Updates from June, 2017 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Kate 23:58 on 2017/06/10 Permalink | Reply  

    CTV summarizes the Notman Gardens dispute: will the trees be cut down and condos be built? What do you think?

  • Kate 14:16 on 2017/06/10 Permalink | Reply  

    Le Devoir calls it a coup de théâtre: after the long fight for the right to convert 1420 Mont‑Royal in Outremont – the massive Soeurs des Saints Noms de Jésus et de Marie convent – into condos, the developer has gone bust and the building is up for sale again.

  • Kate 13:57 on 2017/06/10 Permalink | Reply  

    The headline here says Quebec government reverses decision on abolishing referendums – municipal referendums that is, a part of Bill 122 on giving cities more powers. But Quebec isn’t snipping out the line in the bill that abolishes referendums. It’s running around it in a typically bureaucratic Quebec maneuver, proposed by the PQ: “The minister agreed to allow cities to decide for themselves to keep referendums if they choose. If not, they are will still have to have in place a standardized public consultation process.”

    Denis Coderre clearly was glad to see the end of referendums, since they can mean pet projects can be flushed. He will certainly not allow Montreal to keep referendums.

    Will this “standardized public consultation process” have teeth? I strongly doubt it. Most “public consultation” here has been nothing but a dog and pony show allowing a few people to express their reservations before government and business go ahead and do what they wanted to do anyway.

    Taking away the referendum obliterates the best tool ordinary citizens had to simply say no, you’re not doing that here.

    Subsidiary thought: if the PQ wanted to be seen as a true alternative to the PLQ, why didn’t they make a stronger stand on this issue?

    • rue david 15:33 on 2017/06/10 Permalink

      just in time to make it an election issue in smaller communities.

      glad to see referenda go. under the current law, neighbors immediately proximate to a development can vote to hold it up until they’re overruled by the executive committee. it empowers NIMBYs to jam up projects and drive up the cost of housing.

    • Kate 16:24 on 2017/06/10 Permalink

      rue david, you’re totally obsessing in your recent comments over housing values.

      I totally get it that referendums can empower NIMBY attitudes. Need that mean that local people should be deprived of any choice over projects wished on them by the city or by industry – or, usually, both?

      Look what’s happening down by the Port of Montreal: people who moved there expecting a residential setting are now faced with a giant new transport project being built next door. Already the port operates 24/7 with a certain amount of noise and they know that if this project goes through, first off, life will be miserable, and secondly, any owner will find that their property value has collapsed, so moving elsewhere will hurt.

      But they should suck it up, yes? For the greater good? For the bigger profit? For the fancier tax base?

    • Bill Binns 16:39 on 2017/06/10 Permalink

      I like citizen referendums and wish we had the same thing at the Provincial level. A lot of good has been done in the US via citizen referendums. This REM project could possibly be wiped out or changed by such a mechanism. The students would have had a chance to get their way with far fewer molotov cocktails back in 2012 (assuming they were as good at collecting signatures as they were at marching).

    • rue david 17:09 on 2017/06/10 Permalink

      Almost all other issues are subordinate to affordable housing. I definitely agree that the greater good (as measured by greater economic prosperity and opportunity) should trump any individual’s right to use local referenda to ensure a return on his real estate investment.

      Across north America, housing prices are skyrocketing because many (boomers especially) have this view of the home as an asset class that inevitably appreciates in value, so they sink their savings into it and then use every possible mechanism at their disposal get that home value appreciation. Whether that’s by aggressively gentrifying a neighborhood like Bill or by aggressively acting to keep your neighborhood low-rise, to keep lower end people or businesses out, the behavior works against the greater good.

      Policy that allows a small group of people to push up home values city wide because they’re protecting an investment is bad. I’d love to see the Quebec government do high rise construction in the city (province isn’t subject to zoning or public hearing) that was targeted to maximize property value/rent decreases in the center city. The lower the return on investment, the more money flows into economically productive parts of the economy.

    • Kate 17:57 on 2017/06/10 Permalink

      Debating rue david here:

      the greater good … should trump any individual’s right to use local referenda to ensure a return on his real estate investment.

