Updates from January, 2020 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Kate 21:46 on 2020-01-15 Permalink | Reply  

    We’ve had a smog warning since Wednesday morning, and it’s still in place on the Environment Canada page as I post.

    • Ian 22:04 on 2020-01-15 Permalink

      Golly it’s almost as if getting rid of fireplaces wasn’t the solution after all and maybe idling heavy trucks should actually have been regulated in a meaningful way.

    • Chris 23:19 on 2020-01-15 Permalink

      Uh: perhaps getting rid of fireplaces was necessary but insufficient. I don’t recall anyone saying getting rid of fireplaces alone would be a magic bullet.

    • Ian 02:32 on 2020-01-16 Permalink

      Not true, it was suggested the majority of winter pollution was fireplaces. I know it doesn’t seem realistic, but here we are with no fireplaces allowed in most boroughs but still the same amount of smog.

    • John B 09:07 on 2020-01-16 Permalink

      I, too, remember numbers like “85% of the Montreal’s winter smog is caused by wood-burning stoves” being trotted out, (I don’t remember the exact number but it was well above 50%, maybe even above 90%), and things like “replacing your polluting wood stove with a gas one is good for the environnement!” (while conveniently ignoring that wood is not a fossil fuel, but gas is).

      I guess the real test will be how many of these smog days there are. Is this the first this winter, or do I remember another around Christmas?

    • qatzelok 09:47 on 2020-01-16 Permalink

      The ear-worm line “chestnuts roasting on an open fire” is responsible for how many cases of asthma and premature lung problems?

    • nau 10:09 on 2020-01-16 Permalink

      Walking in my neighbourhhood makes it clear that people are still using wood fireplaces, though the overall campfire smell is weaker than it used to be. Not to say, that there’s anything wrong with regulating heavy trucks or other diesel vehicles, of course. And yes, there was definitely at least one smog day already.

    • Ian 10:17 on 2020-01-16 Permalink

      I have the Environment Canada weather app so I get “weather alerts” on my phone. Smog alerts are pretty common for Montreal, we have had at least 3 this winter before this last stretch.

    • Mark 10:40 on 2020-01-16 Permalink

      Saying the fireplace regulations didn’t work because we’ve had a few days of smog is like saying climate change isn’t real because it’s going to be cold this week. You have to look at long term data.

      This site only goes back a few years but is well done (scroll to the bottom to see historical data).


      I am not saying there is a clear pattern here yet, but the new regulations came into place in Oct 2018. The weather has a big impact on air quality in the winter as temperature inversions trap pollutants, but over a period of 10 years, patterns will emerge.

      Lastly, since we do add 50,000 cars to the region every year, it would be interesting to see how much higher these levels would be had there not been increased regulations. There will always be smog in Montreal in the winter, the question is, how often and how bad is it going to be, and what can we do about it.

    • Chris 10:45 on 2020-01-16 Permalink

      Ian, that’s not what I meant by ‘magic bullet’. There’s no contradiction in wood burning being a major contributor yet not being a magic solution on it’s own. A multi-pronged attack is needed.

      Ian & John, instead of frail human memories, how about some citations?

      ““Wood burning is one of the main causes of wintertime smog,” the city stated. According to officials, it causes about 39 per cent of fine particle emissions, coming second only to transportation, at 45 per cent.”


      To solve this smog problem we need to attack both wood burning and transportation, and whatever #3 and #4 are. They aren’t mutually exclusive.

    • Ian 14:22 on 2020-01-16 Permalink

      Whatever, Chris, I’ll concede the point but still that should mean we have 39% fewer smog days, that’s nearly half… and that’s not happening, we still get lots of smog days. Go play captain google on someone else’s dime, this is simple reasoning here. If the city says no more fireplaces but does nothing about idling despite existing laws on the books, you can easily deduce that they are shooting for easy targets because it’s all about optics and blameshifting in city politics, not solving problems.

