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  • Kate 12:33 on 2019-07-18 Permalink | Reply  

    A new report shows how difficult to impossible it is to live in most locations in Canada on minimum wage, but Montreal is still more livable than Toronto despite recent surges in rent levels. La Presse puts it this way: you have to work 54 hours a week at minimum to afford a two‑bedroom place here. (And they don’t say so, but it won’t be a fancy one.)

  • Kate 07:57 on 2019-07-18 Permalink | Reply  

    Quebec’s consumer protection law says posted prices need to be honest and the advertiser can’t be hiding additional fees and extras, but Airbnb has been breaking this rule now for years and the government is seemingly powerless to act.

    • Ian 10:06 on 2019-07-18 Permalink

      Considering how many levels of government are incapable of acting against them I can only applaud AirBnB for their impressive ability to find the right person(s) to pay off over the years. I only wonder what it took. Yachts? Overstuffed brown envelopes? Island cruises with powerful friends? I hope we find out one day, even if only to satisfy my morbid curiosity.

    • DeWolf 11:20 on 2019-07-18 Permalink

      I suspect the reality is less glamorous, Ian. The exact same thing happens in dozens of other cities around the world. I find it hard to imagine that Airbnb has some enormous global brown-envelope division that has managed to go unnoticed, even in places with much more stringent anti-corruption practices than Quebec, like Singapore and Hong Kong – both of which are filled with Airbnbs that violate local housing laws. I think the reality is that in most jurisdictions, a platform like this doesn’t match up with existing laws, and even when laws are changed, there just aren’t enough tools and resources to ensure they are being respected.

      The big problem is that Airbnb itself has shrugged off any responsibility for policing its listings, and it has been fighting hard in courtrooms all over the world to make sure it doesn’t have to make sure its listings comply with local laws.

      As long as that’s the case, local governments don’t have much power. There are just too many individual listings that may or may not be illegal, and the only way to find out is to invest tons of money in expensive sting operations. It’s one thing to see a listing online and quite another to prove in court that it shouldn’t be there. Without some kind of registration system that is enforced within the platform, I don’t see how the problem can be resolved.

    • thomas 11:44 on 2019-07-18 Permalink

      Does anyone know how to report illegal Airbnbs? Messages to my councillor, Alex Norris, have been ignored.

    • DeWolf 12:39 on 2019-07-18 Permalink

      It seems like there are no good options. From today’s Gazette story about the Soeurs-Grises party pad that has been in the news lately:

      “Blum has been in touch with an inspector at the city of Montreal, who looked into the situation last week. The city confirmed to the Montreal Gazette that it had received a complaint about the operation of an illegal tourist accommodation and commercial activity out of the address. The information was passed on to Revenu Québec and the host was informed, according to city press representative Audrey Gauthier. She said a city inspector has been assigned to the case.”

      That doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. Also, guess who owns the apartment in question? None other than… Shiller Lavy. I guess they’re on a mission to destroy Montreal’s residential streets along with its commercial ones!


    • Ephraim 14:22 on 2019-07-18 Permalink

      Thomas… Revenu Quebec, use this form… https://www.revenuquebec.ca/fr/services-en-ligne/formulaires-et-publications/details-courant/lm-6/

      Supposedly, if they also committed tax fraud, you are supposed to get a percentage of the amount that they recover.

    • Ephraim 15:10 on 2019-07-18 Permalink

      As I have said before. All RQ has to do is offer a reward for the denonciation equal to 25% of the fine and tell people to make a 4 day reservation on any AirBnB that isn’t legal. At $2500 per day, that’s $10K in fine and a 25% reward is $2500. Want to make bets that people will go hunting, making reservations and denouncing AirBnBs that are illegal… but this is part of the plan that starts in September… you will have to post a traceable number on your listing so that RQ can trace you. AirBnB is sending out emails to hosting trying to put pressure on the government. They will do almost anything to avoid being regulated. But the cities that have regulated them are doing much better than those that haven’t.

      The problem is that most people don’t know what is and what isn’t illegal. What is definitely illegal is an apartment that is wholly rented for less than 30 days and available with no one living there. This is commercial activity. They also need a rating from the CITQ as well as posting a CITQ sign outside. In fact, not posting the CITQ sign and not being listed on the CITQ website is generally proof of illegal activity. While the city says it can’t do anything, that isn’t really 100% true… they can at least put them on notice for change in tax definition…. I’m sure that an entire building with residences would quickly act if they were finding out that their property tax was going up 5 fold.

