Updates from May, 2020 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Kate 15:50 on 2020-05-19 Permalink | Reply  

    The stretch of St-Laurent between St-Zotique and Jean-Talon is to be closed to traffic for part of the summer – no dates given here. This stretch is closed periodically during the summer anyway, notably during the Grand Prix – ironically, that glorification of the internal combustion engine – and then later for the Semaine italienne. Rosemont borough will also be turning parts of Beaubien and Masson into closed malls for the summer.

    • Spi 17:15 on 2020-05-19 Permalink

      I thought decisions concerning major thoroughfares like saint-laurent was the responsibility of the city, I’m surprised that a borough mayor has the ability to just close a stretch of a major traffic artery, which inevitably will impact surrounding neighbourhoods.

    • Kate 18:03 on 2020-05-19 Permalink

      Mayor Plante already announced a general intention to do things to brighten things up for the populace this summer. These Rosemont borough plans may fall under that program.

    • Ian 18:59 on 2020-05-19 Permalink

      It’s mostly been blocked off by construction for the last three years anyway, no big loss for drivers …
      It’s about time the city did something for that stretch, it’s been getting pretty rough for business, especially between bellechasse & beaubien. If they make that stretch a bit nicer hopefully some business will spill over to the south.

    • Kate 20:08 on 2020-05-19 Permalink

      Actually, things had been picking up along there recently, I felt, but who knows how many empty storefronts we’ll see after All This.

    • Ian 16:44 on 2020-05-20 Permalink

      I’ve heard some express the hope that it will be a renaissance of exciting new businesses as there will be so many vacancies, unemployed retail/restaurant/bar workers, and supply chains without clients that are eager to start doing business again…

      We shall see. I hope they are right.

    • DeWolf 18:20 on 2020-05-20 Permalink

      I remember about 13 years ago, I wrote a story for the Mirror about a pop-up art performance that was taking place in a vacant retail space on Beaubien. Today that kind of spot would be owned by a company like Shiller Lavy who’d keep it boarded up until they find a tenant with deep pockets. Let’s hope we get a bit of the old Montreal back in the near future…

    • Ian 19:12 on 2020-05-20 Permalink

      That strip is now full of high end pop art galleries, like original OBEY stuff, that kind of thing. That hood is well past the DIY outsider art stage.

  • Kate 12:04 on 2020-05-19 Permalink | Reply  

    Longtime Montreal women’s wear firm Reitmans is seeking creditor protection. It has 576 stores under half a dozen brands, and about 6,800 employees.

    • Ian 19:04 on 2020-05-19 Permalink

      They were struggling even 5 years ago, having trouble maintaining relevance as the vertically integrated schmata strategy they built their business on became less and less relevant over the years with the finsihed goods quota being lifted.

      Guys like Legault talk about how we need to move back to “made in Quebec” but the fact is the factories we lost over the last 25 years of globalism were not only shut down but their machines were sold off for scrap and the factories and their supporting warehouses were turned into condos. This is a path we can’t simply retrace, the hungry birds have eaten the breadcrumbs.

    • JaneyB 10:58 on 2020-05-20 Permalink

      @Ian Then there will be new jobs here building new machines and new factories as well. We will make new paths and look back on the past 30 years of offshoring and super-tight global supply chains as the folly that it was.

    • Ian 12:05 on 2020-05-20 Permalink

      I love that idea, and hope you are right – but those factories didn’t just spring into being overnight, the kind of overhead required to build a new factory from scratch is way higher than moving into an existing space and upgrading equipment.

      15 years ago there were still over a dozen sweater knitting mills in Montreal including all the support businesses – places that printed off hangtags, places that did buttons, places that did labels and notions, even dyers… they are all gone. I worked at one knitter on de Gaspé – before the artists took over – now even the artist lofts are mostly gone. Many of the old buildings on places like Beaumont, de Louvain, etc have been torn down. Where will the new factories go? Certainly nowhere in Central Montreal.

