Updates from October, 2012 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Kate 22:34 on 2012/10/31 Permalink | Reply  

    The person who tweets as TypographyMTL – and no, it’s not me – has made a Youtube vid called The Typography of Montreal: Part 1 set to Ariane Moffatt’s Montréal. Really it’s more a paean to the city’s signage than an essay on its typography, but a nice idea nonetheless.

     
    • Doobish 21:22 on 2012/11/01 Permalink

      Cute enough, but what no Five Roses sign? Yeesh.

    • TypographyMTL 10:00 on 2012/11/04 Permalink

      Thanks guys for posting this. The five roses sign will definitely make an appearance in the other videos!

  • Kate 17:55 on 2012/10/31 Permalink | Reply  

    At the Charbonneau commission Wednesday, another city engineer admitted to taking bribes from construction companies and faced cross-examination about porn and shoplifting.

    Facing more calls for his resignation, Mayor Tremblay has cancelled his appearance at two events, a news conference on Wednesday and a major speech he was meant to give on Friday.

    Footnotes: a Loto-Quebec honcho implicated in earlier commission testimony has taken sick leave (caught Vaillancourt-itis, as someone quipped on Twitter).

    Denis Coderre let it be known Wednesday that he’s not going to enter the federal Liberal leadership race, although he seems to be trying hard to keep both irons in the fire with an apparent promise he’ll stick around the federal party till a new chief is chosen. Radio-Canada headlines their version of the story Coderre choisit la mairie de Montréal.

     
  • Kate 09:35 on 2012/10/31 Permalink | Reply  

    The STM worker accused of assaulting a passenger may face charges, although this piece says the STM is adamantly against having any of its workers speak anything but French under any circumstances.

    Indeed it couldn’t be clearer. The STM does maintain a parallel English-language website in which most features are duplicated and translated from the French side. I was looking up a bus schedule just now and noticed a new contest thing called Faites résonner votre voix dans le métro (ironically, clicking on it leads to a app-based feature on Facebook, an American site operating in English, but let it pass), in which you’re challenged to record yourself speaking encouraging messages to other metro travellers and maybe win an Opus card for life or other prizes.

    Nope. The contest is not offered on the English side. (The feature “My Voice My STM” is a different thing, having to do with opting in to focus groups.)

    History has shown that if you permit the existence of second-class citizens at the institutional level, one consequence is that people at all levels can feel more justified in acting out their contempt. This is a demonstrable fact, and a dangerous one.

    The claim that the STM worker also said to Mina Barak go back to your country is also a serious one that’s been eclipsed by the language politics side of the story. I want to like the STM, but I flinch from thinking about the institutionalized xenophobia that seems to run in its veins.

     
    • David Tighe 09:49 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      For what its worth I sent this complaint to the STM. If they reply it will be the first time ever.

      “I am disgusted by the report on a passenger being attacked. I speak French, thank God, so I have not had it happen to me. However, I have often noticed the impoliteness of ticket booth employees. When I am overseas, however, I have always been politely treated by public transport employees, even when I did not speak their language.

      Putting aside the ethics, surely your objective is to attract public transport users. How do you hope to do this by allowing such attitudes?”

    • Tux 10:44 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      My version of the STM’s reply to your letter:

      Dear David, We are wholly dependent on government subsidies for our continued existence. The STM is not, and never has been, profitable by itself. This is why we don’t care. We are a government-supported monopoly, we see no value in catering to our customers, whether they’re local or otherwise. What are they gonna do, take some other transit system? Like it or not, you are locked in. Now bend over, lube up, and remember that Icitte ca se passe en Francais!

    • David Tighe 11:10 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      No Tux, I do not see the STM faux pas in that way. I live more or less 80% in a French-speaking environment and I do not see this as a facet of the English-French low-level conflict that seems to rumble on eternally. It is a problem of poor customer relations (and how) stemming from poor personnel management and probably absurd union rules re staffing etc. My letter should be read in this context.

    • Blork 11:57 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      I agree with Kate. However, as a counterpoint (at least in terms of anecdotes) I offer this: last week I was going through a turnstile at Vendome station and the turnstile stuck. I tried my card again but it flashed red because it had already read the entry. Frustrated, I looked over at the STM guy in his booth and gave a “WTF?” type of shrug (no words spoken). The guy immediately summoned me over and explained that I was in too much of a rush, and I had pushed on the turnstile before the thing had registered my card, causing it to snag. He said I should always wait for the beep before pushing the turnstile.

      Here’s the thing; he said it all in English. I had not said a peep to the guy, and I’m not wearing a sign that says “ANGLO.”

      I have nothing further to add, other than making this observation that seems to fly in the face of the current view of STM agents. (Yes, it was Vendome, and NDG/Westmount have a lot of anglos, but still…)

    • david m 12:09 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      yeah, not to defend the weird agents there, but i’ve ridden the metro and buses probably a few thousand times, and i can’t think of a single instant when the drivers or attendants were especially hostile. aloof and grumpy, sure, but never once any sort of altercation. and i’ve jumped turnstiles, used expired passes, cruised in there drinking beer straight from the bottle, etc. the most i got was a ‘come on, buddy’ or ‘get a load of this guy’ type reaction.