      What if it isn’t about money? What if it’s quality of life? The folks who don’t want that huge new project on de Maisonneuve at Claremont have had it up to here with construction noise from the superhospital and then all the traffic shambles from the Turcot. They do not want another big construction project on their doorstep. Suck it up?

      I don’t know how many of the folks living down by the working port are owners and how many are tenants, but noise from the port is already disturbing them and now they’re facing that massive terminal development. Suck it up?

      aggressively acting to keep your neighborhood low-rise

      I can’t be the only person here who prefers to live among two- and three-storey housing and doesn’t want to live in a highrise jungle. I am not an owner and never will be, so this has nothing to do with real estate values, it has to do with aesthetics and quality of life. rue david, your arguments seem to dispense completely with preferences and aesthetics and only look at overall monetary value. But that’s not the only way to see this issue.

    • rue david 19:41 on 2017/06/10 Permalink

      kate – are you talking about contrecoeur, viau or alexandra? i think all three are great, and have as much sympathy for people who moved right next to a pier and expected to gentrify their properties upward as i do for the flood plains people or bill binns.

      anyway, on the broader point – forcing people to move further away from work so that the current occupants can enjoy a low rise neighborhood, it’s perverse and deeply conservative. you’re defending the westmount attitude.

      and it makes sense: the alliance between old timers who fought off “urban renewal” block busting (like faubourg quebec or habitations jeanne mance), the next generation who took lessons from that experience/are used to cheap rent, and the bill binns/claremont street types whose motivations run from parking worries to black hole greed, this alliance is currently ascendant but the end result is that, as i think bill said, people see these neighborhoods as “full.” and new arrivals either pay high or filter to the margins.

      i see it as the next political shift, the next project, to get at least empty lots in high demand areas zoned to the building heights that were allowed 80-100 years ago.

    • Kate 20:48 on 2017/06/10 Permalink

      it’s perverse and deeply conservative. you’re defending the westmount attitude.

      I’m not defending anything. I’m merely saying that there are other ways of looking at the city’s evolution than yours. I see what you’re on about, but I don’t think it’s an easy sell to erase or even fill in streets of two- and three-storey buildings with highrises. I’m not convinced, as you are, that a) the apartments in those highrises would rent more cheaply than a flat in the older housing they would replace or that b) the people who had been living in those demolished duplexes and triplexes would happily march into the highrises and come to love living in elevator buildings.

      You seem to think, from this and previous comments, that developers will somehow decide it’s a great idea to buy expensive real estate in the centre of town and yet choose to put up highrises that will be priced affordably for people of modest means. They will not, and if you want an example of a perverse point of view, it’s to hold out hope that they will. Why should they? They’re building to maximize profit. If they do buy expensive real estate, the resulting buildings will be priced well out of the range of most dwellers in older low-rise housing, and these people will indeed be forced out to the margins.

      I can’t claim to have a solution to the housing issue, because it’s such a matter of clashing needs, demands and claims, but pushing more highrises into neighbourhoods ill-suited to buildings of that scale is a notion that offends me both aesthetically and economically.

      Also… considered as a science fiction setup, your story line holds no water as a view of Montreal’s future. Developers will not build for cheap.

  • Kate 12:56 on 2017/06/10 Permalink | Reply  

    A man has been arrested after three apparently random attacks on a woman and two men around Émilie-Gamelin park.

  • Kate 12:12 on 2017/06/10 Permalink | Reply  

    La Presse’s Isabelle Hachey examines the difficult existence of undocumented immigrants. Exploited in many ways because they fear to complain, the efforts of undocumented workers are tacitly used by government and industry because it’s profitable to do so. Employers don’t want to pay full price, even with minimum wage so pitifully low already. This is described by the UN’s special rapporteur here.

    Even public services here hire such people as cleaners – but via an agency, which allows the government bodies to feel they have clean hands in this matter.

    In a sidebar, Hachey shows how Coderre’s boast of making Montreal a sanctuary city for the undocumented is a hollow one, so far.

