Updates from February, 2019 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Kate 14:06 on 2019-02-28 Permalink | Reply  

    There’s already a preview of weekend traffic snarls.

  • Kate 14:05 on 2019-02-28 Permalink | Reply  

    An agreement has been arrived at between the STM and its maintenance union.

  • Kate 09:05 on 2019-02-28 Permalink | Reply  

    A man died from gunshot wounds Wednesday night in a Verdun flat. Whether it was a firearms accident or homicide is under investigation.

  • Kate 08:03 on 2019-02-28 Permalink | Reply  

    Before Outremont passed a ban on new “places of worship” on Bernard in 2016, it had given the green light to a building renovation that included a small synagogue, and recently confirmed the project could proceed. News items said the borough mostly wanted to avoid a costly court case. Now some residents want to fight this decision anyway.

    This morning on CBC radio they had a spokesman for the religious community explaining that, in their interpretation of religious law, they have to walk to synagogue on the Sabbath, so they need to live fairly close by to allow the less mobile to attend. This was followed by one of the folks resisting the project, who invoked the holiest of sacred cows: parking. That his point had been previously invalidated was clever work by some news editor, but it made me wonder why there’s no complaint about people parking to go to the grocery stores, the bank, the veterinarian or any of the other establishments along there – just the synagogue. Which people walk to.

    • Chris 08:48 on 2019-02-28 Permalink

      I presume you’re implying bigotry, which may well be the case!, but it could also be as simple as the fact that they make themselves so visually distinct. If everyone doing their groceries wore neon green, people might easily focus in to how much parking they use.

    • Ian 08:48 on 2019-02-28 Permalink

      While I see your point, I live just down the street from a fairly large synagogue (Congregation Belz) on Jeanne-Mance and there are always lots of people there all through the week for various reasons. Jews don’t just go to the synagogue on Sabbath, especially ultraconservative ones like the Hassidim. Many times of the year people come gather in my neighbourhood from as far away as NY and Ontario, sometimes further, and while they may be walking to synagogue on the Sabbath all their vehicles are still parked in the street, or in the alley behind the synagogue. It’s crowded enough that at least one local merchant put up a sign behind their Parc-facing business “not synagogue parking” . I quite often can’t find parking on my block because there are so many out-of-town plates taking up spots and given their preponderance for black SUVs I’m pretty sure I know who is behind it. The vehicles get ticketed almost every day but they don’t seem to really care – I guess it’s cheaper & more convenient to pay a parking fine than paying for garage parking and having to walk from who knows where.

      I mean yeah it sounds petty, but it’s frustrating to pay for a parking permit and still not be able to park on your block. While the synagogue will be on Bernard all the parking will be on nearby residential streets.

    • Kate 09:08 on 2019-02-28 Permalink

      Then it strikes me Outremont has its response: yes, you can have your synagogue, but it must also include sufficient parking.

    • Ephraim 09:40 on 2019-02-28 Permalink

      Most of the parking that @Ian is talking about is likely the cars of visitors who are staying with nearby family, not specifically driving to synagogue.

      And even if they were driving to synagogue, it’s twice a day for maybe 30 to 45 minutes, once in the morning (morning prayers) and once before dusk (afternoon and evening prayers… one before dusk, the other, after.) But talking to the rabbi would likely help if this was a parking and synagogue problem, Of course, no cars on Friday/Saturday… so where they are parked, they stay.

      They are correct, there is a limitation on walking on the sabbath, though, within the eruv it isn’t as limited. The definition of “work” on the sabbath is much more restrictive than the western definition…. it really is intended to make you rest and recuperate.

    • Ian 10:37 on 2019-02-28 Permalink

      I’ve been shabbos goy for my neighbours lots of times. People that won’t even ring a doorbell or flip a light switch certainly won’t be driving their car.
      While you’re right that most people are visiting family for specific holidays and whatnot there is still lots of parking around the synagogues going on. Trust me, I live in the neighbourhood, and I see it with my own eyes on a daily basis.

