Updates from December, 2019 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Kate 23:41 on 2019-12-08 Permalink | Reply  

    Some Irish-Montrealers gathered on Sunday to hold a silence for the recently unearthed remains at the Black Rock.

    • Kate 23:26 on 2019-12-08 Permalink | Reply  

      After a fire was put out in a Pointe Claire industrial building Sunday afternoon, the body of an employee was found, although it was unclear what he was doing there outside working hours.

      • Kate 11:42 on 2019-12-08 Permalink | Reply  

        La Presse sent photographer Alain Roberge out to collect some of the gargoyles of Montreal.

        Technically, these guys are not gargoyles, which are water spouts, but grotesques. The second to last looks like it might have been designed to be a water spout but I don’t see any sign it functions as one. However. Nice pics.

        My favourite grotesques are on a building on St-Jacques just east of Place d’Armes. I photographed one of them a long time ago on film:

        • Kate 11:09 on 2019-12-08 Permalink | Reply  

          The Journal trumpets here that shoppers are deserting Ste-Catherine Street for holiday shopping, so when I was walking around there on Friday evening I suppose I was hallucinating for blocks – the crowded sidewalks, the busy stores, the lights, the music, the whole scenario? But this kind of jeremiad can be self-perpetuating. Luckily, La Catherine rises above it still.

          • Bartek Komorowski 12:38 on 2019-12-08 Permalink

            They should really rename the paper Le Journal Anti-Montréal.

          • Robert H 14:49 on 2019-12-09 Permalink

            “Sur la Rive-Nord de Montréal, en revanche, les stationnements débordent. Certains s’installent même sur les terre-pleins. D’après des clients interrogés sur place, la cohue des stationnements est préférable au centre-ville de Montréal.”

            Go to some suburban strip mall parking lot, interview a passer-by about why they don’t shop in Centreville, and what do you expect them to say? This is Le Journal D’Anti-Montréal throwing some red meat to its anti-Plante, anti-urban, nativiste readership. The comments after the article say it all: complaints about parking, claims about never going into the city anymore, the city is dying because of its ridiculous administration, Centreville is too multi-ethnic and has lost its Québécois identity, Montréal est un TROU-blah, blah, blah.
            The truth is Sainte Catherine street despite its faults is the sort of place that most North American cities are employing urban planners, economists, and designers to recreate in their downtowns. The number of such streets on this continent can be counted on both hands. Suburban areas realize the value and do their best to build a facsimile (Dix30 for example) from nothing. The enduring vitality through ups and downs of La Cat is an encouraging sign of Montreal’s own enduring spirit.

          • CE 15:16 on 2019-12-09 Permalink

            It would be interesting to do the opposite. Interview random people shopping downtown and ask them why they’re not shopping in a suburban mall.

          • Blork 18:34 on 2019-12-09 Permalink

            I really hate this kind of shallow reporting and the shallow commentary that generally follows.

            First of all, WHO shops downtown and WHO shops in the suburbs? If someone lives in Pierrefonds or Point-Claire it’s only natural that they’ll shop in malls in those areas. Similarly, people in Laval will shop in Laval malls and people in Brossard or Longueuil will shop in south shore malls. This is normal and not worth further discussion.

            The real question is who do we expect to be shopping downtown? I’m thinking people who live in Ville-Marie, some people from the sud-ouest (the ones closer to downtown), plus people from the Plateau, Mile-end, Petite-Patrie, etc. Those people don’t have many malls nearby and getting to and from downtown is not difficult by public transit.

            The grey areas are places like NDG, Côte-Saint-Luc, and HOMA. For them, getting downtown without a car is a bit more difficult. If they have a car, then their choice is to go downtown and fight terrible road conditions, cones, detours, and parking shortages, or go the same distance (or less) in the opposite direction to a suburban mall. Given that 90% of the stores are identical, and given that in mall shopping in winter can be more appealing than street shopping, it’s no surprise that many of those people go to the malls. Again, this is pretty normal, and doesn’t indicate much of a shift in the way things have been for 40 years or more.

            OK, two things have changed: to some extent the suburban malls have gotten “better” in terms of quality of the stores and quality of the overall experience (food courts are better, the environments overall are nicer), and in the past five or so years the drive downtown — for those who choose to drive — has gotten really really bad. There’s no point in arguing that. The amount of construction and disruption is insane. Someday it will all be fixed, but right now it’s almost unbearable.

            But it’s not like cars were invented last week. People have been driving to malls for decades. One of the things that kept Ste-Catherine street alive since the 1980s is the extent to which it simulates suburban malls with places like the Eaton Center, Place Montreal Trust, etc. But if you remove driving access and parking, then that aspect of Ste-Catherine street will suffer. Remember: public transit for downtown shopping is only really an option for people who live close to downtown and who live close to good transit lines.