    • Marc 13:03 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      I think the worst one is the whole “go back to your country/go back home/where you came from” nonsense.

      Want me to “go back home?” Okay, I’ll just take the metro three stops then a short bus ride and I’ll be back…

    • Tux 13:23 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      No David, I’m saying that the STM doesn’t care what you think because they’re a government supported monopoly. There’s no competition for you to take your monthly bus pass money to, so you’re stuck, no matter how crappy they treat you or how bad the service is. Anyone ever heard of a dispute with the STM being resolved in the customer’s favour without the involvement of third parties like cops? Didn’t think so. Take a look at any other service business (like say, a restaurant) where treating your customers rudely is a great way to go out of business or, as a low-level employee get fired. Compare to the STM where pleasant service is the exception rather than the rule and employees feel free to display prejudicial signage in the ticket booths and draw your own conclusions. It’s not about language, they just don’t give a crap. Why should they? At the end of the day, whether you’re happy or not, you still have to get to work.

    • Kevin 13:41 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      It takes ten nice people to make up for one jerk, but unfortunately with the STM there seems to be more jerks– from attendants who leave their booth for extended periods of time, to yelling at customers, to deliberately trying to make people fall down on the bus, yeah, there’s a lot not to like with the STM.

    • MB 15:13 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      @David, quite the rational letter.

      @Tux, seriously? Big gubment conspiracy?

      Ugh, there’s not a single transit agency in the world that isn’t dependent on government subsidy, excepting a few limited jitney systems. Even highways and the automotive industry require government subsidy to function. Do you really want to go back to a world where the inner city has multiple transit operators competing with each other? Ask New Yorkers who dealt with the IRT vs. BMT vs. IND if that was better. How about those towns in England that recently opened up their bus routes to private competition—how do you think that’s playing out? (The answer: predictably bad—now the service sucks, AND it’s expensive!)
      Also, the STM does not even have a monopoly over modes of transport, nor public transit within the metropolitan area, so quit using that word.

      I mean, the STM has ridership quotas to reach in order to even GET government subsidies, so I don’t know how you go around thinking they don’t care an iota about customer service. The evil government is under no obligation to continue funding the STM, and there are likely more than a few in the Transport Ministry who would like to stop—remember the 25+ year moratorium on subway construction? Also let’s not forget that the turnstile supplies a great share of their revenue. Encouraging or ignoring poor customer service would be shooting themselves in the foot. The STM has to care about customer service whether or not they want to.

      Let’s not forget: millions of people, every single fucking day, go about their business without a problem, more than a few in English. We should be angry but let’s not get out of hand and turn blame into hyperbole.

    • Marc 16:24 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      The TTC is the system most dependent on fare revenue. Although the city’s much bigger population plays a signficant role, they may take customer service more seriously. The longest you’ll ever wait for a subway train is 6 minutes. That ain’t happening here.

      And just to bring language into it, it’s almost guaranteed you won’t find a TTC ticket taker or bus driver who can speak French, they won’t be a total dickhead about the fact they can only speak English. You won’t see an “In Ontario, it happens in English” sign.

    • jeather 17:44 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      I’ve found that STM employees can be indifferent, or rude, or abusive, but — except the people at the customer service area at Berri — never anything more pleasant than indifferent. It’s not because it’s some sort of government job; I’ve dealt with municipal, provincial and federal government employees, as well as various levels of US government employees, and customs agents all over, and they cover the normal spectrum, mostly fairly pleasant, a few wonderful, a few terrible. It’s something particular to the culture of the STM.

      If you drive places, though, you never have to deal with STM employees . . .

    • Josh 18:02 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      MB: I’m pretty sure that Tux isn’t saying it’s a conspiracy, it’s just that when there is no competition, you tend to get lousier service. So, protesting in the way that David Tighe outlines above will go nowhere.

    • C_Erb 19:14 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      Farebox recovery ratio has little to do with customer service generally. The TTC has dealt with just as many, if not more, customer service embarrassments over the last few years.

    • dwgs 20:36 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      I commute by bus, I get on one in the morning and one in the afternoon and I have to say that by and large the drivers are decent. The odd one is a bit dickish but most are civil and some are downright nice. I see far more douchey passengers than bus drivers. When my son was in daycare and would ride the bus downtown with me I had a driver stop the bus and chew out the passengers because no one gave up a seat for my two year old. There was also a regular driver who would let my son sit on the little raised bit beside him and would answer his endless questions with patience and humour. Even let him play with the fare box and open the door when we got to our stop. There are many decent STM employees out there. I find that in general you get what you give when dealing with people who serve the public. Will you meet the odd a-hole? Sure. Give them a big sh#t eating grin and wish them an excellent day. It’s the best revenge.

    • Tantastic Ted 20:51 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      If you speak to people like that really loud and very slow in English it tends to get better results.

