In a compact city like Montreal, one might assume that there’s not much room left over for green spaces. But for many Montrealers, and particularly the residents of Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie, our limited space simply means having to find a more creative solution. And, as it turns out, the solution was in their own backyards all along — or should we say, back alleys? (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)
The charming Montreal borough aims to turn every available alley they can into une ruelle verte: a green space beautified by replacing concrete with mini gardens and colourful murals (in partnership with TANDEM, they’ve already produced 54 murals in the neighbourhood’s back lanes). Bringing together passionate community members, the initiative is a three-way collaboration between the district, the Éco-quartier program, and volunteer residents from the neighbourhood. It’s their hope that this will not only improve the neighbourhood aesthetically, but will also help reduce the urban heat island effect, ease traffic, and help build relationships in the community.
According to the city’s calculations, the project has already helped replace 3158 square metres of asphalt with greenery since 2011, which is equivalent to over half the size of a regulation football field. Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie is also the borough with the most converted alleys, coming out on top with an impressive 82 beautified back lanes. It’s estimated that about 11,350 plants have already been given out to citizens for planting, along with the recycling and installation of 23 old park benches and 72 flower boxes.
The best part is, if you think your alley could benefit from such a makeover, all you need to do is reach out to the organization. Based on various factors including your lane’s usual traffic and dimensions, they’ll review your case to see if it’s feasible. For more information on how to get your block involved, check out the city’s breakdown of the initiative here — but take note: the review process must be completed before mid-February!
It’s projects like these that make Montreal such a beautiful place to explore. So the next time you wander through a back alley, take some time to appreciate it not just for what it is, but for what it soon could be.
Has your alley already been converted into a green space? Snap a picture and share it with #themainmtl on Instagram!