The Woodnote is a long time coming. First proposed to the CSU Council in September 2014, the housing co-op would be the first of its kind in Montreal, and six years later, the building has finally come to fruition.
According to the CSU’s website, they have always been an advocate for student housing rights by way of HOJO (the Off-Campus Housing and Job Resource Centre). So when UTILE, a non-profit organization dedicated to developing and studying student housing co-op initiatives within Quebec, proposed their student housing co-op feasibility report, it was added as a referendum question in the upcoming by-election, and the rest was history. In the next couple of weeks, I will be chronicling my experiences with the initiative.
Finding affordable, off-campus housing in Montreal, let alone any major city, is challenging, if not impossible. Growing up in the suburbs adjacent to Montreal, living outside the city was fine for me. My one hour transit to and from school everyday allowed me to lose myself in podcasts while taking a break from the constant stream of social media and emails. But getting home after late nights was an expensive taxi ride, so I didn’t do it often, and missed out on a lot because of it.
I heard about The Woodnote in ads around Concordia over the past year or so. I was aware it was a thing that was happening, but I never thought it would be something that I would be involved with. But when my artist residency was cancelled this spring and all the money I had saved for it was sitting in my bank account, I decided it was time to move. I began looking for apartments for rent under $850. After several unsuccessful searches, I got an email from The Woodnote reminding students to apply. Shortly afterwards, my application was accepted.
My original plan was to sneak in my boyfriend of almost seven years, who isn’t a Concordia student. Yes, it’s been awhile, and yes, it was time we moved out. However, I was happy to know that housing rules only required one Concordia student per household, so we were in the clear. I later learned that priority was given to Concordia students, given the project was funded by the CSU, but students from other universities were encouraged to apply afterwards.
I applied for a studio apartment (which averaged under 250 square feet) and was assigned a unit on the third floor facing the interior courtyard. I switched about three times before I was satisfied. Now, I still haven’t seen the apartment, but I know this one is over 250 square feet (which is why I swapped) and located on the side of the building, facing a cement wall. The thought of facing a cement wall is nicer to me than what would otherwise feel like a panopticon.
I moved in on Sept. 5. I’ll let you know if all my quarantine interior design planning for a space I’ve never visited works in my favour, or if it’s a complete mess. I can already tell you that I won’t have wifi set up until Sept. 14, so that will be a fun start to a new online semester.
Photo Courtesy of the Woodnote Cooperative