Updates from September, 2019 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Kate 07:56 on 2019-09-25 Permalink | Reply  

    There’s been some alarm and despondency, and some political hay-making, over the federal government’s peculiar choice of a Syrian honorary consul for Montreal – a person Eater defines as the owner of Cocktail Hawaii, a downtown crêpe restaurant. Waseem Ramli is a supporter of Bashar al‑Assad, which many Syrians in Montreal emphatically are not. Foreign affairs minister Chrystia Freeland is promising to act on this.

    Update: And the appointment has been revoked.

    • JaneyB 13:01 on 2019-09-26 Permalink

      Good. That was fast. Assad is a beast. Tip of the hat to Terry Glavin at Maclean’s for making the connection.

    • Patrick 15:00 on 2019-09-26 Permalink

      How could this have happened in the first place? Wasn’t the guy vetted? Or maybe he was–by Cameron Ortis! Why does the Liberal government shoot itself in the foot so often? Sigh.

  • Kate 07:50 on 2019-09-25 Permalink | Reply  

    Three workers who somehow got marooned under the new bridge were rescued by the fire department’s daredevil crew early Wednesday. Nobody got hurt.

  • Kate 07:48 on 2019-09-25 Permalink | Reply  

    An attacker used a firebomb and a knife to rob a depanneur in Lasalle Tuesday night, wounding the clerk, who was sent to hospital.

    • dwgs 09:33 on 2019-09-25 Permalink

      Seems a bit excessive.

  • Kate 07:31 on 2019-09-25 Permalink | Reply  

    Linda Gyulai continues her story aboout the REM A40 station which she says objective critics find unnecessary, placed in a spot where nobody will use it (yet).

    • Blork 11:07 on 2019-09-25 Permalink

      The REM maps list the station as “Correspondance A40” and show it as a connecting point to the “Mascouche line” which isn’t REM but part of EXO.

      I have no skin in this game, so I’m just trying to be open minded, meaning MAYBE the Gazette’s reports are on to something and MAYBE there’s more planning involved than the so-called objective critics know about.

      That said, if you just look at the map, the A40 stop DOES line up with the Mascouche line better than any other stops with the exception of Mont-Royal REM station. This means that Mascouche line users have several options to get downtown. They can jump out at the Sauvé station and go over to the Sauvé Metro (but that’s the congested Orange line, so why would they? But going home in the evening might work that way) or they can jump out at the A40 and take the REM to downtown, or they can stay on the train. (They could do the same at Mont-Royal, but maybe they are expecting a lot of use at Mont-Royal and are planning to diffuse the connecting points instead of pushing them all together.)

      Depending on where they are going and whether or not they need other REM connections, that A40 connection sounds like a nice option. For example, it means people could go from Mascouche to Deux-Montagnes by train without having to go downtown.

      So that’s just me thinking that a network of trains with multiple connecting points is a good idea, especially if you are trying to break out of the idea of mass transit only being for feeding people to downtown.

    • ant6n 13:10 on 2019-09-25 Permalink

      The Mascouche line is planned to terminate at the A40 station. This was the whole issue about “sharing” the Mount-Royal tunnel: REM will kick out all other lines, will not allow them to access gare Centrale.

      This station wouldn’t really be necessary if the REM had been designed only slightly better, in order to allow sharing the Mount-Royal tunnel, allowing the Mascouche (and maybe in the future the St-Jerome line and VIA rail) to actually get downtown. Note the AMT invested a cool 750M$ into the Mascouche line, in large parts the expenses relate to bringing the line through the tunnel to downtown.

      Now there’s the plan to perhaps route the Mascouche line towards Du College station, and possibly downtown by circling around the Taschereau around Cote-St-Luc, which will add a cool 25min to the travel time. In that case, the A40 station will become useless as a correspondence. It would’ve made more sense to move the Montpellier station 200m south, so that it would perfectly intersect with that proposed new route for the Mascouche line.

