Updates from June, 2017 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Kate 22:57 on 2017/06/02 Permalink | Reply  

    Chantal Racette has been sacked by the blue-collar union, along with the rest of its executive committee. The union will soon hold new elections.

     
  • Kate 22:54 on 2017/06/02 Permalink | Reply  

    The city’s libraries are holding a fines amnesty till June 22.

    In January 2015, the Journal claimed that the city had failed to collect $700K in library fines since 2007. Current pieces don’t mention the value of the unpaid fines, nor the number or value of library documents gone missing.

     
    • JaneyB 12:03 on 2017/06/03 Permalink

      Scofflaw here. If they’re wiping old fines, I’m there! (I also donate books randomly instead of leaving them at Armée du salut etc).

    • Kate 10:36 on 2017/06/04 Permalink

      This is the city’s library network, nb, not the Grande bibliothèque.

  • Kate 18:10 on 2017/06/02 Permalink | Reply  

    Even CBC admits that Ubisoft’s impact on the Mile End hasn’t been all good.

     
    • rue david 18:44 on 2017/06/02 Permalink

      I’d love it if these articles would include a paragraph.to the effect of “despite the booming demand that has led to widespread change and displacement, the city stubbornly sticks to 3-4 story building height limits along even major arteries like saint Denis, saint Laurent and park avenue, and requires lot coverage maximums of 65% in some cases. When contacted, the borough mayor’s spokesperson stated that locking the neighborhood’s look in the early 1900s as a policy was more important than affordable housing or preventing displacement.”

    • ant6n 18:57 on 2017/06/02 Permalink

      Let’s remember that until recently, the Plateau was the densest neighborhood in Canada. To get more density in the Plateau would really make it much less comfortable — if you build higher, you need more space between buildings, which we don’t have. I don’t really see the point of over-densifying areas that area already very dense, while there’s so many unbuilt and low- and meidum-density areas, and sprawl.

    • rue david 19:10 on 2017/06/02 Permalink

      The plateau’s density is decreasing every year, as units that formerly housed 3-4 roommates now house a couple or wealthyish singleton. And the place doesn’t feel overcrowded at all. You can’t seriously think that doing 10 stories at 100% lot coverage on all those old empty and one story saint Denis lots built in the last 7 or so years (which would add about 1000 extra units) would have been a bad thing. Rents go down (or don’t go up by as much), the 25 year old software developer type making 100k/year gets what he wants instead of being forced into a drafty old place where the floors creak when he gets a late night glass of water, and the businesses have more clientele. The only negative is a “feeling” that it might be too crowded, despite declining density, and the “feeling” that a 10 story building isn’t cricket. It’s mad.

    • rue david 19:13 on 2017/06/02 Permalink

      Unless you’re a property owner, in which case, the low/zero growth goals directly benefit you. That, I do understand and sympathize with. But it’s not good public policy at the local level.

    • ant6n 19:13 on 2017/06/02 Permalink

      More floor space per person doesn’t create more space between buildings. The issue with St-Denis, for example, is that the street isn’t very wide, the sidewalk isnt very wide. 10 stories are basically skyscrapers, that wouldn’t fit the area very well, and would kind of mess up the whole urban fabric with all the heritage buildings you can’t just get rid off. The Plateau isn’t Manhattan, and I don’t think too many people want it to become Manhattan.

    • Kate 19:18 on 2017/06/02 Permalink

      rue david, I often agree with you on things, but turning the Plateau’s main streets into René‑Lévesque just doesn’t work for me. The texture of Montreal’s core neighbourhoods comes from the existing zoning and scale of buildings. You can’t suddenly do a Baron Haussmann on the place (Drapeau tried, and we ended up with the Maison Radio-Canada scar on the city, Goose Village wiped out, and Griffintown a dead loss for a generation).

      Yes, the Plateau was built up as worker housing. I’ve written before about how one day, in the Plateau, my doorbell rang and a pair of ebullient old ladies were there, talking about how they had lived in my flat before World War II with their entire family. The flat was not big – I’m not wealthy, I don’t have much stuff, but it seemed about enough space for me, my books and computer and one or two cats. I didn’t envy their lives when somewhere between four and eight people were jammed into that space. The lack of privacy must’ve been a real burden.

      I don’t think most of us want a return to that, or something closer to it, with family or housemates. Do you think we need to do that? Why?

