By Geoff Agombar
Local Journalism Initiative
Shannon Brock describes the work of Le Rivage du Val-St-François as people centred from the bottom up. In that spirit, she is seeking Richmond residents to engage with a Photovision project to discuss the nuances of community wishes for downtown development.
The Corporation du Pays de l’ardoise and the Richmond municipal council are engaged in ongoing discussions to develop an ambitious development vision for the town’s Rue Principale. Long-time residents will remember when Richmond was a busy transportation hub, and the commercial street running parallel to the rail tracks was a bustling strip. “Unfortunately, Richmond has been in decline. We are considered a ‘milieu défavorable,’” says Brock.
Last summer, her organization partnered with The Corporation du Pays de l’ardoise (CPA) to increase participation by groups who were underrepresented in initial surveys.
“I think there’s a big distinction between hearing and listening,” says Brock. “I think our approach to social issues is at the heart of why we decided to integrate with the revitalization project. The (CPA) had a huge openness to work with us, and us with them. It is very fruitful and goes to show that even if you have different visions or different ways of doing things, we can complement each other … and positive change can be had.”
Brock says the CPA was looking for input from anglophones, people who actually live on the main street, youth and seniors. She also notes that there are a number of underprivileged people living in Richmond, and it is hard for people focused on surviving day-to-day or week-to-week challenges to elaborate a vision for the future of their community.
To begin the process of capturing more voices, the CPA and Le Rivage used donations from the Melbourne farmers market to make a great load of Irish stew and invite local residents for a meal and discussions one evening last summer.
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