            (None of this should be seen as me arguing “pro car;” I’m just analyzing the situation as objectively as I can.)

            What it boils down to is this: people avoid pain. For people who live in those “gray areas” mentioned above, shopping downtown is more painful than shopping in suburban malls. You can lecture them all day that they should take the bus or whatever, but you’re just shouting at clouds. Imagine two parents and two kids living in the western end of NDG who need to get some shopping done on a Saturday. They can pay $25-$30 to take a bus to downtown and back, which will involve a lot of standing around waiting, and will probably take 45 minutes each way, the return trip complicated by carrying a bunch of heavy packages, or they can drive to Carrefour Angrignon in about 12 minutes, where there is free parking. Extrapolate that to the various other grey areas and you get the same thing. It’s great to de-throne the car and to promote public transit and all that, and it will definitely benefit some people, but the more you do that, the bigger your grey areas become and the more people living in those grey areas will choose to go elsewhere. And that too is pretty normal.

          • Robert H 23:50 on 2019-12-09 Permalink

            I don’t dispute your thorough analysis, Blork. Of course, it’s not news that somebody in Brossard or Laval doesn’t go shopping in Centreville. If I lived in either of those suburbs I wouldn’t bother too, even if the traffic were light and the roads unobstructed and smooth as butter. But the editors at Le Journal were well aware that such “reportage” would be welcomed by many readers, especially off-island ones who suffer maddening commutes, are furious about parking restrictions or prices, and municipal policies that reduce the convenience of driving. Gloom and doom tales of miserable Montreal in decline used to be more of a staple in out of town english media, but they can also be found in the french media as well. As Kate suggested, such stories can influence perception unfavorably. However, Sainte Catherine street benefits from the critical mass of people living in Centreville or adjacent to it, combined with employers, major institutions and landmark attractions for residents and tourists. The on-going residential boom of the last five to seven years contributes to that factor. It strengthens the city’s constituency. so its vitality and economy become less reliant on suburbanites coming into town. I realize that condominium towers rising like mushrooms are no substitute for a genuine vie de quartier (remember comments here about Griffintown), but I’ll be optimistic and hope that perhaps this will follow as more people move in and become established.

        • Kate 10:39 on 2019-12-08 Permalink | Reply  

          The Centre d’histoire shows a view down Frontenac in 1970 compared to today. At first a rather bland photo, it reveals some interesting details of the era: the Canadian Car bus, a model that formed most of the STM’s fleet for years; the gasometer looming on the left – its red-and-white checked top shows up in the background of panoramas of Expo 67; and of course the Steinberg logo framed in the centre.

          The Gazette also has some views this week: the 1939 view from the Mount Royal lookout, and a view on Ste-Catherine in 1955.

          Which reminds me, the Gazette says that calèches have “long been fixtures on Mount Royal” but I don’t think I’ve seen them there for some time. Am I mistaken? The only horses I’ve seen up there for ages have been police horses.

        • Kate 09:50 on 2019-12-08 Permalink | Reply  

          Apropos a sort of low-key ongoing grumbly debate about densification in comments here, some Montreal West people are fighting plans to demolish a single house with a “very large footprint”, subdivide the lot and put 3 houses up. Three houses! Words like horrified, outraged and appalling are thrown around here.

          • Jack 10:19 on 2019-12-08 Permalink

            “My immediate reaction was to be horrified and outraged with the idea that they would demolish a lovely home, and then when I found out the intention was to subdivide the large, treed lot into three and build three new homes, that was even more appalling,” said Margaret Griffin….apocalypse Montreal West.

          • Kate 11:49 on 2019-12-08 Permalink

            Jack, is this all about property values on adjoining lots?

          • Blork 16:46 on 2019-12-08 Permalink

            Well let’s see. On the one hand you have a charming 100-year-old house of a style not all that common in Montreal (craftsman) sitting on a lot that is described as large but really isn’t all that big (see overhead view here: https://goo.gl/maps/19DEUnHdBeSMPyqo6) in a neighbourhood filled with charming older houses in a borough that is known for its greenery and open spaces. On the other hand you will have three cookie-cutter houses crammed cheek-by-jowl onto a lot where they barely fit, contributing to the overall blanding and IKEAification of the neighbourhood, but oh, densification.

            I’d be against it too.

            (For those who want the demo to happen in the name of densification, I assume you are also champions of the demolition of the Van Horne Mansion, and I assume you’re sad that they re-built the Lafontaine house on Overdale when they could have squeezed in another Airbnb tower on that spot…)

          • Faiz imam 17:01 on 2019-12-08 Permalink

            “On the other hand you will have three cookie-cutter houses crammed cheek-by-jowl onto a lot where they barely fit, ”

            See, this here is the problem.