    • Joey 11:31 on 2019-02-28 Permalink

      The presence of a synagogue on Bernard will have no impact on the absolute number of cars in the neighbourhood, since the worshippers and their out-of-town family members are already in the neighbourhood. It might mean a small shift of some cars from farther away (e.g., Jeanne-Mance) occasionally, but that’s basically negligible. The synagogue won’t be attracting new people, it will simply serve the community that is already parking up and down Ian’s block.

    • Ian 12:10 on 2019-02-28 Permalink

      You might think that but the Hassidic community is split up by synagogue, the folks on my street mostly go to the synagogue on my block. Outremont Hassidim go to their own places. There are a number of larger Hassidic communities throughout Montreal, they’re not homogeneous by any stretch. Even how much money they make is a factor, my neighbourhood is of course much less well-off than some of the Outremont community.

    • Joey 12:39 on 2019-02-28 Permalink

      @Ian but that doesn’t contradict the notion that the synagogue will not induce demand for parking… that demand is already there, no?

    • Ian 19:49 on 2019-03-01 Permalink

      A new synagogue also means more people can move near it. It’s one of the necessaries of neighbourhood expansion for people that can only walk to synagogue on the Sabbath.

      I’m not anti-Hassidic or anything, I get along great with my neighbours and am happy to live in my neighbourhood. I totally get the parking thing though, and it’s not just a made-up excuse.

    • Kate 22:48 on 2019-03-01 Permalink

      OK, fair enough.

  • Kate 07:55 on 2019-02-28 Permalink | Reply  

    A petition is circulating asking for no new construction projects in Chinatown, which is already tiny and could be changed forever by one or two big condo buildings.

    • Jack 12:02 on 2019-02-28 Permalink

      I live in chinatown and I completely understand this petition.The condo tower going up on Viger and St. Laurent will change the surroundings and skyscape forever. What I would like to do is thank this blog contributors for schooling me, because correct me if I am wrong. If a developer buys land that was originally a movie theatre and decides to build a tower 10 stories higher than everything in its vicinity, in an historic part of Montreal, their is nothing that can be done… except sign a petition. Any veterans of Milton Park still alive, because that seems the only time a neighbourhood erasure was stopped, how did you do it?

    • Tee Owe 12:39 on 2019-02-28 Permalink

      I wrote here about how my eviction notice was thrown out of court – I was just a student renter not exactly a local, I did some street action but I was on the fringes, busy with my degree – looking back on it I would guess that Concordia Estates (the bad guys) weren’t prepared for the coordinated opposition and they basically folded – I would guess they wouldn’t fold so easily today. But for sure, contesting the eviction notices was coordinated, and the courts were on the tenant’s side. Maybe someone else can add more informed response.

    • DeWolf 13:16 on 2019-02-28 Permalink

      I think it’s a bit late for a petition given that the Serenity hotel/apartment project is already approved and well under construction. I doubt there are any legal means to stop work at this point. And of course, that would leave Chinatown with a hole in the ground for many years to come.

      It’s a different story for the proposed project on the other side of St-Laurent, where the Robillard building burned down. It hasn’t been approved yet so I assume a moratorium could prevent it from being built, but that would probably trigger a lawsuit from the developer.

      What Chinatown need is a master plan that can help guide growth and development. There are so many vacant lots and empty properties, if there’s no firm guidance, it will eventually be gentrified out of existence.

      One thing that always mystifies me is how people could get up in arms about a “massive” 13-storey building when Chinatown is already surrounded by skyscrapers on all sides. It’s not the Plateau. The issue shouldn’t be high-rises, it should be what’s in the high-rises. Surely it would be a good thing if there was a 20-storey tower with social housing and apartments for Chinese old folks, right? Focusing on the height would get us into a situation like San Francisco where the cityscape is seen as being so precious, hardly anything gets built and the city is wickedly unaffordable.

      Another thing: I wonder how most Chinatown residents and merchants feel about May Chiu’s group speaking on their behalf. If there’s anything I learned from my brief exposure to Chinatown politics a few years ago, it’s a very fragmented place and a lot of people would be very sceptical of a self-appointed group of “Chinois progressiste.”