      What isn’t illegal… owner occupied, meaning that you are renting a room and you live on the premises (such as B&Bs, rooms in a shared apartment, etc.) As long as someone lives there all the time. And renting your personal space while out of town on a short vacation… not if you move out of town. Your clothing must be present, you must be getting your mail there, etc. You can prove that it is your permanent residence and that you live there, usually 11 months of the year. In other words, you rent it out on vacation.

      As for Schiller-Lavy, I hope they have been collecting GST/QST because they are subject to it. And that they have been issuing tax receipts. The city can charge them commercial property tax and the fine is instantly doubled. Incidentally, the $5K minimum is the first offence…. not repeated offence, it goes up each offence.

      Here is the stats….about 70% of all listings are in the category of likely illegal. And 41% are people with multiple listings…. these are most likely the people running illegal underground and untaxed hotels that cost the city, the province and the federal government tax revenues. Take a look at https://www.airbnb.ca/users/show/72761895?locale=en for example…. that’s 67 individual apartments they are renting on AirBnB. And remember that these cost YOU money, because if they aren’t paying their fair share of income tax…. you have to make up for it with your taxes.

    • Blork 16:02 on 2019-07-18 Permalink

      Regarding the Shiller Lavy connection, my understanding is that SL owns the building, and they rent it to some guy who rents dozens of properties around the city and uses them all for Airbnb. I have that info second-hand but I’m fairly confident it’s accurate. In that case it isn’t SL who is culpable, but his renter (although I’m sure SL has full knowledge of the nature of the rentals).

  • Kate 07:51 on 2019-07-18 Permalink | Reply  

    Shots were fired on a car in Montreal North Wednesday evening, but the driver escaped injury.

  • Kate 07:44 on 2019-07-18 Permalink | Reply  

    The city inspector general has to defend the city’s right to blacklist a supplier for playing games with its invoicing. One contractor has taken umbrage at being excluded from contracts for five years and is taking the city to court.

    Only yesterday, the Journal reported on a business being put on a “gray list” excluding them for two years, in this case for unsatisfactory goods and delays in providing uniform pants for the SPVM.

    • Ian 10:35 on 2019-07-18 Permalink

      To be fair there’s always the possibility that somebody is getting paid off to put a rival on the blacklist…

  • Kate 07:26 on 2019-07-18 Permalink | Reply  

    A new condo building in Old Montreal is doing urban agriculture on the roof, and the same developer is working on a temporary garden near Jacques-Cartier bridge. Greenwashing? Maybe, but the plants are real.

    • Faiz Imam 15:34 on 2019-07-18 Permalink

      Architecture and design itself is to a large extent insubstantial veneers to what is a pretty generic structure underneath. But sustainability has been a strong ideal for quite a few years now, it doesn’t surprise me that all buildings at least check a few of the basic green boxes.

      Land use aside, the only aspect that I find really important is to havr more wood frame skyscrapers. The tech is solid and some pretty huge buildings are being built elsewhere in the world. We have the cheap wood to do it and the savings vs steel and concrete are huge.

    • Chris 17:02 on 2019-07-18 Permalink

      Concrete is also very CO2 intensive.

      Does this new building forgoe parking? That would be much greener!

  • Kate 07:11 on 2019-07-18 Permalink | Reply  

    A heat wave is on its way for the weekend, with heat warnings already in place. Traffic warnings for the weekend are already going up.

    • Jonathan 14:42 on 2019-07-18 Permalink

      Technically there is no heatwave coming. Just warm weather. I’m quite glad I’ve converted most of all the hard surfaces around my house into garden and vegetation. Makes a huge difference from last year. Now I’d only they planted more vegetation in the streets….

  • Kate 19:04 on 2019-07-17 Permalink | Reply  

    A man who was apparently living in Mount Royal park two years ago has been found guilty of stabbing a man who was strolling around the park with his son, although for some reason the charge of attempted murder was dropped. He’ll be sentenced later.

    • david100 19:05 on 2019-07-17 Permalink

      Probably dropped because they determined that they couldn’t prove he had the requisite intent.

  • Kate 18:14 on 2019-07-17 Permalink | Reply  

    The façade of a building under renovation was looking so shaky Wednesday afternoon that the corner of St-Denis and Bélanger was closed off. People are currently working to shore it up.

    Aaaand just when you might want to peek in on the corner on the city’s traffic webcam, it’s down.

    • ant6n 19:05 on 2019-07-17 Permalink

      Webcam says image non disponible

    • Kate 19:08 on 2019-07-17 Permalink

      Exactly. They all went offline about a week ago and some haven’t come back up. Somebody at the city told me it was a software issue, not physical problems with the cameras.