    • montrealfilmguy 21:58 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      A long time ago,before the net and iphones in every hand i remember on a bus an Hindu family getting off.Nice folks,mom,dad,kids.As the idjit french driver closed the door,he looked over the first sitting customer and loudly mentioned how it already smelled better with a wave of the hand.
      Jerks are jerks in any language even in mine.

    • Doobish 22:22 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      I must be hallucinating. I read into Kate’s post a comparison between the STM and Nazi Germany.

    • montrealfilmguy 22:33 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      Godwin’s law in full effect ?

    • Kate 22:59 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      No, I didn’t intend that, although when I wrote “if you permit the existence of second-class citizens at the institutional level, one consequence is that people at all levels can feel more justified in acting out their contempt” I meant it, and unfortunately this sort of thing applies in many places and has applied at many other times than Nazi Germany.

      I agree with those in this thread who say many STM employees are decent folks. I posted not long ago about a bus driver in Verdun whom I’d noticed being considerate to a very elderly passenger who needed a little extra time to exit the bus, and she spoke to him in English too. But my point is that if you enshrine a false doctrine like the notion that Montreal is 100% francophone – or if it isn’t, it’s somebody’s fault – then everything that follows from it is going to be flawed.

      The STM has reached a point where the irresistible force – the principle that its workers should be polite to the customers – has run into the immoveable object, the doctrine that no worker need ever speak any language but French. But that’s based on faith, not evidence. On evidence, some Montrealers speak English, and many more foreign students and tourists and business visitors also speak English. Ignoring this fact isn’t noble or admirable, nor is it frivolous when it leads to bad outcomes. What that ticket-taker did has undone thousands of dollars’ worth of feel-good PR for the STM, and has probably persuaded dozens if not hundreds of people they’re better off driving. Who could blame them?

    • David Tighe 08:40 on 2012/11/01 Permalink

      That public transport be mainly government funded is necessary. However, I do not think that being a public monopoly must be synonymous with poor service and inefficency. Privatisation of public services sometimes works, sometimes does not. Do we need examples of its failures? In the case of the STM, the problem is poor management and complacent and visibly unmotivated workers. If management want to correct it, they can.
      Actually, I find STM bus drivers, in particular, not bad at all compared to other countries. I like in particular, the way that they hold the bus for tardy pasengers. Also I find that now the older ones are being displaced by younger, general agreeableness is improving.

    • Tux 08:53 on 2012/11/01 Permalink

      @MB and David: My point is only that when there are no negative consequence for rudeness, there is no motivation to improve service, and that the usual motivations present in a service business (loss of customers/loss of revenue/bad publicity) are not present for the STM since they are a government funded monopoly, not reliant on customer goodwill for their continued existence. As someone without a license but with a need to get to work, I have to take the bus every day, even if it is driven by someone who’s rude to my face and sucks at driving to boot. David, you say better management could fix the service problems… I have my doubts. I don’t work there, but I’m guessing it’s similar to police culture, where there’s a sort of built-in contempt for the people they’re supposed to serve. A sort of Us vs. Them attitude. How do you fix that? Meetings? Powerpoint presentations?

    • Tux 10:00 on 2012/11/01 Permalink

      P.S People saying “the service sucks” and people saying “the service isn’t that bad” are both right. Both happen regularly. How much suck you get probably depends on the specific modes of transport, areas, and times. Going from Cote Vertu to DDO and back every day, I see a lot of suck. The drivers are pretty much universally bad (braking and accelerating like their bus is a small car), that “waiting for someone to catch the bus” thing doesn’t happen. You could be 5 seconds from the door… the driver will close it in your face and drive away. Forget talking to these guys in french OR english, they’re practically mute. I used to say “merci” to my morning driver every day. A summer’s worth of absolutely no acknowledgement and I’ve stopped doing it.

    • MB 11:51 on 2012/11/01 Permalink

      Hi Tux,
      Sorry if my tone was unnecessarily confrontational. My point is this: farebox recovery is a huge part of the STM’s revenue, and they don’t get their subsidies if they don’t reach ridership targets, so I don’t think the usual motivations present in a service business disappear just because, like many other industries, the STM requires subsidy to maintain operations. Their revenue would decrease quite noticeably and they would miss millions of dollars in subsidies for failing to retain or attract new users.

      In fact, the opposite seems to be happening. I haven’t looked at this year’s numbers, but they are increasing revenue and ridership has shot way up—in per capita terms, I think it’s #1 or #2 in North America. So I think they are doing something right.

      Incidentally, I have had impeccable and friendly service on the STM for a couple years now. Let’s remember this crucial point: we tend to weigh negative criticism of transit disproportionately because everyone complains loudly when there is a problem, but just about nobody will demonstrate an iota of praise for normal or exceptionally good operation of the network. So, when we see *anything* about transit, be it Facebook, blogging, news media, Twitter, it tends to be negative, and hence we tend to think that this happens more regularly and to more people than it does in reality.
      In other words, the Gazette isn’t going to run a headline like this:
      “Ticket Taker Flawlessly Switches Languages, Gives Helpful and Courteous Directions to English Tourists”
      precisely because it happens every day.

