Updates from March, 2012 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Kate 21:03 on 2012/03/25 Permalink | Reply  

    Student protesters are planning a Tour de l’île en Rouge for April 1 as their next major demo.

  • Kate 21:02 on 2012/03/25 Permalink | Reply  

    The upcoming federal budget (this Thursday) has a lot of people spooked, but there’s a promise that it will spare the arts grants that keep so many Montreal hipsters going.

  • Kate 20:58 on 2012/03/25 Permalink | Reply  

    Downtown Lebanese landmark Boustan has been sold.

  • Kate 17:19 on 2012/03/25 Permalink | Reply  

    The L’Actualité poll of anglo attitudes has provoked an angry response from the Parti Québécois and a Gazette column from Jack Jedwab that examines the odd, unanswerable questions asked. I predict more verbiage heating up over this week, with occasional pellets.

    According to official figures, anglos are down to 13% or so of the populace. It occurs to me to wonder why we even matter that much any more.

    • No\Deli 18:39 on 2012/03/25 Permalink

      Because there aren’t any real problems to fixate on…?

    • Kevin 08:48 on 2012/03/26 Permalink

      There’s a strong current of thought among Quebec’s french intellectual class (everyone from poli-sci majors to Dutrizac, Dumont and the creme de la PQ) that language and culture are the same entity; that there is ONE English culture* and one French culture; that if you speak French you are French, and if you speak English you are English.

      It’s my belief that when this group was creating and touting 101 that they honestly believed they were going to assimilate anglos and allophones — and that they are now honestly and truly shocked and stunned this hasn’t happened, and they cannot figure out why.

      *Which as any anglophone knows is a ridiculous notion. Culture the same in Alberta/Toronto/Texas/England just because they speak the same language?

    • ant6n 10:23 on 2012/03/26 Permalink

      this is a real interesting insight, and explains a lot.

      Maybe if French Canadians accepted that Anglophone Quebecers partly have their own culture, which is more in danger, they could let them be? We could also have Quebec separatism that is not about preserving French (i.e. booting out English speakers)!

    • Jack 10:30 on 2012/03/26 Permalink

      Kevin I agree with you and when I am talking to nationalist friends it is always funny to watch the intellectual squirming around the word assimilation. Because it is of course the hoped for end game …….that can not be spoken.

    • ant6n`= 14:47 on 2012/03/26 Permalink

      #badanglo now trending(ish?) in mtl

    • Kate 20:39 on 2012/03/26 Permalink

      It is an odd thing. I think some Quebec thinkers are stuck on a 19th or early 20th century paradigm of immigrancy, the days when people would scrimp and save and take a boat to whatever port in the New World would let them disembark because they were desperate – hungry or persecuted – and then they’d land there and make their lives there and stay there forever.

      Now people come here, establish Canadian residency and even citizenship, and quite often move on to other places or go back home for awhile or move somewhere else in Canada. These people don’t have as much invested in learning French as some would like – English, with nearly 350 million native speakers worldwide (a total of 1.5 billion if you include second-language speakers), is going to be more useful to mobile modern people than French, with 70 million native – 120 million all told – especially if the rest of North America beckons. (Numbers from this Wikipedia article, rounding up a bit to allow for population growth.)

    • Steamboat Willie 00:37 on 2012/03/27 Permalink

      Awesome comment Kate. Truly bang on. I’ve often mused that no Montreal media outlet has ever written about, or studied the immigrants who came and then went back home or on to other provinces. They are a significant number.

    • Steamboat Willie 00:38 on 2012/03/27 Permalink

      Um, why is my comment awaiting moderation exactly?

    • Steamboat Willie 00:38 on 2012/03/27 Permalink

      Hm, I wouldn’t have commented if I knew I was getting snubbed, any way to delete a comment on this thing?

    • Kate 08:20 on 2012/03/27 Permalink

      Steamboat Willie, the system held your comments because you used a different fake email address from your usual fake email address. It always holds comments from new email addresses the first time.

    • Kevin 10:22 on 2012/03/27 Permalink

      Um… It’s kind of tough to do a story about springboard immigrants because they are, by their very nature, transient.

      Case in point — my former housekeeper. Immigrated as investor-class from Mexico because her neighbours were kidnapped by drug lords. She had poor English and French skills, got better at French (her kids became near-fluent) but last year picked up and moved for brighter prospects in Alberta.

      Quebec does have more attractive rules for investor-class immigrants, but has a tough time keeping them here after the three-year minimum expires. But that kind of cross-Canada movement isn’t studied very well — at least not by any individual or group that I’ve come across.

  • Kate 15:55 on 2012/03/25 Permalink | Reply  

    Quebec City will start work on a $400-million arena in September for an NHL team that doesn’t exist. Millions in government funds will be poured into this project.