    • JaneyB 12:32 on 2020-05-20 Permalink

      Indeed. The rag trade was the number one employer for decades in Mtl, Wpg, and after autos, Toronto. Almost overnight it disappeared with one of the new WTO deals. All those condo conversions are so often right near the rail lines because they used to load merchandise into the trains.

      I think the new factories might be headed for the dead and dying malls of the suburbs (where the Reitman stores used to be!). There are increasingly great ethnic restos migrating to soulless suburban strip malls in the GTA because the overhead is way less than in the condo-ized core. We live in strange times lol.

    • Ian 16:46 on 2020-05-20 Permalink

      Indeed, this is how dreary little Markham became a Chinese suburb of Toronto with, by extension, some of the best Chinese food in Canada. It’s still a suburban wasteland in many ways but downtown got too expensive.

      I can’t see this happening in Beaconsfield, but you never know. There is lots of light manufacturing west of Dorval now, and it’s still adjacent to the train lines & highways.

  • Kate 11:58 on 2020-05-19 Permalink | Reply  

    The Canada-U.S. border is staying closed to non-essential travel for another month. I guess we don’t have enough hydroxychloroquine this side of the border.

    • Max 20:10 on 2020-05-19 Permalink

      “Irregular heartbeats and other cardiac trauma”? Bring it on!

  • Kate 11:55 on 2020-05-19 Permalink | Reply  

    A Montreal nurse has made a video pleading for holding the line on distancing. It’s only viewable on Facebook.

    • Ian 19:11 on 2020-05-19 Permalink

      I saw an illegal schul in my neighbourhood walking up the alley just east of Parc. I saw a big birthday party walking back down the alley just west of it.

      I was walking down alleys to try to avoid people as I performed an errand, to no avail. I also saw groups of 3 and 4 people on almost every street. Hassids, students from France, trendy girls, hipster bros, cynical locals – the whole Mile-End gamut.

      I do think we still need physical distancing and am practising it personally and professionally – but it’s growing increasingly hard to see the point when everyone in my alley lets their kids run in an out of each others houses and the parks are full of bored university students sitting around in close circles. It’s hard to justify waiting a half an hour in line to do my groceries when I know this bullshit is constantly going on.

      Local kids are knocking at my gate, asking my kids to come out and play – and I am having to say no. This is very, very hard.

    • Kate 20:12 on 2020-05-19 Permalink

      Yes. Hard on your kids. They must want to get out and run around.

      I went to the local fruiterie today, a small place with very little room to move. There are 2 owners, and the one present wasn’t wearing a mask. The 2-3 customers I saw weren’t either. They have hand sanitizer at the door but that’s the extent of it.

      I’ve also seen neighbours (adults and kids) visiting back and forth across the alley, as the weather gets nicer.

    • walkerp 20:19 on 2020-05-19 Permalink

      Here is an interesting perspective on moving away from the all or nothing approach.

    • Ian 12:10 on 2020-05-20 Permalink

      Sure, but none of those “lower risk” scenarios involve going into each others’ houses – which I am seeing people do on the regular here. I have no problem with kids playing in the alley or whatever but sitting in the park in a small circle sipping coolers & sharing joints isn’t exactly low-risk either.

      This last weekend I was on an errand, driving past Jarry Park. Packed. Across the street at the pharmacy, a lineup of people wearing masks. The contrast couldn’t be more obvious & striking.

  • Kate 10:04 on 2020-05-19 Permalink | Reply  

    Why Covid has hit Montreal so hard is a question that’s not too hard to answer. That there’s poverty, that underpaid workers were shuffled from one care home to another, is clear. We have asylum seekers with no official status finding work, and getting sick doing so. The industrial style of management at long-term care homes may come under fire – or will the industry get back to “normal” once the peak is past (if indeed it is) and the general urge to sweep that whole world under the carpet returns?

    • Meezly 13:35 on 2020-05-19 Permalink

      I was just reading about how successful BC was in having one of the lowest death rates in North America. BC had one its first known Covid-19 cases back in January, and their long-term care centres were hit while QC as in its March break. They seem to be an example of effective gov’t planning.