    • MB 11:53 on 2012/11/01 Permalink

      (Just to be clear, I am not trying to downplay this recent report. Assault is assault: it is beyond unacceptable, it is criminal and obviously bad news for the STM.)

  • Kate 09:22 on 2012/10/31 Permalink | Reply  

    Even though ATSA lost some of its funding two years ago, it’s proceeding with a now traditional November event in Place Émilie-Gamelin, providing food and shelter to the needy from the 16th to the 25th and peaking with a special event on the 22nd. ATSA has a donation option on their site.

     
  • Kate 09:15 on 2012/10/31 Permalink | Reply  

    Le Devoir says Gérald Tremblay is more and more isolated, Linda Gyulai tracks the torrent of cynicism that followed the presentation of the 2013 budget, whose provisions for infrastructure are also now being questioned.

    Wednesday, Union Montreal will cross-examine Martin Dumont, whose testimony yesterday was the first to bring Mayor Tremblay directly into the story.

    I’m pretty sure La Presse has been itching to run this kind of headline for a long time:

     
  • Kate 09:01 on 2012/10/31 Permalink | Reply  

    A man who was manhandled by police, who later admitted they had the wrong guy, is accusing the SPVM of racial profiling. He’s being further insulted with a charge of resisting arrest; the city has been accused of stalling many racial profiling cases brought against its police force.

     
  • Kate 08:58 on 2012/10/31 Permalink | Reply  

    More kids are depending on free meals and their families on food banks as the economy squeezes working families.

     
  • Kate 00:35 on 2012/10/31 Permalink | Reply  

    I notice the Globe and Mail is now limiting how many free article views we get, and heard on the radio that Postmedia plans to expand its paywall across Canada soon and that the Toronto Star will begin paywalling next year.

    How a newspaper can benefit from reducing the number of people who see its ads is a mystery to me, but I suppose the bean-counters have made a case for this.

    I will continue to find ways to link to relevant news even as my sources try to turn off the taps. Please let me know if I lead you into any blank walls. I’ll be trying not to do that.

     
    • david m 01:42 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      from torontoist:
      The Globe‘s paywall isn’t that easy to defeat, but it’s not very much harder. Once you’ve read your 10 free articles, all you need to do is put your browser in “private” mode. (Firefox, Chrome, and Safari all have this feature.) You’ll be able to read more articles. If the Globe‘s website cuts you off a second time, leaving private mode and then turning it back on should reset the counter.

    • Zeke 05:56 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      Howdy!

      Another way is to use multiple browsers, ie Firefox, Chrome and Safari. As for the revenue, it isn’t that they are trying to limit the number of people who see the ads. It’s that the revenue from online ads is miniscule in comparison to paper ads, and the newspapers are attempting to generate more revenue from their readers.

      For the first time in the history of the NYTimes, more revenue comes from readers than advertisers. And it is completely due to their paywall.

    • Kate 08:24 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      Yep, these are good tricks. But I’m not reading just for me, but looking for interesting stuff to blog about, and I can’t expect all my readers to follow me in a dance with 3 or 4 browsers. So I basically try to make sure nobody walks straight into a paywall.

      I’ve been sending readers to media sites now for 11 years. I figure I’m doing my bit to engage people in local news stories, so I don’t feel bad about finding ways to bring them the news, even if it’s through the back door. So to speak.

    • Matt H 08:32 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      According to the Globe’s initial announcement about this any stories that readers click to from blogs like this one shouldn’t be affected by the paywall:

      “And readers who find stories through social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook as well as search engines and blogs won’t have those stories count against their monthly cap.”

      http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/the-globe-to-roll-out-metered-paywall-as-industry-shifts-to-digital-revenue/article4612259/

      Hopefully that will remain the case now that the paywall has launched.

    • Josh 09:36 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      Matt, that is also the case with the Gazette’s and NYTimes’ paywalls – or at least that is how they were explained when they were first launched.

      So, Kate, this really shouldn’t change anything. It seems to be becoming SOP for newspapers to allow exceptions by the bunches. (One thing I did read on Twitter yesterday – from a Globe account – was that they were having technical difficulties and people were hitting the wall even from the sources that are supposed to be exempted. The tweet suggested they were working on it though.)

    • David Tighe 09:52 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      I really can’t blame them. The costs of the printed versions are rising and sales are dropping. If they do not start charging they will go out of business and what then? I do think they charge rather a lot but maybe I’m just miserly

    • Kate 10:01 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      What would the most high-minded approach be from me as a blogger? I don’t subscribe, and I can’t require all my readers to take out subscriptions to three or four media sites. Should I restrict my linking to sites that are still open? (Bye-bye Gazette, then.)

      What do people think?

    • Josh 11:42 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      Personally, Kate, I think you should link to everything you can. You can’t account for everyone else’s clicks, but you can offer the most information you can by linking every article that has new facts or arguments.

      We’re all big boys and girls here. We recognize that you don’t have a say over what policies various news organizations adopt on the Web.