    Meanwhile, an estimated 40,000 kids go hungry in Montreal on a day-to-day basis and old people are neglected in government homes because of a shortage of nurses and scanty oversight by government inspectors. Bravo.

    • Doobious 16:00 on 2012/03/25 Permalink

    • Ian 16:50 on 2012/03/25 Permalink

      Hey, it worked out for Hamilton, why not? Oh wait, no it didn’t.

    • Ian 16:51 on 2012/03/25 Permalink

      p.s. this is an example of exactly why I think that tuitions don’t need to go up.

    • Marc 21:15 on 2012/03/25 Permalink

      This being Quebec, how much will it REALLY cost? $700 million possibly?

    • mdblog 09:54 on 2012/03/26 Permalink

      It’s unnerving to be accused of not being “integrated” into Quebec society, while at the same time being asked to pay for this waste of money through my provincial taxes.

  • Kate 10:44 on 2012/03/25 Permalink | Reply  

    A foretaste of the upcoming event A taste for Montreal (not, I think “of Montreal”), being described as “a public conversation” about how food unites us in the city. It’s on April 5.

    I’m vaguely amused by the flickering on and off of the accent-aigu in this English-language copy. CCA has “A taste for Montréal” in the page title, but the accent disappears in the text; Spacing Montréal has been dogged in their insistence on the accent in their name, but it too vanishes in the text.

    • mdblog 11:27 on 2012/03/25 Permalink

      Because the accent-aigu is a really something newsworthy. How about we all agree to call our city MTL and be done with it?

    • Kate 11:34 on 2012/03/25 Permalink

      Snark if you like, it’s of interest to me as a cultural observer (and typographer) in the implied meaning in how it’s used by anglos. But perhaps that’s for a novel.

    • Marc 11:45 on 2012/03/25 Permalink

      Maybe because the official spelling is with the accent and it’s in the title where it’s most noticeable? Once you’re in the body of the piece maybe you’re less likely to seek it out? I dunno…

    • walkerp 12:37 on 2012/03/25 Permalink

      It gives me an idea for a logo which would be the name of the city with the accent blinking on and off to show the bilingualism inherent.

    • alanah 13:24 on 2012/03/25 Permalink

      When discussing with the CCA we officially decided that the event would be “Montreal bilingual” meaning some bits in English and some bits in French with no translation – the assumption being that nearly everyone understands both languages. So let the accent flicker…

    • tommy 15:11 on 2012/03/25 Permalink

      It’s ominous when Montreal is spelled with an accent in English. Something threatening and Orwellian about it.

    • William 15:29 on 2012/03/25 Permalink

      If it was up to me, I would have called it NOMNOMNOMNOM and put a picture of a cat.

    • Kate 16:59 on 2012/03/25 Permalink


    • alanah 18:15 on 2012/03/25 Permalink

      hm, in case there is any confusion, the event is called “A Taste For Montreal” as in a fondness for… “Le goût de la ville”, comme le goût de faire quelque chose.

    • Kate 18:21 on 2012/03/25 Permalink

      No cats?

  • Kate 09:57 on 2012/03/25 Permalink | Reply  

    The Journal de Montréal says Prince Arthur is becoming a ghost street as businesses close or move away – and it’s blamed on the Plateau for not clearing snow and for making parking too expensive. But a sidebar talks more reasonably about how the big Greek restos of the 80s and 90s, geared to serving huge platters of interchangeable food, have simply gone out of style, and the street’s offerings need to evolve.

    • Robert J 10:07 on 2012/03/25 Permalink

      Yeah, they were just bad restaurants.

    • ProposMontréal 10:12 on 2012/03/25 Permalink

      Funny that most restaurants closed with the installation of the legal government POS terminals. Just meant that many of these venue didn’t find a way to make money the legal way !

    • Brad 10:38 on 2012/03/25 Permalink

      Agreed, not only bad but they give a bad name to Greek cuisine, which can be far more subtle, lighter, and healthier than the stuff you get in those places. I miss the Afghan place that used to be on Prince-Arthur, it was sold about 8 years ago and turned into yet another Lebanese restaurant; I can’t remember what it is now, but that was some of the best Afghan food (and atmosphere) in town.

    • Ian 10:44 on 2012/03/25 Permalink

      I think part of it too is that Prince Arthur was once considered a stylish place you could go for multicultural fare, but a lot of small restaurants offering more international cuisine have opened up since the heyday of Prince-Arthur, and as its popularity fades the wear & tear become more evident as there’s less money to spread around on making the area look nice. It’s a shame as the area still has lots of potential, especially now that Square St-Louis isn’t as wretched as it once was so you can go for a walk in the park after a meal without worrying about crackheads getting up in your grill for change.

