Updates from April, 2020 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Kate 22:11 on 2020-04-01 Permalink | Reply  

    Excellent Tracey Lindeman piece on Maisonneuve about the Montreal rental market. I see she’s done a podcast updating it to the COVID-19 era, but I haven’t listened yet.

    I like this bit: According to the United Nations special rapporteur on the right to housing, financialization happens when housing is commodified and treated as a “vehicle for wealth and investment rather than a social good.”

    We’re deep into that doo-doo now.

    • Ian 08:27 on 2020-04-02 Permalink

      If nothing else positive comes from it, I am pretty confident that there will be a lot of former AirBnbs back on the rental market. I’ve been seeing a lot of postings for surprisingly expensive fully furnished apartments for rent lately, but those prices will come down as people get nervous about their mortgage load.

    • Blork 09:44 on 2020-04-02 Permalink

      We’re already seeing Airbnb properties being listed for long-term rental. My Facebook is full of them. But none so far have been appealing because they are ALL fully-furnished apartments at pretty high rent. (Remember, those Airbnb “entrepreneurs” are not just invested in real estate — they have huge sums invested in furnishings).

      While there is undoubtedly a small market for “fully furnished” units, we’re going to see a glut of them. That doesn’t just mean it comes with a fridge and stove; EVERYTHING is included from the television and the linens right down to the dinner plates. How does that serve the majority of tenants who already have their own stuff?

      I saw a Youtube video for one place in Griffintown. Tiny one bedroom place. Bascially the equivalent of a small hotel suite. Tiny kitchenette, living room that literally had room for a two seater sofa and a TV on the wall and nothing else, and a bedroom that didn’t even have any dressers. $1700 a month. (Lots of windows and nice views though!)

      Another listing — I forget where — was for a smallish two bedroom place. A bit more room than the one above, but again, fully furnished — decorations, dinnerware, beds, bed linens, seating, etc. — for $3000 a month.

      So yeah, that works well for some executive who’s coming to Montreal to work for a few months, but how does it help regular people?

      The next wave after the short-term-turned-long-term rental failure will be the foreclosures and subsequent condos for sale — possibly at a bit of a discount.

    • nau 09:53 on 2020-04-02 Permalink

      They sound like excellent places for the city/province to temporarily expropriate to use as accommodation for health-care workers who want to avoid spreading disease to their families.

    • Blork 10:22 on 2020-04-02 Permalink


    • Ian 13:03 on 2020-04-02 Permalink

      I suggested the same on one of Richard Ryan’s facebook posts but he didn’t respond 😀

    • Tim 13:06 on 2020-04-02 Permalink

      Expropriation implies, to me at least, that the government would financially compensate AirBnB operators. No thanks!

    • nau 13:32 on 2020-04-02 Permalink

      I was trying not to imply that but failed I guess. Whatever the term, they’re going to need some sort of such housing. Given that asymptomatic doctors have spread at least 40 cases at Verdun Hospital (per Lapresse), healthcare staff really are not going to want to go anywhere near their families..

    • mare 15:05 on 2020-04-02 Permalink

      I received an email from Airbnb that short term rental is completely forbidden in Quebec, so they’ll refund all guests without penalty.

      Funny that apparently now Airbnb can abide to the law, but in the past they claimed they couldn’t, for instance by not accepting multiple full apartment listings by one host. Or listings not in the designated areas along main arteries.

      It would look very bad if they continue to hide behind their usual defence of “hosts have to make sure they comply by local laws; we can’t enforce those laws ourselves”. Suddenly they can enforce the local laws, when it would hurt their image or if they would be sued by guests.

  • Kate 17:20 on 2020-04-01 Permalink | Reply  

    Community transmission of COVID-19 is present in almost every part of Montreal by now, according to public health honcho Mylène Drouin in her Wednesday press conference. There are now 2100 confirmed cases in the city.

    More than half the people diagnosed with the virus in Montreal are under 50 and, of that group, the most affected are from 20 to 29. (Update: On Thursday, the Journal says the group most affected are in their forties.)

    Parks are not closed but the importance of maintaining distance is restated. Mayor Plante has a Facebook thing about how if people congregate in parks, they will have to be closed, so don’t do that.

    It’s not the first time I’ve seen mention of transit pass issues for yearly users, but the last time they said the April payment would be refunded. This time it’s more like a suspension – the payment for April will only be applied once emergency conditions are lifted.

    Justin Trudeau admitted Wednesday that emergency measures may have to last until July.

    Bike repair shops have been declared an essential service and given permission to reopen.

    • MarcG 17:25 on 2020-04-01 Permalink

      Hilairous photo of Trudeau in that last link.

    • Max 17:37 on 2020-04-01 Permalink

      I imagine there won’t be a lot of passes bought by people who only ride the bus this month. I think I’ll go for some individual tickets this month.

