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  • Kate 10:08 on 2015/03/04 Permalink | Reply  

    La Presse says that in the plastic bag issue, a close pal of Denis Coderre’s is a lobbyist for the plastics industry.

  • Kate 10:05 on 2015/03/04 Permalink | Reply  

    Possibly in response to the advent of Uber, the Montreal taxi industry is waking to 21st-century technology and its possibilities.

    • Ephraim 17:53 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      Wow. They discovered we have smart phones. What’s next? The discovery that we want peace and quiet in the taxi instead of their horrible music choice or them yelling on their bluetooth headset?

  • Kate 23:59 on 2015/03/03 Permalink | Reply  

    March is going to be chilly, and spring could take a while to arrive.

    • cheese 05:34 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      In that CJAD article it states: “it has to get rid of all of the ice and the snow and the permafrost…”. Uh, I think it’s called permafrost because it doesn’t thaw each year ya?

      Copy-editing aside it has been a brutal winter, I just received my Hydro bill and it is record breakingly big. No surprise there I guess…

    • Bill Binns 08:26 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      My Hydro bill for all of 2014 was $460.00. I have a friend in Chicago with a similar size apartment. His electric bill for January was $390.00. The one thing I have absolutely no complaints about in Quebec is the cost of electricity. If anything, Hydro should be charging a somewhat more realistic amount and use the money to pay down their enormous debt.

    • Zeke 09:22 on 2015/03/04 Permalink


      Mr. Binns, does your electric bill include heating? Or is it solely illumination and cooking?

    • Zeke 09:26 on 2015/03/04 Permalink


      If you don’t mind me asking.

    • Alison Cummins 09:39 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      [boast]Our electric bill for December/January was $150. It includes everything. Heat, water, lighting, screens, cooking. Everything. We have a 7½ with a basement. We switched to electric heat last year so we can heat only one room at a time, I often wear a hat in the house and I shower less than is socially acceptable, but wow! [/boast]

    • Noah 09:40 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      Re Bill Binns’ statement: While I agree that electricity is relatively cheap, the problem is whenever it is increased, it’s not done on par with cost of living increases. It’s the same thing with the Liberal daycare increases: Yes, we pay very little compared to other jurisdictions, but to increase haphazardly without considering that people make budgets (from the poorest to the wealthiest, people budget according to their means).

      FWIW, we’re on gas for heat/HW and Hydro for the rest and it’s pretty affordable even though we’re in an old house with leaky walls.

    • Zeke 10:00 on 2015/03/04 Permalink


      Ms. Cummins, congratulations!! That is phenomenal! Especially in a 7½ with a basement. I’m jealous.

    • JaneyB 10:00 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      @Bill Binns, @Alison – I envy your bills! Just to make me feel better, what is your window situation and which floor are you on? (The preferred answer is: no windows, two apts above me and no exterior walls…). I’ve got a 4.5, top floor, (plasticized) windows on 3 sides and kind of exposed on wide streets near the water, built in 1922. Last hydro bill: 300$ for the relatively mild dec-jan – and I keep it closer to 15 deg. Ouch! I’m currently blaming it on the new meters. Last year’s was 220$….hmmm. (All my power comes from hydro).

      FWIW, Quebec and Manitoba have the lowest rates in N. Am.

    • Bill Binns 10:01 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      @Zeke – Heat is included but we rarely turn it on. I think we benefit from the 15 floors of mostly elederly people below us jacking their thermostats to “sauna”.

      We have a very big TV that is rarely off. We run our dish washer at least once a day and have some computers and monitors that are on 24/7.

    • Bill Binns 10:11 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      @JaneyB – Has the inside ever been stripped? I have seen some of those old houses that have plaster and lathe walls with just an air gap between the lathe and the exterior cladding of the house. It’s like living in a tent. Do you have an attic or enough space to put insulation between your ceiling and the roof? Being on the top floor, I would look at the roof / ceiling first. If you cant get insulation below your roof, some ceiling fans may help to push the heat back down. [/BobVilaMode]

    • Zeke 10:12 on 2015/03/04 Permalink


      Mr. Binns, I have a similar situation, although it is only two floors (one a store, and the other 20 year-old students living in a sauna).


    • JaneyB 10:20 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      @Bill Binns. Never been stripped. It’s all lathe and plaster with the air gap. I now have a plastic sheet over one exterior wall (let’s just call it a ‘thermal barrier’) to possibly help – not yet in effect for the bill in question. I will try the ceiling fan option though – never occurred to me and I actually have two! I know I have to reverse the direction for the winter. Excellent idea, thanks!

    • Joe 10:21 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      Wow, that’s some amazingly low hydro bills especially for this winter, I’m envious. I guess that’s what I get for being on a corner. Although we got rid of the heating oil the previous owners had and cut down on heating just over 50%. I had seen their heating oil bills before we bought the place, $3,000 per year, just plain robbery by these oil companies.

    • Alison Cummins 11:02 on 2015/03/04 Permalink


      Ground floor with basement, neighbours on top and either side, exterior walls front and back, long skinny apartment. 1928/9 construction, plaster and lathe. Back has new leakproof windows with double-layered glass. Built-in bookshelves insulate part of the front wall and a heavy curtain insulates part of the back wall. Two-door entryways front and back. Convection heaters hooked to electronic thermostats set to 14.5C everywhere in the day, 12.5C overnight. Rooms have doors and we keep them closed. When entertaining we jack the heat (used to be to to 19C but people complained so we go up to 21C now) in just the rooms we’re using. Oversized heater in the bathroom so we can put it on just a couple of minutes before getting in the shower and then turn it right down again. When we pour out hot water we put a stopper in the sink to let the water transfer its heat to the air before draining it. Dishwasher runs every two or three days. Small front-loading washing machine, large drying rack hanging from the ceiling. (Yes we have a dryer but I don’t always have to use it.) Small dog wears a sweater inside the house, I wear a hat.

      Overall no drafts, air not too dry, very comfortable when appropriately dressed.

    • Alison Cummins 11:09 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      JaneyB, your electricity bill sounds extremely reasonable given your apartment and its placement. There are tricks, but three exposed walls and a roof are always going to cost you heat.