    • John B 15:13 on 2020-01-16 Permalink

      > you can easily deduce that they are shooting for easy targets because it’s all about optics and blameshifting in city politics, not solving problems.

      So this. The CBC has been running pieces recently on climate change recently, and this one has this bit:

      “Since making real economic changes is politically difficult, politicians prefer ineffective window-dressing that does little except making voters think they are taking action.

      “These might include funding for electric vehicle rechargers, a tax-break for wind power, training for electric car technicians, grants for biofuel producers, climate research, adaptation planning, an educational kit for schools … subsidies for home insulation … funding for urban transit feasibility studies…” writes Jaccard in a much longer list.

      While wintertime smog and climate change are different problems, it’s the same thing: go after something easy, like fireplaces, while leaving the other problems alone.

    • nau 17:32 on 2020-01-16 Permalink

      Jaccard is undoubtedly right, but in contrast to the things he listed (re climate change), eliminating wood-burning fireplaces is a meaningful contribution to reducing wintertime smog. Surely you’re not saying they have to start with the politically or practically more difficult measures. Should they attack all sources, well, sure, but since that means targeting not just idling heavy vehicles but in fact the whole motor vehicle fleet, that involves butting heads with the people who are wedded to their cars, and we know how that tends to play out politically, so I won’t hold my breath. In the meantime, at least when we have smog days in winter, the air quality should be better (maybe even up to 39%) thanks to reduced emissions from fireplaces. As for the quality of our politicians, I don’t see that improving until we first have better voters.

    • Kevin 23:53 on 2020-01-16 Permalink

      If you look up other articles from the distant past, you’ll see that politicos were picking and choosing data to blame fireplaces.
      At one point one poorly maintained chimney next to an air quality monitor was responsible for the majority of winter smog days in Montreal.

      Chimneys and pizza ovens are not a major cause of smog. Temperature inversions where we live cause smog.

    • Chris 10:05 on 2020-01-17 Permalink

      >but still that should mean we have 39% fewer smog days, that’s nearly half… and that’s not happening

      Who says it’s not happening? Like Mark said, it’s only been 15 months since the new regulations came into place, there hasn’t been enough time to collect enough data to conclude either way.

    • nau 15:45 on 2020-01-17 Permalink

      Temperature inversions are necessary for winter smog but not sufficient. There also needs to be pollution for the temperature inversion to trap. Burning wood produces such pollution (particulates, NOx, SOx, etc.) and undoubtedly contributes to winter smog. Now, are the figures bandied about accurate? Suppose they’re not. That would mean that more of the winter smog we undeniably have is coming from motor vehicles. Is it because people are so keen for more controls on motor vehicles that they bemoan effort wasted on controls on fireplaces?

      >still that should mean that we have 39% fewer smog days.

      No. It’s not as if specific smog days are caused by single sources. What it should mean (if 39% is correct and if burning wood is completely eliminated as a source) is that the amount of pollutants (or more likely, whatever particular pollutant the 39% figure was based on) should be 39% lower when there are temperature inversions. That could result in no smog days or just as many smog days as before depending on what air quality reading we get at 61% of previous emissions and on where the line is drawn to say when air quality gets this poor, we call it a smog day.

  • Kate 21:45 on 2020-01-15 Permalink | Reply  

    Mayor Plante is championing a campaign to persuade employers to hire more immigrants, since they have a higher unemployment rate than the average in the city.

    • Jim Strankinga 08:08 on 2020-01-16 Permalink

      I know it comes from good intentions, but what about treating all people equally, and just let the employer decide who’s best for the job, no matter who you are or where you come from.

    • Kate 10:03 on 2020-01-16 Permalink

      Because the employer’s decision is seldom made on the pure basis of ability. “Foreign-sounding” names have been proven over and over to work against a potential hire’s chances, even if he or she is just as well qualified as a Joanne Tremblay or a James Smith.

