Infrastructure district Loyola
The Walkley and Loyola Centres
The electoral district of Loyola regroups several sectors, of which the Fielding-Walkley sector is the most densely populated. In the past years, several institutions and local organizations working in community development in NDG have gotten together to work towards bettering the future of this sector. Among the top priorities that have come out of this process is the improvement of community infrastructure and the two community centres in the area.
Notre-Dame-de-Grâce is a very diverse neighbourhood. The longstanding anglophone and francophone communities share the area with a newly-arrived immigrant population that represents 40% of the local population. The population of visible minorities has grown substantially in recent years (increase of 24.8% in 5 years). The local secondary school is the 5th most multicultural school on the island of Montreal, where 87.4% of the students were either born outside the country or have parents born outside of Canada. The NDG territory is very heterogeneous and there is a wide variation in income between the various sectors of the neighbourhood. Certain sectors face high levels of poverty and challenging access to food and housing security, sports and recreational activities and decision making opportunities (notably in the Saint-Raymonds, Westhaven and Walkley districts). The Walkley sector particularly welcomes many new immigrants coming from many different areas of the world. English is the dominant language used in the sector, however a majority of households speak a language that is neither French nor English, and recent statistics reveal than a third of the population in the Walkley sector does not speak French.
Our target populations
Families represent cultural communities from across the world and over 30 languages are spoken in our members' homes. The majority of our members and clientele are between 6 and 15 years of age. Our members generally live close the Centres, and the majority come from disadvantaged sectors of NDG (Benny Farm, Walkley-Fielding and Westhaven). Most of our members live less than 1km from the centres and walk, take their bikes or public transportation to come to the Loyola and Walkley Centres.
Our centres work closely with a host of partners to participate in multi-faceted interventions. We actively collaborate with the CSSS-Cavendish, local schools, Québec en Forme, committees such as the Table Jeunesse, the Table 0-5 ans, and the Table des partenaires Fielding-Walkey. Our centres receive financial support from many of our partners which allows us to have free or low-cost programming to answer to the needs of families who are in a financially disadvantaged situation
The Loyola Center provides educational, cultural, social and recreational programs to the children, adolescents and adults of the community. Programs aim to help participants develop skills such as cooperation, leadership, independent thinking, and build healthy interpersonal relationships.
The Centre currently offers a multitude of programs to over 400 youth annually. Services include a homework program for elementary school students, basketball and soccer teams, a preschool program on the weekends, teen drop-in, an urban arts program, teen leadership opportunities and the only French immersion summer camp for new immigrant teenagers in the area.
The Centre is currently located at 7065 Somerled. Sports activities take place in the gymnasium of Sainte-Catherine-de-Sienne elementary school (CSDM) on weekday evenings, and on weekends. One room belonging to the school is used exclusively by the Centre and houses a small library for the children and an office. This room also has the Centre's only bathroom, which can serve more than one hundred people per day.
The Walkley centre has been offering community and recreation activities for over 30 years. Through it's current provisional board (administered by Direction de la culture, des sports, des loisirs et du développement social CDN-NDG, Comité Jeunesse NDG and Prévention CDN-NDG) which has been in place since 2010, it has been working to offer a variety of recreational and community programs that target all members of the surrounding community.
Activities are offered 6 days a week and include an after school program, Saturday club, community garden, multicultural choir, a cosom hockey program, teen programs and exercise programs for adults and seniors. We also serve as a service point for a variety of activities offered by local community partners such as Boîte à Lunch and Jeunes en Santé.
The challenges of our buildings
The Walkley and Loyola Centres, facilities in NDG mandated to provide sports and recreation services to the local population, are facing grave challenges. Both community centres are housed in buildings that are facing many infrastructural issues. These issues do not allow us to answer to the needs of the entire community and pose important repercussions on our current quality of services. Furthermore, the buildings' limitations pose challenges to the further development and growth of community and recreation programs.
The majority of the Loyola Centre's activities take place in a prefabricated unit annexed to Sainte-Catherine-de-Sienne school which does not allow for access to members with reduced mobility. Prior to 1992, the Centre's activities all took place in the elementary school, and in 1992, when the school could no longer house the Centre's activities, the prefabricated unit was installed by the City of Montreal, with the intention of being a temporary solution to the lack of space with a seven year lifespan.
Twenty years later the Centre continues to be housed in prefabricated units annexed to Sainte Catherine de Sienne elementary school and we use the school's gymnasium for sports programming during the weekend and evenings. The Centre's most important challenges stem directly from the fact that the prefabricated unit is not an adequate installation to answer to the community's needs. Serious concerns have been raised regarding the structure of the units and, despite community interest and need for our programs, the number of participants that we can accommodate is limited due to our physical space and we have waiting lists for many of our programs.
In it's first decade, the Walkley centre ran it's activities out of a 2 bedroom apartment on Walkley. For the past twenty years, it has been housed in what used to be a McDonald restaurant at the corner of Côte St-Luc and Walkley.
The building's layout boasts one large "L" shaped main hall, which due to it's shape limits sports activities that can be offered, a medium sized glassed-in room, a kitchen and small rooms dispersed across the main floor and the centre's basement. The centre is not fully accessible to members with a range of mobility issues which is problematic in planning for programming for the senior population of the area.
The Centre's lease will come to term in August of 2015. Efforts have been made through the City of Montreal's bureau des locations and the CDN-NDG arrondissement to get in contact with the building's owner but these have yet to yield any results.
For the past few months representatives from the Walkley and Loyola Centres have been meeting to plan concerted efforts to bring awareness to our challenges. We will be launching a petition in September 2014 to allow the community to show their support for better infrastructures for community services and we will be planning a community forum later in the year.
The needs for the community would best be answered by infrastructure that would include certain necessary features including the following: a safe and accessible space for anyone presenting mobility issues or families with strollers, multifunctional rooms with dividers that could be used as dance studios, classrooms for workshops and areas in which children could do homework and other leisure activities, continued access to a gymnasium for our many sports programs (basketball, badminton, soccer and cosom hockey), an accessible kitchen for community events and workshops to promote healthy eating and community building, adequate bathrooms adapted to accommodate large groups, seniors and families with young children, to overcome the current limitations at the centres
time being of a sensitive nature in the continued efforts by both
centres to strive for adequate infrastructure, we are hoping to
collaborate closely with officials of all levels to best serve the
needs of the community where recreation and community space are