    • Alison Cummins 11:22 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      Also about 4,500 kcal of heat generated every day by two dogs and two adult humans at home full time.

    • ant6n 12:16 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      4500 kcal/day of heat is worth 9$ of electricity per month.

    • Joe 12:21 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      12.5C-14.5C? Holy darn that’s cold, but good for you to pull it off. I could cope with 18-19C but my wife can’t handle it plus threre’s a toddler that has now taken over our place. Before the kid I would lower the heat to 64F/17.7C overnight and honestly if I’d have to get up in the middle of the night, I found it cold.

    • Dave M 12:28 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      I highly recommend programmable thermostats. I got some fancy internet enabled ones that show you graphs of energy consumption for the circuits that they’re installed on and estimate the cost of your electricity per room/circuit, and it’s amazing how much the consumption goes down while we’re away at work just by having a programmable one that remembers to turn it down every day when we’d otherwise forget, by keeping the bedroom a little chillier than the rest of the house until automagically going up right before bed, etc.

      (As a bonus, the fancy thermostats are made by a local Quebec company.)

    • Alison Cummins 13:01 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      ant@n, thanks.

      So my total hydro-equivalent light & heat bill is $84/month, of which 11% is provided by burning food. (Note that while dogs are a highly inefficient way of converting solar energy to home heating [sun > plants > livestock = fuel to burn in a dog-furnace] they are agreeable ‘chauffage d’appoint.’)

    • Kate 13:18 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      Dave M, my thermostat is myself, looking at the 24-hour weather cycle. I have 2 major electric heaters. The one in the middle room is almost always on from December 15 to March 15. The secondary one goes on when the temperature’s below –10° for any length of time.

      I been paying an average $60/month for electricity with heating for a typical Montreal apartment, nominally 4½ but a typical layout with long rooms that landlords like to count as two so I’d challenge anyone to define the four rooms in here. Ground floor of a triplex, buildings on both sides, uninhabited and unheated basement space, new window in front room, newish but slightly drafty door in front, patio door to the back. Bathroom is tiny and very cold, I think the space it’s in was never insulated, but this building has original bricks so has probably never been insulated much if at all.

      I don’t mind keeping things fairly cool, short of freezing the pipes, but I suspect I will be paying more this year because of that flu I caught in the second week of January that afflicted me for more than a month, which made it counterproductive to sit chilling down and feeling miserable.

      I don’t have air conditioning and I hang my laundry to dry most of the time.

      I think a new fridge might save me a few bucks on hydro, but I flinch from paying that kind of money on anything but computer stuff.

    • Bill Binns 14:13 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      If anyone can point me to an explainer of Montreal’s (Canada’s?) weird “X 1/2″ apartment description system, I would be grateful. My apartment is supposedly a 5 1/2 but to get to that, you would have to count the kitchen as a room and the living room as 2 rooms. I have not the slightest idea what the “1/2″ could be in my apartment unless they are talking about the tiny foyer or the hallway connecting all the rooms.

      In the US, it’s “X bedroom – X bath”. Thats really all you need to know. We assume every apartment has a kitchen and some sort of living room.

    • carswell 14:20 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      The 1/2 refers to the bathroom. Don’t know why but suspect it has something to do with the fact that most flats used to have only one WC.

      Back in the ’70s when I was looking for a place on the Plateau, I followed up on an ad for a 3, assuming the missing 1/2 was a typo. Nope. There was no bath or shower and the toilet was in an open alcove off the kitchen.

    • Dave M 15:37 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      The story that I’ve heard is that it predates even that, and goes back to the time when any indoor plumbing at all was a novelty, so having your very own indoor toilet was worth something. It didn’t necessarily mean a whole bathroom, just a place to shit in your own house. Why people in Montreal still feel the need to advertise that as if it’s a novelty is a mystery, though.

    • Kate 15:50 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      Dave M, you might as well ask why we still have Moving Day.

    • Alison Cummins 16:18 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      Bill Binns, yes, if there’s a distinct kitchen it’s a room. A 1½ has one multipurpose room and a bathroom; somewhere else it would be called a loft.

      Typical Montreal apartments have double rooms separated by glass-paned double doors or a nominal archway so that the inner room can use the outer room’s window — as required by code, each room must have a window. Our 4½s have a kitchen/living room in the back and a double bedroom in the front. There would have been little (if any) counter space in the kitchen when first built so the kitchen table would have served for both food prep and eating. We’ll be moving into one and will be using the rooms differently. The kitchen/laundry room will be overflowing with appliances, efficient storage and countertops and there will be nowhere to sit. The adjoining room will thus be a dining room and we will not have a living room. We will squeeze two chairs and a television set into the miniscule room that extends the central bedroom.

      There are variations. Sometimes an apartment with three rooms will be called a 4½ because two of the rooms have been combined into one during a remodel. When you’re renting an apartment you ask how many « chambres fermées » there are, meaning rooms with a door, meaning what we would think of as private bedrooms. Our 4½s have one « chambre fermée » but have been lived in by families.

      Remember that in the 1890s to 1930s when much of Montreal was built people were smaller, didn’t have much crap and their privacy was not necessarily obtained at home. No electronics, no array of fancy food to store, one or two changes of clothes, no queen beds, kids sleeping two to a single bed. People could use public bathhouses instead of private bathrooms. Young working men might stay out all day and just use a relative’s apartment as a place to sleep, so rooms were often not single use but might have one function in the day and another at night.

    • Dave M 16:54 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      @Kate, well that one’s easy. It’s so all the evil anglophone federalist oppressors in Montreal don’t get all uppity and start celebrating “their own” holiday.

    • Chris 20:06 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      I have you all beat. My last hydro bill was $850. Electric heating in an old uninsulated place. :(

    • Joe 20:11 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      Chris, I feel about better now! Lol
      What size is your place? What type of electric heatin do you have?

    • Chris 21:19 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      About 127 m² floor space. Electric baseboards.

