Mackay St. during frosh week in 2002.
UPDATE (May 1): The project has been put on hold.
The “Greening of Mackay” has been a project of the Concordia Student Union and other Concordia student groups for over a decade now. The idea is that the street, from Sherbrooke St. to de Maisonneuve Blvd., would be closed off to traffic and parking and turned into a pedestrian area.
Unfortunately, the city and its residents like cars, and they’re not crazy about a street and its parking spots being permanently removed from them. So efforts to close the street off permanently have always failed. Instead, they settle for partial closures, such as the one pictured above, for a week or two, slap the familiar “greening of Mackay” label on them, and declare victory.
That’s what they did last week when the university announced that “the ‘greening of Mackay’ will finally become a reality this summer!” In reality, the street isn’t being closed off but merely reduced to one lane. And it’s only for the summer.
Getting consent of property owners wasn’t so much of a problem – the entire southern half of the block belongs to the university, with the Hall Building on the east side and university annexes on the west. And the borough, which is all about closing streets lately, was easily convinced to forego a few hundred thousand dollars of parking revenue. (The fact that Karim Boulos, the VP of external affairs for the John Molson School of Business, is also a Vision Montreal city councillor, might have helped a bit too.)
But not everyone is happy. Robert Landau of Landau Fine Art (which is actually on Sherbrooke St., not Mackay) has organized a petition against the borough, signed by lots of people who don’t live on Mackay but want people to be able to park there.
It’s amazing the lengths people will go to in order to protect on-street parking.
UPDATE: CBC Daybreak has an interview (MP3) with Landay and Concordia’s Chris Mota, which gets a bit testy.