An oasis in a food desert
Three kilometres, a railroad, Highway 20, and a frontage road along the 20. These were the obstacles that residents of Lachine's Saint-Pierre neighbourhood had to overcome to get to the closest grocery store.
"The area is very landlocked. You can't walk everywhere like you do in the Plateau," said David Marshall, director of Revitalisation Saint-Pierre.
To breathe new life into this food desert, the organization opened the Marché Saint-Pierre in 2010. What started out as a fruit and vegetable market became a bustling and active place. Now you can find much more than produce there. A brand-new community kitchen gives residents the chance to chat and enjoy fresh food that is often local and organic. Training workshops and a catering service are also offered, along with a community garden where young people educate others about nutrition.
This place is just one of many projects by Revitalisation Saint-Pierre. In collaboration with other community groups, the organization also hosts travelling seasonal markets in three of Lachine's food deserts and visits seniors to make sure they have access to fresh products. These initiatives, motivated by social values, help to reduce isolation.
"Our mission is to empower residents and mobilize local stakeholders. At the core, we are really a citizen movement," said Marshall.
Since it was created in 2004, Revitalisation Saint-Pierre has slowly but surely breathed new life into this working-class neighbourhood of 5,400 residents. A falafel restaurant where people line up to get a seat has opened in front of the market. Businesses in the neighbourhood have renovated their façades, and nearby Rue Saint-Jacques was greened.
During the neighbourhood's Snow Festival (February 17 to 19), the Marché Saint-Pierre holds an affordable sugar shack. In September, for the International Day of Peace, it becomes a world food festival, where people can taste foods from a dozen countries prepared by volunteers for an affordable price.
"One thing's for sure – we work hard!" says the director of Revitalisation Saint-Pierre. "Lachine may be a long way from the action downtown, but there's plenty going on here."
Le Marché Saint-Pierre since 2010
- 10 local jobs have been created and maintained
- $320,000 food purchases made locally
- 4,000 hours of trades made by residents each year
- More than 10,000 prepared foods sold each year
- 150 participants have taken part in cooking workshops
To learn more on Revitalisation Saint-Pierre
At the beginning of the 2000s, Montréal launched its integrated urban revitalization program (IUR) in socially and economically underprivileged neighbourhoods, including Saint-Pierre. To find other resources, organizations and community partners in Lachine, visit the directory.