    • rue david 20:47 on 2017/06/02 Permalink

      kate, that frame is all wrong. anton, you have taller buildings sporadically up saint laurent, there’s no question that saint laurent looks anything like manhattan. also, saint denis is one of the widest and most heavily trafficked streets in the city.

      specifically, you take a building like that next to moishe’s or the SAQ building on mount royal, and i think that those car rental/storage/service station/etc. spaces on saint denis should have been built to that level of density. that perfectly fits into the neighborhood, there’s not a person who’d say that it doesn’t.

      broadly and very importantly, there are very few places in montreal that can support density like this area can. the demand just isn’t there. the demand vs cost of building materials and and building to code makes ~3 story woodframe the default building type on island, even in relatively dense areas.

      in mile end, you have people willing to pay 1500-1800/month for a great space. at this point, in mile end, every person who moves, or whose master lease holder moves, is being replaced by a person who can pay this or some equivalent per square foot cost. but these very people are those who want the new concrete/steel frame builds that a more lax zoning regime would allow.

      and even if you don’t want a single existing building demolished, it’s just not true that there aren’t sites to build on. there are loads of sites, still.

      the point is that the refusal to allow taller buildings in the areas where the demand is highest is pushing people north and east. it’s not creating sprawl, quite yet, because outer hoods are still building and catching that demand. but it’s displacing people in the traditional hoods, and changing montreal in a way that most people agree isn’t great.

      putting aside the airbnb and foreign (including american) people buying places that sit empty, think about what’s more important, the giant petro canada station beside ubisoft being 4 stories with current zoning and providing 80 units, or it being 10 stories with 100% lot coverage and 500 units. those 420 extra units would directly suck up demand that would would move in all directions and north.

      personally, i don’t adopt the soit dit progressive position in favor of low rise living that happens to preserve property values and the exact look of the neighborhood at the expense of affordability and neighborhood integrity.

    • rue david 21:31 on 2017/06/02 Permalink

      It was a historical anomaly that it got so cheap to live in the city, the autoburb exodus and the separatism created a certain expectation of affordability in the city. But now that people are moving back, immigrants want to live in the city, professionals won’t commute, etc.

      People of our generation or older are broadly unable to process the basic economic shift that we’ve witnessed/are witnessing. I truly believe that the only way to save the Montreal we love is to build as densely as possible in the areas where demand is highest. Otherwise that demand is unmet and distributed into the neighborhoods and it’s curtains for them, gentrification.

      The old progressive anti-development position is actually totally destructive, imo.

    • Kate 22:42 on 2017/06/02 Permalink

      rue david, I’ve been pondering this all evening. I don’t think you can sell it. It’s not a question of a position. We just don’t have that many people and enough demand to force the razing of existing housing stock and replacement by more highrises than we already have. This isn’t Hong Kong.

    • ste.ph 23:59 on 2017/06/02 Permalink

      @ kate, I don’t think rue david is suggesting we raze it all and replace it with Hong Kong, he’s only suggesting they change the zoning to allow taller buildings to be built.

      The current situation is only benefiting current property owners – as housing demand is increasing while the city is limiting the supply – the values are ballooning. The current situation is probably a plan to maximize tax revenue; changing the zoning code is probably in the plans only once the demand for those old creaky buildings slows down. I think it’s ridiculous people that people are willing to pay 1500-1800/month for old drafty buildings with creaky old floors – but the demand persists, will it top off at 2500$/month?

    • ant6n 09:39 on 2017/06/03 Permalink

      I don’t think 10-story buildings in the Plateau are the answer. Already there are a bunch of very tall buildings sprinkled throughout, and they are playing very badly with the urban form. If you’d said 4-5 story buildings, we could maybe work that into the area. At the same time there’s diminishing returns on building height – the higher you build the more space you need between buildings.

      And the buildings themselves, especially if their lot size is small, have less and less square footage per floor — if you build higher, then utilities, staircases and elevators will use up more and more space.

      Look at European cities, and see where the density is — it’s often in neighborhoods with buildings in the 4-6 storey range. If you have some large area where you can build a large development, going to 8-10 storeys is possible (e.g. Angus), but inside an existing 3 story neighborhood it’ll just be a mess.

      At the same time, St-Denis itself isn’t in very high demand. It has a lot of traffic, noise, pollution, it doesn’t effectively give the experience that the people who want to move to the Plateau are looking for.

      Further, you’re effectively calling for a mono-central structure for Montreal. You have some idea that essentially the demand is only in the center, so we need to densify that more and more. I think that is not the answer, and it results in the wrong overall pattern — a less and less desirable center while still low density in the areas further away.

      Instead, we should look towards a poly-central structure for Montreal. That is, we need to organize Montreal around the idea of many villages, each with their own core, each having a more density, services and rapid transit. In some sense this structure already exists. And it allows spreading the development pressure, while increasing the quality of life for more people.

    • Douglas 10:01 on 2017/06/03 Permalink

      There is an absolute housing crisis in European cities like Paris and London.

      If you want the old look of the city to stay that way so be it.

      But if you want to alleviate housing demand, the future is more compact living spaces and allowing zoning to change to go vertical.

    • Ant6n 10:27 on 2017/06/03 Permalink

      Montreal isn’t Paris or London. The crisis here is mobility, not availability of space.

    • Tim 10:52 on 2017/06/03 Permalink

      rue david: have you ever lived in a highly dense area like downtown Vancouver or Liberty Village in Toronto? I did during my mid twenties to mid thirties and it got tiresome. And that was when I was in full on party mode.