      One note about possible developments in the area: Yes the CDPQ may invest in the area and make a bunch of money on real estate, but even if people started moving into what is now an idustrial waste land, those will still be the only people who use the stations. Many Metro stations in Montreal aren’t just used by the people who live within 300m, but they come from much further, especially from feeder buses. This won’t happen here, the industrial area is an enclave bordered by highways and railways, and a streetgrid that doesn’t allow bringing in buses from anywhere useful.

    • Blork 16:00 on 2019-09-25 Permalink

      Thanks for the clarifications, ant6n. Sounds like a shitshow for sure.

    • Faiz Imam 19:54 on 2019-09-25 Permalink

      or… folks could just spend the sub 5 mins it takes to transfer at A40 station and voila. problem solved. Transfers are good, they increase utility, not reduce it.

      in related news, the town of Boisbriand just initiated a public consultation to turn 225 Hectares of prime farmland into low density auto dependent suburban housing.

      i wonder what we could do to stop that?

    • Ant6n 20:24 on 2019-09-25 Permalink

      Bring the st Jerome line downtown, providing for a fast direct transit connection downtown, and a single transfer trip to many places in Montreal.

      Transfer stations increase utility, extra forced transfers, especially onto modes with different capacity profiles, is not.

      I think you missed the part about how the a40 station may become useless if the mascouche line gets rerouted.

  • Kate 20:16 on 2019-09-24 Permalink | Reply  

    It’s the end of the road for the Village baubles. A CBC Facebook post I can’t locate says they were all sold off.

    • david100 02:30 on 2019-09-26 Permalink

      Those things represented a distinct break from one era of that part of Saint Catherine to another – broadly, from the gritty old times of gay clubs, casse-croutes, dollar beer and all the pre-internet shops, to another era of cocktails and other hallmarks of gentrification. The area has moved into a new phase over the past couple years, with the end of most of the gay stuff, significant new housing construction, renovictions, etc, and it seems entirely likely that whatever replaces these balls will fit the new phase of the neighborhood’s life more these relatively old school Montreal things do.

    • JaneyB 12:53 on 2019-09-26 Permalink

      Perhaps the new phase could include cocktail…umbrellas – playful, summery, still gay but not gritty. Could work.

  • Kate 18:50 on 2019-09-24 Permalink | Reply  

    As was presaged, the real estate promoters who had their eye on the land to be turned into the Grand parc de l’ouest are suing the city for $175 million.

  • Kate 18:48 on 2019-09-24 Permalink | Reply  

    The MUHC is testing drone delivery of emergency medical supplies.

  • Kate 18:39 on 2019-09-24 Permalink | Reply  

    On the weekend I linked to one of the Gazette’s archive stories about Michael Jackson’s concert here in 1984 and it reminded me of an anecdote told me by a friend.

    Back then, the best English-language bookstore in the city was Classic, on Ste-Catherine near Crescent, a couple of doors west of where the Apple store is now. I didn’t know J. then, but he worked in the store (where I was a regular customer). The store had a narrow unassuming frontage but once you got inside it ramified far back and up three floors. J. tells me he encountered many famous faces – politicians, movie stars and others – who shopped there while he was on the staff.

    Michael Jackson blows into town, and the store gets a call from his entourage, saying Jackson feels like shopping for books but he can’t exactly step out along Ste-Catherine Street without causing a riot. Somehow, nobody but J. is into staying late to enable Jackson to visit the store after hours, so he stays. An unmarked white van draws up, but can’t quite park directly in front. As Jackson and handler cross the sidewalk into the store, somebody spots him.

    J. hangs out discreetly while Jackson looks at books and talks very quietly to the handler. Meanwhile a crowd is gathering outside the store, people peering in through the windows. I don’t know how they coordinated it before cellphones, but the van went around back and picked the two men up from the loading dock to avoid the crowd. J. was invited to go up to Jackson’s hotel suite later, where he was given front-row tickets to the show the next day.