    • Kate 10:52 on 2012/03/25 Permalink

      Brad, are you sure you’re not thinking of the Afghan resto on Duluth? I don’t remember any Afghan place on Prince Arthur, but I think the Khyber Pass (Google tells me it’s at 506 Duluth E.) is still in business.

      Good points, Ian. I also suspect there’s more diversity even off the island, where there’s bound to be more parking. A lot of the restos on Prince Arthur and Duluth pitched themselves not at the locals, but at parties of suburbanites coming to town for a treat, a tendency that may have worn itself out as the suburbs evolve.

    • Marc 11:11 on 2012/03/25 Permalink

      Actually the decine of Prince Arthur started long before those new POS terminals.

    • Kate 11:17 on 2012/03/25 Permalink

      Radio-Canada had a piece in January 2011 about how Prince Arthur had declined while Old Montreal, once empty and silent at night, had become a lively night spot. (Marc, I read that as “piece of shit” first before remembering POS is also “point of sale”!)

    • walkerp 12:38 on 2012/03/25 Permalink

      When the good weather comes back, the terrasses will be full on Prince-Arthur. Man, the Journal’s main agenda seems to be the automobile. You can’t even park on Prince Arthur!

    • Martin 16:09 on 2012/03/25 Permalink

      It smells like Spring: the cars are back! That being said, I think Kate has a good point, it seems probable that suburbanites found some similar more-than-you-can-eat deals on their side of the bridge.

    • Brad Hurley 20:41 on 2012/03/25 Permalink

      No, there really was an Afghan resto there, quite a bit better than Khyber Pass….I think it was Le Cavalier Afghan, and they set up shop again in Laval.

    • Chris 22:29 on 2012/03/25 Permalink

      It’s one of, what, 2 pedestrian-only streets? Should be quite successful. But no variety. I never go.

    • Marc 22:47 on 2012/03/25 Permalink

      Heh, POS, yes, one of those TLA’s with two meanings.

    • ant6n 23:14 on 2012/03/25 Permalink

      People tend to use Prince Arthur as an example showing that ped-only streets won’t work in Montreal. That’s unfortunate. De la Gauchetiere works quite well, and St Cath would work pretty well as well.

    • Kate 00:21 on 2012/03/26 Permalink

      Prince Arthur was a big success for years, though. I don’t think its present problems can be blamed on Projet – as Marc pointed out, the decline started awhile ago – or on the urban layout. There were a couple of bad fires within the last ten years, restaurateurs got lazy, competition from other neighbourhoods got stronger. What’s odd is that the street should have benefited from the development of all those new condos between Carré Saint-Louis and Sherbrooke, which should have brought more people out to eat in the neighbourhood, but the opposite happened. Do those people use the environs at all, or do they drive out? I’ll bet you most of them drive out.

      And La Gauchetière is a great example of a ped street – always full of people, a good site for street fairs in summer, I’ve seen Chinese dancers on stilts use it for impromptu performances, it’s not perfect but it’s alive. I noticed a new business opening last weekend in the space that was occupied for so long by that family that sold mostly Chinese BBQ and closed up last year.

      Ste-Catherine is different again. There’s some law I think about narrow ped streets working best but I’m not sure why.

    • Stefan 02:29 on 2012/03/26 Permalink

      from my own experience, one important factor for feeling comfortable on a pedestrian street is that its intersections are closed to automobile traffic (e.g. in vienna that is standard), or at least there is a long such section, where one feels safe from all directions, or some cul-de-sac. makes a big difference especially with kids, you can just let them run …

      la gauchetiere seems to have a longer block than on prince st. arthur. not sure about st. catherine, but i went there once and as you either have the option of either continuing walking in a single direction (being interrupted by traffic at each intersection), or sitting down to consume. it did not feel relaxing, never went back.

    • Kate 08:25 on 2012/03/26 Permalink

      I think you have something there, Stefan, about a long block with no cross traffic. It reminds me there was some kind of promise made two years ago that they would pedestrianize Clark in Chinatown, which would make La Gauchetière feel safe all the way from St-Urbain to St-Laurent. I don’t think it happened, though – too many businesses along there use the street for deliveries. Not sure how you get around that.