    • Bill Binns 09:11 on 2015/03/05 Permalink

      @Alison – That makes a little sense I guess but what a strange system. 2015 and we are stuck with terminology from the coldwater flat days. This system seems far from exact. My old apartment was a 4 1/2. It had 2 closed bedrooms, 2 full baths and a living room with a sort of seperate dining room nook with a tiny enclosed kitchen. Current apartment has almost identical layout but all the rooms are a little larger and it was advertised as a 5 1/2.

      I lived in a lot of apartments like those you described while growing up in New England. We lived in a lot of places that had been built as single family mansions and had been cut up in multiple apartments over the years. Huge rooms sometimes divided by pocket doors. Often these big rooms only had a single electric outlet. Some of the places I lived in as a kid still had the old gas lamps and associated plumbing on the walls.

      @Chris – Ouch! After that bill I would take a baseball bat to the thermostat, make myself an electric blanket poncho and buy a bunch of extension cords.

    • Alison Cummins 10:40 on 2015/03/05 Permalink

      Bill Binns, I agree. Best would be “4½, shower no bath, 58 m2, 1 double room with closet.” Together with what we know about typical Montreal layouts and ages of neighbourhoods it would give someone a very good idea of exactly what the apartment was.

  • Kate 23:32 on 2015/03/03 Permalink | Reply  

    The ways of North American soccer are opaque to me. The Impact tied with Pachuca Tuesday night at the Olympic stadium before a crowd of nearly 40,000 people, moving it along to the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals. Apparently this followed another tie against Pachuca in a game played in Mexico last week, but I don’t recall any mentions of a playing season leading up to this.

    • Josh 23:51 on 2015/03/03 Permalink

      The only big differences between North American soccer and European soccer all relate to MLS, the league the Impact play in. (The MLS season, incidentally, is to begin this weekend, except that it probably won’t, due to a labour dispute. Be interesting to see whether the Impact continue to play their CCL matches or if they stop as a kind of solidarity move.)

      What’s happening here is the North American equivalent to the Euro Champions League which all the big European teams compete in.

    • Noah 09:41 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      The soccer world is wicked confusing.

    • Kate 10:15 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      I guess because I’m accustomed to the domination of the NHL over hockey, and teams playing in a strictly ordained schedule within only one league, I’m confused by a team that plays in different leagues at different times. Although since you can play soccer outside in Montreal only about half the year I should’ve expected some confusion.

    • Bill Binns 10:25 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      40,000 thousand people is pretty impressive. They must have pulled people in from far and wide. Nice to see the Big O getting some use too.

    • Noah 12:16 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      It’s really just a soccer thing. I think some Euro hockey leagues have relegation/promotion, but none of that is in the N.American tradition. Here, in the 4 major sports, it’s the top league at the top and then feeder leagues or schools, with nothing else at the same time. It’s a totally different culture. Interesting, but confusing for us.

  • Kate 22:44 on 2015/03/03 Permalink | Reply  

    The first indoor organized hockey match took place 140 years ago at the Victoria Skating Rink in downtown Montreal. I have occasionally told visitors that the distance between Stanley and Drummond Streets determined the size of the hockey rink we know, and this piece of trivia always completely fails to make any impression.

    • Charles 22:48 on 2015/03/03 Permalink

      I’m impressed.

    • Alexandre 23:28 on 2015/03/03 Permalink

      I don’t know how many times I’ve told people that while walking by the place where the rink used to be. It is a cool piece trivia. But you’re right, getting a “ah” from sharing it is pretty much as good as it gets.

    • C_Erb 06:02 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      I’m glad to hear that I’m not the only one impressed by that piece of trivia because I have yet to tell anyone who cared at all.

    • Chris 08:17 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      I’d never heard that. It’s true?

    • Doobious 09:26 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

    • Kate 09:28 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      Chris, given human anatomical limits there’s probably some optimum distance between goals, but yes, the rink that used to exist between those two streets established the standard length for a regulation hockey rink that is still used today.

    • Noah 09:42 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      I don’t know why the Canadiens wouldn’t be all over this.

    • JaneyB 10:06 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      That’s a fantastic bit of trivia. Montreal: setting the standard! Yesss!

    • Bill Binns 10:13 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      It it true that the building still exists? I thought I remembered hearing somewhere that it had been converted into a parking garage.

    • Kate 10:27 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      I believe Kristian Gravenor reports somewhere that the foundations of the building are still there, but that a parking garage was long since constructed on top of them.

      Noah: I’m sure the Canadiens organization knows all this history in detail. What would their being “all over this” consist of?

    • Noah 12:17 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      With the whole “Montreal is hockey” and “hockey in Montreal is the Canadiens” approach, to me, it would make sense for the Canadiens to push for a monument or to at least commemorate this at the Bell Centre. Seems like a no-brainer to me….

    • Kate 13:30 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

    • John B 15:06 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      My impression was that the building that’s standing on the site is in fact the shell of the original rink, but I could be wrong about that. The Wikipedia article implies that a new building may occupy the site.

    • Doobious 15:23 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      From the very end of the History section: “Shaw sold the site in 1925 for $250,000 to the Stanley Realty Corporation to build a parking garage. The Victoria closed and a parking garage was built in its place.”

      Also, it’s fairly obvious that the present building doesn’t date from 1862.

    • Alex L 17:24 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      When you take a look at the rôle foncier, it says the parking garage was built in 1926.

    • Doobious 14:41 on 2015/03/05 Permalink

      Beating a dead horse now, but if you look at the facade facing the Sheraton you can see the edge of a concrete ramp inside the building, so it’s surely purpose-built for parking (despite the generous number of window openings). Funny to think that these kinds of things were once parked in there.

  • Kate 20:39 on 2015/03/03 Permalink | Reply  

    Canada Post is hiring letter carriers in Montreal. Meantime their union is contesting the end of home mail delivery as unconstitutional.

  • Kate 20:38 on 2015/03/03 Permalink | Reply  

    The city’s going to hold a public consultation in May on eliminating plastic shopping bags. What’s to discuss? Make them cost a buck or two and most people will remember to carry reusable ones. It’s far from the biggest environmental issue facing us – let’s not spend too much time over it.

    • thomas 21:31 on 2015/03/03 Permalink

      As an alternative, can someone explain why paper bags are problematic?

