get some 1200 signatures in the past month, according to Larochelle.

 A man stands on the grass.
Claude Larochelle, head of Laval’s Official Opposition, Parti Laval, says every resident should have a park within 400 metres of their doorstep. (Sara Eldabaa/CBC)

The Parti Laval leader says that though the city held a public consultation for the library project two years ago, it doesn’t seem to have listened to the voices of citizens who were against it.

According to the City of Laval’s website, the Laval-des-Rapides district where the library would be has 23 parks, woodlands and other public green spaces compared to three cultural spaces and one library — not including those belonging to the Laval campuses of Université de Montréal and Collège Montmorency.

However, Larochelle says every citizen should have a park within 400 metres of their doorstep.

Alexandre Warnet, City Councillor of Laval-des-Rapides and a member of Mouvement Lavallois, the leading municipal party, has a different take.

He says the project will become the heart and soul of a newly developed downtown core once it is complete, something local artists have been requesting for the last decade.

To top it off, the lot is large enough to accommodate the library and cultural centre as well as some green space, Warnet said in an interview.

“We have this huge piece of land on which we can have this wonderful, beautiful modern building that will host this library and the professional cultural centre, and still have a lot of space for trees,” he said, adding that there are many green spaces planned in the downtown district in the next two decades.

A man stands in a lot.
Alexandre Warnet, city councillor of Laval-des-Rapides and member of the ruling Movement Lavallois, says the library project will form the soul of a newly developed downtown core. (Sara Eldabaa/CBC)

“There is a huge lack of libraries if we compare Laval to other major cities,” he said. “In Quebec, we’re 10th in terms of numbers of libraries and of books, so we need that space to give access to both culture [and] knowledge.”


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