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A GREAT PLACE TO BE: Montrose revitalizes spaces for social connections and sports activities

Photos by Carmen Adams

Montrose Park is a community hub: children play in the splash park, players dash about on the pickleball court and people can work up a sweat on the exercise equipment or lounge with a bestseller from the book exchange. The park is the community’s main location for outdoor social get-togethers—and has recently grown even more impressive.

One way it has grown is literally: it expanded by 2,100 square metres. The land purchase took place in 2021 with support from the Trust. Formerly the grounds of Montrose Elementary School, which closed in 2003, the parcel was later bought by a private owner, who allowed the Village of Montrose to use it in exchange for maintenance like mowing and watering the grass.

“It was gorgeous, but we didn’t own all the land,” says Mike Walsh, Mayor of Montrose. “I had concerns about what would happen down the road if the owner sold and development happened.”

Now the park can hold sizeable gatherings, and organizers can be confident in scheduling large events, knowing that the area is entirely owned by the Village. “If we want to have music in the park or movies in the park, we can do it,” says Walsh.

The improvements didn’t stop there. The Village also remodelled a building that at one time housed the change rooms for the now-defunct swimming pool, and later was an education centre for younger children. After that it sat pretty much empty—until the idea came up to turn it into a public space, now called the Village Square.

The inside gained items like an accessible washroom and kitchen, complete with wi-fi. With Trust support, the outside gained a covered stage that—when not busy with events—provides a sheltered surface to enjoy like a patio. Montrose was also supported with Trust grants to resurface its pickleball/multi-sports court, add a rubber surface to the playground and install solar-powered lighting on the park’s trails to encourage evening use.

In all these ways, Montrose has been able to create a large, well-equipped and welcoming space ideal for gathering and moving.

“It’s the heart of our community,” Walsh says. “It’s just beautiful.”