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"The most unholy spot in Montreal"

Posted by Laura / April 10, 2007

20070410_main.jpgThe Globe and Mail ran an interesting article yesterday about the city’s plans to clean up lower Saint Laurent and those seedy activities that give it its rep (see post title). As part of the city’s Quartier des Spectacles initiative, they’re planning a $20 million cultural centre right at the intersection of the Main with Saint Catherine.

The fact that this is still a very tentative plan (the area is too far south to be included in the first or second phases of the current Saint Laurent Boulevard construction) did not stop reader outrage in the comments section. “Personally, I don't visit Montreal for a bland cultural centre. Blah! I go for the sleaze!” writes a reader from Toronto. “Just bleach the life right outta the city. These 'gentrification' projects are always doomed to fail,” writes another.

Others remind the sleaze-seekers that the activities they’re defending have real costs for residents. “I… lived in downtown Montreal for the better part of my life and got fed up of collecting syringes, lemon rinds, carbonized spoons and other goodies on my doorstep every other morning,” writes one. “By all means, let's find a way to hang onto some of our grit and authenticity, but let's not wallow in filth in the process, OK?” adds another.

Watch this space for more Saint Laurent construction news in the coming weeks.

UPDATE: An article tells how the Société de développement Angus had the gall to try and "pre-lease" space in the Saint Laurent/Saint Catherine project. The land isn't even owned by the city yet. The name of this building-to-be? "Le Red Light."

Discussion

18 Comments

FX / April 10, 2007 at 01:04 pm
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The Globe & Mail article is a bit funny. Of course, we should be careful in tearing down all these amazing Montreal institutions. It would also be sad to loose the distinctive "esprit des lieux" of this historic corner. Giving press to Dinu Bumbaru is always good. This being said, wake up people! The process started a long time ago and what we are witnessing now is simply the last coat of tourist-friendly varnish being applied. I first visited St-Laurent/St-Catherine when I was a teenager. I had heard stories all my childhood about this sleazy place where danger, sin and even worst things were hanging out. When I finally got there I was, like, whatever, this place is actually not that bad. This was in the EARLY NINETIES! Since then the clean(-but-asymmetrically)-cut SAT kids moved in, UQAM buildt a student dorm on René-Levesque and Télé-Québec taped several seasons of it's all-but-edgy "Les Choix de Sophie" TV show from first floor café at Monument National. Not exactly seedy red-light district stuff, if you know what I mean? It is vital to fight to preserve important signifiers of our city's history. It is even more crucial to start right away to open our eyes and look for other areas and landmarks that the city planners haven't already earmarked and sold away to greedy private developers or misled politicians.
josef / April 10, 2007 at 03:28 pm
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Here's another article about this: http://www.cyberpresse.ca/article/20070410/CPACTUALITES/704100639/6048/CPACTUALITES
Laura / April 10, 2007 at 04:09 pm
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FX: I totally agree with you about looking to protect places that the city planners haven't already targeted for development. This area, like most downtowns in the world, is always going to be in the public eye, and therefore the target of private greed as well as positive investment.

Josef: Merci pour l'article. I'm going to add it to the post.
Christopher DeWolf / April 10, 2007 at 05:55 pm
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Maybe it's just me but the whole sleazy pre-leasing thing seems to fit right in with the underhanded nature of the neighbourhood. St. Laurent was built on shady deals. The tradition continues!
RS / April 11, 2007 at 12:52 am
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The damn thing about bulk gentrification is what it looks like 20 years down the road. Anyway, we'll see...
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golu dolls / March 14, 2019 at 03:51 am
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