Concordia’s greenhouse announces temporary closure

The greenhouse organized a photography event for students to capture the final moments of the space.

The Concordia Greenhouse announced on Jan. 9 that the beloved space will be closed temporarily from February 2024 until early next year. The decision to temporarily close the space  was made to allow the removal of “decommissioned equipment and asbestos from mechanical rooms in the Henry F. Hall (H) building,” according to their website

While the downtown location is being renovated, alternative places for the greenhouse will be installed temporarily in the Terrebonne (TA/TB) building and the People’s Potato community garden at Loyola. The team is also hoping for temporary offices to be installed in the downtown campus, although no location has been secured yet.

The university approached the greenhouse team at the end of November to announce that the greenhouse would need to temporarily close, giving them only three months to clear the space before renovations begin. 

To celebrate and honour the space before it closes, the greenhouse held a “Capture the Moment: Concordia Greenhouse Farewell Photography” event where students were invited to show off their photography and video skills and document the space’s beauty.

Dominique Smith, the greenhouse engagement coordinator who has worked with the space for a year, decided to hold this event to showcase the diversity of the space’s use and keep its memory alive while it’s being renovated.

“[The event] shows how versatile the space is,” said Smith. “You want to promote this to the university so they can treat it more as an academic space rather than just the extra space,” said Smith.

After the administration met with the greenhouse, Smith gave them a tour of the greenhouse in an attempt to present the importance of the space. While he does not fault the university for closing down the greenhouse, it was important for him that the university understand both its significance and the proper measures needed to protect it.

“I felt like it was very important to have them up here to experience what students experience, so they know what they’re temporarily closing down or how to properly find us a new home,” said Smith.

Yoditte Woder, a first-year art education student, heard about the greenhouse closure from a friend in the geography department. They said that they felt a strong connection to the greenhouse immediately, even if they had only discovered it recently.

“‘I come [to the greenhouse], especially during the winter, to lift my spirits, get connected with nature in any way that I can. I just find this place to be really comforting and the place where I can focus and get my work done,” said Woder. “So, knowing that it’s not going to be here for the next year is kind of upsetting.” 

As sad as Woder felt when they heard the space was closing for a while, they knew it was going to be for the best since the greenhouse is set to return in better shape than before. 

The space is known to be more than just a place to grow and care for plants, it’s a wellness space where students can reconnect with themselves, study in peace, and relieve their stress.

“I think that there is that option to socialize and interact with others around you, but it also feels like you’re very much immersed in your own [world],” said Woder. “I also just love the sounds of the water running and just feeling the life around the space.”

The greenhouse plans to do a liquidation sale on their plants to give as many as they can to good homes before relocating the rest to their new temporary locations. The team is currently in contact with specialized moving services to help relocate their larger plants. No official date has been set yet.


Partial closure of Louis-Hippolyte-La Fontaine tunnel causes uncertainty

Will the constructions give public transit a boost?

Constructions on the Louis-Hippolyte-La Fontaine tunnel have begun. With three of its six lanes closed, South Shore commuters are weighing their options — including Concordia students.

Half of the tunnel will be closed until 2025. While traffic seemed moderate at the beginning of the first week of construction, the road between the island and the South Shore started getting more congested within a few days.

“We’re adapting in real-time,” said Gilles Payer, spokesperson for the Ministry of Transportation of Quebec. Payer explained that it would take two to three weeks for traffic to be regulated. “Right now, people are trying things. They’re changing their habits.”

Joy Benyamin, a first-year journalism student at Concordia, has started to see the effects of the tunnel closure near her home in Brossard. She works at Quartier DIX30 and explained the closure of the tunnel has caused many delays in her commute — even when she’s not trying to get on the island.

“I finish work at five, my sister finishes work at five. My mom picked me up, and my sister works really close to the Champlain bridge [too]. Usually, we turn on one street, and we’re here. But we got stuck on a street for 30 minutes. My mom cut into a residential street, and there was even more traffic, because everyone thought of the same thing. […] It took us one hour from my work to her work. It usually takes us seven minutes.”

Benyamin uses public transit to get to school, so the closures haven’t affected her in that regard.

“I hope more people take public transport to get around,” she said. “On the bus, you have your music, and you sleep. And there’s a bus lane in the morning, so no traffic for you!”

This sentiment is echoed by Mario Lemay, mayor of Sainte-Julie. Public transport is free within Sainte-Julie, and there are a lot of incentive free parking lots at bus terminals to encourage people to use buses when travelling to Montreal. Before the pandemic, these options were popular; according to Lemay, around 90 per cent of the parking spots were filled. 

“It has been less pretty since the pandemic,” he said. After the uncertainty of the last few years, bus companies are having a hard time finding drivers, and fewer drivers means less reliable buses.

Lemay hopes that the closure of the bridge may lead people back to public transit options. He was happy to see the steps taken by the Ministry of Transportation to create more public transit options on the South Shore.

Lemay recommends that people opt to work from home as much as they can, and try to get a schedule that keeps them away from the road at rush hour. 

“There’s less traffic than we expected,” he concluded. “We’ll see with the snow, though.”

The pandemic was also on Payer’s mind when he tried to predict how the closure of the tunnel would affect drivers in the coming weeks.

“No one calls us to say: today, I’ll be teleworking!” he said. 

He pointed out the steps taken by the Ministry to make public transit more appealing, including five free bus lines going into Montreal and, until the end of the month, free STM tickets for commuters once they get to the island. Payer explained that they want to encourage first-time users to try public transit.

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