06 Nov 2014
Entrepreneurship & Management
Local Innovation: Revitalizing Jazzmen Park
All of the images were provided by the author
The aim of the École de l’innovation citoyenne (ÉIC) [School for Community Innovation] is to enhance local quality of life.
The ÉIC is the social component of the Quartier de l’innovation. It is a platform for action that enables local institutional, community and municipal stakeholders to develop proposals, in partnership, intended to enhance the quality of life in the neighbourhood. It has served as a framework for a collaborative process between a number of institutions—such as École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS), McGill, Cégep André-Laurendeau and Dawson College— and the Coalition de la Petite-Bourgogne (local discussion forum) to pave the way for several of the development projects along the Sentier de la Bourgogne [Little Burgundy Footpath].
For four months, the Coalition de la Petite-Bourgogne and students of the ÉIC worked together with a view to translating goals into technical challenges. The student group called itself the “Groupe des huit” [Group of Eight] and included members of DécliQ.
The Group of Eight adopted a multidisciplinary, inclusive approach and worked from the ideas and comments gathered during four community consultations regarding the future of Jazzmen Park. This process culminated in a statement of work, which incorporates an innovative approach to development and a collective construction process that unites local knowledge (residents) with technical skills (students) in a shared vision for enhancing public spaces.
The purpose of the statement of work was to document and summarize these different kinds of know-how to enable other collaborative ÉIC teams to resolve development issues through the development design concept itself.
Once an agricultural area, this land became home to many when the Lachine Canal (1821-1825) and the railway (1847) were built. These developments led to a demographic and economic boom that attracted many industries to the area. At the time, the local population, comprising mainly workers and craftsmen, were either French Canadian or immigrants from the West Indies or the United States. The strong West Indies and American presence was the genesis for the establishment and dissemination of jazz in Montreal, and its rhythm was the district’s hallmark until the middle of the 20th century. In fact, Oscar Peterson and Oliver Jones are two of its prodigies.
When the Lachine Canal closed down in 1970 and businesses began leaving in droves as a result, the Petite-Bourgogne district, as well as the entire southwestern part of the city, suffered an economic downturn whose residual effects are still visible today.
Issues and problems with Jazzmen Park
Local issues are primarily of a social, human and environmental nature. Socially, the project is aiming to foster a mingling and mixing of diverse groups by bringing local communities together around a shared goal of enhancing their quality of life.
To this end, the project encourages civic involvement at every stage of its unfolding. The suggested participatory methodology has helped reinforce participant ownership in the decision-making and implementation processes.
Placing responsibility for the project in the hands of local residents is a way of ensuring sustainability and continuity.
Cleanliness, safety and usage are the major problems at the park at this stage. By promoting the use of public spaces by local residents, the project will help to increase the sense of safety in the neighbourhood.
- 1. Cultural thematic
The intent of the Jazzmen Park redevelopment is to create a commons. Historically, jazz has united the residents living north of the park with their neighbours on the south side. As a result, the ‘jazz’ theme is the most conducive to imbuing the place with historic and symbolic meaning. It conveys the area’s identity, the objective being to stimulate a sense of ownership of the park among residents and to instil a strong sense of belonging.
2. Socialization and cultural expression
Jazzmen Park must be considered a public space: a place for meeting and socializing. This will come about by creating three spaces: one for socializing, one for cultural expression and one for play. The design elements used in these three spaces need to be conceived in a way that allows for responsive and formal cultural programming as well as ongoing and informal use (e.g. the cultural expression space could be used by young people for hip-hop and by seniors for line dancing).
3. Integration with the Little Burgundy Footpath
Jazzmen Park must be considered part of the Little Burgundy Footpath. People walking along the pathway must view the park as an inviting place. Accordingly, the separation between the pathway and the Jazzmen space needs to be permeable.
4. Integration of the park’s design elements
There must be a synergy between design elements such as a stage, playground equipment and benches that encourages residents to gather and socialize.
5. Inspiration for users to create and innovate
The design elements need to enable users to have a sense of ownership and to personalize the spaces. Preferably, they would be multi-purpose to allow for multiple uses.
The technical challenges have been identified and many ideas have emerged. Currently, the project is awaiting funding and a decision regarding the feasibility of the various proposals.
We wish them every success!
Please have a look at the other innovative projects in which DécliQ has a hand:
- A solar greenhouse for l’Ancre des Jeunes [French only]
- Helping a start-up entrepreneur (coming soon)
- Stimulating creativity in our little ones [French only]
- Enhancing the stairs at ÉTS (coming soon)
- New spaces for bicycles designed by ÉTS for ÉTS (coming soon)
Ahmed Chérifi holds a Ph.D. in Engineering from the department of Automated Manufacturing at ÉTS. He specializes in sustainable development and eco-design as part of innovation management.
Research laboratories : NUMERIX – Organizational Engineering Research Laboratory for the Digital Enterprise