      I think the density of the plateau/mile end is right on target. I tend to agree with Ant6n’s post. I have lived on Van Horne in Outremont for 7 years and I love it. Full disclosure: I work in tech and I’m pretty sure that with my wife and daughter, we would be classified as yuppies/gentrifiers.

    • Joe Mason 14:17 on 2017/06/03 Permalink

      Speaking as a software developer making 100k a year, I don’t know why you think living in a 10-story building is how I would want to live. Sounds awful. I love the big, old houses with lots of character.

      There absolutely needs to be a range of rent levels to keep a neighbourhood viable so that lower income people aren’t forced out. I haven’t studied the situation at all so I have no thoughts on how to get there from here. But don’t think that building a bunch of big condos will attract the wealthy to them and leave older houses to be cheap. More likely to work would be to build denser low-income housing to accomodate people who can no longer afford large old places. But to do that you have to stop condo developers from building nothing but soulless luxury buildings and charging a premium.

    • rue david 16:09 on 2017/06/03 Permalink

      @ joe – there are not big old houses on the plateau, everything is multi-unit over multiple floors. if you want to live in mile end or on the plateau more broadly, the question is of whether you want an old flat with high heating bills, thin walls, creaking floors, etc. or a new build modern apartment with all the conveniences. also, condos may or may not be the answer, i’d prefer if the housing went up as apartments, it’s a lot more efficient.

      @anton – i reject your view that what midrise buildings exist on the plateau disfigure the urban form, maybe you don’t like it, but there’s nothing inherently wrong with a midrise building. the only legitimate concern i can think of is the parking, which i agree shouldn’t be allowed.

      what i’m reading here is that you’re literally positing your personal preference for a type of low rise living as a policy that should be enforced against a policy favoring greater affordability/decreased displacement. also, your idea of town centers is good, building should be happening everywhere, absolutely. but you have this weird idea that the demand to walk to work and live surrounded by high quality amenities can be satisfied by putting up buildings somewhere along a metro route in some new town center. it doesn’t work like that at all, why would someone who wants to live on the plateau for the reasons she does consider as an alternative, say, TMR or saint michel? in reality, the unsatisfied demand for plateau apartments has two major effects: higher prices to live on the plateau and higher prices in the adjoining neighborhoods, as demand spills over. legalizing housing to capture more of the demand where it’s highest will keep prices lower on the plateau and in the surrounding hoods, it’s the simplest economics there is.

      also, i can’t fathom what possible reason a person might have to want fewer people living in amenity rich neighborhoods, with a lower ecological footprint, walking more and the rest. you worry about a neighborhood becoming less desirable as population and economic activity increases, but that’s why demand is high in the first place. it’s straightforward. again, pretty clear to me that it’s down to just your own personal feelings about how people should live converted to policy and preferred over a policy promoting greater affordability. the real effects of the current low/zero growth policy on the plateau, however, are being felt as far away as parc-ex and villeray, as we discussed yesterday, and certainly further east.

      @ tim – of course you love it, it’s great to live there, more people should be given that opportunity. and liberty village in toronto is a dystopian tower-in-the-park nightmare, done the way only toronto could. it’s like a chinese suburb and a worst-case scenario. all i’m saying is that these empty lots/service stations/one story buildings should be built out with taller buildings – the sort of buildings that already exist all over the plateau and fit in great – so that more people can live on the plateau, so that rents won’t increase so quickly, and the rental pressures will be taken off the adjacent neighborhoods. it’s a very straightforward and mild sort of urban change, and nothing like changing the place into china. more like just returning to the building regime around 1930 or so.

    • ant6n 16:52 on 2017/06/03 Permalink

      @rue
      I think it’s you who wants to enforce your own personal preferences and make changes to neighborhoods that people probably don’t want. I grew up in a different urban form than the Plateau and the buildings feel a bit small to me — but it’s what people like here.

      Btw, the way polycentral cities work is to move some work places towards more centers throughout the city, so that many more people can live within walking distance of their work places. The key us to support higher density and mixed uses near metro stations, and to build more metro stations that support such developments.

      This is not a construct I made up, it’s implemented in many successful European cities which have much more overall walkability, plenty of density at 4-6 storeys, oh and, btw, much more respect for heritage buildings and constructing complete neighborhoods that maintain a working urban fabric.

    • Joe Mason 19:01 on 2017/06/03 Permalink

      @rue By “house” I meant triplex – obviously I was speaking of only one floor.

    • rue david 21:34 on 2017/06/03 Permalink

      Anton, let me put this another way. What you propose as an alternative to common sense upzoning in the most desirable hoods doesn’t address any of the real issues that people are facing right now. Literally, upzone at the next borough meeting and builders will get cracking, and rents will come down (or the rate of increase will slow) the moment the units start coming online. What you’re proposing is that we wait keep everything locked down to how it was during the first world war, because you prefer it that way, and then wait for housing prices to increase so much that it pencils for developers to build out in stations outside the core.

      It’s like you’re looking at your drawing board and working backward to a plan to keep the city from changing.