    • Kate 22:11 on 2015/03/03 Permalink

      I’ve read that paper bags are in some ways more damaging to the environment than plastic ones, but I don’t have a cite for you and am not sure I believe this.

      Plastic bags at least have other uses. Although I often carry a cloth shopping bag, I sometimes find I have to accept the occasional plastic bag, and they can be useful when scooping the litter box.

    • Joe 22:19 on 2015/03/03 Permalink

      I hope they don’t ban them, I hate carrying around those germ infested reusable bags. Most bags are biodegradable these days anyway so I don’t see the need to ban them. Who’s behind this? Some of the health food stores in Vermont actually credit you 5 cents if you brim your own bags. I’ve never seen anyone do that here.

    • Kate 22:47 on 2015/03/03 Permalink

      There are plenty of stores here that charge 5 cents per bag, so the effect is the same.

      I don’t think of my cotton bag as germ-infested – why would it be?

    • Joe 23:01 on 2015/03/03 Permalink

      But crediting your customer a meager 5 cents says we’re not here to profit even more for something that used to be free. You think Loblaws cares about the environment? Lol

      They do get dirty, there’s been tests done. Think about meat blood leaking through and then a few weeks later you throw in your fruit/veg.

    • Alison Cummins 03:15 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      Joe, if there’s meat juice in my bag, I wash it. In general, assume all fruit and veg are dirty — I was warned feelingly by a former stock boy.

    • steph 07:07 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      As long as they keep providing fruit and vegetable bangs, I don’t want my apples mixing with my green peppers.

    • C_Erb 07:11 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      My feelings about plastic are that we should use as much of it as possible. It’s a fact that we’re not going to stop extracting oil until all of it’s gone. Every last drop. At least with plastic, we’re not going to set it on fire and put it into the atmosphere; instead it’s going to go back into the ground where it came from. Maybe future generations will be able to dig it up and recycle it somehow. At the very least, they’ll get to see how stupid we were.

    • steph 07:24 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      @ C_Erb: lots of plastics are made from the garbage that is refined out of oil. So in a way it’s already a recycled material. The problem with the bags is how quickly they end up in landfills and the oceans.
      @ Kate: how do you manage to reuse your bags for kitty litter? Unless you’re double bagging, my bags typically end up with holes once I’ve gotten my groceries home. I only switched to reusable bags because of the handles regularly ripping off the plastic bags.

    • NicolasThibodeau 07:56 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      I would choose paper over plastic in a flash. It’s local and compostable. Plastic is evil. Problem occurring with reusable bags, most people don’t wash them often enough. Hence, bacteria is making a come-back… Change is good, but adaptation needs time. :)

    • Bill Binns 08:34 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      This is not the end of the world it may seem like to some people. It really depends on what the rules are. A lot of areas of California have banned plastic bags and “single use” paper bags. This means you tend to get a heavy duty paper bag with a handle that could conceivably be used more than once.

      France went hardcore and really banned all bags. Most grocery stores do the Cosco thing and pile up all the carboard boxes the food arrived in at the front of the store and let people take them. You also see people simply dumping loose groceries from the shopping cart directly into the trunk of their car.

      It’s a small adjustment and you get used to it very quickly.

    • Noah 09:48 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      I find it peculiar how liberal people with a certain set of views can be in penalizing others for having different views. I’m not innocent: I’ve often said people who live off the island should have to pay a higher amount to commute to Montreal (along the lines of $5-7 to get on the island, free to get off). It’s just not reasonable to charge $1-2 for a plastic bag at Loblaws. We do our best to bring bags, but we sometimes forget and with two kids we can sometimes have a grocery bills of $250-300 that requires 8-10 bags. Taxing us an extra $10 when we’re already paying exorbitant taxes for our home, school system, having a car on the island, etc. and so forth is just unreasonable.

      It should be the reverse: Encourage grocers to give discounts to people for bringing bags. It’s good marketing and good for the environment.

    • Bill Binns 09:54 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      @Noah – Isn’t giving discounts to people for bringing bags the same thing as charging people for bags?

    • JaneyB 10:13 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      I just think the plastic shopping bag penalty is the most fake, over-hyped nonsense: charge people for never-degrade branded bags then make them buy separate garbage bags (usually the old, less degradable plastic). Meanwhile, people are typically driving to the store…to buy Keurig coffee, Swiffer refills and bite-packaged chocolate bars. Oh, and dollar stores are doing a brisk business in plastic crap that is shipped over here in the empty containers from the export of our raw materials to China. Really, using biodegradable plastic grocery bags are quite possibly the most eco-friendly thing city people do, short of balcony composting.

    • Joe 10:29 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      JaneyB, I’m confused by this matter too. Should I assume that only 100% plastic bags are to be banned (i.e. Jean Coutu)? This morning on air they were discussing options to replace plastic bags and were mentioning bio-degradable bags, that’s pretty much already the case for most stores. I guess this means bio-degradable bags are a go?

    • Kate 10:34 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      JaneyB: that’s why I initially said the bags issue was by far not our major environmental worry. So many other things.

      Joe: I don’t think most major stores are using biodegradables yet.

    • Joe 10:49 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      Kate, you are right, the big stores don’t use the bio-degradable ones. I do the majority of my groceries at smaller shops that for the most part do use the B-D ones so I wasn’t thinking of the bigger picture. Big grocery store chains are reserved for emergencies or to pick up a thing or two every now and then for us.

    • Jo Walton 11:06 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      I’ve been using cloth bags since the 80s, I am a huge fan of cloth bags. But I don’t want plastic bags to be banned, because I don’t have a car. I do most of my food shopping in Marche Atwater and drag it home on two buses in 3 cloth bags — the most I can carry.

      But Provigo deliver groceries for $5 — so about once a month I go to Provigo and do a giant shop of heavy stuff, flour, potatoes, juice etc which they then deliver right into my upstairs apartment. This is awesome. The only downside is that they insist on numbering the bags, and fixing the numbers to the bags with staples, which make holes in the bags. If this is a standard “reusable” bag bought in a grocery store, it then unravels from the staple holes. If it’s an expensive nice cloth bag it has little holes in it which makes it shabby and eventually becomes a bigger hole.