    I guess this kind of thing happens from time to time in the retail world, but this story relates to the Gazette bit last week, so it seemed of relevance.

    It was a great bookstore, and I still miss it.

    • Fab Franco 09:36 on 2019-09-25 Permalink

      Classic? I think you got the name wrong or you’ve internalized made-in-Quebec apostrophobia. It was either Classics or Classic’s from my recollection.

      I’ve heard similar stories from a retail clerk in one of those clothing stores near Peel. She said E. Iglesias was a jerk. Vanessa Williams had bad acne and one of those aging boy bands was given a bunch of free t-shirts that nobody wanted cuz they were orange and they all wore them on stage the next night.

    • Kate 11:49 on 2019-09-25 Permalink

      According to this blog post from 2010 (I don’t personally know the author):

      a Montreal retail bookshop on St. Catherine Street West called Classic Book Shop, or Classics as it was referred to by many people including myself.

      The bookmark shown in the piece calls it Classic Books. The Lovell directory for 1984 lists it as Classic Bookshops.

      People often fall into this, like calling the Italian grocery store on the Main “Milano’s” although it’s really just called Milano, and so on.

    • Michael Black 12:12 on 2019-09-25 Permalink

      I remember it as “Classics” but just searched and found that blog posting. Since he includes photos of the famous bookmarks, you must be right. Though maybe they changed the name later. I have a stash of their bookmarks somewhere, but doubt any are than older than the ones in the blog photo.

      Of course the store on the Apple Store side was the paperback store, at least originally. The first Classic I remember was across the street, where the police station is now. Certainly they had a children’s section there. Every time we had a doctor or dentist appointment downtown, we’d be taken afterwards to that store. I got my first science fiction there. And they had stores elsewhere, I’d buy How & Why Wonder books and Tom Swift books at the small store in Westmount Square.

      But by the time I really started buying books, it was 1976, and I’d go to the paperback store. I think it expanded at some point, but I can’t remember. At some point, the store across the street became a clearance centre, but can’t remember exactly when. I think I bought my beat up hardcover dictionary there, it would have been 1977.

      The employees went on strike, a long one, at least twice, and that was mostly the end. I think in 1979, but also about 1984. I forget when it finally closed down.

      In mid-July 1974 someone immolated himself in front of the store. The news later said something about a book that he wrote but the store wouldn’t carry, or.maybe something else, it’s been too long. I was walking west about a block away and saw flames going into the sky. I knew there was construction there. But as I passed in front of the store, someone was on the ground and workers were putting the flames out. I could have joined in, but worried about doing the wrong thing. He died about two weeks later.


    • Kate 13:13 on 2019-09-25 Permalink

      Michael, your memories tally with mine, especially buying science fiction. Lots of good SF (and a fair bit of crap fantasy) was coming out at that time and I doubt I ever walked along Ste-Catherine without stopping in that store and seeing what was new. Often enough I went downtown for no other reason.

      And yes, a strike is what eventually ended it. The owner was happier closing it down than giving the workers a raise. The anglo community was so pole-axed by that time that nobody in the media noticed we were losing a valuable cultural resource.

      I never heard about the self-immolation, though. Horrible stuff.

  • Kate 08:09 on 2019-09-24 Permalink | Reply  

    TVA notes some glitches in the finishing work on the northern half of Plaza Saint-Hubert although it’s unclear what this has to do with the death of a passerby in a construction accident a few weeks ago. Nick from Café Crème is quoted with the sour observation that the city’s faster to put in profitable parking meters than garbage cans.

    • mare 09:38 on 2019-09-24 Permalink

      Speaking of garbage cans, I have a client there who showed me the newly installed garbage cans in front of his shop. They’re “open concept”, maybe so the garbage collectors can see if they need to be emptied. The inside bins are made of steel wire though, so they leak all the fluid garbage people throw in them, Half empty coke cans, ice cream, whatever. So after just one week the new spiffy sidewalk pavers around the garbage cans are already ugly, stained and sticky. Maybe it will improve when the awning is going to cover them (installation scheduled for October) and less rain will wash through them, but still, it didn’t look good. He was not happy.

