Revitalization of Public Spaces in a Working Class Neighborhood: Appropriation, Identity and the Urban Imaginary
Pp. 47-62 (16)
Hélène Bélanger, Sara Cameron and Cecilia de la Mora
After years of decline due to the relocation of industries and the closure of the canal, Pointe-
Saint-Charles—located in the Southwest Borough near the city of Montreal’s downtown core—is
experiencing significant real estate (re)development projects. As a result, long-time residents are now
facing the transformation of the built and social environment at the neighborhood level. With the rise of
the post-industrial economy, natural resources and public spaces that were once perceived as part of the
industrial production process have become residential and leisure “landscapes” due the recycling of old
industrial buildings and changes to specific site function. With a newly arrived resident population
sharing this new leisure site with the “old working class”, there is a possibility that contrasting
representations of these post-industrial spaces will be produced. This chapter presents the results of an
investigation into the contrasting representations of the living environment (home territory) of residents
living in the neighborhood of Pointe-Saint-Charles (Montreal, Canada), following the revitalization of
the Lachine Canal Park and the massive redevelopment projects that took place along the canal’s banks.
Residents’ representations are explored through the collection and comparison of long-time and new
residents’ sketch maps of their living environment, as well as through semi-structured interviews.
Sketch map analysis (scale, complexity, meaningful spaces) showed that long-time and new residents’
appropriated territory is not determined by length of residency. The Lachine Canal (and its banks),
variously imagined as an historical industrial site bordering a working class neighborhood and a postmodern
leisure space bordering modern housing developments, is shown to be the most important
element in residents’ home territories.
Appropriation, identity, urban imaginary, territory, regeneration, public spaces.
Université du Québec à Montréal, Département d’études urbaines et touristiques, École des sciences de la gestion, Case Postale 8888, Montréal (Québec) H3C 3P8, Canada