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Park Exers hope to Save Sinclair Laird Park

Create: 08/22/2016 - 22:39

A group of Park Extension residents who are determined to see part of the grounds at Sinclair Laird School on Wiseman Ave. conserved as a park instead of being used to build daycare centre held an awareness-raising event on Aug. 5 to make their point.
“We wanted to bring attention to this issue while having the community come and participate in an activity here,” said Lesley Selwood who has been spearheading efforts to keep the lot as a park. As a good number of local people often use the Sinclair Laird School grounds to practice cricket, a demonstration of the sport took place during the event.
Daycare project
EMSB school board officials have been negotiating with the daycare operator who would like to build a facility on the Sinclair Laird grounds because there is a lack of space at the daycare’s current building on Jarry St.
However, The Sinclair Laird grounds are designated as a “park school” in conjunction with the City of Montreal. As such, it can be used after school hours by people from the neighbourhood, and indeed such has been the situation for years.
According to a borough official, an important part of the reason the daycare needs to relocate to the school grounds is that an alternative site the owners had chosen near Canadian Pacific’s rail line is no longer considered acceptable for safety reasons.
A building at the north-east corner of Jarry St. and Querbes Ave. which the daycare owners had previously purchased was judged inappropriate by public safety officials for a children’s daycare following the Lac Mégantic rail disaster three years ago.
Petition going around
According to Selwood, a petition that she and others gathered to oppose the construction of the daycare will be presented at a special EMSB town hall-style meeting on the issue in September. As of last week, the petition had more than 500 signatures. She maintained that virtually every household on the streets near the park signed the petition.
“We are a low income area and most parents around here can’t easily travel to other parks,” said longtime Park Ex resident John Marshall who supports keeping the Sinclair Laird grounds as a park. “Kids come here to play basketball and cricket. It’s a green space that people can enjoy.”
Wants city to buy park
Sasha Dyck, one of the area’s most outspoken community activists, pointed out that with the school’s student population plummeting and some of the space at the school already being leased out to St. Raphael’s School, “it would really interesting for the daycare to have a dialogue with Sinclair Laird and St. Raphael.
“I think an ideal situation might be the EMSB renting out part of the school to the daycare and then at least getting money for it,” he continued, “while the daycare would get access to a beautiful park. I also think the city should purchase the park for future generations.”

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Martin C. Barry