      I think it’s a great idea to plan around stations outside the core, but it’s a long term project and if Vancouver and Toronto have taught us anything, it’s that strict low-rise zoning in.the core will create housing shortages, which lead to tower development as prices skyrocket. But that means your affordability policy is (1) be a long term resident, (2) live far from where you work, or (3) cram into an apartment.

      The parsimonious way is just to upzone uninhabited sites on the plateau to allow more people into our great neighborhoods.

    • rue david 21:46 on 2017/06/03 Permalink

      And I know that the incentives all.run against good policy. Longtime borough residents want high property values or are protected by the regie. The preservation types oppose all change because that’s literally their thing. The city wants high property taxes on the plateau, and mandated low rise development prevents these hoods from sucking up demand, so that Faubourg Des récollets, Griffintown, the post office lands etc can be redeveloped.

      And the people who should be fighting for more housing in the plateau have been brainwashed into blaming greedy landlords or city indifference to.gemtrification or whatever, and not the logical thing, which is city zoning policy. These people should be protesting every day that theyre communities are being sacrificed on the altar of this corrupt nargain.

    • Kate 00:40 on 2017/06/04 Permalink

      rue david, I don’t know what you think people want, but I just don’t see people who prefer to live in duplex or triplex flats in the Plateau (or Rosemont, Verdun, eastern Ville-Marie, etc.) trooping happily into ten-storey elevator buildings, and people delighted to see rows of existing housing demolished to put up that kind of building. You scoffed earlier at old brick buildings with wooden floors – does it occur to you that people might like their bricks and wood?

      Besides, I simply do not buy your picture of magically tumbling prices – “rents will come down (or the rate of increase will slow) the moment the units start coming online.” No way is a new building going to offer a new apartment at the rate I pay for mine, in an old brick triplex with wooden floors, not even for an apartment half the size of this one (which is not huge).

      rue david, the conditions you propose are unrealistic. Developers are not going to suddenly start building massively efficient towers offering cheap rental units. They’re going to go on building luxury condo towers with tiny, expensive condos for two-income couples, because that’s what’s profitable.

      Hundreds if not thousands of new condo units have gone up in the core of this city in recent years, and have prices dropped on nearby rental units? Like hell they have.

    • mare 05:51 on 2017/06/04 Permalink

      ^ I presume Kate meant rental prices haven’t dropped next to condo towers.

      The only reason rental prices will come down in the current situation is an abundance of housing / decreased demand. Not going to happen unless our economy tanks, in which case we have bigger problems than worry about the liveability of neighbourhoods.
      Another way are granting subsidies for lower income households. If people could get housing subsidies for ‘normal’ apartments to help them make rent, going directly to their landlord, as opposed to the current situation of (semi)government owned or managed housing complexes available for low income households, but limited availability and thus long waiting lists.

      Another measure that could be taken on the tax level would be to tax people that have high incomes but still live in very cheap apartments a ‘rent tax’. That might give an incentive to make cheaper apartments available to people who can’t afford to buy a condo, the proceeds can be used to subsidize apartments for low-income households.

      And an overhaul of the rent control laws. Right now rents between tenants are jacked up as much as possible, because the landlords know that that is the only rent increase they’ll get in a while. The yearly Regie approved rental increases are lower than the rate of inflation, so landlords are actually getting less money each year. And property taxes are going up, the brunt of which is taken by homeowners.

      A rent control system that sets an upper rent for apartments based on their value (luxury levels, square footage, location, walk ability, closeness to metro, shops etc; all measured through some point system) will limit rental prices much more fairly. Some apartments now will be deemed too expensive and will have gradual decreases of rents, some are too cheap and will increase, but if their tenants have low income they‘ll get a subsidy.

      I know this is unlikely to ever happen, since this will be quite a shake-up and our politicians are involved themselves in the housing market, as developers and building owners, or supported by them (in exchange for favours and access). But one can dream…

    • rue david 13:31 on 2017/06/04 Permalink

      kate – there’s an effect called filtering, which montreal knows well. basically, as new modern units are built, the people who can pay occupy those, leaving their lower end units to others, who leave their still lower end units.

      so, a luxury apartment building isn’t meant to increase affordability by charging lower rents, it does it by preventing a high income person from taking a lower end flat in the first place, and by pulling higher income people out of the lower end homes into the new luxe ones. that’s how rents go down and why you can rightly say that all increase in supply is beneficial.

      as for “scoffing” at wood floors and brick buildings – no way. i’ve never lived in a place without a wood floor, it’s just that the old ones creak and the new ones don’t.

      the condos and apartments that have gone up downtown are fantastic, if not for them, then prices would be bonkers right now. those saved the city.

      mare – there’s a real debate about the effectiveness of subsidies. the worry is that they’ll simply be captured in the form of higher rents (in mtl, that’s between tenants).

      the regie system you propose would definitely do the trick, and i believe that’s what berlin has done, which is just a stronger version of german housing controls more generally. the germans tend not to see homes as an asset class meant (ie. meant to deliver ~5% returns every year), and rather to view housing as simply housing. that’s the dream but it would take a lot to get people there in quebec.

      also, i disagree that we can’t increase supply to meet demand such that we can drive rents down.