  • Kate 07:53 on 2019-02-28 Permalink | Reply  

    The city has spent more than $20 million treating 50,000 trees to save them from the emerald ash borer, and it plans to go on making this effort. I hope the treatment is usually more effective than it was on the tree directly outside my place, which recovered for one season then withered away last year and was taken down.

  • Kate 07:48 on 2019-02-28 Permalink | Reply  

    A woman was hit by a chunk of ice from a construction site that smashed the sunroof of her car. She’s thinking of suing.

    • Ephraim 09:42 on 2019-02-28 Permalink

      The car is covered by her car insurance. She is covered by the SAAQ. She would need to sue them and they sue the construction company’s insurance company. I bet the construction company’s insurance company is more eager to settle this than even her car insurance company.

    • mare 11:29 on 2019-02-28 Permalink

      @Ephraim She might sue for psychological damages (or shock as they call it these days). It probably made quite a racket and she might have thought for a moment it was a big piece of concrete and she was going to die. I’m sure some ambulance chaser lawyer (do we have those here? Julius Grey?) would see a case. And often for companies it’s cheaper to pay a few grand and to settle than pay for legal counsel.

    • Ephraim 13:48 on 2019-02-28 Permalink

      @Mare This is Canada, she’s going to need to prove actual damages. She better start seeing a psychologist immediately. In Canada, we pay actual damages. She’s going to need bills.

  • Kate 07:46 on 2019-02-28 Permalink | Reply  

    The airport has laid off 100 workers who would not accept a reduction in wages asked of them by their employer. They will be replaced by contractors.

    As I understand employment law: if your employer lays you off, it’s usually because there isn’t enough work, either temporarily or permanently. If the employer immediately turns around and employs someone else to do your work, doesn’t that invalidate the stated reason for your layoff?

    • Vazken 08:34 on 2019-02-28 Permalink

      Can they sue for this? I’m rusty on my labour laws.

    • Kate 09:59 on 2019-02-28 Permalink

      Presumably at least some, if not most, of those workers will apply for EI. It’s in the federal government’s interest not to allow people to get EI because some hot shot management guy plans to save a few bucks by getting rid of regular jobs and turning them into junk jobs.

      Who profits from the airport, anyway? A quo bono?

    • Spi 12:02 on 2019-02-28 Permalink

      Aren’t these unionized workers that had agreed to this clause in their last collective bargaining agreement?

  • Kate 21:15 on 2019-02-27 Permalink | Reply  

    The CFL has told the Alouettes their contract with Johnny Manziel, aka Johnny Football, is terminated and he’s no longer welcome in the league, but they’re not saying why. There was quite a fuss when he was signed but I never saw a single headline about anything he’s done since.

    • Faiz Imam 00:09 on 2019-02-28 Permalink

      Here is a more precise statement by the team:


      It states “Alouettes have been directed by the CFL to terminate the player contract… after it was found that he had contravened the agreement… We are disappointed with this turn of events… we worked with the league and presented alternatives to Johnny, who was unwilling to proceed. ”

      Im really not sure how to parse that. But my first guess would be a substance abuse issue.

    • david100 03:12 on 2019-02-28 Permalink

      Tested positive for something?

    • walkerp 14:44 on 2019-02-28 Permalink

      Almost for sure he backslided in some way or another. It’s sad, he’s a pretty severe addict and it’s plainly obvious how much his background is a part of it. Let’s hope he gets some treatment that works this time.

  • Kate 14:13 on 2019-02-27 Permalink | Reply  

    A coalition of businesspeople, academics, ecologists and urbanists have signed a petition for a moratorium on the Royalmount project. There’s a summary here but I can’t find the text itself.

  • Kate 07:59 on 2019-02-27 Permalink | Reply  

    It comes as no surprise to read that crampons are selling like hotcakes these days, and many stores are sold out.

  • Kate 07:57 on 2019-02-27 Permalink | Reply  

    A Le Devoir op-ed by an urban studies professor asks how it is Toronto has succeeded where Montreal has failed in reining in suburban sprawl and putting serious money into public transit development.

