Updates from February, 2013 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Kate 20:25 on 2013/02/05 Permalink | Reply  

    Martial Fillion, one of the accused in the Faubourg Contrecœur case, is dead of a heart attack. Fillion used to be head of the SHDM, but was suspended then fired in 2008 after the Contrecœur affair came to light: a piece of land in the east end, valued at $31 million by the city, had been sold for $1.6 million on his watch – to Frank Catania. Kristian has a bit more on this scandal in an entry from 2008 before Benoit Labonté fell in his turn. La Presse also notes the death and adds a timeline of the scandal. Fillion was expected in court next month. According to some reports he had not been well for some time. On part vite, des fois was Georges Bossé’s comment.

    (Interesting footnote: in 2012, the CÉGEP du Vieux-Montréal was ordered to pay nearly half a million dollars to Francine Sénécal, Fillion’s wife, whom they had hired to be director general but sacked in 2008 shortly after Fillion’s dismissal from the SHDM, and before she even started work. I don’t know whether the CEGEP complied or appealed.)

  • Kate 20:14 on 2013/02/05 Permalink | Reply  

    Omar Bulphred, who’s done jail time for firebombing a Jewish school in 2006, is going to do more jail time for uttering threats and breaking a peace bond that he signed after completing his sentence. QMI says he committed violent acts in prison, never got parole and that he has been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome.

  • Kate 20:08 on 2013/02/05 Permalink | Reply  

    Joe Borsellino told the Charb on Tuesday that it was Gilles Surprenant, “Monsieur 3%”, who came up with the bribes-for-contracts system at city hall, not the contractors who proposed it first, as Surprenant testified in the fall.

    There was also testimony about Borsellino’s profitable friendship with Jocelyn Dupuis, at the time director general of FTQ-Construction, including lending him a condo at 1000 de la Commune – the old refrigerated warehouse building – for three years, just for the asking. We should all have friends like this.

    Borsellino, initially hedging with claims he didn’t remember details, had his memory jogged by recordings of phone conversations he had had with Dupuis and others.

  • Kate 14:26 on 2013/02/05 Permalink | Reply  

    It’s all over the news Tuesday that gas prices went sharply up all of a sudden. The CAA says there’s no reason for it.

    • steph 15:40 on 2013/02/05 Permalink

      A viable substitute to tolls!

    • Ant6n 16:40 on 2013/02/05 Permalink

      Except that tolls should be money going towards the public, not away from it.

    • Chris 22:17 on 2013/02/05 Permalink

      Ant6n, some of the money goes to the public since the tax is applied on top of the sale price, no?

    • Ant6n 23:46 on 2013/02/05 Permalink

      Is it? There’s sales taxes, yes. But that’s only a small percentage, most of it still goes to gas companies. There’s also gas taxes, but aren’t those a fixed? The (federal) gas taxes in the States (~20c/gallon) haven’t gone up since the early nineties, so they are actually decreasing in real values, as well as relative to the gas price.

    • Stefan 07:55 on 2013/02/06 Permalink

      raising gas prices to counter flexible demand (i.e. weekends) is probably the cheapest and most effective system of limiting car use in the montreal area (imagine what a kilometrage system, implement in quebec, would cost).
      the problem here is that there is industry collusion, which is clearly not looked into, or ignored with the help of brown envelopes, and only the private sector is profiting from it, since gas tax in quebec is a fixed amount and not a percentage of the retail price.

    • Kevin 11:00 on 2013/02/06 Permalink

      Montrealers pay more for gas than the rest of the country for 2 reasons
      1) we import our oil from overseas
      2) taxes make up nearly 37% of the price at the pump.

      Not that this is a bad thing…

      But I don’t think any individual price hike has an effect on driving. Gouging people on a Friday isn’t going to stop them from making any given weekend trip because they’ve already made those plans.

      It does have an effect on overall lifestyle charges: Quebecers buy smaller, more fuel-efficient cars than in the rest of North America.

    • GC 16:30 on 2013/02/06 Permalink

      Do we pay more than “the rest of the country”, though? Last time I was in NB and NS, the prices were higher there. Has that changed?

  • Kate 14:24 on 2013/02/05 Permalink | Reply  

    Radio-Canada has an admonitory piece to alert homeowners of the city’s views on their responsibility for sewer entrances to their houses.

  • Kate 13:02 on 2013/02/05 Permalink | Reply  

    This year’s Tour de l’île is the event’s 30th anniversary, for which Vélo Québec is planning to offer more options for different levels of fitness. The organization also hopes to organize a true tour around the edge of the island of Montreal in 2014 – 145 km!

    (Sign of hope – we’re starting to get press releases about summer events.)

    • Ant6n 16:43 on 2013/02/05 Permalink

      The Tour d’Isle stuff is expensive enough as is. fifty bucks to cycle around the island for a couple of hours? For that money I could rent a car and then I wouldn’t have to cycle.