    • ant6n 17:12 on 2017/06/04 Permalink

      The main way Berlin is staying affordable is by having a huge area that is desirable, and it’s the prototypical polycentral city built on top of its transit network. The density of most neighborhoods of the city is actually less than the plateau, despite being built around 4-6 story building stock.

  • Kate 13:18 on 2017/06/02 Permalink | Reply  

    A study by the Conseil des Montréalaises finds that Montreal’s outdoor summer festivals are often sites of aggression against women, from verbal harassment to physical attacks.

     
    • Bill Binns 14:34 on 2017/06/02 Permalink

      It’s not the festivals, it’s the booze. I suppose there may be jerks that do this stuff sober but in my experience, it goes hand in hand with drunkenness.

    • Kate 18:11 on 2017/06/02 Permalink

      qatzelok, you’re not even trying.

      Bill Binns, it’s not just the booze, it’s the setting. Last year there was a fuss after a woman claimed Osheaga security didn’t take her complaint of harassment seriously. I still am not sure how closely security can be expected to police the interpersonal activities of a large, milling group of adults who may or may not have been drinking or taking other substances, but there’s going to be an ongoing demand that they do more.

    • ste.ph 00:14 on 2017/06/03 Permalink

      There was booze involved in the Osheaga complaint. People need to be vigilant of spiked drinks anytime they’re out in public. I’ve always wondered why beer served in a plastic cup never comes with a cover (like a Mcdonalds soft drink). I suggest people stick to water bottles with screw on covers.

    • Kate 10:31 on 2017/06/03 Permalink

      ste.ph, I didn’t say it wasn’t booze, but that it was also the setting.

      People want a vibe of uninhibited summer pleasure, but watched closely by security so nobody strays beyond certain social norms. The two aims are difficult to reconcile.

    • JaneyB 12:07 on 2017/06/03 Permalink

      I’ve had strange non-drunk men grab my arm and try to drag me away from the crowd on at least 3 occasions at big public events in the Quartier des spectacles. I’m in my 40s. I assume it’s worse for 25yos.

  • Kate 12:22 on 2017/06/02 Permalink | Reply  

    STM tells us that metro users may see an empty Azur train anywhere in the system over the next couple of months, running as a test.

     
  • Kate 11:12 on 2017/06/02 Permalink | Reply  

    While looking at Next City I also spotted this piece on Point St. Charles’ Bâtiment 7, which is a true grassroots project (unlike the plans being imposed on Park Ex, described in the previous entry).

    (Except why do some people insist on writing “Montréal” in an English-language piece, which backs them into also using the unpronounceable hybrid “Montréaler”?)

    The city announced Thursday that it would add half a million dollars to the Bâtiment 7 project so the disused industrial building can be converted for a panoply of community purposes.

     
  • Kate 11:07 on 2017/06/02 Permalink | Reply  

    Next City has a thoughtful piece on the transformation of the square at Parc metro, which is being managed, some say, without reference to what local people want, but with an eye on what gentrifiers tend to like. I wasn’t even aware till now that the official name is Place de la Gare.

     
    • Bill Binns 12:01 on 2017/06/02 Permalink

      Boy, the term “Yuppie” is certainly making a big comeback in some circles lately. As someone who came of age in 80’s, I have never taken the term as a pejorative.

      Are there no “local people” who use Parc metro who may also be described as Yuppies?

      And what the hell is this?? “Women and children don’t come out easily,” he continued. “When they feel comfortable, they come out. But when they see people that they’re not used to hanging around, they will stop coming out.”

      Just imagine someone in Westmount writing that sentence as justification for keeping people from outside Westmount out of their park. They would be tossed in jail for word violence.

    • Kate 12:03 on 2017/06/02 Permalink

      And this is one reason why Park Ex is not Westmount, Bill Binns.

      I should note, I originally wrote “yuppies” but changed it to “gentrifiers” – probably while Bill Binns was writing his response.

    • ant6n 16:45 on 2017/06/02 Permalink

      “They would be tossed in jail for word violence.”

    • rue david 17:27 on 2017/06/02 Permalink

      Bill binns- the guy is referring to Muslim women who were raised to believe they should be subordinate to men and largely segregated from (aside from family). At the same time, it’s important for these women and their children to get exercise and sun (at least on their hands and faces). The problem this guy raises is that efforts to improve the park risk attracting more users and, thus, increasing the sense of risk among the women that the park couldn’t be visited without breaking the Muslim gender laws.

      In westmount, the equivalent problem would be a sudden spike in the number of teenagers (especially if non-white and male), which might intimidate old people.

    • Bill Binns 18:05 on 2017/06/02 Permalink

      @rue david – “In westmount, the equivalent problem would be a sudden spike in the number of teenagers (especially if non-white and male), which might intimidate old people.”