      I heard on CBC news Thursday morning that the Legault government wants to keep people working past 65, with an ideal target of 70 as the retirement age. The problem is not that different. A person over 60 may be perfectly competent to work, but if they lose their job, finding a new one at that age is not easy.

      Since we have a manpower shortage, employers need to be incentivized to hire both older people and immigrants, if they are qualified for the work.

    • Ian 10:27 on 2020-01-16 Permalink

      In my line of work it’s hard to find a new job over 40 unless you go into management, teaching, or become an entrepreneur. NOBODY is going to hire a 50 year old creative – let alone 60.

      There’s a reason whenever you see one of those shiny design offices downtown everyone besides maybe one or two of the founders looks like they are under 30 – it’s because they are.

      The main reason, I am certain, is that a 40, 50, or 60 year old is not going to take as much shit because they know better, won’t work all night because they have kids, and expect to be paid at the very least double what someone fresh out of their undergraduate degree is getting paid based on their experience and accumulated skills.

      How do you incentivize not being cheap?

    • Chris 10:34 on 2020-01-16 Permalink

      This is the classic ‘equality of opportunity’ vs ‘equality of outcome’ argument. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equality_of_outcome#The_concept_in_political_argument

    • Meezly 11:01 on 2020-01-17 Permalink

      Even employers with the best intentions may not realize they’re not as objective as they like to think they are:

  • Kate 21:43 on 2020-01-15 Permalink | Reply  

    The shortage of rental properties is getting worse in Montreal and the vacancy rate is as low as it was in 2004, when it was called a crisis.

    • Kate 20:45 on 2020-01-15 Permalink | Reply  

      A larger than usual pothole has opened in the road at Park and Milton and caused closure of these roads. Doesn’t look big enough to swallow a backhoe like the one we had on Ste-Catherine a few years back.

      Update: No news link, but Plateau borough mayor Luc Rabouin posted to Facebook Friday morning that the hole had been repaired, and thanking the workers.

      • Kate 20:43 on 2020-01-15 Permalink | Reply  

        Jaggi Singh was in court in Quebec City this week to face charges dating from almost three years ago whem he went there to demonstrate against fascist groups, but he met what sounds like chaos in the court as the prosecutor in the case was off on maternity leave, nobody in the court could speak English, and Quebec City’s lawyers are all off on some kind of leave or other. The judge promptly acquitted Singh, who took the bus home to Montreal.

        Singh is quoted as suspecting the prosecutor knew he couldn’t win this one. He had told police his name was Michel Goulet and that he resided in La Colisée, the Nordiques’ old arena.

        Update: Facebook statement from Singh on language and other matters.

        • qatzelok 09:50 on 2020-01-16 Permalink

          “nobody in the court could speak English”
          Singh has been living here a long time to not be able to speak French fluently. Perhaps someone should demonstrate on his West Island lawn.

        • Kate 10:08 on 2020-01-16 Permalink

          qatzi, if you read the pieces, you’ll see that Singh spoke French in court, up until hearing the charges. He wanted to be charged in English, which is his right. I don’t know whether that was a conscious ploy to achieve the result it did, or whether he simply wanted to have that information made unequivocally clear. It was at that moment that the judge had to admit defeat.

          (I speak French, but I admit, in a few areas of life, I like to understand things in English: crucial health issues, and issues to do with money, as at the bank. It’s a weakness but there it is. If I were facing jail time or a big fine, I’d want that in English too.)

          Singh is not a stupid man and has been living in Montreal a long time. Of course he would be able to speak French.

        • Ian 10:09 on 2020-01-16 Permalink

          Under the law Singh is entitled to be charged in English, it’s not cause for doxx party. Nice little jab implying the West Island isn’t “real” Montreal too. Who else don’t you consider “real”?

          You’ve been hiding the reactionary & intolerant ethnonationalist side of yourself in the guise of reactionary & intolerant ecowarrior for a while now, qatzi, it’s been a long time since you got to trot our your anti-anglo bona fides. I was wondering when it would inevitably resurface like a recurrent boil.

