St. Dominique: Produce and Protest

Thursday afternoon could not have been a better afternoon for the opening of a new pedestrian market. It was a beautiful clear sunny day, and the shadows cast on the Saint-Enfant-Jésus Church were worthy of a European film. In fact, with the market teeming with people and the band playing in the background, the church had never seemed livelier or lovelier.

I arrived just in time to hear borough councilor Richard Ryan say a few words to officially open the market place, which was later followed by some upbeat music from the band. A few stalls were open selling kale, homemade ketchup, strawberries, honey and baked goods. The offerings were similar to those at the Sunday market just off Duluth, decidedly upmarket and not as focused on sustainable produce as I had hoped. But as we know, these things evolve, and the produce sold here may be very different by season's end in October.

I did, however, notice that the market merchants did not form a straight line along St. Dominique, which in previous weeks had been painted green. In fact, the centre of the market curved into the park to increase its distance from the church's entrance. Then I noticed about 20 mature demonstrators who were protesting on the church steps. I went to pick up a leaflet that was being distributed and spoke with two of the demonstrators.

"We are not protesting the market, " said a woman in her seventies. "We just want the market to take place in Park Lahaie and not on St. Dominique Street."

The demonstrators disagree with the closing of St. Dominique. They argue that the street is part of the church's religious heritage and should be respected. Its closure not only makes parking difficult for churchgoers, the elderly and workers at the neighbouring seniors' residence, but it also impedes access to a place of worship. In addition, the protesters claim that the street closure dissuades family and friends from coming to visit residents.

What better place to make your concerns known than a public square.

What do you think reader? Is the complete closure of St. Dominique unfair to elderly residents or is it green progress, making our borough more citizen-centred?

The culture of protesting is something that I have always found refreshing about Quebec and seeing these seniors stand guard outside their church, charging borough mayor Luc Fernandez with "Ageism!" was heartwarming. I love to see people stand up for themselves. And I can't help but think that the demonstration was unexpected.

But there is room for compromise on both sides, and I'll be watching this situation to see how it progresses over the summer.

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Anonymous | June 19, 2010 at 4:32 PM

There were far more people overjoyed by the street closure than there were against it.

When there's change afoot, someone will always be against it, despite how overwhelmingly popular the decision be.

Concerning the protesters, we have people who have been lost to car culture for good. There's a parking lot in the back, for goodness sake! And how many beautiful carless church plazas in Europe can we use as an example for good church attendance without cars.

WE must as a society return to the greatest mode transport ever conceived: walking

The closure is certainly a positive step towards a healthier city and society.

Heather | June 19, 2010 at 5:00 PM

Thanks very much for your comment Anonymous.

Heather | June 20, 2010 at 1:40 PM

I was just over at my 74-year-old father's blog. As you will see from what he posted today, he has little patience for any faith-based protests. His political leanings are very far to the left, but a dormant right suddenly surfaces whenever there is any proselytizing.

"Just read the latest at AKAmamma and will add my two bits worth. I'm always suspicious of "faith" based protests, it s as if the protesters believe we should bow down to them because of their religious beliefs.The street was closed to reclaim the street for the neighborhood from the car and having a farmers market makes use of at least starting to alleviate our dependence on the 1500 km. meal. Those that just have to get to the church for the religious services will just have to adjust."

François-B. Tremblay | June 20, 2010 at 2:08 PM

I have to say that I agree with your father on this.

Il faudrait revoir notre conception de la ville après plus de 75 ans d'urbanisme orienté par l'automobile. Cette formule est un dead-end.

We should have more projects like this.

Heather | June 20, 2010 at 8:23 PM

Oh, I don't agree with the seniors. I was just surprised and impressed by how well organized they were for protesting. They had their leaflets and signs ready and their arguments prepared. I was only pointing out that it is healthier to organize and protest than to remain silent.

I completely agree with greening the city, and yes, a move away from our carcentric society will always have its detractors.

François-B. Tremblay | June 21, 2010 at 2:14 PM

I agree that it is a good thing that people can protest without being beaten, imprisoned or killed. We often take that liberty for granted.

Heather | June 21, 2010 at 2:41 PM

Worse still is having the right and never using it. H

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