      Does anyone know if the commuter train inspectors are working? I have seen any inspections lately.

    • Ant6n 22:35 on 2020-04-01 Permalink


    • Chris 10:38 on 2020-04-02 Permalink

      MarcG, I think you mean second to last link?

      Glad to hear bike shops are open! Crazy that car shops were allowed but not bike shops. Cycling is up 50% in NYC, this might help that happen here too.

    • MarcG 14:12 on 2020-04-02 Permalink

      I’m the victim of Kate’s editing

    • Ian 18:11 on 2020-04-02 Permalink

      @Chris I can see the value in having your bike tuned up in case you need to go get tested or something, but I’m not sure you want to use NYC as an example of good pandemic behaviour. We aren’t even supposed to be doing groceries more than once a week, you shouldn’t just be going out for bike rides, either. Everyone is supposed to stay home as much as possible.

    • Kate 18:56 on 2020-04-02 Permalink

      My apologies, Marc G. I reordered the items and made nonsense of your comment.

    • Chris 10:50 on 2020-04-03 Permalink

      Ian, NYC’s biking increase was an example of a ‘silver lining’. Who said anything about leisure bike rides? Are car repair shops open because people need leisure car rides? No, they are open because transportation is still vital, and, as with public transport and car share, bike riding is a form of transport. I know at least two MDs at the Jewish that bike to work. They have more money than time and don’t repair their own flats, they just take them to the shop. And cyclists can much more easily keep 2 m apart than can public transport users.

    • Alison Cummins 11:06 on 2020-04-03 Permalink

      Aren’t we supposed to go out to help vulnerable people and take walks? Cycling is much safer than public transit. Two weeks ago in Ottawa kids were being encouraged to cycle with their friends as an activity they could share without getting too close.

      Apparently I’m not keeping up. What is the official policy on bike rides?

      +++ +++ +++
      The local skatepark has been closed, which I see as a really bad thing. Can’t we train neighbourhood volunteers to keep people from bunching up in groups, but still allow young people to blow off steam and use their bodies?

  • Kate 11:25 on 2020-04-01 Permalink | Reply  

    My landlady waited till 1 hour before the deadline before issuing her rent increase for July 1.

    Also, I was laid off my job (the entire shop shut down) two weeks ago, I made an error while applying for EI and was given a canned message saying I would get no benefits unless I phone in. It is currently impossible to phone in.

    How is your day going?

    • Anonymous Coward 11:39 on 2020-04-01 Permalink

      She may have been hesitating about how to handle it, given the current uncertainty.

      The federal emergency package made things easier for us. For technical reasons, our tenants got their full rent increases on their usual schedule. We also asked our tenants to talk to us if their financial situation changes. We can be unofficially flexible.

      It’s possible that your landlady would be more open to discussing an unofficial rent holiday than scrapping the rent increase entirely. Talk to her. If that isn’t encouraging, refuse the rent increase.

      You heard me: I’m a landlord. I instruct you to refuse the rent increase!

      She’s looking after her interests as best she can; it’s up to you to look after yours. Your interests aren’t incompatible. You’re a good tenant and she wants to keep you. She would also like to maintain the value of her property. But she would rather keep you than try to find a new tenant in these unknown times. So refuse the increase.

    • Tee Owe 11:50 on 2020-04-01 Permalink

      Geez Kate I wish I could help in some way other than electronic handholding – I hope something comes through for you

    • DeWolf 12:09 on 2020-04-01 Permalink

      At this point would it be more useful to apply for the CERB? Or would that not work because you’re already in the EI system?

      Hope everything works out! At the very least remember you’re not alone in this.

    • Kate 12:36 on 2020-04-01 Permalink

      DeWolf, every time I get the recorded message saying call volumes are too high, I’m reminded I’m not alone in this! But thanks all for supportive words.

    • Anon1984 13:30 on 2020-04-01 Permalink

      What a shitty move! I think all pending EI applications automatically move to CERB..just make sure you’re registered with CRA (if not already)..got a text from my landlady yesterday afternoon saying “it’s that time of the year rent renewal/increase!” At least no happy face emoji attached..Still haven’t received email with new lease..B.C. and Manitoba have frozen all leases hopefully Quebec will follow (closed my shop of 23 years last week don’t know when I’ll be able to reopen)..your website is keeping me sane Kate, thanks again!

    • Ephraim 14:07 on 2020-04-01 Permalink

      I have no EI. I have no real coverage for anything at the moment. I’m not even sure I qualify for anything, since I’m not really paid a salary and even if I was, I wouldn’t be eligible for EI since I’m self employed. My mortgage is still taken each week and I have no income to help pay for it. Nothing.

