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Experiencing My City
Portrait de M. Jean Décarie

The Village Effect

Pointe-Saint-Charles
Published on
December 7, 2016
Jean Décarie never lived in the Southwest.

Trained as an urban planner, he nonetheless worked there for a long time, and even after retiring, the former professor continued to get involved there. Particularly in Pointe- Saint-Charles, the neighbourhood stuck between the Lachine Canal, train tracks, and the imposing Turcot Interchange. Being a geographic enclave, together with the fact that the sector was long considered the most important industrial area in North America, gives the district a highly distinctive character.

One doesn’t live in “the Point” like one does in Saint-Henri or Griffintown, even though both are located a stone’s throw away.

“Pointe-Saint-Charles, with its thriving community and social struggles past and present, sometimes feels like a village, despite the fact that it never actually qualified as one,” explains Jean Décarie matterof- factly. “And the people who live there are proud.” 

Maybe that’s the secret.” This “village effect” takes shape in many ways. Neighbours who get together to prevent a building from being demolished. A group of friends who transform an old brownfield site into a collective park. These community organizations—the neighbourhood’s principal economy, according to Décarie—drive, inform, and mobilize citizens. “The neighbourhood was built around victories and defeats,” says the former urban planner.

“Building something together fosters a sense of belonging. It’s fascinating to see how this neighbourhood managedto put itself together through the unlikely urban fabric that was forced upon it. Today, it’s a little anachronistic yet incredibly rich at the same time.”

Pointe-Saint-Charles is located in Le Sud-Ouest borough.

 

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