Montreal makes good on promise to save Notman Garden, moves to expropriate land

For more than a decade, Milton Park residents have fought to preserve the green space behind 172-year-old Notman House, named after the famed Montreal photographer who lived there until the 1890s.

For more than 10 years, Milton Park residents have fought to preserve green space behind historic Notman House

The Projet Montréal administration has announced it will preserve Notman Garden at the corner of Clark and Milton streets as a park, after years of protests against proposed development of the green space. (Google)

Residents of the Milton Park neighbourhood can breathe a sigh of relief, with the knowledge that Notman Garden will not be developed.

The city has announced it is moving to expropriate the 1,000-square-metre lot on the corner of Clark and Milton streets, north of Sherbrooke Avenue.

For more than a decade, Milton Park residents have protested against the proposed development of what was the garden behind 172-year-old Notman House, named after famed photographer William Notman, who lived there until the 1890s.

"This spectacular profusion of green space … stands in stark contrast to everything that surrounds it," Montreal Coun. Alex Norris said on CBC Montreal's Daybreak Monday. 

"There's a lot of asphalt; there's very little green space in that area."

"We wanted it to be a place of respite from the hurly-burly of downtown Montreal," Norris said, noting that saving the garden was one of Projet Montréal's campaign promises.

Rare Kentucky coffeetrees

Norris said the garden is one of the last remnants of "the old ornamental gardens that used to line the mansions that were built on Sherbrooke Street, as Montreal was expanding north."

Some of the large trees in the garden are more than 130 years old — including Kentucky coffeetrees, a threatened species in Canada.

Norris says the decision to expropriate came after pleas from residents and from Plateau-Mont-Royal borough mayor Luc Ferrandez to successive Quebec culture ministers to protect the land. 

He says a series of owners have asked for more than the city could afford to spend on the property. The expropriation process will allow it to buy the property at market value. 

Expropriation can be a long process, however, so the timeline for creating the park is still unclear, Norris said.

With files from CBC Montreal's Daybreak