    • Dave M 13:07 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      In an ideal world, you’d be able to link to sites that are still open, but increasingly that seems like it would exclude all the English media links (what’s left? The National Post and the CBC?), so I say just link to them. Most of them seem to be based on the NY Times paywall model which have a number of free articles and excludes referrals from “social media sites”, presumably including blogs like this one.

      If a reader uses up their free articles per month consistently on some given site, then it’s up to that reader to decide if they want to pay the absurdly high fees or find some way around the pay wall. There’s not really anything you can do about it other than severely limiting the number of things you link to, which would be counterproductive for a site like this one.

    • Kevin 13:47 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      On what basis do you claim that newspapers are charging absurdly high fees @Dave M?
      Ever picked up a print copy of a newspaper? It’ll set you back several bills a month.
      And let’s face it, so far the ad revenue coming in from websites is a pittance of what newspapers were making 20 years ago.

      I fully expect all newspaper sites will be behind paywalls within the next 12 months, and the only news sites being ‘free’ being those that have alternative revenue streams — or those that have teeny staff and volunteer employees.

    • SN86 15:52 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      I guess it’s going back to the old model for newspapers. Before they had websites, you had to pay to read a particular story in a paper or the whole thing so it’s nothing new and unexpected. I guess if you still want national news it will be from broadcast media and their websites.

    • Dave M 16:02 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      On the basis that the Globe thinks they’re worth more than the NY Times I call them absurdly overpriced. Considering the amount of horrible editing on the Gazette’s website and the lack of much investigative journalism, I don’t consider them worth $10/month, maybe you do, and that’s fine. I don’t know what the Star is planning on charging, but based on what other newspapers in Canada think they’re worth, I assume they’ll be charging more than they’re worth (and at any rate, they don’t really cover Montreal, so Kate’s not likely to link to them very often here making it a moot point.)

    • Chris 16:53 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      “For the first time in the history of the NYTimes, more revenue comes from readers than advertisers” -> which hopefully will reduce the influence of advertisers on editorial decisions.

      I’d pay a subscription if it meant I didn’t have to look at ads on the site. But alas…

    • jeather 17:44 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      I’d just link as you normally do. If things start to be a problem, you can try to troubleshoot once you know what you need to solve.

    • Josh 18:03 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      Dave M: In the new year, you can expect the National Post to put up a paywall. Here’s a link (sorry it’s the Globe though): http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-investor/postmedia-ramps-up-its-paywall-push/article4657129/

    • Kevin 22:14 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      That $10 a month is about 40% of what the Gazoo was charging in the 80s for print copies 7 days a week…
      As for investigative journalism… well, since the massive demographic shift in Quebec English media in Quebec just cannot afford to pay for it. The revenue stream and staffing levels have shrunk so much that just covering daily news in a metropolis of 4 million is a challenge. Especially when your entire potential audience is only 1/4 of the market.

    • Kate 23:31 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      Kevin, I take your point. But I’m not looking at this from the point of view of an ordinary user. In fact I wish everyone would think about contributing to the media they use in some concrete way, but as a blogger I don’t have a budget for subscriptions and anyway I need to surf for links as a nonsubscribed user because I can’t make assumptions about my readers being subscribed too.

      I worry about our society if we lose the ability to sustain media that will examine government and corporations critically and tell us about them.

    • Paul C 10:31 on 2013/08/16 Permalink

      The Montreal Gazette paywall is easy to defeat. I wrote a userscript for that. You can install my script using the Firefox “greasemonkey” plugin and Chrome already has built-in browser support for these ad-on scripts.

      http://userscripts.org/scripts/show/125795

    • Kate 11:09 on 2013/08/16 Permalink

      Thanks Paul C.

    • Hello Image 00:51 on 2014/03/24 Permalink

      Hey Kate was that extension legit? Paul C, it says “Will access all my data; are you sure?” when trying to install? :S

  • Kate 23:09 on 2012/10/30 Permalink | Reply  

    Voir’s Simon Jodoin links his anger at the Tremblay administration with his anger at the 3.3% tax increase in the 2013 budget tabled Tuesday in a letter to Gérald Tremblay. He’s not the only person to link the tax bump and the latest commission news – just saw a relevant Andrew Coyne tweet typical of how the situation’s being seen, with the opposition parties at city hall maintaining that the tax increase is linked to the cost of corruption.

    Meanwhile, Frank Zampino is denying everything.

     
    • david m 01:34 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      i’m beside myself at how corrupt this is. top 5 highest tax increases by borough:
      1. Plateau-Mont-Royal 5,7 %
      2. Mercier -H.-Maisonneuve 4,9 %
      3. Sud-Ouest 4,6 %
      4. Rosemont -La Petite-Patrie 4,1%
      5. Villeray -Saint-Michel -P.-Extension 4,1 %

      not sure which is worse, that these jokers want to punish the opposition boroughs or that they’re operating under the delusion that team tremblay has a prayer in the next election. at any rate, unbelievably cynical.

    • Jack 07:36 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      I just looked at mine 5.3%, I am an extremely happy taxpayer. My tenants also apparently will share my joy. 3.3% more than inflation, fairly easy to justify political.My only happiness Rotrand, Applebaum et al will definitely be sharpening up their CV’s.