      I have written to Provigo whining about this, and they thanked me for my interest and did nothing. They’re the only supermarket who deliver to where I live.

      So it’s much better for the environment for me not to have a car and get my groceries delivered, and it’s much better for the health of my bags to accept this one delivery in plastic, which I then reuse. If they ban bags, my reusable bags will essentially become disposable, which is horrible.

      (Also, I don’t drive and I physically CAN’T drive, and never until yesterday reading comments to this blog did I realise what a horrible punishment some people would consider this.)

    • Noah 12:19 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      @Bill Binns: One is an incentive, the other is a punishment. I see where you’re coming from, but I don’t see those as the same thing.

    • Tim S. 13:31 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      I’m unenthusiastic. I reuse all my bags for garbage, after doing the math and figuring that even at 5 cents it’s cheaper than buying “proper” garbage bags. If they start charging a dollar, all they’ll end up doing is forcing me to subsidize Glad.

    • Alex L 13:48 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      If done progressively, I think people will adapt easily. I admit I’ve sometimes had to get plastic bags when I forgot the reusable ones at home, but a little more planning on that side and we’re in business. I now tend to bring one of those shrinking cotton bags with me whenever I go out, just in case. And even if we rarely get bags at the supermarket and reuse them for garbage, we’ve ended up with so many bags over the years that we would have many months to change our habits before having to switch to another option. With recycling and composting, not much is left for poor garbage (apart from cat poop).

      For some reading about whether one bag is better than the other, I’ve found this to be of interest:

    • Alison Cummins 16:22 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      In the old days people didn’t need garbage bags. They put their waste directly into garbage cans which were emptied directly into trucks.

    • carswell 16:58 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      A few semi-random thoughts:

      1. Many biodegradable bags are not compostable or particularly earth-friendly. They are made from petroleum (with all the pollution that entails) and when they degrade they give off greenhouse gases. If buried, they release pollutants into the soil.

      2. Éco-centre officials have told me it is illegal to use plastic grocery bags for waste placed in bins for pickup by the city. Is this not true?

      3. Reusable bags are germ-ridden?! Please point us to some solid, non-partisan research indicating that this is so (everything I see is from groups opposed to a ban). Oddly, there appear to have been zero reports of reusable bag-related health scares in communities that have banned single-use plastic bags.

      4. It is easy enough to keep a stash of reusable bags on or near your person. Nifty, sturdy and very collapsible bags exist and are small enough to fit inside purses and overcoat pockets. I always have a couple of such bags in my backsack, which I rarely travel without (especially when going grocery shopping). If I had a car, I’d have several in my trunk.

      5. Experience in other cities and even here in Quebec (the SAQ, for example) show that consumers quickly adjust.

    • Bill Binns 17:33 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      @Carswell – Last year or maybe the year before there was a rash of news stories about some organization testing reusable shopping bags and finding e-coli. Typical click-bait or “Headline News” scare story…. “Are your reusable shopping bags putting you and your family in DANGER?? We’ll find out…after this”.

      A few years ago they did something similar about shopping cart handles and seemingly overnight every big store installed sanitizer wipe dispensers near the shopping carts.

      Germs and viruses are everywhere. Best not to think about it. Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

      Personally, my wife and I forget our resuable bags at least half the times we go shopping. When we do this, we usually buy more reuseable bags. I own what may be the worlds largest private collection of IGA reuseable shopping bags.

    • carswell 17:55 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      @Bill Binns Point taken about “germ-ridden.” What I meant to ask was “do reusable bags present an actual health hazard?” While I’ve not spent hours researching, I’ve not turned up anything reliable that indicates they do.

    • Kate 21:17 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      This question reminds me of the rush a few years ago to tell people they had to get plastic cutting boards because they could be washed more readily than wooden ones. Later studies showed that plastic ones trap a lot more germs in the liquid retained in their surface cuts, while wood and bamboo dry out naturally and don’t retain germ-laden goo.

      For similar reasons I’m confident my MEC heavy cotton shopping bag is not going to kill me; a reusable, non-breathable plastic one might harbour bacteria, but my cotton one is safe.

  • Kate 20:34 on 2015/03/03 Permalink | Reply  

    A municipal court judge has ruled that it’s illegal for a driver to look at a cellphone when stopped at a light.

    • Noah 09:50 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      Doesn’t it just follow logically that if you can’t drive and use your cell in any way, then if you’re stopped in traffic the same rule should apply? I’m not going to pretend I’ve never done it, but normally if I really need to check my phone, I’ll pull over for 10 seconds. There’s nothing unreasonable about that. It’s simple: Don’t use your phone while driving.

    • GC 17:06 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      I will also admit to having done it, but I agree there’s a logic to applying the same rule. Time at the red light isn’t really “free time” anyway. You should be not only watching to see when your light will change, but also looking out for any cross traffic that might run a red, possible advance greens, pedestrians that might jaywalk, people coming up behind you who can’t stop in time, etc.

  • Kate 20:32 on 2015/03/03 Permalink | Reply  

    It’s surprisingly major news that the celebration of the Fête nationale may be moved to the eve in Montreal so that it coincides with the one in Quebec City.

    Were there people who’d celebrate in Quebec then come to Montreal to celebrate a second night here?

    • steph 07:29 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      Some people do travel to celebrate both. I think the true plans are to do a switcharoo on the dates so quebec city can celebrate on the 24th, because they’re truer quebecers then us…

    • Dave M 07:50 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      Presumably some popular Quebec artists would have been asked to perform at both Montreal and Quebec City’s spectacles.

      But moving the organized celebrations to the eve seems silly. Why not just redeclare the 23rd the Fete Nationale if that’s when you expect people to celebrate?

    • Kate 09:31 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      Quebec has more than enough musical acts to go around, though. And the eve is clearly the more desirable date because then you can cut loose with the knowledge you have the 24th off to recover from your excesses.

  • Kate 10:38 on 2015/03/03 Permalink | Reply  

    Two elevators installed in Bonaventure metro station in 2009 don’t go anywhere because the second part of the construction that would make them properly accessible has not been done by the AMT.