      He was happy however with the fact that real estate prices were soaring in the neighbourhood and “that will improve the ethnicity of the shoppers”. His words. I almost ditched him as a client there and then, especially since he’s a second generation immigrant himself.

    • Spi 12:25 on 2019-09-24 Permalink

      I’m surprised to learn that the awnings are going back up so quickly. Shouldn’t they wait a bit and give a chance to more business/building owners to fix up their storefronts now since it’s more easily done. Some have already done so.

    • Bill Binns 14:25 on 2019-09-24 Permalink

      I was just up there yesterday afternoon. I realize it’s not done yet but I would describe it as “bleak”. St Hubert may be a case study to convince the city that healthy mature trees must be saved at all costs. They are literally irreplaceable (unless you wait 30-50 years). I’m sure the city will crow about how many little spindly saplings they plug into holes in the sidewalk as they wrap up the project. Hopefully a few of them will survive long enough to someday provide shade to citizens currently in kindergarten.

    • CE 15:47 on 2019-09-24 Permalink

      I just biked there today and was struck by its bleakness as well. The trees made a huge difference (you could really see it when there were still trees at the southern half). I also felt like the light coloured paving stones added to some of the bleakness but maybe they’ll look better after they’ve aged somewhat. I really hope they put some benches in when they install the rest of the street furniture, they really liven up a space.

    • Kate 22:08 on 2019-09-25 Permalink

      It really is bleak. I saw the contrast in July when the difference in vibe between the southern section, where the trees were stll untouched, and the northern half, was striking.

      This city really does play a game of handwaving the 50 or more years it takes for a tree to grow to a good, shady size.

    • mare 07:55 on 2019-09-26 Permalink

      After 50 years a tree would have become too big there, but it is very empty now. The awnings and 200 trees (yes, that many on just those two blocks) will make a big improvement. My source says they probably won’t plant the trees now, as originally planned, afraid too many will perish in the winter or get damaged when the awnings are installed. So we’ll have to wait until the spring to see how small the trees really are.

  • Kate 07:40 on 2019-09-24 Permalink | Reply  

    Since the Caisse de dépôt ordained the creation and the route of the REM, should it surprise us that they’ve placed a station in an area with very little going on around it – now – but in which it has been investing speculatively for a long time? Although it’s not a shock story, Linda Gyulai digs deep into the Caisse’s long, previously unsuccessful involvement in the area it’s still trying to turn to profit. (Thanks to ant6n for the link.)

    In other REM news, La Presse notes that after January 6, nobody in Deux-Montagnes will be able to get downtown by train before 2023 because of REM construction.

  • Kate 12:55 on 2019-09-23 Permalink | Reply  

    Valérie Plante is at the United Nations Monday and has told the gathering that the city will cut its emissions 55% by 2030.

    • Faiz Imam 22:04 on 2019-09-23 Permalink

      Color me skeptical. I think the city, other levels of government, the private sector are doing a lot of things to promote sustainable living, but at the same time we are NOT disinsentivising the types of behavior that are unsuitable. Especially outside the urban core.

      Until we can shift behavior in the most unsustainable corners of the city, something like a 55% decrease in emissions is tough.

      Though, I suspect one goal will be extreme electrification of the auto fleet, which will go a long way to solve the issue without dealing with the underlying auto-dependency of our built environment.

      Which is fine, I guess, but absolutely a half measure.

    • ant6n 23:33 on 2019-09-23 Permalink

      Faiz, skeptical?!
      …All the unsustainable parts of the city demerged or are suburbs anyway, so aren’t the city of Montreal’s responsibility.

    • Chris 08:59 on 2019-09-24 Permalink

      ant6n, and you’re not skeptical? Montreal can’t even recycle glass FFS, you think they’re gonna reduce GHGs by half in a decade? I’ll take that bet.