    • Ian 08:23 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      It did cross my mind that the tax hike was punitive but given the fairness and transparency of our political system, how could I bear to be so suspicious?

    • Dave M 08:45 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      I didn’t understand last year, and I don’t understand this year: how can the city set different tax rates for different boroughs? I could see the boroughs setting different taxes for themselves, but the way that it works with the EC setting different tax rates for different boroughs, and then if they feel like giving some to the boroughs to use for services just doesn’t make sense to me. I can’t figure out how it’s even supposed to work.

      It’s like if the federal government got to set the income tax rates for each province instead of the province doing it. The only thing it could possibly do is encourage corruption.

    • paul 08:51 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      Kudos Dave M.

      Given how dense the Plateau is (not to mention the other ‘hoods mentioned), any infrastructure costs are less per capita there than elsewhere in the City. If we want to discourage a car-dependent suburban exodus, we need to reward high densities with lower taxes, not the opposite.

    • Mathieu 11:45 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      Did they really raise the tax rate or it’s simply that buildings gained more value and are taxed accordingly?

    • Kevin 13:48 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      @Mathieu
      They raised the mill rate.

    • Chris 16:58 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      David, I too noticed that the highest increases are in opposition-held boroughs. But maybe the tax rates are already lower there and the uneven *increases* are actually moving every borough’s rate more towards a single rate? There’s a little web calculator here and it looks like Anjou’s new rate is actually higher than the Plateau’s new rate.

  • Kate 22:42 on 2012/10/30 Permalink | Reply  

    Saint-Michel councillor Frantz Benjamin has left the Union Montreal caucus although La Presse’s version of the story has an odd bit of spin from a Union spokesman: “Il est encore avec nous.” Radio-Canada specifies that Benjamin plans to sit as an independent unless and until Union cleans up its act.

     
  • Kate 20:46 on 2012/10/30 Permalink | Reply  

    Outside Online nominates Montreal as one of the best cycling cities in North America. Via regular blog reader W. Raillant-Clark.

     
  • Kate 19:24 on 2012/10/30 Permalink | Reply  

    Tuesday beat a temperature record, I heard on the radio, but don’t find a text link for you except this TVA link (plays video) about Sandy generally bringing us warm weather. I can’t say I recall ever wearing sandals on Halloween eve before. While looking for a story to link I found this long-term forecast saying our winter will be slow to begin, but that we’ll see some fairly serious snow after Christmas.

     
    • Chris 19:49 on 2012/10/30 Permalink

      yay Sandy!

    • Ian 20:37 on 2012/10/30 Permalink

      sez you, my wife is still stranded in NYC. Though it could be worse, to be fair.

    • Kate 20:39 on 2012/10/30 Permalink

      Is she doing OK, Ian? I’ve heard various stories from friends who have family members there. Some folks had their phone and internet service knocked out for awhile, which caused some concerns.

    • Ian 08:27 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      She’s actually staying with a close friend in Soho – not so much “stranded” as “on extended vacation in luxurious settings with no electricity”. The phone was out yesterday morning still and there’s no flights, trains, or buses but another friend drove to Brooklyn from Chelsea yesterday and while it’s messy, everything’s coming back together. Apparently JFK might open up today but LGA is still under about a foot of seawater. Worth noting, all those pics you see of flooding in NY and NJ are salt water – all those cars are dead, all those homes will be ringed with salt wen they dry out.

    • Kate 09:18 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      True. It’s easy to forget how close NYC is to the sea, if you’ve mostly visited central Manhattan.

      The Atlantic’s In Focus feature has two sets of terrific Sandy shots, here and here.

    • No\Deli 14:14 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      “Terrific” in the olde, Miltonian sense. Wicked.

  • Kate 19:20 on 2012/10/30 Permalink | Reply  

    Occasional blog reader William Raillant-Clark is quoted in this Cult MTL piece on the unclear reasons why Carré Saint-Louis is being fenced off and renovated, when most folks seem to feel it was fine the way it was.

     
    • Ian 19:28 on 2012/10/30 Permalink

      I’m just glad it’s not full of junkies anymore.

    • William 19:43 on 2012/10/30 Permalink

      I’M NOT AN OCCASIONAL BLOG READER, I READ WEBLOG EVERY DAY!

    • William 19:44 on 2012/10/30 Permalink

      :)

    • Chris 19:53 on 2012/10/30 Permalink

      William, next borough meeting is Monday, show up and ask them where you can get the plans to the park changes.

    • Ephraim 20:23 on 2012/10/30 Permalink

      And the hole on Prince Arthur covered with a steel plate is turning how old?

    • William 10:17 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      Why should I have to go down there? I’m already paying for it. This kind of information should be freely accessible to anyone who asks for it (if it exists, which it does not appear to). Let Richard Bergeron enjoy the foil-hat crowd that generally attends these kinds of public hearings, I have better things to do.