            There are absolutely architectural styles that would fit 3 units perfectly well in that space, but the fear that they will be “crammed” is what is scaring people unnecessarily. There are in fact many types of triplexes where you’d be hardpressed to notice that its not a “regular” house.

            We have to allow that sort of creative reuse to occur, and to densify very low density suburbs in ways that are healthy and fit the surrounding environment.

          • Blork 17:17 on 2019-12-08 Permalink

            There’s something to be said about preserving the look and aesthetics of existing neighbourhoods. It would be one thing if this were a vacant lot, or if the house in question was a junkpile that no one would miss. But that’s not the case here. It’s a nice looking house on a corner lot. Possibly one of the oldest houses in the neighbourhood. Maybe the existing house could be split into a duplex instead of tearing it down.

            I think of the horrors that took place in the 1960s and 70s when older buildings were knocked down willy-nilly to be replaced by ugly (often brutalist) monstrosities, because nobody cared about heritage then; people were only concerned with progress! and the future!

            We now look back on those times with horror, and wonder “WTF were they thinking?” Well now I see the same thing happening, but now the catch-word is “densification!”

            (And FWIW, I’m not against densification; I’m in favor of it. But it’s not a panacea; there are places were that’s the right approach and places where it’s not.)

          • Blork 17:22 on 2019-12-08 Permalink

            And FWIW, I doubt this place is a junk pile. Streetview from less than six months ago shows it for sale by Sotheby’s; hardly the realator for the tear-down set.

          • Blork 17:28 on 2019-12-08 Permalink

            Listed at $1,149,000.; a gorgeous craftsman house. It is insane that anyone wants to tear this down.


          • Kate 18:48 on 2019-12-08 Permalink

            To be fair, Blork, it’s not a given that the house would be replaced by something ugly or even cookie-cutter. And as you say, there’s not really room for three McMansions on that lot.

            I mostly found the vocabulary a little extreme.

            (Hate the interior decor in the Sotheby’s ad – that heavy swaggy faux-retro look is prevalent, but awful. At least there isn’t a pseudo-Victorian breakfast bar.)

          • CE 19:49 on 2019-12-08 Permalink

            I’m generally not in favour of tearing down historic houses but this one I wouldn’t shed any tears over. The lot is a great corner lot that could accommodate more people. There isn’t much room left on the island to build on and this house seems to be hogging a lot of space. If you look around the immediate area in the neighbourhood, you can see quite a few examples of lots the same size that comfortably fit three or more houses.

            Also, I don’t think there is much architectural value here. Sure, it’s not a common style in Montreal but there are literally hundreds of thousands of houses like this around Canada and the US (many of which are much nicer than this one). Also, if you look carefully, this house is in rough shape and would need a fair bit of work to make it nice enough for someone willing to pay $12,320 just in property tax every year.

            I say tear it down.

          • Blork 20:08 on 2019-12-08 Permalink

            I’m not crazy about the decor either, but the design, as an example of early 20th Century Craftsman, is outstanding. The overall space, the window casings and placement, the ceilings, some original cabinetry in the kitchen, other original woodwork throughout the house, etc. If this house were in the American mid-west or California, people would be falling over each other to preserve it. (I’ve made a bit of a study of this style over the past few years, visiting a number of historic examples and doing a lot of reading about it — although I don’t claim to be an expert — and this is a really nice example.)

            And what kind of economics has one buying a million dollar house as a tear down? (Outside of Toronto or Vancouver I mean.) When you factor in the demo costs, that’s around $400,000 per unit just for the property. Then you plunk down a few $300,000 Bonneville houses and sell them for what, $900,000 each? Is that the solution to Montreal’s alleged density problem?

            @CE, there is plenty of room on the island for new development, and any development in those areas should be done with density as a top priority. But if you ask me, tear-downs and their redevelopment needs to be done with respect for the surrounding environment. Reference my notes above about the horrors of so-called “progress!” building in the 1960s. Just because you don’t like the Craftsman style, and probably don’t give AF what the people in the neighbourhood think, that doesn’t mean tearing it down is the right thing to do.

          • mare 22:46 on 2019-12-08 Permalink

            I know in Ottawa there were (are) a lot of tear downs because of grow houses. It apparently is a bylaw that if your house is used for growing canabis, even by tennants, it has to be demolished. I don’t think we have a bylaw like that here. Anyway, there were a few near my father-in-law’s house and it made for some pretty nice empty lots that unfortunately now are all occupied by macmansions with three car garages. But it could have been multiplexes, they are allowed by the zoning laws, my father-in-law planned converting his house into one to generate a revenu income for his much younger wife.

