On Sunday, February 7, about sixty McGill students and residents of the Milton-Parc community gathered at the Milton-Parc Community Centre to discuss solutions to Montreal’s reliance on fossil fuels.
The consultation meeting was organized by the Educational Community Living Environment (ECOLE) project, the Milton Park Recreation Association, the Office de consultation publique de Montréal (OCPM), and the Société de développement communautaire Milton-Parc.
Speaking to The Daily, Dimitri Roussopoulos, an activist in the community and one of the organizers, explained that the meeting sought to prepare for the public consultations that are being organized by the OCPM as well as to bring people from the community together.
Acording to an October 15 announcement on the OCPM’s website, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre mandated the OCPM in June, 2015 to consult on “concrete, ambitious and achievable solutions to Montreal’s dependence on fossil fuels.” The first phase of the consultation process ran from October to January. The second phase is currently underway, and will continue until March.
The consultation meeting was structured around five themes, focusing on reducing dependence on fossil fuels in transportation, buildings, industry, personal lifestyle, and municipal services.
In an interview with The Daily, Guy Grenier, who worked with the OCPM, explained the vision of the event.
“The basic idea was to give Montrealers a say in this topic. It impacts everyone, so we work very hard to try to reach everyone to get the opinion of every Montrealer,” Grenier said.
But Roussopoulos emphasized that the event wanted to “go beyond simply talking about climate change and to talk about system change. […] In other words, what really has to change in our society in order for us to live in harmony with nature, rather than being at war with nature, which is what our society is engaged in now,” Roussopoulos said.
“People are willing to act and that’s making me more optimistic, and I feel I’m not alone in what I think of those things. So it’s going to prompt me to be more active in the future.”
Participants were asked to sit at French, English, or bilingual tables in order to discuss fossil fuel challenges that they are particularly interested in and potential solutions to those challenges. Presentations of the discussions to the wider group – which were translated to ensure that speakers of both languages were able to understand – discussed a variety of topics, such as public transportation, food consumption, bike infrastructure, presence of large delivery trucks, and urban agriculture.
Alongside the discussion of climate change, Roussopoulos said the event aimed to “bring people from the Milton-Parc community together, and to connect them with the students on the McGill campus; for them to get to know each other – because they don’t.”
Grenier outlined various other ways for how people can get involved in the consultation process. “They can participate in the creative marathon, they can organize a consultation group – we have a do-it-yourself consultation kit, they can write a [memorandum], or just present themselves to a public hearing and ask to take the [microphone].”
Event participant Caroline Dionne, who has a PhD in History and Theory of Architecture from McGill, noted pollution and a lack of green space in the community as major concerns.
Dionne told The Daily, “People are willing to act and that’s making me more optimistic, and I feel I’m not alone in what I think of those things. So it’s going to prompt me to be more active in the future.”