    • Dhomas 14:27 on 2020-04-01 Permalink

      I’m a landlord and I did not increase the rent this year. One of my tenants wrecked his bathroom and mine last year by negligently leaving the water on in the bath, so I had planned to increase the rent to help cover the renos. But I couldn’t bring myself to do it in the current situation. He’s also a single father of two who lost his wife 2 years ago, which also played into my decision. Still not sure if I made a mistake…

    • Anon1984 14:31 on 2020-04-01 Permalink

      Ephraim you should register with CRA, then when they roll out the CERB you can apply, I’m pretty certain everyone including all self employed will be eligible (I’m hoping)

    • EmilyG 14:31 on 2020-04-01 Permalink

      I haven’t been paid yet for my main job, so I think one of my accounts might be overdrawn. And I just paid rent, so I think my other account may also be overdrawn.
      And I have cash and cheques I can put into the bank, but I can’t go to any banks and don’t have mobile apps for anything.
      If I could just get the right money into the right places, I’d be okay, but the pandemic makes that a little challenging.

    • Tim S. 15:08 on 2020-04-01 Permalink

      Kate: Patreon?
      Dhomas: You didn’t make a mistake. Everything helps.
      Anon1984: I know your handle is anonymous, but as someone who shops everyday on Monkland (in normal circumstances) I’d be happy to support your shop in future (unless it’s one of the hair salons or something, in which case..)

    • Kevin 15:42 on 2020-04-01 Permalink


      If you’ve got your banking info at home you should be able to log into your accounts. Every major bank has online logins. Many still have logins by phone.

      You can also get set up with one of the online-only banks for a no-fee daily chequing account. (I use Tangerine) You can deposit cheques by taking a photo, and then you can transfer those funds to your other bank accounts.

    • qatzelok 15:52 on 2020-04-01 Permalink

      Me too.
      No revenue coming in.
      No way to call anyone or visit anything. Meanwhile, on David Geffen’s yacht:


    • JaneyB 15:53 on 2020-04-01 Permalink

      Your landlady’s late increase notice suggests she was hesitant. I suggest you fully lean on her reluctance. Odds are she will cave.

      A fall-back option for you is to suggest adding the increase on after 1st September. A third option could be to suggest backpaying the amount of the increase between now and September but only when things normalize (probably by September). Don’t start with that option though. She may have considered doing the increase after covid but wasn’t sure if she could start that if she didn’t file now so she may be just fine with delaying it for a few months. Tactically, you could assume that was her plan, giving her a face-saving out and she will probably agree to a delay because most people hate confrontation, especially about money.

    • Matt 16:18 on 2020-04-01 Permalink

      +1 on Tim’s Patreon suggestion. I don’t have a sense for how long I’ve been benefiting from the work you’ve put into this site, but it’s been a long time. I’m lucky enough to still have a job and I’d gladly subscribe to a Patreon or similar to help cover your costs and support the work you’re doing, Kate.

    • Douglas 17:05 on 2020-04-01 Permalink

      Throw up ads on this site and get some money.

      Don’t starve yourself.

    • Kevin 17:41 on 2020-04-01 Permalink

      Good luck.

    • Dhomas 18:55 on 2020-04-01 Permalink

      Just a note about actually going through with refusing a rental increase, based on Anonymous Coward’s recommendation. It costs 78$ plus time to file an application with the Régie du logement. I usually try to be reasonable and keep my annual increase close to that amount. Either my tenants pay me the extra, or they pay it to the Régie.

    • GC 19:43 on 2020-04-01 Permalink

      Sorry to hear that, Kate. You should definitely put up a Patreon or some other way to get some money back from this site.

    • Nic 19:48 on 2020-04-01 Permalink

      +1 on the Patreon suggestion

    • Kate 23:17 on 2020-04-01 Permalink

      Thanks all for kindly words. I may do the Patreon thing soon.

    • Alison Cummins 01:05 on 2020-04-02 Permalink


      Kate refuses the increase. (The landlady should provide her a form to do that when she sends the notice of the increase.) Kate does NOT have to go to the régie. or open a file. She just uses the form and refuses.

      If the landlady really wants the increase she can ask the régie to decide on a fair increase. The landlady will pay to open the file, but if the régie finds the increase was reasonable they can ask Kate to pay the fee. Or the landlady can figure she tried but it’s obviously not a good time, accept the reality that an increase is not going to happen this year and not open a file.

    • Hervé 04:35 on 2020-04-02 Permalink

      I would definitely chip in on Patreon.

    • Ian Rogers 08:17 on 2020-04-02 Permalink

      I too would chip in on Patreon.
      I am lucky enough to have been assigned some adult ed classes last minute, I thought I would be walking into this lockdown without EI eligibility too… Good luck to all of you caught in a bind, I both sympathize and empathize.

    • Rebecca 09:41 on 2020-04-02 Permalink

      +1 to the Patron from a long-time lurker, rarely poster.
      Also, Kate–if you have a resume on linked it — put it somewhere your visitors can find. Some of us are still working and a (very) few places might still be hiring, but mostly through reference.