    • ant6n 19:35 on 2019-07-17 Permalink

      Oh now I get the confusion. I thought you meant the facade is down, not the webcam.

  • Kate 17:21 on 2019-07-17 Permalink | Reply  

    A truck driver accused of causing the massive blockage on autoroute 13 in 2017 has been cleared of all charges. The story makes it clear the accusation was ill-founded.

    • dwgs 09:53 on 2019-07-18 Permalink

      Everything about that story stinks. The tow truck driver should be charged with mischief and whatever cop put together the mug shot lineup should be reprimanded.

  • Kate 12:14 on 2019-07-17 Permalink | Reply  

    Police have busted a trio robbing mailboxes in upscale neighbourhoods and using the harvested information to steal identities and commit fraud.

    • Michael Black 16:23 on 2019-07-17 Permalink

      In the US at least, just stealing packages becomes viable, though likely a random reward.

      Couriers are being used by Amazon in Montreal at least, and I’ve gotten email with nice photos of the front door, with the package in full view. My thought is “I don’t need proof it was delivered, I need it hidden a bit so it will be there when I am home”.

      Canada Post has a place on their tracking page to tell them to leave a package in an alternative place, but each time I’ve told them “side door” they just left a note to get it at the Post Office.

      A few years ago, the postman did better. Sometimes under the mat, where it’s less obvious. At least behind the snow shovel in the winter, when it is on the front step. Ne time they did leave a package at the side door, I didn’t realize it until months later.


    • Kate 19:00 on 2019-07-17 Permalink

      I’m happy with Canada Post’s Flex delivery service. You pick a convenient post office, register, get an address with some mysterious numbers, and direct parcels there. It suits me because otherwise packages get shunted to a branch which, although not that far from my address on the map, is in an inconvenient and annoying location where I never have other reasons to go.

      Flex doesn’t work if you’re ordering from a business that won’t deliver to P.O. boxes, but otherwise it’s handy. Also, you could have more than one, if you wanted one close to work or whatever – doesn’t have to be close to your home address.

    • david100 19:29 on 2019-07-17 Permalink

      Man, that reminds me of the one winter the mail carrier decided to stop delivering mail to our place and we had to pick up our mail in the middle of nowhere.

      One morning in January, there was a notice that the mail carrier was worried about icicles dropping on him from the balcony above, and we should remedy the danger or we could lose home mail service. We right away began diligently using a broom and knocked the icicles away whenever they’d appear.

      Then, a few weeks later, in late January, we got another note stating that we would no longer receive home delivery because, on multiple occasions, the snow wasn’t cleared – this one was real enough, we just weren’t there enough to keep it clear of snow at the times he’d come. Anyway, the letter explained that we would have to pick up our mail until such time as the carrier felt safe delivering mail to our door.

      The kicker was that they indicated that the mail could be picked up at the sorting facility down near Little Burgundy! Like, to get from the Plateau to there then, it was a metro ride to Atwater or Lucien L’Allier and a long hike in the blistering cold as the wind whipped in offer the fleuve. There was no way to change it online, I couldn’t get them to do it over the phone, nothing. Needless to say, I never once made the trip.

      I’m pretty sure that we’d have gone without mail until the spring except that a neighbor chatted with me one day at Petit Bar, realized that I wasn’t getting mail either, decided it was a mailman scam to avoid work, and started a campaign calling and writing Canada Post. All told, we went without mail delivery for 5 weeks.

      Anyway, the system is a lot better now.

  • Kate 08:03 on 2019-07-17 Permalink | Reply  

    The winter of 2015 was a hard one and the city was thawing water pipes with electric induction. Unfortunately, this caused several fires. Now it’s paying the owners of the buildings for the damage caused, and it’s refined its process for thawing pipes (not needed every winter, thankfully). Striking photo with this story, too.

  • Kate 07:59 on 2019-07-17 Permalink | Reply  

    There was nobody to direct traffic Tuesday at the traffic light on the Camillien-Houde, so the STM detoured the 11 and 711 buses away from the mountain. Since the main purpose of those bus routes is to ferry people to and from Mount Royal park, it seems clear the STM was making a statement.

    • Jonathan 13:25 on 2019-07-17 Permalink

      The only thing that I find clear is that it’s unsafe to drive up the mountain because drivers are not paying attention and the STM is taking passenger safety seriously. I think anything else is speculation.