    • JaneyB 09:40 on 2019-09-24 Permalink

      Isn’t there some discussion of expanding the consignment program? Something’s happening at the NA level and heated discussion at the local level too. I’d like to see a glass container standardization law while they’re at it. I take mine to be reused at various places but that’s nothing.

    • Kevin 10:08 on 2019-09-24 Permalink

      If we as a people really want to cut down on GHGs, we need to be radical.
      1) Give away our hydro electricity to nearby states and provinces on the condition our neighbours stop using GHG-burning electrical plants. They can build nuclear plants.
      2) Stop having all those diesel-burning trucks stuck in traffic. Set up ‘trucks only’ hours — so the trucks can get in and out efficiently (i.e. using less fuel) without having to deal with unskilled car drivers creating crashes and traffic jams.
      3) Ban bitcoin and the like, since farming just burns energy and does nothing useful. Make using them for any transaction subject to a life sentence in prison.
      4) Limit the number of airplane trips people are allowed to take. Flying south to a resort where you’ll use a dozen disposable plastic cups and straws a day?! How wasteful.

    • Kate 10:10 on 2019-09-24 Permalink

      The SAQ has been resisting consignment for years, but I can see why. Wine bottles are different shapes and sizes, and liquor bottles even more so. The SAQ can’t unilaterally standardize on a few formats because it’s not the producer of the products it sells.

    • Jack 10:17 on 2019-09-24 Permalink

      The problem is also in St Colomban a 73 km commute. I was up there a few weeks ago and saw this everywhere…..

    • CE 10:28 on 2019-09-24 Permalink

      The bottle thing could be solved pretty easily. For all beverages, impose a few standards and if any producer wants to use a custom bottle, require them to deal with them themselves. Beer used to be pretty good for this. There’s a standard 341ml bottle and they get passed around to different breweries all over Canada (the Boreal blonde you drink today could have held Molson Export 20 years ago). I worked at a brewery that used a non standard bottle We had to pick up the empties but because we didn’t have enough space to store 10 or so pallets to them (the minimum that the company that washes them would take), we just had to send them out to be crushed and melted. Other provinces have central depots where you can take back your bottles and cans and under that system, I don’t think individual producers have to take them back to deal with them (good for small producers without the facilities to do the cleaning and reusing themselves).

      The deposits also need to go up. I see glass bottles with deposits on them in the recycling all the time because it’s not worth lugging them to the dep for a few cents. The other day, in Lafontaine park, I had a six pack that a can collector refused to take. I’d never seen that happen before but I don’t blame him, why lug around 30 cents of bottles when two tall cans will get you 40 cents?

    • Mark Côté 12:07 on 2019-09-24 Permalink

      The LCBO has been accepting container returns on almost everything they sell, including wine & spirit bottles, and even Tetra-Paks. It’s been going on for over 12 years. http://www.bagitback.ca/en/residential/eligible_items_return_rates.shtml

    • ant6n 14:06 on 2019-09-24 Permalink

      I’m always skeptical. I’m also perhaps being a bit facetious when pointing out that the most unsustainable areas of the metro area are outside the Metro area.

      One thing: I’d say the issue of recycling is nearly independent of the issue of CHG emissions. They both represent environmental issues, but they shouldn’t be conflated. And it seems recycling is often a sort of compensation-action people engage in to shave of the impending feeling of climate panic: Oh I drive an SUV, and so does my wife, and we fly 4 times a year across the ocean, but we recycle!

    • qatzelok 15:05 on 2019-09-24 Permalink

      Most of the comments on the CBC article look like they were written by Tar Sands workers on a break from processing the dilbit. Or paid social media agents (trolls) working for same.

