Updates from January, 2020 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Kate 20:23 on 2020-01-24 Permalink | Reply  

    Lassonde has ended its 17-year sponsorship of the Montreal marathon. Various dissatisfactions are aired, but the key reason seems to be that poor organization led to the death of a runner last September when medical help took too long to show up.

    • Kate 19:25 on 2020-01-24 Permalink | Reply  

      CDN-NDG mayor Sue Montgomery has been kicked out of Projet Montréal over accusations she refused to fire a member of staff accused of psychological harassment.

      It’s an odd story and I’m sure we’re not getting all of it, because the accusations are apparently based on a report from the city’s comptroller-general that neither Montgomery nor Mayor Plante has seen. Montgomery is standing on a principle that she would not fire someone on the comptroller’s orders when she hasn’t seen the evidence herself.

      Update, more or less: The story is fogging up with a miasma of unverifiable detail.

      • Chris 23:07 on 2020-01-24 Permalink

        Odd story indeed. I wonder if this will end up being one of those “believe the accuser/victim!” things that, in the end, you shouldn’t have.

      • Ian 10:32 on 2020-01-25 Permalink

        It’s the comptroller’s decision, not Montgomery’s – I would imagine disclosing details to someone that doesn’t have authorization could be a violation of the complainant’s privacy, no?

      • Kate 12:13 on 2020-01-25 Permalink

        Ian, that may be so, but if the storyline is correct, Montgomery was told to fire the person. It’s not clear whether she was aware that part of her job might involve being required to do such things without being informed about the reason. If nothing like that had happened before, I can see why she might balk at it.

        Maybe in politics it’s to be expected to hear “You’re fired, but I can’t tell you why, and nobody can”?

      • Ian 12:38 on 2020-01-25 Permalink

        It’s not unusual that the person who makes the decision in these matters is not the one to enact them. The comptroller is the judge, not the person who does the hiring and firing. It’s important to keep those roles separated to maintain neutrality.

    • Kate 13:52 on 2020-01-24 Permalink | Reply  

      Doing this blog it’s easy to feel that we’re the only city that’s
      1. facing a shortage of housing affordable to working people
      2. failing to deal with its output of trash, and
      3. coping with too many vehicles on its roads

      But I read a lot, including many sources not connected with Montreal, and every western city is at grips with versions of these same problems.

      Profit and the free market were supposed to fix everything, but it’s becoming clearer every day that they are not fixing any of these, because there’s basically no profit in it. But they have to be fixed. We have a mayor capable of seeing this, but the levels of government above the city aren’t interested, beyond issuing the occasional empty promise.

      I have no raging insights here. Only it’s odd at times to live in a place where we’re mostly agreed it’s bad to profit from the misfortune of illness, but we can’t apply the idea to anything else.

      • Douglas 17:33 on 2020-01-24 Permalink

        Housing is becoming unaffordable everywhere. In every country. LA, Toronto, Manhattan, Tokyo, Europe. Everywhere people want to live, there simply isn’t enough supply matching all the demand.

        Construction costs have gone up a lot. Development costs go up, land prices have skyrocketed. The only profit is to build expensive condos / rentals.

        Was reading an article the other day saying we need to overnight add 5000+ housing right now in the city so that there is a rebalancing in supply / demand.

        The capitalist side of me thinks we need to allow more vertical construction basically everywhere. But I’m not sure how much a solution this is.

      • Kevin 20:46 on 2020-01-24 Permalink

        The three problems you list are all symptoms of the same thing.

        But no one agency can fix it because we have the silliest mess of organizations, each running their little patch of overlapping jurisdictions.

        But who said profit and the free market were supposed to fix everything? They’re suited for some tasks, but definitely not suited for others.

      • Brett 22:29 on 2020-01-24 Permalink

        From https://www.wsj.com/articles/what-housing-crisis-in-japan-home-prices-stay-flat-11554210002

        “In the past two decades, home prices in some leading North American and European cities have skyrocketed. In Tokyo, however, they’ve flatlined.

        So why no affordable-housing crisis in Japan? A big factor, experts say, is the country’s relatively deregulated housing policies, which have allowed housing supply to keep up with demand in the 21st century.”

      • Raymond Lutz 22:46 on 2020-01-24 Permalink

        Eh! thanks for submitting a paywalled article as source… Sure enough, flat home prices don’t have ANY links with the Japanese “Lost 20 Years” . Oh and THIS:

        “Unlike in other countries, Japanese homes gradually depreciate over time, becoming completely valueless within 20 or 30 years. When someone moves out of a home or dies, the house, unlike the land it sits on, has no resale value and is typically demolished. This scrap-and-build approach is a quirk of the Japanese housing market that can be explained variously by low-quality construction to quickly meet demand after the second world war, repeated building code revisions to improve earthquake resilience and a cycle of poor maintenance due to the lack of any incentive to make homes marketable for resale.” And you can read the whole article for free!

        Regulation = bad; free markets = good. Yada Yada Yada…

      • Kate 09:58 on 2020-01-25 Permalink

        Merci Raymond Lutz!!

      • david100 15:14 on 2020-01-25 Permalink

        That Guardian article, as usual, sells a partial account as the whole story.