    • Raymond Lutz 17:59 on 2017/06/11 Permalink

      Kate, speaking of workers exploitation, what’s your take on Irish indentured servitude in America? I really like the way this CBC article [1] tries to downplay it and quite pedagogically explain the subtleties between Indentured servitude and slavery:

      “Indentured servitude, while often accompanied by years of deprivation and exploitation, offered a usually voluntary means for impoverished British and Irish people to resettle in the Americas from the 17th century to the early 20th century. Contracts committed the servant to perform unpaid labour for a benefactor or employer for a fixed number of years in return for passage across the ocean, shelter and sustenance.”

      Ah, and this: “Analysts have noted that the reports gain particular traction among white supremacist sites and commentators seeking to downplay the evils of slavery.”

      [1] http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/ireland-slaves-conspiracy-theory-debunked-st-patricks-day-1.4028855

    • Kate 00:39 on 2017/06/12 Permalink

      What’s your take on Irish indentured servitude in America?

      That CBC link says the claim is not true. So my only opinion is that I’m glad it didn’t happen. The people who made it here during the potato famine had a hard enough time without adding indentured servitude to the list.

    • Raymond Lutz 12:10 on 2017/06/12 Permalink

      Ah. Mais je croyais que ce texte de la CBC (et en particuler l’extrait plus haut cité) confirmait l’existence de la servitude, en prenant grand soin de la distinguer de l’esclavagisme (pour moi en vain).

      “usually voluntary”: on devine que si on se faisait reprendre plusieurs fois à voler une miche de pain ou du charbon, on vous donnait le choix entre les travaux forcés ou la servitude. J’ai tenté de confirmer cette hypothèse (que de menus larcins vous envoyait de l’autre côté de l’Atlantique) sans rien trouver de probant mais non sans croiser quelques textes pertinents:


  • Kate 10:24 on 2017/06/10 Permalink | Reply  

    A young man was stabbed at Duluth and St-Laurent near closing time Saturday morning. Pretty short police blotter so far this weekend.

  • Kate 10:22 on 2017/06/10 Permalink | Reply  

    CBC lists free events for Grand Prix weekend while the Gazette bemoans the traffic blockages caused by street closures.

    • Brett 08:26 on 2017/06/11 Permalink

      The traffic is seriously horrible. And I wish they wouldn’t have closed the bike path on de Maisonneuve around Crescent Street. This closure forces bikers to either dismount and negotiate heavy crowds with a bike, or go north to Sherbrooke Street and lane split between parked cars and heavy traffic.

  • Kate 10:17 on 2017/06/10 Permalink | Reply  

    The city has announced 58 km of new bike paths this year and next. Radio-Canada has a list and map.

    Adding later: There’s also going to be an experiment in Rosemont with a type of bike path used in Copenhagen. It’s a third band of pavement between sidewalk and road.

    • Chris 10:57 on 2017/06/10 Permalink

      So again only $10 million per year. :( It’ll take 300 years of that level to spend as much on Turcot alone, so say nothing of the rest spent for cars and motorists.

      And what a deceptive map! All those yellow coloured lines, which are just “projected”, but no time soon and no funding. Makes it look like a big network exists. And it doesn’t distinguish between real separated paths and ‘sharrows’ (a mere splash of paint).

      Let’s see if they actually build more than half of what they plan for the year.

    • LJ 11:27 on 2017/06/11 Permalink

      Indeed let’s see what they actually build. I notice that last year’s promised path down Elm Street, half of which was half completed and half of which was never even started last year, is on the list again this year. Do they get to double count that in the km they report, once last year and once again for this year?

    • Blork 11:58 on 2017/06/11 Permalink

      Hmm. Based on the photo in that La Presse article, I can’t say I’m thrilled with the Copenhagen model. Elevating the bike path to sidewalk level makes it that much easier for pedestrians to amble over there and for them to think of it as just an extension of the sidewalk. I don’t see the point of that over having a street-level path with a physical barrier between it and the car path, like on de Maisonneuve.