    • Faiz Imam 13:56 on 2015/03/03 Permalink

      This has come up before, but I still hate this reporting.

      The space might not be fully wheelchair accessible, but I see elderly, families and all sorts of people who for various reasons benefit from those elevators.

    • Blork 15:46 on 2015/03/03 Permalink

      I agree. They might be useless for the wheelchair-bound (arguable the intended user), but it’s hyperbolic to say they are just plain “useless.”

    • Kate 19:06 on 2015/03/03 Permalink

      Thanks for the clarification on that.

    • Doobious 21:24 on 2015/03/03 Permalink

      They’re heavily used, those two elevators. At platform-level they’re right in the middle and at ticket-taker-booth level they’re right by the turnstiles. For a retrofit, the design of these things is awesome. If the elevator’s already at your level it can be a more practical option than taking the escalators.

      That said, what were the doofi at the AMT thinking? The south shore bus terminal’s not that old. The most recent stairwell added to Bonaventure metro is less than ten years old.

  • Kate 10:36 on 2015/03/03 Permalink | Reply  

    The city’s first tool library is to open this spring. It’s called La Remise and will be located in Villeray. I’m entertained by the first comment on this article, which is simply “Osti de gang d’imbécile.”

    • Zeke 14:43 on 2015/03/03 Permalink

    • Michael Black 15:50 on 2015/03/03 Permalink

      Is this the group that was asking for tools on Craig’s list last year?

      That group was asking for the rudimentary of tools, as if they had none to start with. Common tools are easy to find, if they weren’t willing to pony up their own tools to seed the library, maybe they aren’t the right ones. What I’ve read of such things, “tool libraries” have generally been people with tools sharing them, out of their own home.

      Libraries are way too passive, they should be encouraging members to be participants. That group last year should have had a webpage (their ads never pointed to one, thus they have no identity), with a list of tools. Get people involved, instead of asking people for tools, involve a larger group in looking for tools. I’ve found electric drills in the garbage, I’ve seen them at garage sales for a few dollars. I once found really cheap wrenches for putting up the Fringe Festival fence, all the Fringe ever supplied was adjustable wrenches that constantly need adjustment, and cost more than the right sized wrench. Someone finding tools in the garbage, or at garage sales or even on sale at Canadian Tire (lots of things go on sale so much that buying at full price isn’t worth it) is offering the tools at a lower cost than donating money and the library buying tools at full price. This holds for any group that’s working locally, one of the earliest things I expected from local group webpages was a “what we need”, so people could be involved in whatever way they could. Or there was the time Frosty posted about a fundraiser he ran that was about collecting Canadian Tire money. I once found a wad of it on July 1st, about six dollars, and got a specialty screwdriver for about $2 more in cash; otherwise I didn’t have enough need for the screwdriver to warrant the price. People often don’t want CanTire money, but added up it can amount to a lot, and when buying on sale the value really goes up.

      I’ve seen endless groups asking for things on Craig’s list, and there is no connection to the real world. No identity, no webpage, no easy place to drop things off. What incentive is there, when it could be a great new project for the public good, or someone who thinks sounding more legit will mean people will help? Connect up with an existing group, that may take care of location, but it certainly provides a drop off location that may be more available when people can drop things off. It will add legitimacy to the project. Make it easy. Any advertising for donations should be a means of promoting the project, people may have things of value beyond money or tools, and it’s the first level of promotion, no sense starting a project if nobody knows about it later.

      Magic websites don’t do the work. They get the hype (and presumably take a cut, something I didn’t think about initially), but they only work if the old style hustling is going on


    • Bill Binns 16:13 on 2015/03/03 Permalink

      One of the few things that bothers me about living downtown is that I have no puttering space. I always used to have a garage or a basement or an attic or someplace where I could keep my tools, make a mess and make noise. I might be interested in this if it was tools + workspace.

    • JaneyB 16:47 on 2015/03/03 Permalink

      @Bill Binns – one puttering space with tools option could be:

    • cheese 05:11 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      When I first heard the term “tool library” I for some reason thought more of a tool museum that also lends the tools out. So vintage, antique tools. But I see that would be less useful though perhaps more interesting visually. Thanks to my dad I have loads of old tools, like hand drills, chisels, and wood handled screw drivers. I find them very useful. I can drill with no power cord, and very little noise. Not so good for concrete though…

      @Bill Binns, to a web search for skill share spaces in Montreal, I’m told they have the workshop type space that can be used. IIRC there is one not too far from Concordia, but towards Griffintown from the campus.

  • Kate 10:33 on 2015/03/03 Permalink | Reply  

    Interesting La Presse op-ed asks and answers the question are there ghettos in Montreal? with a yes, and names one: St-Michel. Although born here, Murielle Chatelier describes how she never saw so many white people before her first day at CEGEP, even though it was in Rosemont at no great distance from her home.

  • Kate 09:51 on 2015/03/03 Permalink | Reply  

    A water main break sent a geyser into the air at 2 a.m. Tuesday morning on St-Laurent at Laurier. The intersection and parts of both streets are a mess, and may still be partly closed along there. More pix and reports with video.

    February saw ten times the usual rate of frozen domestic water pipes and the tendency continues because the ground is more deeply frozen than usual and will take time to thaw out. Temperatures across Canada are expected to remain colder than usual all through March as well.

    Update on the Plateau story: people living nearby will be without tap water for most of Wednesday morning as repairs are made. St-Laurent is reopened but Laurier may not be.

    Another story about frozen pipes: a firm hired by the city to thaw out domestic water pipes nearly burned down a house in NDG. They did $14,000 worth of damage to the house and the owner wants the city to pay up.

    • Joe 10:29 on 2015/03/03 Permalink

      I heard about it earlier this morning, that’s a nasty one. There was a water main break two streets up from our place overnight, the second in less than a week on our street. They changed some pipes on our corner in the summer so hopefully that doesn’t burst.

    • Chris 10:47 on 2015/03/03 Permalink

      My hood. Many drains were (or became) clogged up with snow and ice and were not draining at all, as such there was 40 cm of water in nearby streets. Once located and unclogged, it cleared in like a huge bathtub drain. The force of water is impressive indeed.