    • mare 14:45 on 2019-07-17 Permalink

      WTF? So drivers are ignoring the traffic lights so they put a person with a flag there? Why not a cop who tickets everybody? Or a traffic red light camera? This feels like two centuries ago when cars needed a person with a flag in front of them to warn they were coming. Although I must admit I wouldn’t be against THAT on the mountain.

  • Kate 07:42 on 2019-07-17 Permalink | Reply  

    A driver was arrested after knocking down a pedestrian late Tuesday on Berri downtown, then speeding away. There are hints the driver was drunk.

  • Kate 20:30 on 2019-07-16 Permalink | Reply  

    The STM’s three-year dig on Bishop Street to put in a ventilation shaft for the metro is drawing to an end, but now the suffering merchants on the street are facing more construction because a developer is putting in a condo building on top of the site.

  • Kate 19:37 on 2019-07-16 Permalink | Reply  

    Although opposition councillors are calling for Benoit Dorais to be sacked, Mayor Plante has the good sense to know this whole speeding ticket thing will blow over, and she’s sticking up for him. Allison Hanes also writes in Dorais’ defence, although the suburbanite bias of the paper shows in her coda: “Let he or she who has never exceeded 100 km/h on a highway cast the first stone.” Well, I never have, nor have several of my friends who haven’t driven either. But we’ll save the stones for other public figures.

    • Ant6n 10:06 on 2019-07-17 Permalink

      As for stones, remember that Prime Minister that promised electoral reform once a elected, but then after a year or two of commissions and hearings and having whittled the problem to a choice between two candidate electoral systems, decided, for the good of the country, in heavy personal responsibility, that it’s better for Canada if the chances of his own re-election are maximized, and thus scuttled the process and the promise (which is actually still up on the liberal website).

    • Blork 11:20 on 2019-07-17 Permalink

      I’ve mentioned it before, but it bears repeating. Highway 35 (where he was caught going 171) is not a regular highway. It is utterly hill-less, divided, and is ramrod straight for 10km, then does a wide 45-degree turn and runs ramrod straight for another hill-less, divided 8 km.

      I’m just saying this for context. He deserves the fine and the demerit points, and driving at such speeds is dangerous anywhere. But if you ARE going to drive 171, that is the highway where you are least likely to cause a problem.

      The only real risks are (a) if you encounter another vehicle going the same way as you and you pass them going 60 or 70 kph faster (dangerous AF); (b) if a deer or other animal bounds onto the highway causing you to lose control and go across the division and into the oncoming lanes; (c) a tire blowout or other mechanical problem that causes you to lose control and go across the divide and into the oncoming lanes.

      So yes there is risk, but it’s not QUITE the same as barreling along at 171 on highway 132 through Brossard or up the 15 to Saint-Sauveur.

    • Blork 11:21 on 2019-07-17 Permalink

    • Kate 11:22 on 2019-07-17 Permalink

      Indeed, Ant6n. But my fear for October is that by declining to vote Liberal because they are not perfect, we’ll bring in another gloomy Conservative era under Scheer, much like the Americans did by not voting for Hillary because she was flawed, and look what happened there.

      Blork, I did not know we had roads like that in Quebec.

    • ant6n 19:07 on 2019-07-17 Permalink

      @Kate I hope you note the irony in your strategic voting thoughts.

    • Kate 08:05 on 2019-07-18 Permalink

      Explain the irony, ant6n?

    • Chris 09:01 on 2019-07-18 Permalink

      “declining to vote Liberal” what a strange notion. Why should one default to voting for crap just because there is worse crap on offer?

    • ant6n 09:21 on 2019-07-18 Permalink

      For example, say you actually want to vote Green. After electoral reform that wouldn’t be a problem, no vote is wasted! Now Trudeau broke the promise of electoral reform, and in order to avoid a conservative government, we may actually have to strategically vote Liberal, since a vote for green is a wasted vote and strengthens the populists.

      The Liberals are viewed as the lesser evil, and have to be voted for strategically in order to avoid the greater evil – this is a direct result of the Liberals not enacting electoral reform that would obviate the need for strategic voting.

      I for one wouldn’t reward the Liberals for disenfranchising progressives yet again.

    • Kate 09:39 on 2019-07-18 Permalink

      Chris, for the reasons ant6n lays out. Who would you rather for PM, Trudeau or Scheer? Because no other choice has a hope in hell. Fracturing the anti-conservative vote simply gives more power to the Tories.