    • Tee Owe 15:19 on 2017/06/11 Permalink

      The Copenhagen model works because it separates bikes from traffic. Bikes and pedestrians have to figure it out, there is some infiltration both ways but people work it out and there aren’t big problems – it’s the same in other cities not just Copenhagen, also in Germany where sidewalk-sharing is based on different pavement coloring – it works, everybody knows where they should be. The point is to separate the bikes from the traffic. A physical barrier like on de Maisonneuve is obviously the best all round, but is not always practical.

    • Blork 16:21 on 2017/06/11 Permalink

      The path on de Maisonneuve separates bikes from traffic AND bikes from pedestrians.

      Denmark and Germany (and many other northern European cities) have long had cultures of heavy urban bicycle use, plus the reserved rule-oriented personalities of the people make it easy for the Copenhagen model to work.

      Montreal, by contrast, has a only a very short history of urban cycling, and the predominant personality trait of pedestrians (and cyclists and drivers) is to be totally f*cking oblivious to anything other than what’s on your own mind.

      I don’t say that lightly. Just observe pedestrians in this city. Jaywalking, walking on bicycle paths, blocking access on narrow sidewalks by stopping dead in their tracks while yakking on the phone, etc.

      Saying “bikes and pedestrians have to figure it out” is a recipe for disaster in this burgh.

  • Kate 10:11 on 2017/06/10 Permalink | Reply  

    The STM’s moving ahead with a contract for a new maintenance building for its Youville shops at Crémazie and St-Laurent. Look now and you’ll see an unappealing clutter of buildings of various ages and sizes, obviously put up quickly in response to evolving transit methods over the years, and visibly not the most efficient setup.

    But the Journal pissily ends this piece with a short list of what other things the STM could do with $150 million, as if maintenance of its buses and metro trains is a frivolous investment.

  • Kate 09:34 on 2017/06/10 Permalink | Reply  

    All three levels of government have pledged close to $100 million all told to keep the Grand Prix here through 2029. As a footnote, “efforts to fight sexual exploitation” will also continue. (“Here! Unhand that maiden!”)

    This is reminiscent of provincial governments shilling lottery tickets and running casinos with one hand, while putting up prissy little anti-gambling ads with the other.

    CTV notes that arrests for sexual solicitation of minors have already been made.

    The ipolitics blog has an excellent piece about how professional sports leech off governments and it’s just as relevant to Formula One.

    • Bill Binns 11:28 on 2017/06/10 Permalink

      Has anyone shown that the Grand Prix causes a larger spike in prostitution than say the Jazz Fest or Osheaga or any other event that brings thousands of tourists to town? I don’t think it’s the cars that attract prostitutes, it’s the tourists with money to spend.

      Also, the argument over prostitution is super weird here. It seems that we hear “Sex work is just a good honest job, leave those folks alone” and “Prostitution = human trafficking OMG won’t somebody do something?”. Sometimes from the same people and organisations. Which is it?

    • Blork 12:01 on 2017/06/10 Permalink

      Bill Binns, it’s both. Not simultaneously; more like exhibit A is a case of good honest work and exhibit B is a case of sexual exploitation. The trick is to not apply a single label to all cases, and to know when and where to intervene and when to be hands-off.

      But that narrative doesn’t suit the binary nature of Facebook-mediated discourse.

    • Kate 12:02 on 2017/06/10 Permalink

      Bill Binns, because of the illegality and shady nature of the trade in question, too much indeterminacy exists for anyone to answer yes or no to your question. I’ve seen statements on both sides this week, and police claim to have arrested people soliciting sex with underage women, although exactly what that means I do not know. (I don’t think I know a single woman who wasn’t “solicited” multiple times in public before she was 18. It’s part of growing up, for a girl.)

      Police must be under pressure to show they’re doing something about the situation, even if “the situation” is vaguely defined. Like news that they’re making extra efforts to find and arrest an alleged pimp.

