Friday, August 17, 2012

d is for dog

In August pouf! submitted a project proposal to the Canadian Centre for Architecture, in response to a call for projects about what Montreal means to its users, A-Z. We chose "d" - for dog, naturally! Our submission, D is for dog, proposed to turn the spacious green lawns of the CCA into a pop-up or temporary dog park for one afternoon in fall 2012. The goal would have been to temporarily increase the amount of space on the island of Montreal for shared animal/human use, but we also hoped to engage visitors to the pop-up park in a dialogue about inclusive urban planning. Inclusive, that is, of our animal co-habitants in the city.

Tom modified Cynthia's photograph of the CCA grounds to include
some of our friends from Parc Gallery.

Our proposal was not among those chosen for exhibition/enactment, unfortunately. But we thought followers of the dog parc gallery project might enjoy taking a look at our proposal. We were certainly inspired by Parc Gallery!

The cover page of our submission.

The full text of our proposal.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Development continues on all sides of Parc Gallery

During our re-installation of the dog portraits in Parc Gallery, we were struck by the presence of huge building cranes on all sides, and the disappearance of the lovely, former ancien maçonnerie on the north side of the park, also home to a plumber and photography clinic, all vanished.

Looking north on Rue Basin towards downtown
- this view won't last long.

A building crane towers over the future Bassins de nouveau havre,
to the west of Parc Gallery.

We came on the weekend, when there was no construction noise. Should one hope for the building projects to be staggered, to limit the noise pollution on a day-by-day basis, or for they to coincide, and thus - one hopes - end sooner?

Duke appears to look with some suspicion upon
the advertising tower for "Parc Gallery Lofts", which
will occupy the site south of the present dog park.

Le retour des portraits

The portraits are back! Visitors to Parc Gallery over the last few weeks will have noticed that we have returned the dog portraits, taken in fall 2010, to Parc Gallery's southern fence. Because a few of the portraits were taken from the park, we don't have quite as many as we did the first time around, so we decided to install them on one fence only. Maybe they will inspire more portrait-additions in the future!

Tom sorting the portraits - Zirreh is on top.

We used the same system as last fall to install the pictures. Please let us know if any seem loose or need replacement ties!

Jack looks like he's shaking paws with Tom.

The portraits seem no worse for wear despite being outside from August 2011-January 2012, when we took them down to show them at a public consultation (OCPM).

Of course, a dog user of Parc Gallery became quite interested in our work!

All done! A real dog outshines the pictures - but it's nice to see them up again!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

À qui profite l'espace publique - followup

Hello dpg followers,

A nice crowd was in attendance at the third "Café des z'architectes" at the lovely Maison d'architecture du Québec. About 50 people came out to hear - and contribute to - some different perspectives on the question of what is public space, to whom does it belong, and who enjoys the benefits of such spaces.

Cynthia of pouf! had the chance to share her views on these questions through the example of Parc Gallery, which at present is in a kind of public space limbo. Despite its 80-year history as a space made for the public, by the public, and despite its current, successful use as a green meeting place for a diverse community, the City has not yet reversed its decision of c. 2007 to privatize the land, a decision that was made with a view to permitting real estate development on this historic site.

Cynthia showed images of the park, historically and today, and argued that it is not only legal recognition that makes a space public; it is also what people choose to do, together, in and with a space.

21 February at la Maison d'architecture du Québec

The discussion that followed the five presentations circled around examples of European city spaces as idealized answers to the question of how to design and use public space; questions of who has the right to city space, and as so often happens, the homeless were discounted as not being part of the public who may enjoy parks and squares.

This is certainly not the opinion of pouf! We see the public realm, as Cynthia argued on Tuesday night, as constituting those spaces where one has the right to share in the use, and to debate the use, of space. A space where one privileged group decides for other, less privileged groups what may or may not happen, is not particularly public. Such a space is much closer to the definition of private space. So even though Square Viger was held up over and over again as an example of "failed" public space, in fact it is an excellent example of how the public defines and redefines the spaces at its disposal. Homeless individuals and their dogs occupied Charles Daudelin's sculpture, Agora, for years before being evicted in summer 2011. They made creative and practical use of a space that the city had virtually abandoned. See the work of Lindsay Cory, MA candidate, Concordia University, for more info.