    • Frédéric 11:46 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      Unrelated to Carré Saint-Louis, but Ephraim, Coloniale is now being completely redone, from Sherbrooke to Prince Arthur. It seems sewers are being replaced, and after a few weeks, it does not seem half way done yet. I bet the hole will be fixed at the end of these works. No easy fix, that might be why it took so long.

    • Chris 17:01 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      William, it wasn’t a dig, it was just an honest suggestion on how you might get your answer. (I agree these things should be publicized on the web beforehand. To get that, the population must fight for it, and requesting on the public record, where all councilors, citizens, and the media are present is a good way to move it forward.)

    • Ephraim 04:58 on 2012/11/01 Permalink

      @Frédéric – I have my doubts, they don’t seem to co-ordinate at all in this city. They repaved Avenue Laval and then did some sewer work. This particular part of the Plateau is very old, late 1800s and some of the sewers are brick, built in place. They haven’t yet figured out a way to quickly coordinate a team to do the work and it always seems to take months. But that hole on Prince Arthur, about two years old now. Maybe we should start putting up plaques and dates? Or someone should start adding them to Panaramio so that Google Maps puts them available on the map of Montreal, with dates. And then we can see how well our local councilors are doing, without the fanfare and the politicing. The fences around the building at Pine and St-Denis, for example. We need a way of tracking how long it takes to remedy a situation. And how we can modify the laws so that it is in the best interest to get it done. For example, some cities will allow you to put up scaffolding for an emergency. But the fees for the rental of the sidewalk increase exponentially the longer you leave it. So you work fast to get it done because of the cost. If the costs were significant enough, things would get done. The same with the water mains if handled by outside companies. If you pay for the “rental cost” of the street, the cost of inconvenience, then fixing and coordinating the fixing because your primary interest instead of how many projects you can work on at the same time.

  • Kate 18:43 on 2012/10/30 Permalink | Reply  

    François Cardinal offers an excellent summary of where the three main municipal parties are now, looking ahead to an election a year away.

    Polls show that Projet Montréal risks having all its hard work on policy and credibility swept aside should Denis Coderre step into municipal politics – even though he’s not a candidate, he hasn’t shown interest in municipal politics before and his views on municipal issues are unknown.

    But the other two parties risk extinction as stories coming out of the Charbonneau commission ruin their reputations to the extent that they could cease to exist and new parties with different names take their places.

     
    • Jack 19:51 on 2012/10/30 Permalink

      I don’t agree at one point Montrealers will catch up to a modern european vision of their city as opposed to Cleveland by the river. I know Coderre will bring some heat, but how does he play outside of Montreal North?

    • Kate 20:37 on 2012/10/30 Permalink

      That’s the thing – we don’t know. He’s supposed to announce his plans soon and everyone seems to think it’s likely he’ll leap, but he must be asking himself what chance there is for the federal Liberals to come back within the next decade or so. People write grimly about the future of the Grits but stranger turnarounds have happened, and if in five years’ time Coderre is mayor but Justin Trudeau is prime minister, he would have his regrets.

    • John 20:41 on 2012/10/30 Permalink

      It’s been clear for a long time he’s announcing his candidacy. Jean Lapierre keeps mentioning the spaghetti supper on November 9th.

      I’m the last person willing to defend Coderre. Watching him in the LPC, I’ve always thought if he was in the room you should check the parking lot for tents – because once the clowns arrive the circus can’t be far behind.

      That said, municipal politics is really different from the other levels. The arguments that you can make about Coderre are exactly the same things you could have said about Régis Labeaume in Quebec City: no prior, major involvement in municipal politics, no concept of policy, etc..

      But Régis is a showman, and he knows how to use his political capital to get what he wants from the provincial and federal governments.

      I think that’s an attribute that Coderre shares.

      I voted for Bergeron, and I’ll probably do so again; but, if elected, I doubt he’ll be any more successful in putting Montreal front and centre on the policy priorities for our provincial government than any of our many forgettable mayors since Drapeau.

    • John 20:44 on 2012/10/30 Permalink

      Coderre burned a lot of bridges with the Liberals when he stabbed Ignatieff in the back. He won’t lead the Liberals, and he won’t have a senior position for a long time to come.
      He really has a better chance at the municipal level.

    • david m 22:01 on 2012/10/30 Permalink

      the trick isn’t necessarily that team bergeron would be able to suck more money out of the province and feds, it’s that bergeron is extremely credible on hammering corruption, radically prioritizing quality of life issues, obstructing horrible provincial plans for the city, rebuilding the urban fabric, and just generally launching montreal from its late 1970s torpor.

      when you think of all the problems we have and how dire the need for a progressive, technocratic response, it becomes chillingly apparent that a bloated old backroom bon gars like coderre is major a step backward.

    • ant6n 23:27 on 2012/10/30 Permalink

      The city could actually make some money by engaging in good urban planning, which in turn could build the infrastructure in new areas. Just consider the Blue Bonnets (Hyppodrome?): The better the planning, and the infrastructure improvements to the area, the higher return on investment for the city (shared with Quebec).