      Yes exactly. Do you think an old lady in Westmount would get away with just casually warning everyone that if park facilities were changed it may attract black teens from Park-Ex and that would make her and her grand-kids afraid to go outside? That sentence I quoted above would be immediately condemned if uttered in any other context.

      This is much the same thing as the Hochelaga piece from a few weeks ago. Nobody can get away with complaining about “different” people moving into their neighborhood and changing it in profound ways anymore except, for some reason, the poor. They get to publicly strategize how to keep the undesirables out.

    • Kate 18:19 on 2017/06/02 Permalink

      Bill Binns, you ought really to join the PQ, who – like you – believe people should and, even more strangely, will throw off all their cultural tendencies, their likes and dislikes, and act like white North Americans for your comfort, the minute they get off the plane.

      The whole point of this story is that the square, which has never been regarded as a huge success as a public place – it’s sort of open, there aren’t any trees of any size – nonetheless has developed its purpose, as a place where people who wouldn’t normally spend much time outside can sit and get some air, whether waiting for someone to finish their errands or for the kids to run off some excess energy or whatever. It’s been evolving over time, but now a perky group of outsiders want to take it over and – did you notice this? – turn it into a sort of bazaar.

      The guy interviewed in the Next City piece has a canny observation: A lot of people use that park to hang out in. It has always been a space that — OK, maybe you don’t have the right permits, but no one ever asked you for a permit. We showed movies on the wall there every Sunday for a whole summer. We had a projector and a sound system that we brought from home. There would be tons of people, kids playing soccer. The cops would pass; no one cared. Once one group is using the park with permits, it’s like suddenly everyone needs a permit, and some groups won’t be able to use it.

      To me, the square does not have to be made useful. Let the people who live nearby figure out its uses. Don’t bring in some architectural consultancy to tell the locals how they should use the space. Don’t practice sneaky enclosure.

    • rue david 18:28 on 2017/06/02 Permalink

      Still, that “park” up there sucks. The improvements sound good, especially if they include a thick buffer of trees fronting the roadways, to reduce the noise level below 100db, and make it more sightly.

      The park ex people have every reason to fear gentrification. Airbnb, unreasonable constraints on new housing supply, and speculators have pushed rents up everywhere between Jean talon and Sherbrooke, and the people who’d once have lived on the plateau or in Rosemont are now in villeray and park ex. That neighborhood won’t be the same in 10 years. If you’re in westmount you know it’ll be exactly the same in 10 years.

      If the idea is to keep the neighborhood how it is, cheap and immigrant-dominated, they should sink their political action into killing Airbnb, building more on the plateau, etc. Siphon off the demand before it makes it that far north.

    • Bill Binns 18:56 on 2017/06/02 Permalink

      @Kate – The Bazaar idea is corny as is a lot of park design these days but this guy is not picking apart the plan. He has a problem with improvements in general because they may attract “others” who they don’t want around. Again, same as Hochelaga.

      This marvelous situation where people are holding events in a park without permits… “WE showed movies on the wall” “WE had a projector and a sound system”. Who is we? Who were the “tons of people and kids”? Was it the multicultural ideal we have all heard so much about or was it decidedly mono-cultural? Were there some people barbecuing pork chops? Some shirtless gay dudes playing Frisbee? Maybe a woman enjoying the sun and greenspace while daring to bare her shoulders? Somebody walking their dog? I doubt it.

      The guy’s whole statement is just “This is mine. I claim it in the name of myself and people like me”.

      If some women feel like they cannot go outside because of the rules they have voluntarily decided to place on themselves, I have little sympathy for them. I fail to see how this is any different from people who can’t bear the thought of sitting next to a black person.

      Yep, it’s really tough to find a public place to hang out if you have decided that you cannot share space with 49% of the world’s population. Hopefully it will stay that way.

    • Kate 19:26 on 2017/06/02 Permalink

      rue david, following from your comment in another thread:

      building more on the Plateau?

      Exactly where? It’s pretty solidly built up now, end to side.

    • rue david 20:51 on 2017/06/02 Permalink

      just off the top of my head, the old hockey arena would be one space, it could go to the height of the buildings surrounding it: https://goo.gl/maps/1BUeoAZzuB82

    • Kate 22:46 on 2017/06/02 Permalink

      rue david: Except it’s still in use as a hockey arena, you know.

      Bill Binns: he’s not against improvements in general, but against those imposed from outside. Nobody in Park Ex had input into these plans, and that’s the problem.

      You write “Were there some people barbecuing pork chops? Some shirtless gay dudes playing Frisbee? Maybe a woman enjoying the sun and greenspace while daring to bare her shoulders? Somebody walking their dog? I doubt it.”

      Have you actually ever walked around Park Ex, Bill Binns? There are all kinds of people there. Most are wearing what you’d probably feel to be normal western clothing. I don’t know what you imagine it’s like, but if you think nobody could walk a dog there you’re way off base. There’s no further point arguing with you about it, if you haven’t actually been to that part of town.