    • dwgs 10:48 on 2019-02-27 Permalink

      I have family in Niagara and every time I go to visit I am appalled by how much valuable farmland and orchards are being turned into bungalows for TO boomers to retire in. Anyone who thinks that suburban sprawl has been contained should study the loss of agricultural land around the western end of Lake Ontario over the last 30 to 40 years, it’s staggering.

    • Blork 11:18 on 2019-02-27 Permalink

      I only scanned the article but his thesis seems to rely heavily on population statistics without much analysis on other dimensions.

      He says the population of downtown TO has exploded, but the cost of living downtown has also exploded, so all this tells me is that a lot of people in Toronto have insane amounts of wealth and those people are moving downtown for the fancy lifestyle.

      He says the population of the first-tier suburbs has decreased slightly, but maybe that’s because the first tier suburbs are so expensive now that middle-class people are moving farther out of the city to the second and third tiers. (E.g., sell your shitty bungalow in Markham for $1,000,000 and buy a less shitty bungalow in Orangeville for cash and pocket the $400,000 difference).

    • david100 14:16 on 2019-02-27 Permalink

      I think the only thing that Toronto is doing better is their green belt and ‘room to grow’ plan. Quebec should have done that in the 1970s, the province would be a lot more attractive and housing would be much more concentrated, with a better result for the environment and health more generally.

      The government over in Ontario did a good and largely unheralded job of improving their regional transit system, unsubtly called ‘Go Transit.’ Their trains run every 30 minutes now all around the Toronto region. This move takes pressure off the housing market in Toronto and moves development activities to station-proximate areas all around, and most of these areas heeded the call and allowed development near transit. This is great, but Montreal will be doing a similar thing, probably even better with the REM.

      Toronto also has a relatively good development politique, though in many ways Montreal’s is better – in Toronto, you don’t really have an as-of-right system and the projects have to go through the ringer to get built, which results in higher cost units when they come to market, and also tends to lead to worse developments overall (lower heights, highly similar forms, fewer units, etc) because that veto point lets the politicians meddle to win NIMBY votes. Montreal’s land use rules are maddeningly backward in some areas (Rosemont, Plateau, etc) but when a project checks the boxes, the city generally doesn’t interfere, keeping government-imposed costs down to development fees, low cost requirement, and the zoning itself.

      The green belt there though, man, would be so nice to have had that in Montreal before the sprawl. They’re lucky to have that in Toronto.

    • Ian 17:11 on 2019-02-27 Permalink

      Toronto has succeeded in reigning in urban sprawl but Montreal hasn’t? Oh my, hahhahahahaha
      I’m from SW ON originally and I can tellyou for a fact that it is solid city all the way from Grimsby to Port Hope all along Lake Ontario, with Toronto smack in the centre, and it’s solid suburban sprawl north of Toronto all the way to Lake Simcoe, and west to Guelph. You want to know why Toronto has the Don Valley green space running through it? It was a polluted wasteland up until the 1980s. This isn’t some great vision of preserving green space, the Don Valley became so polluted there weren’t even fish in the river. The real reason the Don Valley sprang back is that the highway was built, shifting around access to space – you no longer had to put light industry central, you could put it further outside the main city, i.e.; the desirability of sprawl.

      FWIW while GO Transit is a heck of a lot better than anything we have here, all the GO stations are suburban rings. Look at the names of the stations. Those are all commuter stations in former towns. The REM stations don’t even manage that – the Saint Anne one will be up in the industrial corridor, north of the 40, while all of the actual destinations in Ste Anne are south of the 20. Utter stupidity in terms of public service, so obviously a property development scheme. I wonder who paid off whom to make that decision bear fruit.

      The REM solves nothing, Toronto is hardly an example of reduced sprawl in any form, and the only reason it has a green swath through it is because of urban sprawl.

    • david100 03:18 on 2019-02-28 Permalink

      Toronto’s green belt could very easily have been developed like the waterfront industrial areas are. Just because there’s sprawl in Toronto doesn’t mean that the green belt and ‘room to grow’ weren’t great plans that increased both density and livability. Also, REM will be better because of much higher frequencies, the better land use intent, and direct metro connections at three (possibly four) points, instead of going only to the central station for a transfer there.

