Vital green space at École Barclay

CSSDM plan for modular classrooms attracts the ire of residents

The CSSDM hopes to create temporary, modular classrooms in the schoolyard at École Barclay to accommodate these students. Photo: CSSDM

The issue of access to green space comes up regularly in Parc-Extension. The neighbourhood is home to a high density of residents, with only a small amount of parks and green space available. A growing number of residents who live around Parc-École Barclay are worried that they may soon lose yet another green space.

The Centre de services scolaire de Montréal (CSSDM) will soon need to renovate some of their ageing buildings, displacing students as a result. The CSSDM hopes to create temporary, modular classrooms in the schoolyard at École Barclay to accommodate these students.

A petition called Sauvez le parc Barclay (Save Barclay park) was recently launched by resident Einrika Siguineau. The petition hopes to force both the borough and the school board to undertake public consultation on the matter and evaluate whether other locations could be suitable.

Renovations at Camille-Laurin 

The CSSDM outlined their plan to install modular classrooms in a June 2021 report on the school board’s infrastructure. In this document, they outline the need for major renovations at both École Camille-Laurin Annexe and the William-Hingston Centre. 

Camille-Laurin Annexe students would be especially affected by construction, with the report stating that it would be necessary to “partially or completely relocate students and staff of this building.” 

“It has been determined that the best scenario is the use of the premises of the main building and the installation of modular classrooms at École Barclay,” read the report, with temporary structures accommodating approximately 300 students for two years. The document does not put forward a calendar on how or when this plan would be implemented.

These temporary classrooms would be set up in the north end of the property, a space used by many residents as a park. “When the information necessary for site planning will be available, a consultation will be carried out with those concerned,” continued the report. 

“It’s the CSSDM that hasn’t done its homework and hasn’t looked for other solutions. There are other solutions.”


The project has attracted the ire of many residents with 161 people signing a petition against the project. They claim it will overcrowd school grounds and remove access to precious green space already lacking in the area

“This decision to deprive neighbouring citizens of a park was taken without public consultation and with a misleading consultation with the parents of the Barclay school,” read the description of the petition.

The petition states that modular classes would overcrowd school premises, with over 50% more students, while removing much of the schools’ recreation space. They also added the project would increase the urban heat-island effect in Parc-Extension, remove leisure space for local youth and contribute to visual pollution for residents.

“This deprivation of play and outdoor space would cause unacceptable harm to us and our children for two years, given a large number of visitors to this neighbourhood park,” continued their statement.   

The petition to “save Barclay park” has amassed 161 signatures of its objective of 200. Photo. Sauvez le parc Barclay via

Health risk

Valérie Bloch is a long-time Parc-Ex resident and doctor with a background in public health. She is particularly concerned about how the plan could affect residents’ access to green space as well as the negative effects it could have on their health. 

“We depend on our school parks,” said Bloch, outlining that 8 out of 10 Parc-Extension residents don’t have access to a backyard. “It’s not a question of pragmatism with residents but rather of a relation and communication with the school boards in particular.” 

“It is very clear we have the well-being of the students of Camille-Laurin and École Barclay at heart,” said Bloch, adding that “the removal of a green space that is in terms of public health guarantees good air quality and a space for physical activity is problematic.”

Bloch insists that other alternatives are possible and should be brought forward for the benefit of all involved. For example, the group recommends that the CSSDM works with the EMSB to accommodate certain students in nearby Sinclair-Laird or to install modular classrooms in places that are already paved.

Barclay Park is one of the few green spaces in Parc-Extension, offering an oasis from hot summer temperatures. Photo: Valérie Bloch via Radio-Canada

Need for a balanced solution

The question was brought up at last months’ borough council meeting when Bloch asked whether the borough would reject this demand from the school board. 

“I fully share with you the concern about the low percentage of green space in Parc-Extension,” responded Mayor Lavigne Lalonde, also adding that they had not yet received an official request from the school board. 

The mayor nonetheless stated that the issue would have to be approached in a balanced manner. “It would be wrong to ban the installation of classroom modules,” said Mayor Lavigne Lalonde, pointing to the already high levels of socio-economic disadvantage in Parc-Extension. 

“If we reject a request for temporary classrooms, we would have to find other places or find a good reason to explain to the parents who may no longer be able to send their children to school in the neighbourhood,” she added.

The mayor said she wanted to ensure that these spaces could continue to be used by the community and remain green. “When we receive the request we will analyze it according to our greening and use of soil criteria,” she said. 

For Bloch, she hopes the city will follow through with those assurances and make sure the CSSDM explores all available options. “The bad actor is the CSSDM, it’s nobody else,” she added, concluding that “It’s the CSSDM that hasn’t done its homework and hasn’t looked for other solutions. There are other solutions.”

A view of the green space in question seen from satellite imagery. Photo: Screenshot via Google Earth.