PHOTO BY ALLEN MCINNIS / Montreal Gazette
It’s not the first time Verdun has made the list, which ranked Montreal as the sixth best city in the world in 2019.
(Selected from TimeOut)
T’Cha Dunlevy (Montreal Gazette – Publishing date: Oct 09, 2020 ) – Inka Malovic considered the Plateau when she moved to Montreal, but has no regrets with her decision to buy in Verdun. She is seen on Wellington St. on Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020.
Never mind Mile End, the Plateau, Mile Ex and Monkland Village; Verdun has been named Montreal’s coolest neighbourhood, and the 11th coolest neighbourhood in the world, according to an annual poll by TimeOut magazine.
The TimeOut Index, filled out by more than 38,000 locals worldwide, includes questions on the “food, drinks, culture, music, nightlife, sociability, happiness, progress and attractiveness” of different cities and neighbourhoods. Local TimeOut editors also weigh in to create the rankings.
It’s not the first time Verdun has made the list. The area placed 22nd in 2019. Montreal, too, has been a regular in the TimeOut listings and was named the sixth best city in the world in 2019, after New York, Melbourne, Chicago, London and L.A., and before Berlin, Glasgow, Paris and Tokyo.
Ranking ahead of Verdun in this year’s survey were Esquerra de l’Eixample, Barcelona; downtown L.A.; Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong; Bedford-Stuyvesant, New York; and Wedding, Berlin, among others.
Camille Durocher-Bundock left the Plateau to have her family in Verdun and has no regrets. She is seen on Wellington St. on Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020. PHOTO BY ALLEN MCINNIS /Montreal Gazette
TimeOut mentioned Verdun’s sugar shack street festival Cabane Panache et Bois Rond, foiled this year by the COVID-19 lockdown. The pedestrianization of Wellington St. this summer was also a big hit, bringing throngs of people to the area to walk, shop and grab a bite or drink; as is Verdun Beach, which opened in 2019.
In 2019, the Montreal International Jazz Festival launched the first of its roving satellite sites in Verdun, setting up an outdoor stage on Wellington St., with free concerts nightly during the festival. Rumour had it organizers planned to bring it back this summer, before the pandemic forced the cancellation of summer festivals.
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante was excited to share Verdun’s big news on Twitter.
Inka Malovic enjoys a coffee with Iason Ghikadis on Wellington St. on Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020. PHOTO BY ALLEN MCINNIS /Montreal Gazette
“The success of the pedestrianization of Wellington St. this summer didn’t go unnoticed,” she tweeted Tuesday, “much like the creative and festive spirit of Verdun residents. Bravo!”
Verdun mayor Jean-François Parenteau was equally enthusiastic.
“It’s a real privilege for all the borough,” he told the Montreal Gazette. “We have worked hard to have a beautiful borough since over 20 years, but since the last 10 years we stepped it up in the community and we’re developing a lot of activities with the participation of the citizens.”
Parenteau has been mayor of Verdun since 2013 and sits as an independent on Montreal’s executive committee.
Verduners are very attached to their borough, he said, citing the popular hashtag #VerdunLuv as an example.
One of the big things that transformed life in Verdun was the lifting of the bylaw against bars in 2015.
J.P. Langlois lives on Nuns’ Island but likes to ride his bike to Verdun for the cafés, restaurants and people. He’s seen Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020. PHOTO BY ALLEN MCINNIS /Montreal Gazette
“That changed the experience of Wellington St.,” Parenteau explained. “Now we have a nightlife in Verdun, and people really appreciate it. You can pass a beautiful day at the beach in the summer, come back to Wellington St. for dinner, and then go out for a beer or to dance.”
Things have changed with the second wave of the pandemic, but Parenteau is confident Verdun will make it through.
“We’re crossing our fingers,” he said. “But we have a good community. They support our local businesses.”
And he’s not taking all the credit; Verdun’s success is the city’s success, according to Parenteau.
“I think it’s important to have dynamic boroughs in Montreal. Montreal is stronger with dynamic boroughs.”