        Here’s what’s really going on. Prices in Tokyo are rising just like elsewhere. Labor and materials costs are sky high in across the globe because of booming housing markets in dozens of cities. The housing markets are booming because of massive migration from inland to major economic centers – including a huge volume of transnational migration – and ultra cheap money in pretty much every major economy. Cheap money is flowing into housing development and fueling housing price inflation as above (driving up the cost of labor, land and materials), creating ever greater demand, and because of falling returns on more traditional investment vehicles (bonds are dead and buried, for instance).

        The Japanese have a vision of housing that is fundamentally linked to their nationalized housing scheme.

        Just like elsewhere, the Japanese capital has felt the pressures of the above, with speculation on land at a 30 year high. But, unlike in the western countries, there’s an upper limit to housing cost that still keeps apartments relatively affordable. That limit isn’t regulatory, it’s – you guessed it – the direct impact of the deregulated zoning, which does not protect the value of new housing stock.

        Housing does not retain its value in Japan not because of some mysterious oriental aversion to old things or spirits or whatever bullshit they’re pimping these days at the Guardian. Housing does not retain its value in Japan because it is not an asset class that is protected by restrictions on supply. You can make money building and selling housing for people to live in, but you can’t make money buying and holding housing, counting on a finite supply and cheap money to push up the value of your asset.

        If North American cities had this, it would radically and fundamentally change our entire economies and culture. The cities that exist when rest is cheap are 100,000x more interesting than the cities that exist when the rentier class rules.

      • david100 15:19 on 2020-01-25 Permalink

        And just to make it clear – all the pressures pushing up the cost of housing across the North American continent – more often than not the North American cities are meeting those by . . . imposing more restrictions on housing, whether to fight gentrification, keep neighborhood character, or lock out new neighbors.

        Zoning restrictions compound the problem of rising demand and higher construction costs. Unless we turn off the tap of immigration or make money more expensive, the only thing we control is zoning. And that’s controlled at a local level.

        Kate – you were wondering about what power Mayor Plante really has, this is the power she has.

      • Mark Côté 19:14 on 2020-01-25 Permalink

        Indeed, The Economist had an article about housing prices recently and mentioned Japan: “Tokyo has no property shortage; between 2013 and 2017 it put up 728,000 dwellings—more than England did—without destroying quality of life. The number of rough sleepers has dropped by 80% in the past 20 years.” Our whole approach to housing over here has caused major problems.


    • Kate 13:38 on 2020-01-24 Permalink | Reply  

      Note has been taken of the opening of downtown’s third food hall, Le Cathcart, inside PVM. I like the night effect in the top photo in this piece of the surrounding tall buildings rising above the glass.

      • Kate 13:23 on 2020-01-24 Permalink | Reply  

        TVA surely knows this proposed idea to bury the Metropolitan and turn the existing concrete into an urban farm is never going to happen. I’m not even sure why the guy proposing it thinks you could grow apple trees on the concrete slab.

        • Tim F 13:09 on 2020-01-25 Permalink

          I know it’s an important axis for trucking (all hail the just-in-time economy) but am I the only one who dreams of turning this into an elegant boulevard?

      • Kate 09:04 on 2020-01-24 Permalink | Reply  

        Celebrations of the Chinese new year Friday night and Saturday may be squelched by fears of the coronavirus. “What if someone just got here from China and is contagious?” as an acquaintance said to me yesterday, when I asked how he was planning to celebrate. He went on to say he was avoiding Chinese restaurants and grocery stores at the moment, so his new year wasn’t going to be anything special.

        In 2003 our Chinatown had signs out reminding people we hadn’t seen any cases of SARS in Montreal so it was safe to shop and eat there. We may see something similar again soon.

        恭喜發財 !

        • Kate 08:55 on 2020-01-24 Permalink | Reply  

          A defective valve led to a tanker truck distributing a thousand litres of diesel fuel around roads in St-Laurent and Dorval on Friday morning.

          • Kate 08:52 on 2020-01-24 Permalink | Reply  

            A man who was on Quebec’s 10 most wanted list has been arrested in the United States. Montreal police had been seeking him since 2003 on charges of sexually assaulting children.

            • Kate 08:49 on 2020-01-24 Permalink | Reply  

              Moving day is bound to be a tough one this year following the wave of evictions turfing many folks out of their apartments.

              • Ephraim 17:21 on 2020-01-24 Permalink

                First thing you need to do… have Revenu Quebec start acting on the STR portfolio. They need the taxes, the city needs the taxes and the city needs the apartments. It will clear a lot of things up, quickly, as people who are holding on to apartments and subletting them… will give them up. The city is losing at least a thousand dollars per apartment in city taxes, if not more. (All they have to do is make a few reservations and send in the fines… it will hit the newspapers in days!) The CRA is trying to go after them for undeclared income anyway.

                We also need a registry of tenancy of some kind, to see how many apartments and condos their are. How many are owner occupied. How many are rented. How many are empty. Maybe a tax on empty apartments, they do that in some cities. There are apartments above some stores that sit empty as well… require a $240 tax per year per apartment with a $240 rebate via registration of the occupancy. I’m sure someone could come up with an idea that might work. So, no occupancy, no rebate.

            • Kate 00:07 on 2020-01-24 Permalink | Reply  

              The Metropolitan first opened to traffic exactly 60 years ago. The idea was hatched as long ago as 1929, but what with the Depression and then the war, it wasn’t till 1960 that the northern part of town was bisected by the well-known monstrosity. With video clips from the archives.

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