        • qatzelok 10:14 on 2020-01-16 Permalink

          The West Island isn’t “real” anything. It’s a fake Hollywood simulation of “country living” that is more alienating than central Paris, and deader than Chlorodorme. And a ring of this fake nothingness surrounds virtually every city in North America. There’s no sense of unique place at all.

        • qatzelok 10:15 on 2020-01-16 Permalink

          The Singh phenomena emerges from this empty space, and gives his work a McProtest feel.

        • Kate 10:20 on 2020-01-16 Permalink

          qatzi, are you specifically aware of Singh’s home address or are you just casting aspersions here for kicks?

          I do not personally know Singh, but I’ve met him and have been aware of his activities for years. I’d be very surprised to learn he lives in a cushy house in Pointe-Claire or Beaconsfield.

        • qatzelok 10:23 on 2020-01-16 Permalink

          With a four-car garage and two large smoke trees.

        • Michael Black 10:40 on 2020-01-16 Permalink

          Wikipedia says Jaggi was born in Toronto, and went to university there, then British Columbia where he attended. UBC.

          So at least the implied “he grew up on the west island” is false.

        • Tim 10:51 on 2020-01-16 Permalink

          The first time I ever heard of Singh was when the police in Vancouver scooped him up gestapo style in advance of Suharto’s visit to Vancouver in 1997. This preceded a brutal crackdown on protesters which then led to the infamous “I like pepper on my steak” comment from Chretien when asked why free speech was being curtailed for a brutal dictator.

        • Kate 13:09 on 2020-01-16 Permalink

          I am reliably informed by someone who knows Jaggi Singh that he lives in a central part of Montreal, not in its suburbs.

        • qatzelok 13:39 on 2020-01-16 Permalink

          “Wikipedia says Jaggi was born in Toronto, and went to university there, then British Columbia where he attended. UBC. So at least the implied “he grew up on the west island” is false.”
          No one said he grew up in the West Island. And all the places you named are full of West Islands anyways.

        • Kate 13:43 on 2020-01-16 Permalink

          qatzi, you’ve made weird arguments here before, but this ranks among the sillier ones. Whatever you’re flapping your keyboard about has nothing to do with Jaggi Singh, so please stop.

        • Faiz Imam 14:40 on 2020-01-16 Permalink

          As someone who considers myself a regular acquaintance of Jaggi, if perhaps not a friend, I have to say he’s easilly among my favorite Montrealers. He’s been a core part of the radical activist community for longer than most, and is quite brilliant at fighting the right fights.

          Kudos on him for beating another BS charge.

        • Flipper 16:56 on 2020-01-16 Permalink

          This acquittal won’t exactly douse water on that longstanding activist rumour of Jaggi being an undercover narc.

        • ricardus 22:03 on 2020-01-16 Permalink

          s. 503 of the Criminal Code permits an accused to choose the official language of the trial. He had every right to do what he did and even if he insisted on going in French, a judge probably would have commanded him to proceed in English. I remember when I had this ticket trial, I speak French, but the judge insisted on having an interpreter for the police testimony.

        • ricardus 22:11 on 2020-01-16 Permalink

          Let me explain why the Crown crash and burn against Mr Singh. They try too hard, they go too far. The Crown in the CBSA case wasted a whole year on this useless exercise based on this idea that perhaps this is not Mr Singh at all but is a master criminal in disguise. As a result, four charges were stayed in a Jordan application. Here, the Crown wasted a lot of time hiding information from the Court and from Mr Singh and went on this aggressive attack against the trial judge in wasting another year with another useless set of extraordinary remedies. The prosecutor was reduced to tears when Judge Biche of the Court of Appeal said that it was false that Judge Grenier described the trial judge as “ignorant” and “incompetent” as claimed by that prosecutor (Judge Grenier by the way mocked the Goulet charge as “perhaps not the best-founded charge in the history of Canada). The trial judge on Wednesday knew that there was no way that either he nor an appeal court would not find that the delays were unreasonable which is why he forced the Crown to proceed here. It was end it here or end it in a later Jordan.

