Updates from February, 2020 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Kate 13:29 on 2020-02-27 Permalink | Reply  

    The urban agglomeration may lose big to the land grab Quebec has engineered into the school board abolition law. An estimate of $653 million over ten years is floated here.

    • Ian 15:05 on 2020-02-28 Permalink

      I know this is kind of the implied story here, but is the reason (or a reason) we now have a school shortage that the city has been suppressing building new schools? If so, well then by heck I’m all for expropriation. It’s not like the city was ever adverse to expropriating from citizens if they were standing in the way of “progress”.

    • Dhomas 18:36 on 2020-02-28 Permalink

      Meanwhile, nothing is being done to alleviate the shortage of teachers. We’ll have nice, shiny new school buildings with no one to teach in them!

    • Ian 19:13 on 2020-02-28 Permalink

      Oh something’s being done alright, they are banning the ones with hijabs. /s

      It’s going to be a few years before enough students cycle through to meet the needs for teachers especially after everyone was told for decades not to become a teacher as there were no jobs.In the meantime, standards for teachers form other places are being conditionally lowered to meet demand. Teachers from Ontario used to not be permitted to teach in QC because of ERC and QC history but that restriction is a lot more flexible as long as they meet the French requirement.

    • Kate 19:17 on 2020-02-28 Permalink

      Ian, from the 1960s throughout the 80s birth rates dropped drastically in Quebec and school buildings were repurposed for other things. There’s a big old school on Marie-Anne that was turned into condos, as was D’Arcy McGee on Pine Avenue. Luke Callaghan school near St Michael’s in the Mile End became office spaces – I worked there briefly on a friend’s project a few years ago in what had been a classroom – and Baron Byng on St‑Urbain was the headquarters of Sun Youth for decades. A lot of schools became low-rent office spaces for social aid organizations of one sort of another. I’ve been to a tenants’ meeting in the old school building opposite Holy Family church in Villeray, for example, also in an ex-classroom.

      Some of these are reversible: the CSDM clawed back Baron Byng and has turfed out a lot of the organizations using others, although the ones that have been sold for condos probably can’t be taken back. But there’s also the fact that these old school buildings are not in good shape. They’ve torn down several elegant old school buildings and put up new ones in Villeray and Hochelaga and probably elsewhere. Even if they weren’t all gunged up with dust and mold, the old buildings mostly aren’t accessible in the modern sense – they’re full of stairs – and adding modern cabling, gender-free bathrooms and so forth would be difficult. Easier and cheaper to tear down and rebuild.

      None of this can be blamed on the city.

      The only news story about land for schools that I’ve been aware of since doing this blog was the Nuns’ Island one, where the school board wanted to put a school on park land, and the borough said no. I imagine we’ll see a lot more of that. Most of this city is built up now and nobody will want to put a school on postindustrial brown land.

    • Ian 19:26 on 2020-02-28 Permalink

      I am aware of that sordid history of neglect, but the part my ears perked up at was the idea that somehow there were a ton of schools being proposed that the city was blocking.

      My kids used to go to FACE which is looking for a new home as their current building is under renovation. There was talk of renovating another space, maybe the old hospital, but the CSDM decided they wanted to double down and use the grant money for renovations on a CSDM property. Some have speculated that’s why they took back Baron Byng, though it’s still unclear.

      That in combination with all the recent kerfuffle about English schools being taken over and redistributed to French school boards got me thinking “why is there such a dire shortage of space” and I always assumed it was because of neglect but now i seems like maybe there’s another factor, and indeed sometimes it is less expensive to simply build a new facility than to reclaim and retrofit an existing one.

      I’d love to see what is going on behind the scenes in this, or at least get a glimpse at some of the studies that led the province to think cities are somehow blocking new school construction to the point that this legislation is the solution to something.

    • Kevin 23:38 on 2020-02-29 Permalink

      Where families live has changed immensely. Back in the 70s-90s families moved to new developments in the West Island. Those kids have grown up and now have families off-island, so West Island schools are shrinking, while there are fewer kids in the West Island. Last I heard my old high school has half the population it did 30 years ago.