    • ant6n 11:37 on 2020-04-02 Permalink

      +1 (previously on wrong thread)

    • Patrick 13:18 on 2020-04-02 Permalink

      +1 on Patreon.

  • Kate 09:38 on 2020-04-01 Permalink | Reply  

    The Gazette looked into how Kiryas Tosh, the Hasidic community in Boisbriand, is facing a backlash after it was reported as a COVID-19 hotspot. But police may be enforcing a wider and stronger quarantine on the community and its members than are warranted.

    In tangentially related news, a mikveh (Jewish ritual bath) in Côte St-Luc was reported as still operating, with people gathering there. Côte St-Luc is the island’s hottest spot, so it doesn’t really help that the mayor says “In their mind they were not doing anything wrong.” The Wikipedia article on the mikveh tells you more than you need to know about how central it is to Orthodox life.

    • Alison Cummins 11:30 on 2020-04-01 Permalink

      Judaism can be a very humanist religion. It’s very easy for a rabbi to say that religious gatherings are harmful to people right now and therefore forbidden under rabbinical law. There are parables about the particular religious practice or observance being less important than the choice to practice or observe *something.*

      +++ +++ +++

      Hillel, 1st century BCE:

      [A] gentile … wanted to convert to Judaism. This happened not infrequently, and this individual stated that he would accept Judaism only if a rabbi would teach him the entire Torah while he, the prospective convert, stood on one foot. First he went to Shammai, who, insulted by this ridiculous request, threw him out of the house. The man did not give up and went to Hillel. This gentle sage accepted the challenge, and said:

      “What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the commentary—go and study it!”

      +++ +++ +++

      So managing covid in orthodox communities may be a problem because of large families, but there’s absolutely no reason for the mikveh to be a sticking point.

    • Kate 11:53 on 2020-04-01 Permalink

      Alison, the fact remains that in those communities, a married couple cannot “legally” have sex unless there’s a mikveh. It’s a difficult item to overcome.

    • gonzo 13:30 on 2020-04-01 Permalink

      I’m Jewish and originally from Israel where Hasidic communities are much larger. In the fight against the virus in Israel this is a big and controversial issue. The sickness rates in the hasidic communities are much higher than in the general public. It’s a real tragedy.

      Big families, close contact between community members incl. large gatherings of hundreds every day in closed buildings and above all: disregard of law and governance and general ignorance. The average extreme hasidic is not connected to the outside world, and can’t make a decision that could contradict their Rabbi. If the Rabbi, the community leader, decide they need to jump from the roof, they will jump. So the role of these leaders in this crises is so important. Unfortunately, at least in Israel, many ignored the new reality and restrictions and even managed to ease in-place restrictions through political power and leverage (not relevant in Quebec, too small minority). This is a bit like with these christian preachers in the US and South America that still host large religious ceremonies because god told them to and connected to powerful politicians.

      The whole Mikveh thing also was a big issue in Israel, one of the last institutes that stayed open, but under restrictions. Because of political pressure from hasidic parties

      Montreal must learn from mistakes done in Israel. Quarantine in Boisbriand is important. Unfortunatly, I think we will see more deaths and sick people in the Outremont community and maybe others. Not sure what can be done there.

    • Alison Cummins 13:41 on 2020-04-01 Permalink

      gonzo, yes, strong connections with rabbis is essential.

      They will figure something out if they need to.

    • Ephraim 14:03 on 2020-04-01 Permalink

      Kate – This all falls under “Pikuach nefesh” (פיקוח נפש) and these ladies going to the Mikveh are frankly violating Jewish law. They even closed the mikvah in Kiryat Joel… if Satmar can do it, they can certainly manage it. (And the life they may be saving… is the observer’s life… she is most at risk, as she is there with each person who enters.)

    • Ephraim 14:04 on 2020-04-01 Permalink

      It is also going to be easier to handle in the summer, as they can use a lake or river, if deep enough. But there are ways to make this safe. Certainly there should be only 2 people there. And they can move the witness to be behind glass or watching via camera, if only to save their lives.

  • Kate 09:00 on 2020-04-01 Permalink | Reply  

    Grocery stores are expecting a rush before the mandated Sunday closures, and are asking for police help to manage.

    • TC 22:14 on 2020-04-01 Permalink

      I hope they have a system in place for distancing. Staff to mange lines inside and outside the store, tape to designate where people should stand while waiting.

    • Chris 10:46 on 2020-04-02 Permalink

      It’s distressing that our society has descended into one where armed men have to manage queues of people lined up rationing one of life’s basic essentials.

  • Kate 08:43 on 2020-04-01 Permalink | Reply  

    Travel and Leisure has a virtual trip to Montreal with links to virtually visit our museums and listen to music.

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