Jessie Maxwell-Smith Park reopens after 2-year city delay

Jessie Maxwell-Smith Park opened on Friday after the city took two years to redo the work of volunteers who built the park.

Park facing Tyndale St-Georges community centre in Little Burgundy named after community leader

Dean Smith (left) and Wayne Yearwood catch up in Jessie Maxwell-Smith Park, which reopened on Friday after two years of waiting. (CBC)

After a two-year delay from the city, Jessie Maxwell-Smith Park reopened on Friday.

The park is named after a community organizer and teacher in Little Burgundy who died in early 2000.

Dean Smith is her son. Smith said his father is the one who went down to city hall after his mother died to lobby the city to name the park after Maxwell-Smith — and they complied.

Dean Smith said it was a great honour to have the park facing Tyndale St-Georges named after his mother. (CBC)

“It’s a great honour for the City of Montreal just to put the park in her name," Smith said.

"My mom is probably the only black, (Anglo) Afro-Canadian with a park in her name in Canada. [...] She deserved it," he continued.

The park is facing the Tyndale St-Georges community centre, a pillar of the Little Burgundy neighbourhood.

However, when it came time to build the children's park, the city said the community would have to do it on its own.

So they did.

Smith said nearly 200 volunteers, including members of the Canadian military, came down in 2012 to the park to help with landscaping and building the slides, swings and jungle gym.

But once the city caught wind of their activities, the volunteers were told the park wasn't safe. The city fenced the park in for two years and redid the work of the volunteers. 

Resident Wayne Yearwood helped build the original park. 

"They told us we had to do it, so we did, as best we could," Yearwood said.

And so they were disappointed to see the city shut it down.

However, now that the park is open, members of the Little Burgundy community are putting the experience behind them.

“We can laugh at it now because it’s open," Yearwood said.