    • Stefan 11:29 on 2012/03/26 Permalink

      For deliveries, where not entirely pedestrianized, the usual mode here is that up to around late morning, e.g. 10am, deliveries are possible, and then pillars go up. In the high-tech version, these can be activated from the car to descend into the floor (Salzburg).
      Where no car access is every permitted (except emergency vehicles), delivery vans double-park around the nearest corner and deliver with a carry-on. As I already see them doing in Montreal for delivering goods for the last 100m into the storage-room of inner-city super-markets, like the PA.
      I think it’s important to demonstrate that this works well elsewhere, to not get straight-out rejection from the store-owners …

    • ant6n 15:58 on 2012/03/26 Permalink

      I think one of the more important rules for pedestrianization is that there is good food traffic already – you can’t create it by pedestrianizing. As far as St Cath. goes, I think that car access is important.
      Some urbanism people now think that full pedestrianization is a mistake and that one should keep at least one car lane, to keep car/taxi access and to have somebody there at all times — presumably this effect could also be achieved with all the cross streets.

    • Doobious 17:35 on 2012/03/26 Permalink

      I wonder if Prince Arthur’s decline has anything to do with the situation on the Main. It hasn’t quite bounced back since they dug it all up for a few consecutive summers a couple of years back.

    • Kate 20:21 on 2012/03/26 Permalink

      Doobious, that’s probably an element too. A decline like that always has multiple causes and sometimes it’s difficult to discern them until it’s too late.

    • Stefan 01:55 on 2012/03/27 Permalink

      ant6n: i agree that foot (food?) traffic is required. so what you want in a pedestrian area is a mix of commerces (or non-commercial as well?) with high frequency and goods which are transportable by hand. so, food is perfect.

      also, you need to get a lot of people to pass there. office towers will generate a large lunch crowd, which extends to evenings in the summer-time. or large-scale attractions (a beach, la ronde, old town center), but then that may vary depending on the weather. prince arthur has none of that, while chinatown is close to downtown and the old centre.

      do you have some reference to arguments why keeping a car lane may be better? (this may be specific to north american city design)

    • ant6n 13:36 on 2012/03/27 Permalink

      some links in a blog post.
      The idea to keep one car lane is not necessarily North American – an urban planner from my family, who’s from Berlin, said, when visiting, that she’d keep one lane in St Cath as well.

    • qatzelok 10:21 on 2012/03/30 Permalink

      Everyone seems to have missed the success of the Gay Village pedestrianism as a major reason for the decline of Prince Arthur. The rise of the pink balls seems to have coincided with the decline of the Prince of Frozen Moussaka.

    • Valerie Girard 11:25 on 2012/03/31 Permalink

      Hello as owner’s of a French Bistro on the Street we would like to weigh-in with the discussion. We opened our bistro 5 years ago, as residents of the neighbourhood we knew the street well and had always loved the pedestrian aspect and felt the PA was a beautiful street.
      We also had to acknowledge that existing BYOB’s in the street were known as being tourist trap’s, with very little variety, so we saw this as an opportunity to introduce a restaurant that was more inline with restaurants that were also loved by Montrealers alike, offering for those who like us, loved the street but also wanted good food.
      We opted for a non BYOB and spent the first year (which by the way was at the time that St Laurent was under heavy construction), trying to attract the local clientele, who would have never eaten on this street in the past due to it’s reputation.
      When we first started we quickly realized that the street had it’s issues, lots of pan handlers, very little cleaning both summer with the overflowing garbage bins, and winter with no adequate snow removal.
      We went on to systematically clean our frontage and encourage (read shame) our neighbouring businesses to follow suit, with time and patience this began to pay off and we gradually saw a cooperation.
      Our clientele began to grow and people seemed happy. What we have found the toughest during this time was convincing the city that they to had to assist us by offering the services for which we pay a high price, which with time has improved (especially in the last year).
      The BYOB restaurants began to give way to other types like a Portuguese, an Italian, Mexican, Korean, but the main big places were still run in the same old school ways by people who had been on the street for 30 years plus.
      A lot of these have closed over the last years, reasons such as higher taxes, fires, less people, and of course most recently the MEV system seemed to make the situation dire and the places just called it quits.
      The street simply needs a new influx of new owners to come in and take over the space to have a rebirth of the street. We use a system of client comment cards given to each client to register them and gather data, this data has shown that lot of customers are coming from word of mouth, then websites such as yelp, restomontreal, and trip advisor, and finally a lot of “walking by” locals who are just now discovering our place. We often hear from our clients that they have walked by a million times but had never stopped because of the bad rep of the street, but as they enjoyed our place, they admitted that it was great to reclaim the street for foodies and locals alike.
      Some of our regulars have a look of sadness when they come in now and say, “what happened to the street, it looks like a ghetto or ghost town”. To which we reply that the latest MEV rule has finally washed away all the residual tired places, and that it will be a little while before new businesses come back.
      Bottom line we were hopeful that our presence on the street 5 years ago would begin to attract a new type of client and maybe dare we say, also inspire a better calibre restaurants to follow, we are on the cusp and continue to ride it out.

      Valerie Girard co-owner Bistro Les Deux Gamins, 170 Prince Arthur East

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