      Yes, in an ideal world with electoral reform this wouldn’t matter, or not as much, but let’s remember we don’t have it yet so it doesn’t make any sense to vote as if we do.

    • Ian 10:34 on 2019-07-18 Permalink

      TBH I always vote NDP but given the fact that Singh wouldn’t be allowed to hold office in Quebec because of his religious practise, I’m pretty sure the NDP vote will be the lowest in QC that it has been in decades, pretty much guaranteeing a majority government for the Liberals or Conservatives based o riding distribution and the Liberals cancelling vote reform. While I dislike and distrust Trudeau and his disingenuous campaign-left-govern-right tactics, the spectre of Scheer running Canada for 5 days let alone an entire term is enough to make me choke back the bile that rises in my throat over the insincere cynicism of strategic voting, and vote for Trudeau. Frankly I think I’d be an idiot not to, especially since a majority government is almost certain.

      But back to Hanes’ apologia for Dorais, there’s a BIG difference between going with the flow of traffic at 110-130 like most people do on a 100kmh highway depending on weather and road conditions, and doing 170. I don’t care how good your vehicle or how straight the road is, that’s just dangerously cocky. I was in an accident with a friend who was so certain of her driving skill she thought it was no big deal to go 140 on a straight stretch just outside Ottawa, then we hit black ice, bounced back and forth across the highway a few times, and came to rest facing the wrong way in the fast lane. Thankfully she reversed onto the shoulder quickly & got the 4-ways on before anyone plowed into us. The only damage was to the car, and nobody got hurt. That’s at 140. At 170 you’d be lucky not to flip over the median and go airborne, quite likely seriously injuring yourself, your passengers, and any other drivers with the misfortune of being anywhere near your stupid self. 170 km/h is about 47 metres a second, or a bit over 200 metres stopping distance. Think about that.

    • thomas 11:39 on 2019-07-18 Permalink

      Isn’t the problem with electoral reform that no one can agree on what should replace it? The Liberals proposed a ranked ballot which was rejected by the NDP and Conservatives as this would be too favourable to the Liberals. The NDP propose proportional rep. which was rejected by the Liberals and the Conservatives and the Conservatives prefer the present system. Further the consensus seems to be the electoral reform cannot happen without a referendum, but such a referendum is likely to fail. See the experience in B.C.

    • Ian 12:03 on 2019-07-18 Permalink

      So if nobody can agree, we choose nothing? That’s not what government does.
      We got the GST and NAFTA without a referendum – granted, from the Conservatives – but all the Liberal governments that came after didn’t repeal them, including Chretien who had scrapping the GST as one of his electoral platforms, and if you recall he later claimed that he actually said he would “scrape” the GST. This is a classic Liberal move.

      If one of your core campaign platforms is electoral reform you sure as hell had better come through or expect to have your feet held to the fire over it. The ONLY reason the Liberals decided not to go through with it is that they had such a powerful majority against what looked like a very weak Conservative leadership campaign they figured it was worth the gamble to maintain the status quo for another electoral cycle, which has come back to haunt them.

    • thomas 12:21 on 2019-07-18 Permalink

      During the election campaign Trudeau clearly expressed a preference for a ranked ballot system. So if the Liberals implemented a ranked ballot system as electoral reform, which would be very much to their advantage, you would be satisfied?

    • ant6n 13:10 on 2019-07-18 Permalink

      The issue isn’t lack of consensus, it’s that politicians are deciding policy based on what’s best for them personally rather than best for the country (Liberals support instant run off voting, Conservatives support FPTP, both systems objectively fail in fair representation). Trudeau may have had a personal preference, but it’s pretty cynical that he shut down the promised _process_ once the outcome wasn’t going to be to his personal advantage.

      Actually, let me rephrase that — the problem really is that people accept that politicians decide policy based on what’s best for them personally. There’s a shitload of cynicism all around, and getting fucked over again and again is somehow normal to people here. Even further, every time it’s pointed out, a bunch of people come up and say stuff like “Oh come on Ant6n, it’s just naive to think that politicians should keep their promise, of course they’re selfish.” There’s so many apologists for the corruption and deepening rot of our democracy and institutions, I have no idea how Canada (and Quebec) are ever going to drag itself out of that muck (I guess as long as it’s not as bad as in the US, people will just sit and slowly boil).

      So yeah, I can’t really get myself worked up about a politician’s speeding ticket, as irresponsible as it may be on a personal level.

    • thomas 16:33 on 2019-07-18 Permalink

      So when the NDP or Green argue for proportional representation they are also guilty of promoting policy that is biased to own personal interest?

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