    • Kate 23:31 on 2012/10/30 Permalink

      John, I agree that Coderre might work in the same way Labeaume works for Quebec City – I’ve talked about this before here. I’m pretty sure if people are predisposed to Coderre right now it’s because as a personality he couldn’t be more different from Tremblay, and possibly because Labeaume has demonstrated what that stubborn chunky Napoleonic type can do. I mean, you can totally see both those men as characters in the village of irréductibles Gaulois.

      david m, I agree with you too. But people like a bon gars and they may not grasp the need for a more intellectual solution. I can only hope there’s more to Coderre than spaghetti suppers.

    • david m 00:29 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      yeah, and even more than that, i think that cardinal is right on the money to see a shift in suburban voters most of all. i’m pretty sure that project will continue to expand its support base in the core of the city with an urban-focused campaign. but i could imagine that easily swamped as union’s base switches to the familiar face of a pre-iggz liberal party (with all the implicit trust to take care of their issues entailed in that), and some of the vision vote (such as it is) switches based on coderre’s mystifying personal popularity and decidedly ‘popular’ appeal. in a sense, his profile makes his lack program scary for the non-programmatic parties, particularly with a burgeoning backlash here. it’s depressing, i actually find myself hoping that coderre will fall on his sword somehow.

    • carswell 08:48 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      Was speaking with a high-ranking fonctionnaire from one of the demerged municipalities yesterday. He speculates that Tremblay is toast and knows it but won’t “retire” until after November 5 in order to avoid triggering a mayoral by-election, a strategically advantageous move for Union Montreal officials in their dealings with the Charbonneau commission. He’s also convinced that Union Montreal is a dead party walking, dashing any hopes grubbers like Applebaum may have had for a shot at the mayor’s position. Lastly, he’s skeptical about Coderre, whom he views as tainted by being a career politician, a federal politician, a Liberal and an obvious opportunist, as deprived of a natural platform by the demise of Union Montreal and as not having the wherewithal or time to develop an alternative platform on which to base his run. Not sure I agree with his entire analysis but I found it interesting.

    • Kate 19:38 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      Interesting stuff, carswell. Thanks for posting that.

    • carswell 21:02 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      On today’s Radio Noon, Bernard St-Laurent said the magic date is November 4, not the 5th. He also made no mention of a by-election but claimed that, prior to that date, Union Montreal wouldn’t be able to choose Tremblay’s “replacement” (his word, IIRC), whereas after it they would. Don’t have time to wade through the relevant acts and regulations to see who has got the details right and what the replacement’s title would be (acting mayor?).

  • Kate 18:20 on 2012/10/30 Permalink | Reply  

    Mobilisation Turcot has a petition up for our new transport minister to seriously consider alternatives to the official scenario for redoing the Turcot. Details are laid out in thie PDF file.

     
    • Ephraim 20:25 on 2012/10/30 Permalink

      Silly question, how much extra time will it take to get an ambulance to the hospital with this plan? We are talking about people’s lives. The slimmer version seems to have two roundabouts instead of direct access to the hospital.

    • Kate 20:38 on 2012/10/30 Permalink

      That seems a reasonable question to ask those planners.

    • Chris 21:01 on 2012/10/30 Permalink

      Ephraim, and the follow-up question would be: given that air pollution kills approximately 2,500 people a year in Quebec, how many lives will be saved by having a slimmer Turcot? My guess is it’s a good tradeoff.

    • Philip 00:54 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      If air pollution kills 2500 Quebecers every year, it’s long term damage that does people in. You can’t trade them off for some poor guy who gets stabbed/hit by a car/has an aneurysm, then proceeds to die in an ambulance waiting at a roundabout for rabid Montreal drivers to make room.

      There’s increasing the well-being of the city by improving air quality, and then there’s making sure people don’t bleed to death a block away from the hospital due to traffic.

    • Stefan 05:36 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      if the question is how to get fast to people dying otherwise, in Austria a fleet of helicopters of is used. average response-time is 13 minutes from call to treatment, and hospitals have landing sites on their roofs. this works in remote mountain valleys as well as in extremely densely populated city cores. a slimmer turcot could pay a dozen of those helicopters at least, so that it is covered by the public health system.
      there is another recently introduced strategy: in case of gridlock, cars on highways have to separate out left and right always, so that in the center a free lane is created so that urgency vehicles can pass. the Rettungsgasse (in german, with illustrating image) it works pretty well.

    • David Tighe 08:37 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      I am astonished how we are prepared to use helicopters ad nauseam to provide redundant traffic info. but do not seem to allocate any for transporting patients where every minute is crucial. In many European countries they are used routinely. With congestion growing in Montréal rapid access to hospitals will become more and more difficult. Furthermore, in France for example, ambulances are staffed and equipped to provide advanced medical help.Here I believe they are not. Drive carefully!

    • Chris 17:05 on 2012/10/31 Permalink

      Philip, why is the life of someone stabbed more valuable than the life of someone slowly killed by automobile-generated air pollution? Hey I know, if we want ambulances to be really responsive, we should just ban private automobiles completely! That’ll free up road space for ambulances!

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