  • Kate 13:15 on 2020-02-27 Permalink | Reply  

    Club 281 is going to close this year, but not till September. Sadly, its location will be the site of more condos.

    I’ve never been to 281 nor wanted to, but yeah, just what we need – more condos.

    • Ian 15:13 on 2020-02-28 Permalink

      I’ve been, it’s a bit cliché nowadays but it is what it is. To be fair 281 hasn’t been considered “the best” male strip club for a long, long time, but it did have cachet as a classic.

    • Filp 17:00 on 2020-02-28 Permalink

      I’m not sure how condos are always the villain. We want people to live in the city, but we don’t want condos? Or is this very central close to transit location not the right one? What other project would be acceptable at this location? To me, most projects today have to include housing units on top of them, it’s just logic. condos are another form of housing.

    • Meezly 17:52 on 2020-02-28 Permalink

      Perhaps because condos tend to come with gentrification – people of a lower or mixed socio-economic status replaced by the more affluent & homogenous. Buildings that once provided a service, or offered mixed housing, or simply had a history, getting replaced with a generic tower that can house 20x more people, yes, but at what cost? The condo that’s going to replace 281 is going to be directly across from Foufounes. Sounds more like money talking rather than thoughtful urban planning to me. Also, what will this mean for the little entertainment strip in that area? Does this spell the beginning of the end for those venues and institutions?

    • Dhomas 18:38 on 2020-02-28 Permalink

      I can see it now. Foufs will close a couple of years after those condos get built because they are too loud for the neighbourhood.

    • Filp 20:10 on 2020-02-28 Permalink

      Maybe I struggle to see the alternative. Areas with effective public transit should be dense with housing. Aside from building only social housing, which will never happen, condos will mean people moving into an area. Where should they live instead? You can mandate that condos have a social mix of units as well as business and venues beneath, which this building certainly will given that it’s on st Catherine. It will probably mean the entertainment strip will change, but no neighborhood has ever stayed the same in history. I’m obviously not advocating for wholesale destruction of the city to build condos (which I’m sure someone will accuse me of), but new projects from here on should incorporate housing, and most of the time it will be condos.

    • Ian 20:44 on 2020-02-28 Permalink

      Well they already tore down the red light district to build highrise social housing just behind where Foufs is so I guess this won’t make that much difference to the area… and let’s be honest, the “entertainment district” has been getting whittled away at since it was the club district under Drapeau. The QdeS expropriations over the decades were another several nails in the coffin. Then when the entire block at Saint Larry got expropriated besides Cleopatra (bless their hearts) and when funding fell through stood as a gaping hole for years and years… really, even Foufs hasn’t been edgy since the early 90s.

      Foufs went where it is because at the time it was cheap and undesirable. Back in the day that neighbourhood was best known for the street hookers and random dealers wandering along saying ‘ash-coke-‘ash-coke all night. The first incarnation of Foufs was a large, dank room where the girls’ bathroom was a shooting gallery (the cops wouldn’t go in the girl’s bathroom – there were no female officers on that strip at the time). We were not the most tony clientele in the 80s but the city evolved around us, some of us even evolved along with it.

      FWIW the whole male stripper scene has really suffered since the internet, apps, and widening social tolerance. Much like how gay villages the world over are dying out because being gay no longer means you need to hide in a specific neighbourhood and go to specific places at specific times to meet people that don’t want to beat you up and/or toss you in jail. Male strippers for women were always a bit of a novelty act compared to strip clubs for men.

      I dunno, I get it,. sad to see things go… but St Larry and Ste Kitty is not the cool entertainment district it once was by any stretch. As far as places to live, though , it’s pretty seedy, smells like urine in the morning, and the closest grocery store is the IGA all the way over at place Desjardins. If the yuppies think that’s a great place to drop lots of money to live, well, at least they aren’t moving into my neighbourhood.

