On a quiet residential corner of Montreal’s St-Henri neighbourhood, plots of dirt carved out of the sidewalk, each hosting a solitary tree, have become verdant oases along the city block.
Through a free borough-run program that allows residents to adopt sidewalk tree plantings, local tenants have turned several of the roughly two-square-metre parcels into their own small gardens, some of them now bursting with daisies and hosta.
Just in its second year of operation, the program has been a catalyst for numerous social, environmental and commercial benefits, residents say.
And its popularity is growing. In 2022, Montreal’s Southwest borough, which includes St-Henri, counted 253 participants and 407 adopted squares. So far in 2023, there are 411 participants caring for 613 squares, according to Marie-Joelle Fluet, the borough official who co-ordinates the program.
“It’s a nice way to participate in my neighbourhood,” Genevieve Laplante, who adopted a square in front of her apartment building, said in a recent interview. “I get out of my car and I see my little plot of land and it’s just fun checking out my flowers.”
Though encouraging community involvement in urban greening efforts is the main goal of tree square adoption, Fluet touted “all sorts of benefits” in a recent interview, “whether it’s social, recreation ? the environment, public health, cleanliness” or creating “social links.”