Even if such appropriations make some people uncomfortable, they are a very clear reflection of the realities of the city, and the many different sorts of people who make up the city. Are we to hide such realities in pretty parks with perfectly functioning fountains? Are public parks only for business people on their lunch breaks, or families on weekends?

Despite the best efforts of the organizers and moderator Peter Fianu (and many audience members) the topic of the evening shifted from the public space to private space - condo developments, and spaces that look like public spaces but are in fact managed - aménagé - by private corporations, who can decide what does and doesn't happen there. And in that conversational shift, perhaps we saw the answer to the evening's central question.

If that is the case - that homeowners are the ones who profit from the "public" realm, among a few others - then it is all the more important that new and future homeowners in "District Griffin" and Les Bassins du nouveau havre choose to help fight for the continued freedom and flexibility of public space in Griffintown. Isabelle R. was at the MAQ on Tuesday night, and she did just that - speaking eloquently and passionately about Parc Gallery and her experience as a dog owner in the city. Bravo Isabelle!

Many thanks to Noémie Despland-Lichlert and Sophie Gironnay for inviting pouf! to participate, and to Alain Laforest and Sophie for making their excellent interventions throughout the evening. One thing is certain: if a public space is a space created in and through debate, discussion, even conflict, then the MAQ was such a space on Tuesday night. And we are all the better for it.

Monday, February 20, 2012

À qui profite l'espace public? Café des z'architectes, MAQ

Venez tout le monde au Café des z'architects, une initiative de la Maison de l'architecture du Québec (MAQ), pour parler aux questions d'espace public à Montréal. 

The plan for the night is for a table ronde, at which Cynthia (one half of pouf!) will give a five-minute presentation about Parc Gallery. There will be four other presenters (Michel Langevin, Bruno Collin, Denis Robitaille, and a representative from Lapointe Magne et associés), each of whom will discuss the question of public space from their perspective. After the end of the table ronde, the discussion will be opened up to the general public. This is a chance for users of Parc Gallery to have their say about this important public space! Please come if you can.

To reserve a place (recommended), contact MAQ:
514 868 6691

Frais d'entrer: $3 (ou $5 avec une verre de vin)

Address: 181 rue Saint-Antoine Ouest, coin rue Saint François Xavier
métro: Place d'Armes

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Hopeful developments

At the Griffintown Selon Vous/Portes Ouvertes event on Jan. 20-21, we had the opportunity to visit a kiosk of the City of Montréal. They had multiple copies of their current planning document for Griffintown, dated 11-12 January, 2012.

We searched it for views of and information about Parc Gallery. And this is what we found:

Look closely and you will see, just south of Ste-Ann's park, a green rectangle - this is our very own Parc Gallery, which has not been noted as a green space on previous planning documents. This is extremely positive! Even better...

If you zoom in you will see a small symbol of a dog on this additional map of Griffintown. This means that, despite the worrying disregard for Parc Gallery's status as a public green space and official aire d'exercise canin, there is some recognition at the City that Parc Gallery is exactly that: a public, green space that serves the dogs of the south-west of Montreal.

The legend proves it! These maps are evidence that, no matter what challenges are ahead of us, there is a clear recognition of the use of this park, today. We can return to these planning documents in the future, if the need arises. Now to protect the park for good!

Great two days: Griffintown selon vous

Hello dpg followers,

We had a wonderful two days at the École de Technologie Supérieure, representing the interests of Parc Gallery to a wide range of politicians, urban planners, artists, community groups, students, current and incoming residents of Griffintown, and the general public. Our kiosk was set up by Claude T. and Isabelle R., who covered it with our photographic portraits of the dogs, taken in 2010, borrowed from the park. We also had copies of our publication, and the all-important petition. Over the two days we collected 100 additional signatures and now have more than 300! A great day.

Isabelle R. explaining the challenges facing the park to visitors to our
kiosk, Saturday, Jan. 21

For sure we had the brightest and most colourful kiosk! We were lucky to be right beside Shauna Janssen + her Urban Occupations Urbaines display - without Shauna we would never have known about Parc Gallery.

Claude, Cynthia and Isabelle greet visitors.
Both photos by Thomas.

