Both campuses to get a touch of green

by Cory Monahan

The terrace behind the Henry F. Hall Building is now little more than an undecorated corridor between Mackay and Bishop Sts., but a project spearheaded by Concordia Student Union (CSU) general manager Rick Stom promises to change that.

His proposal to beautify the concrete thoroughfare includes wall murals, gates to enclose the terrace, numerous cement and wood flowerbeds, a mesh of vines, and a small performance stage.

"These ideas pop into my head in bed," laughed Stom, who said he initiated the project during the season's last snowstorm. "I've never seen a project move so fast," he added.

Part of the reason for quick processing of the proposal is a willingness by the university to encourage feasible green projects.

"One of the things the university has been good at is saying, 'We'll let you do what you need as long as you can prove you can do it,'" student activist Zev Tiefenbach said, referring to the organic farm he and the university are in the early stages of developing at Loyola's athletics field. Approximately one-third of a hectare is allotted to the project.

"We're not expecting a huge harvest this year," Tiefenbach said. "We're looking at the garden as more of an investment over the next few years."

As quantity increases, however, he hopes to sell the harvest at market prices, providing revenue to be turned back into the People's Potato soup kitchen (located under Reggie's Bar in the Hall Building), and that income generated by the garden will allow it to become a self-sustaining venture.

"The project is one of several available to the university community that has the needs of the students in mind," said Rick Young, Director of Maintenance Operations. "Our bottom line here is the students. Whatever we can do, we're open to that."

Young is organizing university staff to fence and landscape the area. The job of actually running the garden goes to the CSU. Student volunteers will be taught the subtleties of garden maintenance by Dan Warren, an organic farmer from Nova Scotia who was hired on contract for the summer by the Concordia Food Collective.

"The projects have to be a community thing," Stom said. He suggests that past green projects were denied approval because of their cost, and contends that the projects on the go now are more economically viable.

"The only way these projects work is to keep them cheap," he said. "It can only work for less than $10,000."

In addition to the organic garden and the terrace project, the first phase of the greening of Mackay St. is also set to begin this summer.

Phase 1 consists of landscaping the Mackay St. sidewalk between de Maisonneuve Blvd. and Sherbrooke St., adding flower baskets, urban furniture and bike racks, said Andrˇ Leguerrier, project coordinator in Facilities Planning and Development.

The second phase involves removing parking meters on the side of the street nearest the Hall building to make room for large concrete planters. That phase of the project has to be approved by municipal authorities, as it means a loss of parking revenue for the city, he said.

The proposal has been submitted, and a response from the city is expected in August.

What happens to green space when Montreal's winter settles in for six months of freeze and snow? Plants could be brought indoors, but "with airborne moulds and fungus, it becomes a health and safety thing," Stom said.

However, he has looked at other options for interior beautification, and he has received approval to go ahead with a wall mural project for the Hall Building .


Green/Loy group Student Zev Tiefenbach (far left) confers with Robert Lortie (Coordinator, Maintenance Operations), groundskeepr Manuel Dacosta, and Marvin Cooper (Athletics, Facilities/Maintenance) at the veggie-patch-in-making on the Loyola campus.
Also present for this discussion were plumber Serge Bonin, carpenter Claude Rivard and Jacques St-Amour (Custodial Services).
Green/Loy field The vegetable garden will be a large one, located on the field east of the stadium.
Green/SGW terrace The terrace behind Reggie's Bar is sunny and spacious, but bare.
Green/SGW model Peter Taylor, CSU vice-president internal, displays his model of the exterior furniture to be installed on the terrace.

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