    • Filp 20:56 on 2020-02-28 Permalink

      An IGA express opened in front of st-Laurent metro actually. A sign people are moving to the area certainly

    • Ian 21:14 on 2020-02-28 Permalink

      Ah neat, I hadn’t seen that. While you’re right, Les Habitations Jeanne-Mance started construction in 1959… this has been a very residential neighbourhood for a very long time… just poor people.

    • Meezly 12:42 on 2020-02-29 Permalink

      Yeah, I think most of us have mixed feelings about new development. More often than not, there is a loss of character, history and diversity. I’m all for more affordable housing, just wish urban planning is not so affected by quick profit and corruption.

    • Filp 15:05 on 2020-02-29 Permalink

      Ian, I obviously know about habitations Jeanne-Mance. It’s kinda hard to avoid given how much it sticks out from the normal row housing and street grid. You can imply from my comment that people moving to an area doesn’t mean there aren’t any there already. No need to twist every single comment as an attack. There are huge condo buildings being built right across from the metro station, which are adding tons of units to the area.

    • Ian 18:14 on 2020-02-29 Permalink

      I didn’t mean it as an attack on you so much as an attack on the kind of urban planning that would allow for a vertical ghetto surrounded by a food desert. I am genuinely glad to see some grocery stores actually coming into that neighbourhood.

  • Kate 11:07 on 2020-02-27 Permalink | Reply  

    Wanted to note, looking at a few of the cams on the city traffic cam map, right now it’s raining downtown, but snowing north of the mountain.

    La Presse also notes the weather gradient in the area, as more of the precipitation turns to snow.

    • Ian 15:11 on 2020-02-28 Permalink

      Winterpocalypse was a bit overrated but I there were a lot of very slippery roads in the city today. I tried to drive some people to work & school this morning but St Urbain was a death trap, I saw 3 accidents in 5 blocks & was drifting at every intersection, so switched over to Parc & kicked everyone out to go take the bus & went home. Later in the day I had an errand to run downtown so I took the bus myself, and the 80 was sliding the last 4 feet into every stop.

      This was that sponge toffee precipitation I was talking about. It doesn’t look like much, but it’s ice all the way through and when compressed is super slippery.

  • Kate 09:14 on 2020-02-27 Permalink | Reply  

    COVID-19 is all over the news, although no case has yet been diagnosed in Quebec. Media are following Quebecers who have been infected abroad and telling about schools that are cancelling planned trips.

    It can be difficult to distinguish fact from paranoia, but whatever else is said, COVID-19 is evidently very contagious, and it seems only a matter of time before it lands here. I’ve never remotely been a prepper, but it’s crossing my mind to make sure I have two weeks’ worth of supplies laid in, on the supposition that if an epidemic were to sweep through North America we could be ordered to stay home for a period of time. What do my readers think?

    • Ephraim 10:02 on 2020-02-27 Permalink

      Last I read, the death rate is 5X that of the normal flu. I’m sort of fatalistic about it. Not like there is really much that I can do about it…. other than prepare my finances for this rollercoaster. I don’t understand how anyone couldn’t manage 14 days of food. Sure, nothing fancy, but most people should have a few cans of beans, some rice, frozen protein, oil, etc in the house. Sure, not a salad, but onions, carrots and some frozen veggies should make it manageable.

    • Kate 10:11 on 2020-02-27 Permalink

      My place has a rather old-fashioned kitchen with minimal storage, and a fridge with a typical small freezer. I figured out to rough numbers last night that I’d be OK for a week but pretty scanty for a second, and I have to think about the cat as well. And then there are a few things, like toilet paper, that you also don’t want to run out of. All these things take up storage room if you buy more than you need for the moment (which is why I usually don’t).

