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Bar des Pins to be revamped by Milton Park community group

Bar des Pins, a student-favourite sports bar at the corner of avenues Parc and des Pins is set to be purchased by Société du Développement Communautaire (SDC) Milton Parc, a group member within Milton Parc Citizen’s Committee (CCMP). A recent report by the Students’ Society of McGill University Vice-President (VP) External suggests that SSMU may begin engaging in conversations with the Milton Park Community (CMP)—a housing cooperative network that the SDC is a member of—about forming a partnership.

The CCMP is a not-for-profit organization which strives to improve the democratic and collective autonomy of Milton-Parc residents. Its past projects have included organic fair trade food banks, an environment committee, and a partnership with SSMU’s Trash 2 Treasure initiative.

In an email to The McGill Tribune, Nathan McDonnell, VP of the CCMP, elaborated on the SDC’s role as community landlord of the Milton Parc neighbourhood, noting that it owns Presse Café, Basha’s, Marché Lobo, and Café St Barth, as well as other offices and businesses along Parc Avenue. The SDC currently has its sight set on numerous properties, like the former Hôtel-Dieu hospital, the Royal Victoria Hospital, and the parking lots on Saint Urbain.

McDonnell spoke to the imminent purchase of Bar des Pins by the SDC.

“[One] family has owned [Bar des Pins] for several decades,” McDonell said. “Since the father has become elderly and unable to run the business anymore, the sons […] wanted to sell the bar even before the pandemic.”

Bar des Pins falls within the Milton Parc community land trust, which gives the SDC rights of first refusal to buy it, effectively keeping it off the private market when sold.

“[The land trust is] a kind of post-capitalist form of property ownership where 1500 people live without landlords in community-controlled housing.”

McDonnell described SDC members’ vision for the future of the Bar. 

“[It could be] a unique family-friendly community café [or] bistro, a place with healthy, local, maybe all vegetarian food, amazing coffee, and lots and lots of community events,” McDonnell said. “It would be run as a solidarity cooperative, a democratic model where workers and customers are co-owners. It would be a model for a democratic and ecological economy.”

CCMP members are interested in collaborating with SSMU on the new business.

In an email to The McGill Tribune, SSMU VP Finance Gifford Marpole wrote that the decision to collaborate with SSMU has only come up once in dialogue with the CCMP and that no firm decisions have been made concerning the Pins café yet.

Marpole explained that SSMU would have to produce a robust financial analysis should it become seriously interested in forming a partnership with the site.

“[It would involve] rigorous analysis to determine the feasibility, sustainability, and benefit of such a collaboration,” Marpole said. “The decision would have to be brought to the students and voted [on] by them. It would definitely be brought to the attention of students. That’s important to SSMU’s policy on transparency.”

According to SSMU VP External Affairs Ayo Ogunremi SSMU has yet to seriously consider the partnership.

“SSMU has a history of collaborating with organizations and communities in Milton Parc,” Ogunremi said in an interview with the Tribune. “It’s established positions to work on inter-generational housing with the community, for example.”

Regardless of SSMU’s decision to financially back the project, the expected timeline for Bar des Pins’ purchase and renovation remains unclear.

A representative of Bar des Pins said that the establishment has yet to be sold to anyone and did not elaborate on its potential redevelopment.

The projected date for a renovated Pins café remains unknown. CCMP treasurer Adam Gwiazda-Amsel, U4 Arts, said that the SDC is currently negotiating the purchase of the property from its current owners.

“As such, it is unlikely that [the Pins café] will be operational before this summer at the earliest,” Gwiazda-Amsel said.

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