  • Kate 07:50 on 2019-02-27 Permalink | Reply  

    The Quebec government says there will be no new special tax levied on businesses around the Quartier des Spectacles as suggested in the open letter from the festivals complaining of losing revenue. QMI reminds us that the seven festivals that use the space have received $20 million from the city since 2013.

  • Kate 07:46 on 2019-02-27 Permalink | Reply  

    A woman was killed in an Ahuntsic apartment Tuesday evening, and a man found on the scene was arrested. It’s the fifth homicide of the year.

  • Kate 22:30 on 2019-02-26 Permalink | Reply  

    The city’s pressing the agglomeration on offering free public transit the day after major snowstorms.

    • mare 01:08 on 2019-02-27 Permalink

      Public transport should be extra *expensive* on those days. So many drivers, not wanting to dig out their car, already take public transport after snow storms, and the metro is filled beyond capacity. Making it free will funnel even more people in, who after surviving that ordeal will think “That? Never again!”
      Not a good way to promote public transport and make people change their mode of transportation.

    • Jonathan 04:32 on 2019-02-27 Permalink

      Somehow i feel it’s unjust to make it free just so that people who own cars can more easily get to work. There are people who take public transit everyday who have to contend with it no matter what happens the day before.

      While I don’t think it’s the best solution, what mare is suggesting seems more just. At least, increase the cost of a single ticket that day, so that it doesn’t penalize people who regularly take the metro (and usually have weekly or monthly passes).

    • Hamza 05:54 on 2019-02-27 Permalink

      Who takes their car to work because taking the STM is too expensive?

    • Chris 09:32 on 2019-02-27 Permalink

      I’d just like for public transit to *work* the day after a snowstorm. It’s basically the only time I use public transit (I bike otherwise) and the bus is never on schedule, or even doesn’t show up. (Or is that how buses always are? I realize my impression in likely skewed, as I only use them when weather is bad.)

    • Blork 11:28 on 2019-02-27 Permalink

      Hamza, people who don’t commute on a regular schedule might find pubic transit more expensive than driving. These are people who own a car regardless, so the long-term cost of the car is not relevant.

      So someone who only goes into the office one or two days a week from the south shore, for example, might spend a dollar or two on gas for that ride but public transit would be $13.00 (there and back, single ticket on two transit systems). That assumes they have access to free or cheap parking of course (some people do).

    • jeather 13:00 on 2019-02-27 Permalink

      If you own a car, it’s rare that the variable cost of any one trip is more than the bus tickets are (depending on parking/number of people), because the cost of an occasional round trip bus ticket is not low. If you want to get regular car drivers to use the bus, it needs to be less expensive in money than a car, because it will often already take longer, and “more expensive plus takes longer” is a really losing proposition.

    • Ian 15:11 on 2019-02-27 Permalink

      More to the point having people on the road in private vehicles is a safety risk and makes it more time consuming to clear the roads. Maybe a more effective route than free public transit would be for the city to declare an emergency, forcing employers to let people stay home unless they are working in essential services.

    • Kate 21:41 on 2019-02-27 Permalink

      Apparently a lot of people did stay home on February 13 – almost every school was closed and the radio was telling me the roads were surprisingly empty. Makes me wonder how much rush hour traffic is caused by school runs.

    • Ian 08:54 on 2019-02-28 Permalink

      Quite a bit would be my guess. The buses and even the highways are a lot clearer when school is out. I suspect this is also because a lot of people are away on vacation, though. When I’m teaching summer classes I can get from Mile-End to Sainte-Anne is as little as 35-40 minutes any time of day, but when school’s back in it’s 45-60 even if I’m teaching early morning classes.

    • walkerp 14:50 on 2019-02-28 Permalink

      I suspect the decision to close CSDM schools was based on your point, Ian, rather than because people couldn’t get to them. At most public school as far as I know, everybody lives nearby and driving your kids to school is the exception. I think they were like, ah f*** it we have only had one snow day so far, let’s just close them all and make everybody’s life easier. The decision was made the night before, when the storm hadn’t even really started.

      If that were the case, I am in agreement. It was kind of a hassle for some parents job-wise, but collectively made it easier and safer for everybody.

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