    • Mr.Chinaski 11:31 on 2020-02-27 Permalink

      Death rate for the flu is 0.1%, this one is around 2-3%. So it could be 30x bigger. The problem might not be just about that, it would be if everybody gets it *at the same time*. If everybody needs hospitalisation, there just won’t be enough staff/place/help for a lot of people. Then the weaker ones will die at a greater rate.

      ex: A hospital only has 20 ventilators. If a hundred people needs them, a lot more people will die because of that. So it’s not just the virus, it’s the complication that will happen if a lot of people get the flu *at the same time*. Which is why precautions must be taken.

    • John B 11:42 on 2020-02-27 Permalink

      We’ve started stocking up a bit on staples, not making a specific emergency store, but trying to have more on hand than we normally do that we’ll cycle through. We’re in a similar kitchen situation, but canned & dry goods like flour & beans can go a long way.

      It’s not even a worry that we might all be ordered to stay home, but if you’re exposed, then you’re supposed to self-quarantine, and that could happen to anyone rather unexpectedly, (although depending on their job people will be more or less likely to have it happen).

    • Rebecca 11:53 on 2020-02-27 Permalink

      The biggest thing for us was a run to get refills a bit earlier than necessary. The recommendation is to have 1 week of meds remaining when you refill. We’re making sure we have a buffer of at least 2 weeks now.

    • Kate 12:44 on 2020-02-27 Permalink

      Wish I liked beans. Of course I’d eat them if there was nothing else…

    • Blork 12:49 on 2020-02-27 Permalink

      As long as the water and electricity stays on we could probably last for three months at my place. Food would be boring and repetitive, but at least it would be there. (If there were a full-on zombie apocalypse that could probably be stretched to six months.)

      This is mostly thanks to a small freezer I have in the basement, plus an abundance of storage space so I take advantage of sales and Costco runs.

    • walkerp 13:01 on 2020-02-27 Permalink

      From what I have been reading, it sounds like it’s not going to be containable and that quarantines are ultimately ineffective. We will end up with another disease like the flus we all get in the winter, just a new strain. Annoying for the healthy, perhaps deadly for those in certain immune-deficient categories.

      Try to resist the media’s tone of fear and apocalypse. This is as usual a complex situation of risk management, not a zombie breakout.

      Certain containment measures will be appropriate, but widely banning travel, closing down cities, and hoarding resources are not realistic solutions for an outbreak that lasts years. All of these measures come with risks of their own. Ultimately some pandemic responses will require opening borders, not closing them. At some point the expectation that any area will escape effects of COVID-19 must be abandoned: The disease must be seen as everyone’s problem.

    • Tee Owe 15:23 on 2020-02-27 Permalink

      Agree with Walkerp about not letting ourselves get caught up in media hype here –
      As I see it, one issue is how we count. Number of deaths – certainty, you can’t get that wrong.
      Number infected – total unreliability, related to different testing methods, lack of testing , etc.
      Any underestimation of the number infected results in overestimation of the mortality rate.
      Added to which is paranoia about the unknown versus complacency about what we know. I just read some numbers from Ireland – this flu season so far, a few under 3600 infected, and 98 dead. Do the math – that’s about 2.8%. So – are we quarantining visitors from Ireland – no! Because, it’s just the flu.

    • Kate 15:54 on 2020-02-27 Permalink

      True, but everyone has already been exposed to flu, and some of us have had flu shots. COVID-19 is a new thing, so maybe one reason it’s so contagious is because nobody has any acquired immunity. Which is kind of scary.

    • dmdiem 19:15 on 2020-02-27 Permalink

    • walkerp 08:37 on 2020-02-28 Permalink

      There’s no immunity to flu either.

      I found this video from Business Insider quite helpful as well, debunking a bunch of myths but also giving some good overall perspective on how we as a society should approach an outbreak like this.

    • Kate 11:07 on 2020-02-28 Permalink

      No immunity at all, walkerp, even after a lifetime spent on public transit resisting every damn flu strain in circulation?

      Well that sucks.

    • Ian 21:20 on 2020-02-28 Permalink

      You can live off of just rice and lentils pretty much indefinitely. It’s not that nutritious but you won’t die from malnutrition.