    • Sprocket 10:52 on 2015/03/03 Permalink

      @Chris IIRC from high school physics. One cubic meter of water weighs exactly one metric ton. I am assuming that is fresh water though, since it is more dense and (I think) consistent.

    • carswell 10:59 on 2015/03/03 Permalink

      The 51 route is getting hammered this winter. Due to the water main break on Laurier east of St-Denis, which blocked all traffic to the Laurier metro station’s south entrance, the eastbound 51 was rerouted along Laurier from St-Urbain to St-Denis, where it turned south, went a block and then turned west onto St-Joseph. I haven’t taken the 51 further east than Parc in the last few weeks but if the rerouting’s still in effect, where will the eastbound bus now go? For the time being, I guess the westbound 51 will continue along St-Joseph to Parc and then jog up to rejoin Laurier.

      Going by those videos, it’ll be a miracle if Thai Grill didn’t sustain water damage.

    • Mr.Chinaski 11:55 on 2015/03/03 Permalink

      Those downstairs bathroom definitely need a cleanup!

  • Kate 23:18 on 2015/03/02 Permalink | Reply  

    See what driving cars does to people: a violent fracas broke out in the Plateau Monday afternoon in a road rage incident. One man then knocked another down deliberately with his car and has been arrested. I think anyone who deliberately uses their car as a weapon should have their license taken away for good.

    • Joe 23:35 on 2015/03/02 Permalink

      Really? Driving a car leads to anger management issues? I’m hoping you are being tounge in cheek or else you sound as nutty as the gluten free quack doctor who believes that wheat/gluten leads to schizophrenia. I mean there’s never been altercations on the bus, heck Metro ticket takers might actually go at you.

      I do agree with the, car as weapon should have their license revoked.

    • Steph 00:06 on 2015/03/03 Permalink

      I was intentionally hit with a car, and then the driver fled the scene. There was a dozen witnesses that saw it happen in the middle of the day. All he got was a year of probation and a suspended sentence.

    • AJ 01:49 on 2015/03/03 Permalink

      Science seems to bear out the idea that ‘road rage’ is far over-reported than it ought to be.
      There is definitely a minority subset of the population that has a short temper and in addition, doesn’t like to feel trapped or confined – being trapped in traffic or an elevator or subway leads to a fight-or-flight response. We do extend our self to the car – we never say “Her car hit my car,” we say “she hit me,” for instance. In some jurisdictions, people carry guns in their cars – and all of that adds up to dangerous potential. The article linked above has an interesting proposal – eliminate drivers altogether.

    • Ephraim 07:35 on 2015/03/03 Permalink

      @Kate – I thought that you don’t think punishments should be severe? How about an anger management course and a day handing out lollypops.

    • Dave M 08:50 on 2015/03/03 Permalink

      Why do you think not being allowed to drive is a “severe” punishment for intentionally using your car as a weapon? Do you think not being allowed to own guns would be a “severe” punishment for someone who went on a shooting spree?

    • Orolo 09:15 on 2015/03/03 Permalink

      Every single day, drivers do something called “punishment passes” to cyclists. This means that they pass a cyclist at just a few inches distance in order to “punish” the person on the bicycle.

      This is extremely dangerous and discourages healthy habits, while demonstrating how much the power of a few hundred horses can corrupt a normal human being. There’s virtually no way the police can stop this kind of deadly behavior. It’s one of the reasons most cities only have brave male cyclists.

    • Kate 09:41 on 2015/03/03 Permalink

      Orolo, it’s one of the reasons I’ve stopped cycling. I have poor depth perception as it is, and having drivers do that – sometimes while screaming obscenities – has taken all pleasure out of it for me.

      Ephraim, it’s not a punishment. People get driver’s permits who have demonstrated they can drive safely. If someone demonstrates instead that they deliberately choose to put life at risk with their vehicle they have demonstrated for good and all that they do not deserve that permit. We’d not jail them, curtail their life or stop them from doing anything else.

    • Bill Binns 09:53 on 2015/03/03 Permalink

      When driving, I have put a lot of effort into realizing that the incredible wave of frustration and annoyance that washes over me when a cyclist “takes the lane” in front of me is all out of proportion to the actual amount of time lost but it’s difficult. It is particularly frustrating when there is a bike lane available but the cyclist has decided to ride in the traffic lane anyway. This is happening more and more on De Maisonneuve in the summer.

    • Ephraim 10:02 on 2015/03/03 Permalink

      @Kate – Sure it’s punishment for many people, they see their cars as part of their freedom. Yes, it’s a privilege, but to deny someone a right is a punishment.

    • Kate 10:15 on 2015/03/03 Permalink

      Ephraim, you’re contradicting yourself. Driving is not a right.

    • C_Erb 10:15 on 2015/03/03 Permalink

      Ah, the punishment pass. I´ve experienced that many times. Often for the mere transgression of existing. I´ve found that a dent on the door administered by a U lock can make them think twice about doing it again.

      @Bill: often it is necessary to take a lane because of the fear of being doored by parked cars. Just because your car has the ability to go a certain speed doesn´t mean it has the right.

    • Alex L 10:38 on 2015/03/03 Permalink

      Using your car as a weapon already is a criminal offense. I think people using weapons to intimidate people, be they in cars, on bikes or on foot, have to be judged accordingly.

    • steph 10:50 on 2015/03/03 Permalink

      I know the driver of the car that hit me (as a pedestrian) was charged with “assault with a deadly weapon”, but he successfully argued in court that he needed his drivers license to support his family and revoking it would cause too much punishment on them. justice… lol.

    • Bill Binns 10:53 on 2015/03/03 Permalink

      @C_Erb – Yes I agree but that doesn’t make it any more pleasant.

      @Kate – Taking away someone’s ability to drive for life is an extremely harsh punishment. Perhaps the strongest punishment I have ever seen you suggest for any crime whatsover.

    • Sprocket 11:02 on 2015/03/03 Permalink

      I would imagine if the person who was hit died it would be called vehicular manslaughter. That carries heavy penalties of course. People are jackasses in general so this is not entirely surprising.