          • Douglas 23:40 on 2019-12-08 Permalink

            Didn’t know the Van Horne Sherbrooke mansion was literally sitting on Easton avenue, a road nobody in Montreal had even heard of.

            Should never allow Montrealers to ever tear down any old building. Should allow these old buildings to rot forever. New development and new housing is a plague and horror we will never recover from.

          • Blork 09:21 on 2019-12-09 Permalink

            Future internet historians will cite Douglas’s reply as an example of a pointless comment by someone who either hasn’t read the discussion or is incapable of understanding it.

          • walkerp 10:28 on 2019-12-09 Permalink

            I’m fully with Blork on this one. There is also an environmental aspect which is that most likely the materials will simply be demolished and taken to the trash, where the wood will be burned (releasing carbon) and the rest sit in a landfill. And whatever replaces it will be built as cheaply as possible, will look like shit and will probably last about one-fifth as long as the existing house. Finally, the new place will fill as much land as possible with housing and garages, thus further increasing the heat footprint.

            And frankly, that house is gorgeous. Look at that wainscotting. You can subdivide the place without tearing it down (but that would impact the bottom line).

          • Filp 14:41 on 2019-12-09 Permalink

            I really think the comparison between this and progress building of the 60’s is extremely exaggerated. The 60’s would have razed the whole neighborhood and built a horrific towers in the park development that would eventually become the vertical poverty traps of tomorrow. This little house being being built into 3 little houses is really not the kind of densification that destroys the character of the neighborhood. Also what year does a house have to be for heritage Montreal to make a statement on the issue? I doubt this one qualifies as significant in a historical or architecture sort of way, but I suppose anything is historically significant if it reflects the style of the time.

            The assumption that whatever comes now being built cheaply is exactly that – an assumption. And that sort of rhetoric is used by neighborhood associations to scare the shit out of, and mobilize citizens to prevent development. This happens all over north america. You can have densification while respecting the local architecture and neighborhood character. It’s obviously harder here since this isn’t exactly the plateau levels of density, but you really have to see the architecture before making judgements like that. Because if we judge that all new houses and shite quality and an eyesore, where am I supposed to live when I have to buy one? Blainville? Id obviously love to be able to buy a Nice stone clad plex in Villeray, but who knows how much those are going to go for

          • Blork 16:31 on 2019-12-09 Permalink

            Do not lose sight of the fact that this is entirely developer-driven. It is not being done for the good of the community or because of some utopian density ideals. It’s being done to turn a buck. So when you start with a million dollar house as a tear-down, then you’re already into some big bucks. The profit has to come from somewhere, so these will either be very expensive mini-mini-McMansions, or somewhat expensive cookie-cutter houses. Those are not unreasonable assumptions.

            “Because if we judge that all new houses and shite quality and an eyesore…” I’m not doing that. I’m saying THESE new houses will likely be middle-of-the-road quality and forgettable to look at, and it’s a shame that the developers want to tear down a perfectly good and somewhat historically interesting MILLION DOLLAR HOUSE to do that.

          • Miko 03:51 on 2019-12-10 Permalink

            the existing house is in a very bad shape, and doesn’t even fit withing the houses in the same street. and the lot is 15500 square foot. this will make three large lots over 5000 sf each, which bigger than the majority of the lots in Montreal West. An old charm designed house designed by a good architect will make three beautiful new houses.

          • Lora 23:18 on 2019-12-10 Permalink

            That particular section of Montreal West is unique in its variety of older homes of assorted styles and lots of beautiful trees. The house in question is a heritage house. The large expanse of land has some very old trees that would have to be cut down to make room for three new houses. The new houses, even if well designed, would not fit in with the rest of the houses on the street or the area. This is a question of respect, of preservation of the past. And would the demolition set a precedent to demolish others and do the same?

            The charm of this neighborhood is the airiness, the space, something to be cherished. It’s a shame to add to visual clutter. All we see today are developers making use of every inch of space for maximum profit at the expense of character and appreciation of the past.

        • Kate 09:40 on 2019-12-08 Permalink | Reply  

          Montreal currently has 968 km of bike paths and city hall wants to double that number. The lede reminds us this plan was hatched under Denis Coderre.

          • Kate 09:38 on 2019-12-08 Permalink | Reply  

            A business in Pierrefonds-Roxboro was firebombed overnight. TVA gets a photo of the pizza place CTV leaves unnamed (and illustrates with a photo of a fire truck from Nuns’ Island).

            • EmilyG 10:55 on 2019-12-08 Permalink

              Nooooo! Gino was one of my favourite pizza places. 🙁

          • Kate 09:34 on 2019-12-08 Permalink | Reply  

            The STM says the notion that the metro is always down is untrue and that service has been more reliable this year than over the last seven.

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