      It’s not a coincidence either that Quebec chose this week to announce that it’s giving youth detention centres stronger powers to keep their wards locked up. There’s been a pattern of delinquent girls taking off on GP weekend. Whether it’s because they’re subjected to pimps, as is often alleged, or whether they’re simply seizing the opportunity for themselves, it’s impossible to be sure.

    • Kevin 12:12 on 2017/06/10 Permalink

      FWIW, sex workers said they lose business this week: lots of people giving it away, more police crackdowns, and so the habitual prostitutes work less or opt for riskier work

    • Bill Binns 13:26 on 2017/06/10 Permalink

      Well, if some prostitution is ok and some is bad what people are really agitating for is regulation and some clear rules. The “good” prostitutes would need to be permitted or licensed and the “bad” prostitutes would need to be arrested or rescued or somehow interfered with and I don’t see any appetite for any of that either.

      Much of what I have read from the protesters side seems to be trying to make some connection between scantily clad women being paid to advertise tires or whatever during the Grand Prix and violence against women which I simply don’t buy.

      I don’t like the bizarre situation regarding prostitution that has evolved here either though. As I understand it, prostitution is technically legal but advertising for it is not and possibly being a John is not legal. Also nobody but the prostitutes themselves can be involved in the business in any way. That’s completely unworkable. Imagine trying to apply such a system to plumbers or accountants.

    • Kate 13:39 on 2017/06/10 Permalink

      Bill Binns, on a weekend when an official, legal, government-supported event is saying to you at every turn “Young women are cheesecake and can be bought and sold” it isn’t really the message you want circulating in the collective id if you’re also trying to support the argument that you can’t buy them yourself.

      I agree with you that the current state of the law is internally inconsistent. It’s been poked and prodded at and pulled this way and that in response to social fashions for years, and it still isn’t fit for purpose.

    • Bill Binns 13:58 on 2017/06/10 Permalink

      @Kate – You don’t see the hypocrisy in that? We are saying it’s just fine for women to literally sell (or rent) their bodies out for sex but women who are paid to simply show parts of their bodies to people for advertising is wrong and hurtful?

      These women are working. Nobody dragged them out of their homes and stuffed them into Pirelli onesies. Why should they not be given the same freedom to earn a living that we are giving to prostitutes?

    • Kate 14:09 on 2017/06/10 Permalink

      Bill Binns, you’re seeing it the wrong way around to my intention. I’m saying: if you want to make people feel it’s wrong to buy and sell women’s bodies, the message is undermined by having young women’s bodies used as shills for whatever product, a practice that’s totally iegal and sanctioned, implicitly, by government’s lavish funding of this bizarre sport.

      Yes, these women are working. Arguably even the girl who absconds from her group home in Laval and goes downtown to see what she can shake loose from a spendthrift tourist is, in a sense, working. She’s planning to go home with money in her pocket. Whether the girls who do this are free agents or under some form of duress is one of the questions in the air.

      Is it accurate to say that prostitutes have freedom to earn a living? You yourself have sketched out the conflicting laws and problems surrounding the trade.

    • jeather 10:18 on 2017/06/11 Permalink

      I find prostitution, if done as a choice and not out of necessity, by adults and not children, in a safe manner, much less obnoxious than using women’s bodies as ornaments.

    • Ephraim 11:22 on 2017/06/11 Permalink

      It’s a person’s body, he/she may do with it as she wishes, personally. At the point of where a middleperson is involved, that’s where I draw the line…. no pimping someone else out. And of course they need to be of legal age.

      But I go further, I think we should have to very consciously explain to those under 26 (the age of which brains are considered fully formed) the consequences of their action. So maybe because we can’t discriminate by age after the age of 18, that we require all to go through a simple course on consequences of that business. Let people make a conscious choice with a real understanding. And I would include those in the porn business. Some people get into that business not realizing that people will find out your real name and it will follow you for the rest of your life…. like Fredrik Eklund and Kelli Provocateur can certainly point out.

      That being said, I am under no requirement to buy, to buy the product advertised or to even tolerate it’s sale. We don’t tolerate the sale of alcohol everywhere. You need a licence, you need zoning, etc.

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