      A license revocation for life seems a bit over the top though. Back in the day I have gotten in heated arguments with cyclists that don’t respect pedestrians. But as Hammy Hamster said, that’s another story.

    • Kate 11:06 on 2015/03/03 Permalink

      Bill Binns, how else – except in war – can someone threaten another’s life with two tons of metal going at speed? People take this lightly because it’s something most people do every day, but it should be regarded as totally deadly and not any kind of joke.

    • Blork 12:34 on 2015/03/03 Permalink

      I agree with Kate on this. Deliberately going after someone with a car shows reckless disregard for life, and reckless disregard for the privilege of having and keeping a license to operate a vehicle.

    • Ephraim 12:57 on 2015/03/03 Permalink

      @Kate – People see it as a right, not a privilege, in spite of it being a privilege. That’s the point. And how does the court see it? Well… you can get into a 2 ton machine drunk and get very little in the way of punishment most of the time.

    • Tim S. 13:56 on 2015/03/03 Permalink

      Thanks for making this point Kate, it’s something I think about quite often.

      I was thinking about the drunk driving aspect the other day. We (rightfully) punish drunk driving relatively severely, but why? Because a drunk driver might cause a crash. I don’t have any stats to support this, but I have the feeling that a sober driver who causes the exact same crash would receive a lesser punishment. Any report into a crash I see contains a variation on the line “It is unknown if alcohol was a factor.” So what? If alcohol wasn’t a factor, that makes it not a crime? It’s better if the driver was a sober reckless person?

    • Joe 15:09 on 2015/03/03 Permalink

      For one thing an intoxicated driver is far more likely to cause a crash even if they are a responsible driver when not drunk. If a driver is reckless but sober and they get involved in an accident it will usually appear in the follow up investigation. Reckless drivers pay higher insurance or be flat our refused to be insured, they pay higher yearly license fees, they can have their license suspended if they lose their demerit points.

      If a reckless driver causes death they typically pay the consequences unless of course you are an SQ cop chasing down crooked politicians.

    • Blork 15:52 on 2015/03/03 Permalink

      What Joe said. Driving while drunk is a form of reckless endangerment. The same can be said for sober people who speed or do other sorts of galavanting that disregards safety. But that’s harder to prove. I would go so far as to say texting while driving — which is known to be AS UNSAFE as drinking and driving — should carry the same penalties, but again it’s a lot harder to prove.

      But being in (or causing) and accident when there is no alcohol, texting, speeding, galavanting, etc. might just be a matter of bad luck. Or maybe the person’s just a lousy driver. Neither of those can be seen in the same light as deliberately driving recklessly.

  • Kate 22:23 on 2015/03/02 Permalink | Reply  

    Archives looks back at La tempête du siècle – the fabled March 4, 1971 snowstorm. In one day, the city amassed 54 cm of snow accompanied by 100 km/h winds. Three other storms in the last century beat it in terms of snowfall, but the 1971 storm hit a city that had already accumulated nearly three metres of snow over a long winter, and the sheer intensity of the blizzard made a lasting impact on our collective memory.

    • Alison Cummins 22:37 on 2015/03/02 Permalink

      I remember that snowstorm. We built tunnels in the snowbanks. At the time I didn’t know it was special in any way — I just thought that was winter.

    • GC 22:45 on 2015/03/02 Permalink

      I’ve heard a lot about that one. My parents were on their honeymoon around then. Lord knows what they were thinking planning a Montreal wedding in February. Maybe they got a good deal on the hall?

    • Alison Cummins 23:08 on 2015/03/02 Permalink

      GC, most of the folks I know who got married in those years scheduled their weddings about seven months before the birth of their first child.

    • Joe 08:28 on 2015/03/03 Permalink

      My dad still talks about that storm, every year he will tell me how he had to walk from his workplace in Lasalle to Queen Mary.

    • carswell 09:34 on 2015/03/03 Permalink

      It was a year before I landed in Montreal but one of my classmates at McGill, who then lived with his parents in Ville St-Laurent, said he and other volunteers spent the day after the storm cross-country skiing along the Metropolitan to deliver hot drinks and other supplies to people who were trapped in their cars.

    • GC 09:39 on 2015/03/03 Permalink

      Alison, my brother was born about 9 months and two weeks after that wedding :). I did the math at one point, when I got older. Considering the wedding was planned in advance, I think it was just a really fast conception in this case!

    • Noah 19:49 on 2015/03/03 Permalink

      Am I nuts or did we not get almost that same amount of snow in one shot two winters ago around Christmas? Didn’t we get like 46 cm in a few hours?

    • Joe 22:15 on 2015/03/03 Permalink

      Noah, yes Christmas break a few years ago, I believe 2012 or maybe 2011. I guess as the article states, in 1971 there was already a lot on the ground so it made it that much worse. I guess the recent one helped that a lot of people were off work, myself included. We wanted to go to Home Depot and realized it wasn’t happening as our street wasn’t cleared and neighbours were stuck out front in their cars.

    • Kate 22:55 on 2015/03/03 Permalink

      Going back into my own archives: December 27, 2012 we got 45 cm of snow, according to this TVA story from that date. (Autoplays video.) It was a real mess around where I live in Villeray – the sidewalk wasn’t plowed for about ten days. This is, I believe, still the record for a snowfall in December, beating the one we had on December 16, 2005 that dumped 41.2 cm of snow.

    • C_Erb 07:19 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      I remember that one in 2012. I left the province for Christmas right after the storm and when I got back 2 weeks later, the sidewalk outside my house still resembled a mule trail through the woods.

    • Noah 09:53 on 2015/03/04 Permalink

      Thanks – I couldn’t remember quite how huge it was, but I remember getting home from work and literally not being able to get to my shovel to clear the walkway without wading through waist-high snow. We were new to our specific area of NDG at that time and didn’t know our neighbours yet and the neighbour from across the street came out with his snowblower and saved me probably 3-4 hours of shoveling. It’s amazing how good people are to each other in times of difficulty or crisis (as minor as a snowfall is on the scale of crises).

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