The Community Action and Relations Endeavour is a strategic framework developed with a view to improving relations among the permanent residents of Milton-Parc, the McGill students living in and around the neighbourhood, and the McGill Administration (Student Life and Learning). The Endeavour describes how these relations can be tailored, flexibly and efficiently, to pave the way to more harmonious neighbourhood relations, respectful of each group, in Milton Parc.
The challenges of such an endeavour are readily apparent. How can the “two solitudes”, transient students and permanent residents of the neighbourhood, sharing the same space, find a means to work together to build a more convivial community? How can the systematic continuity of action and commitment be ensured when the student population constantly changes? How can we address present concerns while planning for the future?
Our answer lies in three methods. First, achieve consistent and systematic communication among the main stakeholders through a year-long calendar of meetings (Method 1). Second, organize concrete events and programs throughout the year with the twin goals of fostering an inclusive community spirit among all Milton-Parc residents, permanent and students alike, and of mitigating the negative impacts of some student events (Method 2). Third, elaborate a set of official messages from each stakeholder in order to facilitate open communication (Method 3).
The Community Action and Relations Endeavour is also an entente whereby the main stakeholders together commit to “live as good neighbours.” Furthermore, the Endeavour should function as a resource for all parties to engage vis-à-vis the others and to succeed in the implementation of collaborative projects.
By its very nature, the Endeavour will evolve over time and as needs and circumstances dictate. It will remain for the main stakeholders to agree on the changes that are needed.
And finally, we trust that the Community Action and Relations Endeavour will constitute the foundation of a new way of living in our neighbourhood.
The Endeavour is part of a series of actions undertaken since January 2008 to find solutions to neighbourhood relations problems stemming from a growing student presence in the Milton-Parc neighbourhood. Permanent residents readily recognize that these are caused by a minority of students; however, their uncivil behaviour, excesses and indifference to consequences can have a serious impact. Students, on their part, often feel that they are prejudged by residents. The relationship between both groups lacks trust and understanding, which is an underlying contributor to the neighbourhood’s problems.
Various representatives from McGill with responsibilities pertaining to student life met with residents from the neighbourhood and discussed means to improve neighbourhood relations. At that time, it was agreed to use the correct name of “Milton-Parc neighbourhood” to describe the area instead of “McGill Ghetto,” which is not simply a change of words but an important clarification of the area as a distinct neighbourhood, independent of McGill, and of those who live in it.
A further step to develop harmonious relations between McGill students and permanent residents was taken in the spring of 2009 when the SSMU, representing undergraduate McGill students on the downtown campus, launched an initiative to prepare a community-sensitive approach to the August arrival of students and the Frosh activities surrounding it. SSMU and the MPCC worked throughout the summer on this project.