    • Doobish 16:59 on 2013/02/06 Permalink

      Financially, the Tour de l’Ile is all about double-overtime for a lot of cops fucking the dog. I stopped paying to ride the day I figured that out.

  • Kate 10:54 on 2013/02/05 Permalink | Reply  

    It’s been ten years since the last Mosaïcultures show in town – they used to be set up at the Old Port – but this summer there will be a show of this stuff at the botanical garden. It’s a pretty kitschy art form, and I hope it doesn’t take over the whole garden, most of which should be left to photosynthesize in peace.

  • Kate 10:40 on 2013/02/05 Permalink | Reply  

    The city has ordered a study on tolls – not just bridge tolls but downtown access charges and a kilometrage charge, but not a congestion charge as such. François Cardinal is in favour of the kilometrage option – I admit I have no idea how this is tracked, to be honest. But I think he’s right in saying that making people pay to access downtown would be a huge mistake for the city.

    • Clément 10:52 on 2013/02/05 Permalink

      I’m being lazy and just copying and pasting the same comment I made on FC’s post:

      Le problème à Montréal est différent de Londres.
      À Londres, l’objectif premier du péage était de désengorger le centre-ville et ce fut une réussite. Par ailleurs, le péage à Londres ne génère pas de profits (ou si peu) à cause des ses coûts élevés d’opération.
      À Montréal, le but avoué des péages est simplement d’augmenter les revenus fiscaux, sans plus. Ce qui à Londres est un objectif louable deviendrait rapidement à Montréal une conséquence néfaste. C’est pourquoi la comparaison entre Montréal et Londres ne tient pas la route…

    • Kate 10:58 on 2013/02/05 Permalink

      Yep. That’s pretty much the scenario. It’s a losing game to fill transit coffers by choking off the city centre here.

    • Ephraim 11:22 on 2013/02/05 Permalink

      A bridge toll at prime hours would be a much better use of money. The toll is into Montreal and out of Montreal only during rush hour. The more traffic, the higher the charge. It should be related to the cost of taking the metro and parking into the city. It’s simply a way of cutting down on rush hour traffic. And frankly, as I have pointed out, trucks need to be paying a heck of a lot of money to go through Montreal on the 40 instead of taking the 30. (So, for example, toxic waste from the Maritimes isn’t trucked through the city on it’s way to Ontario.)

      Looking for a new way to bring money into the city coffers isn’t a real solution. We are already pretty much at the top of the tax. Moving taxes from one side of the equation to another isn’t effective. Controlling costs, running things efficiently are. There are no accounting methods in place to force the city to be efficient at all. Which is the real problem. And then the corruption of such things as selling off the parking meters, having the tourism department run privately (but collecting tax money). Is Bixi paying for their parking spaces? Is the city getting paid of the usage of sidewalks by scaffolding? Is the city taxing empty buildings beyond a certain date for construction and repair? Incentivizing the occupation of space rather than giving back tax money on empty space because rents are too high? What is the city actually doing to make this run like a well oiled machine? The city is a business. Business should be run efficiently (even if it isn’t run for a profit.) and not simply as a way to pad pockets.

    • Mathieu 11:35 on 2013/02/05 Permalink

      They were talking a while ago about a system of concentric “belts” around the CMM. For instance, if you come in the city by A20 from Québec, you get to pay a toll when entering the CMM in St-Hyacinthe, another one at A30, another one at the tunnel and a last one when you exit A20/A40 to come inside the city centre. Tolls would be more expensive as you come closer to downtown, going for less than a dollar to probably more than 5$ to make traffic flow.

      If the technology for electronic tolls exists and there are options at each “stage” to drop your car, I’m all in favour of this. This way, people commuting downtown would pay to finance roads and transit, as well as people commuting from St-Hyacinthe to Longueuil. Local car use wouldn’t be impacted.

      It isn’t only to get more money, but to make trafic flow. If the roads are free, demand is high and there is congestion. The more expensive it is, the less people want to use it for travel that could be done by transit/bike and people will reconsider their transportation habits. That is if transit and biking infrastructure come along!

    • Steve Quilliam 11:59 on 2013/02/05 Permalink

      They keep looking for ways to collect more and more money but the reality is that we are already sending the city and the goverment a lot of money. Way more than we should so the question is where does all this money going ? To much of it is going into passive like salaries, benefits, advantages and pension plans for the city employees at large. Way to much of it is going there. If all these employees (politicians, civil servants, blue collar, white collar, firefighter etc…) would get benefits, advantages and salaries similar to that of the private sector we would suddenly find billions of available dollars to spend on public transit and our crumbling infrastructure, per example.

      Which politicians will have the balls to change that and bring eveyone at the same level and not give privilege to just the city employees ? So far none, therefor expect to pay more and more for the benefits of the privileged ones while the politicians are letting us believe it’s for public transit or other services ! Yeah right !