    • Bill Binns 10:08 on 2017/06/03 Permalink

      @Kate – Ok, that’s fair but I’m reacting to the article and especially this sentence ““Women and children don’t come out easily,” he continued. “When they feel comfortable, they come out. But when they see people that they’re not used to hanging around, they will stop coming out.”

      Also, if it’s being suggested that the residents of this neighborhood have absolute power over what the city does in that neighborhood, I’m all for it. I just ask that this power be given to every neighborhood not just Hochelaga, Park Ex and St Henri. I wish someone would have knocked on my door and asked my permission before the city put a heroin injection site in my neighborhood. I could put a statement together about how my wife doesn’t like walking past that site at 6 in the morning when there are men sleeping in the doorway waiting for the place to open.

    • Kate 21:27 on 2017/06/03 Permalink

      Bill Binns, you want our society to be hard-ass with everyone – people with religious beliefs, people unaccustomed to our ways, people who can’t work full time. Why idealize a society that deliberately deals out short sharp shocks to people who aren’t as tough as you are? What do you think this will achieve?

    • Bill Binns 10:14 on 2017/06/05 Permalink

      @Kate – That’s really not true. I have no more interest in stopping people from practicing their religion than I do stopping people from playing chess. I just don’t want to participate in those religions, either personally or through my government. It’s only when these people start needing immunity from law or special considerations from the government in order to practice their religion that I start having a problem. This is a perfect example. People who don’t want a piece of public land to be developed for solely because it may attract people different from themselves.

      As far as people who can’t work full time. I’m all for supporting them. Our only argument would be over the word “can’t” and it’s definition and how the government separates the lazy and fraudulent from those who really can’t work. I especially have a problem with healthy people who “can’f find a job” for decades at a time.

  • Kate 10:04 on 2017/06/02 Permalink | Reply  

    La Presse is going to go online-only by 2018, laying off 49 workers. This is following its decision to have a physical paper on Saturdays only since last year.

     
  • Kate 09:55 on 2017/06/02 Permalink | Reply  

    The paving swerve around a car parked on René that made for a good “you had one job” meme for a day or two has now been fixed.

     
    • Blork 11:07 on 2017/06/02 Permalink

      I gotta say, this is one of those cases where I think the “rush to memeify” was stronger than the actual problem. There are lots of “you had one job” things out there that show the person was just stupid and/or careless, but is that really the case with that paving swerve?

      My understanding is that towing the vehicle was not an option. It’s not really clear why, but apparently the word came down from above that the job had to be finished without delays and that meant no waiting for tow trucks, or something like that.

      So what were the road crew’s options? Only two as far as I can tell:

      Option 1: Stop all work. Go somewhere else, and leave the rest of the paving job incomplete. That means finishing the job will take a day or more at some other time.

      Option 2: Swerve around the car leaving a really small area un-paved. This way the bulk of the job is done, and it can be finished in under an hour some other time.

      Which is the better option? I think option 2 is better, so from that perspective they did the right thing.

      …but everybody loves a good goofy meme, so people jumped on the bandwagon and went at this as if it were completely stupid, because those people were blinded by the meme glitter instead of actually thinking about the situation. Thanks again, social media, for dumbing us down another notch!

    • Kate 11:15 on 2017/06/02 Permalink

      People do love to hate the guys who pave our streets.

    • Kevin 11:33 on 2017/06/02 Permalink

      I argue that social media doesn’t dumb us down. Many people are already dumb and social media just lets them expose it.

      If there was a requirement to actually read articles before posting, social media wouldn’t exist.

    • Bert 11:35 on 2017/06/02 Permalink

      One thing to remember about this sort of work is that the asphalt mix is prepared ahead of time and has a limited shelf life. Once the asphalt is produced there are only a certain number of hours that the mix will stay hot enough to lay down. If it gets too cold you could even run in to a situation where it can not be dumped out of the dump-truck. This issue is also true for concrete trucks, for which there a famous Mythbusters show was based on.

      So, Demix may have ordered the asphalt when the road was clear and by the time it was delivered and ready to lay the car showed up.

      I agree that they could have done a better job removing the car, including finding a large forklift.

    • Bill Binns 11:46 on 2017/06/02 Permalink

      I think most people probably took this the way Blork did but it was an irresistible clickbait photo. I didn’t detect any outrage as the photo made the rounds yesterday though.

      And Bert beat me to the asphalt issue. I think he is correct that much like concrete, once the hot asphalt is delivered, you have a set amount of time to lay it down or it goes to waste.

      If we really wanted to shame the blue collar guys, some enterprising reporter should secretly follow around one of their crews all day and take note of how much actual work gets done (if any). A TV station did this in Boston when I was in highschool and the resulting scandal took down the director of public works, a bunch of other functionaries and very nearly the mayor.