        • ricardus 22:19 on 2020-01-16 Permalink

          Mr Singh does not live in the west island.

        • ricardus 22:26 on 2020-01-16 Permalink

          I wonder though if Judge Bordeleau decided to read up on what the Crown said about him during the extraordinary remedy saga… they insulted him mercilessly and made all sorts of false accusations against him. Their arguments against him were all nonsense. They also … told the Court of Appeal that if they reverse the decision as to the disclosure order, they would be forced to drop the charges as the order was impossible to fulful. After the appeal was granted and the case restored to Judge Bordeleau, the Crown asked Bordeleau for another 30 days to execute the order which they did. Talk about your crying wolf.

      • Kate 08:42 on 2020-01-15 Permalink | Reply  

        A stonecutter from France, who’s been working here for some time, is interviewed in Metro. His is the kind of skill that’s largely been lost over the last century, but which is needed if you’re going to do coherent restorations of older buildings.

        • Simon 17:39 on 2020-01-15 Permalink

          For those interested in a bit of history on the subject, a documentary by NFB’s Bernard Gosselin on stonecutters (including some from France!) part of his series on worksmanship.


        • mare 23:01 on 2020-01-15 Permalink

          Merci @Simon, that was very interesting.

        • Kate 10:13 on 2020-01-16 Permalink

          Yes, thank you, Simon.

        • dwgs 10:35 on 2020-01-16 Permalink

          Great film but speaking as someone who makes a living with power tools I can’t get over the lack of safety glasses, face shields, and especially dust masks on those sites. Wow.

      • Kate 08:34 on 2020-01-15 Permalink | Reply  

        Three years ago, Quebec passed a law requiring a French descriptor on all commercial signs, but La Presse easily found lots of signs that still don’t explain that Yellow is a magasin de chaussures and Subway is a sandwicherie. But city bylaws about signage are not making it easy (or affordable for small stores) to make these changes.

        • Ian 17:40 on 2020-01-15 Permalink

          It doesn’t say Librairie on Renaud-Bray stores either. https://duckduckgo.com/?q=renaud+bray&t=ffnt&ia=images&iax=images

          Or does this kerfuffle only apply to perceived Anglo-run businesses?

        • Joey 09:39 on 2020-01-16 Permalink

          Ian, the story kicker explains that stores named after people are exempt from these regulations (as are acronyms and words that nonsense words):

          Exemples d’exclusions

          • Les patronymes : Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, McDonald’s, Reitmans, Simons, Zara, Sephora, Brown’s, Tim Hortons

        • Ian 10:11 on 2020-01-16 Permalink

          Uh huh. Réno-Dépôt doesn’t say “quincallerie on the sign” either. https://duckduckgo.com/?q=reno-depot&t=ffnt&iax=images&ia=images

        • Kate 10:14 on 2020-01-16 Permalink

          You mean Réno-Dépôt the bookstore, Ian?

        • Ian 10:31 on 2020-01-16 Permalink

          Oh, I couldn’t possibly know what kind of business they are – it doesn’t say 😉

        • jeather 14:38 on 2020-01-16 Permalink

          They mention Marshalls (named after the founder), so who knows how they decide. There’s a store Bois & Cuir I see around, no explanation of what it sells. I wonder what all the stores mentioned have in common.

      • Kate 08:27 on 2020-01-15 Permalink | Reply  

        Pet stores around town are ignoring the recent bylaw that says they’re not allowed to sell animals from breeders. They seem to be waiting for a court challenge to settle the matter, meanwhile no inspectors have been on that beat.

        • Ian 14:25 on 2020-01-16 Permalink

          Classic. No point making new laws when nobody will enforce them… except political optics of course.

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