    • Kate 14:03 on 2020-02-29 Permalink

      Yup. I’m going to stash some rice, along with maybe lentils and at least some onions and hot sauce and a few other odds and ends. Plus a little extra cat food. These are all things I’ll use eventually anyway – not going to buy Starfleet ration packs.

      Speaking of which, I looked on MEC a few days ago for camping food, from curiosity. At that point they had this product in omnivore format. Now they’re down to vegetarian and gluten-free versions. I bet they’re moving like hotcakes.

  • Kate 09:05 on 2020-02-27 Permalink | Reply  

    Statistics Canada says black Montrealers are still economically disadvantaged, both men and women making significantly lower incomes than the average.

    (Note that the average for all men is $50,300 while for women it’s only $39,150.)

    • Kate 08:55 on 2020-02-27 Permalink | Reply  

      Here’s an odd little piece on Treehugger about a Montreal duplex which shows the writer has no idea about our residential streets. He praises a duplex for its “gentle density” evidently unaware that most of the central part of this city was built up with row after row of duplexes and triplexes long ago. He also seems to think it’s a new building, although it looks to me like someone took an existing duplex, gutted it and did a number on it.

      One positive thing in this rebuild is that it was preserved as a home for two different households, whereas most of the duplex refits we see involve first and foremost opening the structure into one living space. Mind you, the owners described are close relatives, so it isn’t clear whether the building would still be suitable for entirely separate households into the future.

      And yes… there it is, the obligatory breakfast bar.

      • CE 10:18 on 2020-02-27 Permalink

        “Gentle density” is one of those urban planning buzzwords that really makes my skin crawl.

      • SMD 12:40 on 2020-02-27 Permalink

        Looks like it was a small shoebox that got knocked down and replaced with a new duplex: before and after.

      • Kate 13:18 on 2020-02-27 Permalink

        Good detective work, SMD!

      • Hamza 13:35 on 2020-02-27 Permalink

        Interior giving off some Parasite vibes

    • Kate 08:46 on 2020-02-27 Permalink | Reply  

      Over the last news cycle, François Legault claimed that there were AK-47s at the Kahnawake blockade and he’s been shouted down for making such unfounded, inflammatory remarks, including by the federal indigenous services minister.

      • Meezly 12:40 on 2020-02-27 Permalink

        I know most everyone here shares similar views on this, but still, it disgusts me that we have an ignorant, emotionally immature and racist excuse of a person as a leader.


        “Legault says he is disclosing the information [about the theoretical AK-47s] because he wants the public to understand why provincial police have not yet moved in. He says he does not want to have it on his conscience that police officers were injured in an intervention.”

        Uh no. Legault is disclosing the information because he wants to reinforce the stereotype that the Mohawk people are aggressive and not capable of peaceful protest.


        “The SQ’s communications team appeared to be caught off-guard by Legault’s remarks.”

        Legault’s government files injunctions against the blockade in Kahnawake and Listuguj encampment and “leaves it up to the SQ” to execute the injunction. Yet he neglects to consult with them about disclosing potentially sensitive, if not false, information to the public. It’s obvious what his motive is, to escalate public anger against the protesters.


        “I’m old enough to remember Oka,” he told reporters Tuesday morning, just before the injunction was granted.

        Yet he clearly is not wise enough to have learned anything. His utmost concern is the Quebec economy, which is apparently losing $100 million daily to the blockades, and he is completely unaware (or indifferent) to that fact that all the economic thoroughfares cut through Kahnawake territory and that back in the 1950s, the community lost its direct access to the St. Lawrence River, when riverfront land was expropriated for the construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway.

      • Kate 13:19 on 2020-02-27 Permalink

        Thanks for all the linkage, Meezly – and your thoughts on this too.

      • Kevin 09:03 on 2020-02-28 Permalink

        Legault’s team is doubling down for Friday http://twitter.com/ewansauves/status/1233375040646852608

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