    • Kate 11:53 on 2017/06/02 Permalink

      Bill Binns, the work gets done. The city is functional and not falling down. You really seem to want to believe the absolute worst of working people – maybe your job makes you cynical? – but most working people are out there working. Peer pressure if nothing else keeps workers from goofing off.

    • Bill Binns 12:18 on 2017/06/02 Permalink

      @Kate – “The work get’s done”. Well kind of but let’s not forget we have residents throwing birthday parties for potholes. And maybe the work gets done but with twice as many people as are actually needed.

      I could be wrong, in which case the enterprising reporter will find nothing but while living on Doc Penfield I frequently noticed people sitting in parked city vehicles for hours at a time. I also used to run into a guy that had what must be one of the best jobs in the city. He would turn a fire hydrant on and let the water run into the gutter and then stand by his truck and listen to french talk radio for an hour or so before moving on to the next hydrant. I would quit my job tomorrow for that job.

      And yes, my job makes me cynical. I have been managing teams of people who travel and work unsupervised for the last 20 years. I am very familiar with the attraction a shady parking space holds for someone who doesn’t have a supervisor looking over their shoulder.

    • Blork 12:38 on 2017/06/02 Permalink

      @Bert; you said: “I agree that they could have done a better job removing the car, including finding a large forklift.”

      Realistically (and this isn’t just a “that’s not my job” line) it’s not the road crew’s responsibility to track down, transport, finance, and operate a large forklift for moving cars. Said forklift could also damage said car, and then who would be on the line for damages?

    • CE 13:14 on 2017/06/02 Permalink

      I think if you park in an active construction zone and get in the way of the work being done, you should take responsibility for any damage done to your car as a result of having to move it. The workers shouldn’t need to have specialized equipment on hand at all times to deal with people who park their cars where they’re not supposed to.

    • Kate 13:43 on 2017/06/02 Permalink

      Bill Binns, I did not put in that errant apostrophe.

    • Bill Binns 14:28 on 2017/06/02 Permalink

      @Kate – Lol – no you didn’t. My little finger has a mind of it’s own when typing. The other little finger likes to unnecessarily capitalize stuff.

    • John B 16:39 on 2017/06/02 Permalink

      Doesn’t leaving a hole, then filling in the hole later, leave weak points in the asphalt that become potholes in a few weeks/months time after a bunch of tires roll over the joint?

    • Kate 18:23 on 2017/06/02 Permalink

      John B, I wondered that too.

    • Bert 18:32 on 2017/06/02 Permalink

      Blork,It is the contractor’s responsibility to obtain permits and such. This would include permits to close the road, install (legal) no-parking signs, etc. My suggestion of using a forklift was a bit of hyperbole. But the contractor should have been in situation where they could have relied on the police in order to get the vehicle removed. They tow cars for snow removal, for parades, for filming locations, etc. This situation should not have been any different.

      Of course, any joint will, over time, tend to leak. Water is a powerful, powerful substance. Fortunately in this case, the seam is in the fist layer. Hopefully the second will be continuous.

  • Kate 00:49 on 2017/06/02 Permalink | Reply  

    QMI has a roundup of traffic problems for the weekend, both from roadwork and from the bicycle tours. Specific construction explanations from CTV.

    CTV also has a headline Cyclists will dominate streets during Tour de L’Ile weekend which is just silly. Cyclists get to use specific routes for a few hours Friday evening and for a few hours Sunday. There’s no event Saturday. And I say this as someone whose Sunday has been partially bollixed up because a bus route has been changed that day. Cyclists “dominate” streets, come off it.

     
  • Kate 00:40 on 2017/06/02 Permalink | Reply  

    The school in NDG where Karla Homolka was spotted volunteering has made a statement they will no longer allow people with criminal records to volunteer there, without naming any names. The news about the discovery of Homolka at the school has headlined in a lot of Ontario media, as well as going around the world.

     
    • jeather 08:45 on 2017/06/02 Permalink

      “No one with a criminal record will be allowed to volunteer in any capacity on school grounds.” Does this include field trips? Will the parents who were asked not to return be allowed to return?

      I still think this is going to cause problems come permit renewal.

    • Bill Binns 09:41 on 2017/06/02 Permalink

      I was surprised to see a piece on this in USA Today yesterday. There was over 700 murders in Chicago alone last year. It has to be a really crazy story for a Canadian murderer to make US news.

      It’s amazing how a day of phone calls from worldwide media changed the tone from the school. Yesterday at this time, they were dug in and any parents who dared speak up were having their kids kicked out of the school. I predict that by next week sometime we will hear that Karla has quietly removed her kids from the school and is moving on to her next hiding place.

    • Kate 09:57 on 2017/06/02 Permalink

      Bill Binns, the Bernardo-Homolka case was huge news. A pretty blonde sex murderess is always going to get attention.

    • Ian Rogers 11:09 on 2017/06/02 Permalink

      including her own sister, at that, and pretty much got away with it. It’s shocking, lurid, and controversial – hardly your run-of-the-mill murderer’s tale. It’s not surprising people still pay attention to whatever this demented monster is up to.

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