    • Hamza 15:12 on 2019-09-24 Permalink

      How about we just make a car-free zone in centre-ville, make Bixi more accessible to people without credit cards, slash public transit costs by 50% (didn’t somebody promise that in an election?) while upping federal spending, and of course ,

      The Pink Line

    • Dhomas 20:05 on 2019-09-24 Permalink

      One thing I think the governments (both provincial and federal) have backwards is their approach to incentivizing vehicle electrification. The subsidies are not making a dent in ICE vehicle sales. I say, when the carrot doesn’t work, time to reach for the stick. Instead of giving a subsidy on electric vehicle, put a tax on non zero emission vehicles. Any new vehicle sold in Quebec (or better yet, Canada-wide) must be a ZEV, and all others have a 30% tax (or more). Start it next year, none of this “by 2045, all vehicles will be electric” bull. By then, it will be too late. Give a 1-2 year break to businesses that require semis. Tesla, Nikola, and Daimler will all have options available by then.

    • walkerp 22:01 on 2019-09-24 Permalink

      Lots of great ideas here.

    • Kevin 00:00 on 2019-09-25 Permalink


      There is a significant production chokehold.

      Tesla made about 200,000 vehicles last year, to sell in the US, and around the world.

      Quebecers alone bought 200,000 vehicles in less than five months.

      The EV manufacturers cannot keep up. A Six month waiting list for any kind of EV is normal.

  • Kate 07:50 on 2019-09-23 Permalink | Reply  

    It’s going to take four years to renovate the La Fontaine tunnel, and the transport minister has the idea of creating a sort of barge ferry for trucks that would work so well it would continue operation after the tunnel reopens.

    She’s also keen on building on the success of the ferry between RDP (where she used to be mayor, but is now MNA) and Old Montreal, and thinks there should be more of those too.

    • Blork 10:49 on 2019-09-23 Permalink

      That barge idea sounds so bonkers that it might actually work. But I wonder what the incentive would be for trucks once the tunnel work is completed. Obviously, exiting the tunnel approach and waiting to cross by barge won’t save any time under normal circumstances.

      Maybe if there were a toll for trucks using the tunnel but using the barge is free?

    • Kate 12:48 on 2019-09-23 Permalink

      Quebec’s had such bad luck with the ferry service downriver that I wonder if something like this could work. A heavy ferry toting heavy trucks? Across that crazy river?

  • Kate 07:46 on 2019-09-23 Permalink | Reply  

    A young man and woman were shot at in St-Laurent Sunday night as they walked along the street. The victims are going to recover, but they aren’t cooperating with the police investigation.

  • Kate 07:40 on 2019-09-23 Permalink | Reply  

    On the season opener of Tout le monde en parle Sunday night, Luc Ferrandez said that recycling is a mess in Montreal because mixing everything together makes it difficult to impossible to sort and repurpose. He’s also a bit embarrassed about the expense of the byelection caused by his midterm departure from his political job.

    • Uatu 10:36 on 2019-09-23 Permalink

      On a side note, Bianca Andreescu and her coach were on the show and she happily answered questions. So I guess the “f_ck QC” narrative of the Gazette and the JDM sports columnists was just sour grapes for being ignored…

    • Kate 12:39 on 2019-09-23 Permalink

      Yes, I saw that. She even answered some questions in French, although I think they brought along her trainer because as a francophone he made for a smoother interview.

  • Kate 14:45 on 2019-09-22 Permalink | Reply  

    Radio-Canada has a rather fancy web feature asking whether the new Champlain bridge can last the promised 125 years. It’s an inquiry into its engineering design with some nice visuals.

    • Clément 15:55 on 2019-09-22 Permalink

      Découverte on SRC (French CBC) tonight at 18:30 has a one-hour special on the construction of the bridge. You can also watch it later on tou.tv.

    • Blork 21:50 on 2019-09-22 Permalink

      Here’s a question: why are the street lights still on for the old bridge? Especially since they’ve already taken down about a 50 metre section on the Brossard side, so you couldn’t cross that bridge now even if you tried. (Spotted last night; lights on the new bridge are white; lights on the old bridge are yellow and still on.)

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