2021 Year in Review: June

Many restrictions end

With the curfew now lifted and restaurants, cinemas and bars finally allowed to reopen, many Montrealers saw the month of June as the first month of a return to normal. With warm temperatures and low case counts, the city felt alive again. 

On Jun. 11, bars across the province were allowed to reopen patio service and let people have a drink outside. Group sports were also permitted, with 25 people allowed to participate in outdoor recreational activities and team sports.

Jun. 25 marked the third step of deconfinement measures, with outdoor events and activities such as concerts and festivals allowed under certain conditions. Sports stadiums also saw a relaxation of measures and were allowed to host up to 2500 spectators, just in time for the Montreal Canadians legendary winning streak in June. 

“What a beautiful month of June in Quebec! The weather is nice, the Canadians are winning,” joked Premier François Legault at a press conference in early June, adding that the epidemiological situation had stabilized and continued to improve. Montreal finally went to a green zone on June 28.

End of the school year

While many health restrictions were coming to an end, so was the school year for many local students. Despite the pandemic, Park Extension’s schools salvaged the academic year amid unparalleled circumstances. While educators and students adapted extraordinarily well, the health crisis revealed some of the limits to remote learning and stressed the importance of social interactions in education.

Closures forced schools to reduce or alter access to educational services. Adapted curriculums resulted in lost learning opportunities, including cancelled ministerial exams at primary and secondary levels. “It’s impossible to provide the same level of education as a normal school year,” said Isamël Seck, a special education teacher at Lucien-Pagé High School, adding that “it was very hard for us to […] plan ahead.

While many restrictions were lifted in time for the end of the school year, many students had been deprived of symbolically important graduation ceremonies. Many local schools like Lucien-Pagé, said they would not change their plans for year-end celebrations. 

“For the occasion, the students were invited by class bubble, to come to school during a pedagogical day and asked to dress up for the occasion,” said Alain Perron, responsible for media relations at the CSSDM, adding that no further celebrations like proms or graduation ceremonies were planned. 

“It’s been quite a particular year since it’s the first time for all of us, for the teachers and the students,” explained secondary 5 student Ibrahim Amin. “None of us were used to this type of situation, so it’s really unique,” he added.

Moving day amid a housing crisis

Only two weeks away from the province’s busiest moving day on Jul. 1, hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets of Park Extension to demand more be done to address a growing number of renovictions and an increasingly severe housing crisis. 

Organized by a coalition of local housing groups including Comité d’Action de Parc-Extension (CAPE) and Regroupement des comités logement et Associations de Locataires du Québec (RCLALQ), protestors focused on the marked rise in renovictions in Montreal and across the province.

“The goal is to call out the government about what’s happening with the evictions in the city and to demand better laws to protect tenants,” said Celia Dehouche, a community organizer with CAPE, adding that many would be evicted from their homes by Jul. 1 and have nowhere to turn to for housing.

“This area got gentrified in the past few years and a lot of people have been evicted in this area as well,” added Dehouche, highlighting why the protest route went through Villeray, Little Italy and Park Extension.

This came two days after Villeray—Saint-Michel—Parc-Extension borough mayor Giuliana Fumagalli presented a motion to implement a rent prices registry in Montreal. Although protestors appreciated such initiatives by municipal politicians, they recognized their limitations and stressed that the most significant change would have to come from the provincial government. 

Traffic deviator causing frustration

In mid-June, a recently installed traffic deviator on Villeray started to cause confusion and frustration among many residents in the area. Installed at the corner of Saint-Dominique and Villeray, eastern-bound traffic on Villeray was now redirected north up Saint-Dominique, where it could then only turn onto Gounod and onward to Saint- Laurent Boul.

Many residents complained that this was forcing large amounts of traffic to speed up residential streets, putting the safety of many residents and children at risk. Mehul Patel is one of the employees at the dépanneur on the corner of Villeray and Saint- Dominique, who said he did not understand why it was installed. 

“Everyone sees this as a completely ridiculous thing to do,” derided Patel, explaining that people had moved some of the signs blocking the road, adding that “in the last 10 minutes 3 cars have gone around it.”

A petition was circulated among residents demanding the deviator be removed, receiving over 300 signatures. The City nonetheless argued the deviator would eventually reduce through traffic on Villeray and calm circulation on the street. It has since been left in place.