    • Alex L 12:07 on 2013/02/05 Permalink

      I’m not against tolls in Montréal, but there has to be many more public transit options (more trains, subway extensions, rapid buses, trams) to justify that new tax. Car users need to be able to make the shift smoothly, not having to hop into an orange line already crowded.

    • David Tighe 12:24 on 2013/02/05 Permalink

      The issue is not making people pay for access but making motorists pay for the social costs of bringing their car

    • David Tighe 12:31 on 2013/02/05 Permalink

      It would certainly be sensible to have a reduced rate in off-peak periods when congestion is not an issue

    • Bill Binns 14:38 on 2013/02/05 Permalink

      +1 to everything Ephraim said. Especially regarding blocking sidewalks with scaffolding or other construction materials. I don’t know if they charge for this now but if they do, the fees must be very reasonable. I find it infuriating that pedestrians can be forced to cross three streets to get where they are going so a construction company can leave a dumpster on the sidewalk for months at a time. Something around $100 a day for every 10 meters of inaccessable sidewalk sounds about right to me.

      Regarding traffic downtown. I’d like to see a small core of downtown go permanently car free year-round. Maybe St Cat between Guy and McGill College. Get people used to the idea and slowly enlarge the zone over time.

  • Kate 09:59 on 2013/02/05 Permalink | Reply  

    The city’s hoping to simplify the urban development rules governing Ville-Marie, which encompasses both the most densely built and the oldest parts of town, areas that have grandfathered in more land subcategories and definitions than all five boroughs of New York City taken together.

  • Kate 09:56 on 2013/02/05 Permalink | Reply  

    After being sent home yesterday to rethink what he remembered about his company’s relationship with the FTQ, Garnier Construction’s Joe Borsellino is on the hot seat today at the Charb. As the diagrams at the bottom of the Radio-Canada piece show, Garnier’s also one of the firms alleged to have given bribes in return for contracts.

    (Following Twitter on this topic, Borsellino claims not to remember about any deals and France Charbonneau is trying to call him to order.)

  • Kate 09:51 on 2013/02/05 Permalink | Reply  

    A new poll finds that most Montrealers mistrust the city’s elected leaders. Only 41% of us trust them, compared to 86% for Quebec City’s leaders. Gee, I wonder why.

    • jeather 10:08 on 2013/02/05 Permalink

      “Only” 41%? I’m surprised the number’s that high.

    • Kate 11:11 on 2013/02/05 Permalink

      I know. But this is the city that re-elected Tremblay in 2009 after the media had already demonstrated his administration was running on brown envelopes. I think most people (not unreasonably) want to pick a city administration and forget about it, so long as potholes get filled.

    • Clément 11:26 on 2013/02/05 Permalink

      Laval is the best example of voter apathy. When the scandals started piling up at the end of last year, I would talk to Lavalois and they would all say “Yeah, but we have nice shopping malls and our taxes are low. So overall, Vaillancourt is a good mayor.” Apparently, people don’t mind a crooked thief, as long as they have a big shopping malls with huge free parking.

      Québec city is a time-bomb. When they start building the new arena (half of it paid with property taxes, the other half with income taxes) and the extras start piling up and they eventually find themselves paying for an empty arena — No, the Nordiques are not coming back –, they’ll start complaining too. Of course, like Tremblay, he will get re-elected over and over nonetheless. They’ll just find some other level of government to blame.

    • Dave M 12:03 on 2013/02/05 Permalink

      The potholes got filled when Tremblay was around? That’s news to me, too.

    • Kate 12:14 on 2013/02/05 Permalink

      They did. They have crews and machines and they’ve had them for years. I don’t think basic maintenance has been the issue.

    • jeather 12:54 on 2013/02/05 Permalink

      I don’t think anyone trusted Tremblay particularly, but everyone else seemed (a) no more trustworthy and (b) no more likely to be effective. Better the devil you know kind of choice.

    • Dave M 14:58 on 2013/02/05 Permalink

      I don’t know about that. I drove up St. Laurent yesterday, and it felt more like a slalom than a straight line with the potholes. I don’t remember it being any better under Tremblay, (in fact, last time I drove across Rue Sherbrooke was before he stepped down, and I remember it being even worse.)

      I don’t really mind the road infrastructure being bad, I take it for granted that it is (and I’d rather they put the money into, say, bike lanes than pot holes) and just consider it a way to discourage people from driving when they don’t have to, but I definitely don’t remember it being *good* under Tremblay.

    • Ant6n 16:46 on 2013/02/05 Permalink

      “But this is the city that re-elected Tremblay in 2009 after the media had already demonstrated his administration was running on brown envelopes.”
      They didn’t exactly _demonstrate_, I think they sorta implicated. (/picky)

  • Kate 09:48 on 2013/02/05 Permalink | Reply  

    The city has never been lavish with payments to people who hurt themselves on iced-up sidewalks, but the trend is to pay less and less often and in smaller amounts.

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