Thanks to Kathleen, Jean, Michael and Janice for stopping by! Also to Jesse for joining us in the afternoon.

The kiosk all ready, Thursday night.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Venez nous visiter - Come visit us: Jan. 21, Portes Ouvertes Griffintown

The Office of Public Consultation of Montreal is allowing the public to visit 16 kiosks that show the life of Griffintown today, and its importance to the future of the neighbourhood tomorrow, during an Open House at the École de technologie supérieure, 1100 Notre-Dame Ouest, 10am-4pm. A plan of the event space is copied below:

And here is the description of the larger event, which takes place over two days (you have to register for a spot in the colloquium and workshop through the OCPM's website - see link at right).

Notice in the second page, which has a map of the areas of concern in Griffintown, that Parc Gallery (which we have circled in red) is not noted. Our objective during the next two days is to change the perception that this is empty space! Our kiosk will have images from the dog park on display, a slideshow of dogs and human users of Parc Gallery, copies of our exhibition catalogue (which has lots of historical information) and our official "mémoire" or justification to save the park, sent out to approximately 20 politicians and heritage workers last year. We'll also have copies of our petition to sign - so please stop by and add your support to our cause! Cynthia and Thomas will be present representing pouf! art + architecture, and Claude T. (Canelle) and Isabelle R. (Duff) will be there representing the park's users, and the facebook page initiative. See you there!

New Griffintown residents chose the neighbourhood because of Parc Gallery

Hello dog parc gallery followers,

As the plans for this weekend's public consultations about Griffintown's future finalize, we received this email from a soon-to-be resident of Les Bassins de Nouveau Havre, being built on the former Canada Post sorting station site, across the street from Parc Gallery. This is what Marie-Claude had to say:

"We are moving into Les Bassins du Havre in 2013 and are dog owners.  The presence of the dog park was an important factor in our decision to buy a condo in that project.To our dismay this morning, when we visited the construction site, a dog owner told us that the dog park was in danger of being shut down or relocated.  We found your address at the park and I am writing to offer any help that I can - from a distance because we presently live in Bromont.  I will of course speak to the developer, but circulating a petition is not a possibility.  If there is a copy of the petition somewhere, we will gladly sign it however.  And, if there is anything else I can do, please let me know."

This message was a welcome offer of help (thank-you Marie-Claude!) but it also sends an important message to those who are currently deciding Griffintown's - and Parc Gallery's - future. New residents want to live in a neighbourhood that has amenities such as an excellent, safe dog park.  Although we have received informal support from Devimco that they agree with the initiative to save the park, we still have not received official confirmation. And while the consultations this weekend are an important step towards showing the City of Montreal and their developer partners that there is much life in this park, there is still a long way to go towards saving Griffintown's oldest surviving public green space. Let's hope this weekend's efforts will help ensure that when Abaya and Beckham move from Bromont to Griffintown, Parc Gallery will be there to make their days joyful.

Friday, January 13, 2012

dogs in snow

Some inspiring winter videos of dogs and humans enjoying just what Parc Gallery offers its local interspecies community. Thanks to Lori, Martin, and Stache, who were visiting Morin Heights...

and to Rebecca, Dave, who were in Maine with Horace and Roma.

Griffintown Selon Vous - Office de Consultation Publique de Montréal

Hello dog parc gallery followers! Happy new year. We hope you've all had great quality time with your companion species and families.

On January 20-21, pouf! will be present at the following event, "Griffintown Selon Vous" - an initiative of the Office of Public Consultation, which is interested to hear from community organization and arts groups about the future of Griffintown. The history of public consultation for Griffintown's swift development is not a great one - many decisions were made in the first 10 years of the new millennium which were not what Griffintown's users wanted. So this public event is a great opportunity to show the 250 registered participants/visitors what it is we DO want to see in this special part of Montreal. Of course, our particular concern will be Parc Gallery's protection as a dog park and community amenity. Park users Claude Trépanner, Isabelle Roy will be present with pouf! and Shauna Janssen, who is the curator behind all the amazing art projects you've seen in Griffintown since September 2009 ( We will share our photographic project, show some of our research about Parc Gallery's history, and have publications and petitions for visitors to see and sign. Join us or check this blog the following week for an update about how the event went.