Concordians, NDG residents weigh in on future of Loyola Campus

Concordia student Nico Shutte is relieved that a campus garden will be protected but hopes for more green spaces. ( - image credit)
Concordia student Nico Shutte is relieved that a campus garden will be protected but hopes for more green spaces. ( - image credit)

Concordia University staff, students and neighbours met with the university this morning to hear about future development plans for the Loyola Campus — and weigh in with their own visions of the campus.

According to the university, the Campus Master Plan — the subject of consultations since 2019 — rethinks the campus's use of space and design based on a list of priorities ranging from mobility and transportation to sustainability.

Marie-Claude Lavoie, associate vice-president of facilities management, said that it was important to consult with the public before making decisions about new buildings on the campus.

It's important not to repeat the mistakes of the past and to take the time to consult with the community, she says. This follows noise complaints from the locals about the Loyola Campus's science hub, built in 2020.

"We don't build a lot of buildings every year," she said. "We need to learn from the past and make sure to adjust in the future."

Martin Thibault/Radio-Canada
Martin Thibault/Radio-Canada

Staff, students, neighbours chime in

Nico Shutte is a Concordia student who takes part in one of the garden groups that farm on the Loyola Campus.

Before today's consultation, Shutte was concerned that the university was planning to build on the soil.

But now they're relieved.

"It's really put me at ease, and I'm a little bit more comfortable about where our farm is located at the moment," said Shutte. "I'm feeling really happy to know that the areas that have been cultivated for generations will be preserved and will be respected.

"Why, if you want to have more biodiverse areas, would you build a concrete building on top of the richest land that Concordia, if not NDG, if not the city of Montreal has to offer?"

But Shutte thinks the university should go a step further when it comes to sustainability. They hope a future Loyola campus will include more green space with plenty of garden area for bees and other pollinators.

Chris Phelan is a long-time NDG resident and has lived beside the campus for the last 35 years.

"NDG is a wonderful place, and Loyola is an important part of it," said Phelan. "I'm very happy to be where I am."

Phelan lives right across Nico's campus farm and has brought lemonade over to share with his student farmer neighbours.

"It's not just buildings," he said. "I spent eight years on this campus in high school and college, and it was always a really good feeling."

Phelan too likes what he heard today about green space being respected.

He also said he is pleased with the direction the university is taking in considering the entirety of campus life in future decisions.

"For me, the most important thing is that they're not just looking at buildings. They're looking at the campus as a whole … as a living space for the students that are on it, for the time that they are here."

Véronique Pépin teaches at Concordia's Loyola Campus. She says the university is right to hold open consultations with members of the public.

"If you're going to change the campus you have to consider the domino effect on the surrounding environment and people," said Pépin, an associate professor in the department of health, kinesiology & applied physiology.

She's interested in public transport.

"For me, the main thing is access to the campus," she said. "I think access to campus in a way other than a car has to be improved."

Members of the public are invited to take part in an online survey to share their thoughts here.