      From the Bloomberg article: “British Columbia commandeered nursing homes at the first sign of infection, barring visitors. Employees were forbidden from working at more than one facility, a move other Ontario and Quebec didn’t make until later in the crisis.”

    • thomas 18:43 on 2020-05-19 Permalink

      Maybe Montreal is also hit harder because mask usage is so low. Walking along the canal or in the village, I notice maybe 5% of people wearing masks. Whereas when I speak with people in cities across North America, they report that ~80% of people are wearing masks. A number I find very surprising in contrast to what I observe.

    • Tim 20:13 on 2020-05-19 Permalink

      The National Post last week reported that “There are three times more seniors in long-term care homes in Quebec, per capita, “than anywhere else in the world,” Legault said.” (https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/the-society-failed-says-legault-as-montreal-crisis-makes-quebec-worlds-seventh-deadliest-covid-19-epicentre)

      Why is this? I have not been able to find any reason for this.

  • Kate 09:56 on 2020-05-19 Permalink | Reply  

    Le Devoir on the pleasures of the Montreal alley, especially when seeking a place to walk without running into too many people. As a place for kids to play I don’t think it’s exactly a new discovery, though.

    • DeWolf 11:39 on 2020-05-19 Permalink

      There were always kids playing in my alley during the summer, but it’s crazy this year. I assume there aren’t more kids on the block than there were in years past, so those who had been busy with extra-curriculars must now be joining the alley gang.

    • CE 13:55 on 2020-05-19 Permalink

      I live on one of those rare blocks with no alley. My building’s back yard is separated from my neighbours, by a fence. I really feel the difference, the back of my house is so much less active than other places I’ve lived.(although I’ve really gotten to know the family behind my house despite never having spoken to them).

    • Kate 14:12 on 2020-05-19 Permalink

      There are parts of town where, for some reason, alleys don’t exist. North of the Met, into Ahuntsic, there are “normal” alleys for a bit, and then in the blocks closest to Chabanel there are none, and the back yards butt up against each other like that. It gives people more room to garden but it feels a bit odd.

    • Mark Côté 15:08 on 2020-05-19 Permalink

      Alleys in NDG dry up the further west you go, even where there are still duplexes. I’m guessing that the need for them faded over time.

    • CE 15:37 on 2020-05-19 Permalink

      The two westernmost blocks in Parc-Ex are narrower without alleys. I assume they were the last two built and the developers realized there wasn’t enough space for alleys (or decided to put in two blocks instead of one). The houses behind mine are very close. It’s a much different vibe compared to other places I’ve lived that have alleys.

    • Kate 16:17 on 2020-05-19 Permalink

      I gather that alleys were used for delivering cumbersome items like coal and ice which, as Mark Côté suggests, stopped being needed after a time. It’s not the only use they would’ve had, but it was a reason to make them part of the urban fabric.

    • Kevin 17:13 on 2020-05-19 Permalink

      I’ve been told that at some point NDG decided to give up responsibility for alleys, and held referendums on each block affected. If it was unanimous, owners were allowed to expand their yard to the middle of the alley.

    • Michael Black 18:32 on 2020-05-19 Permalink

      I went to a garage sale a few years back and there was a map. It seemed to be an alley, but it was overrun with bushes and grass. So it was more like a narrow path. But it was common space.

      If I remember properly, it was above Monkland, somewhere around Draper.

    • Kate 20:14 on 2020-05-19 Permalink

      There’s one transverse alley I found once in NDG where you could cut through a lot of streets on the back sides of houses, almost nobody around. There’s also a good one along the eastern edge of the Decarie trench. It really is a whole parallel set of streets in a lot of the older parts of town.

    • Alison Cummins 00:29 on 2020-05-20 Permalink

      Where does “clotheslining” happen? That thing where you catch your neck on a clothesline while you’re booting it from the cops?

      I heard about it first from a guy who grew up in Florida, but I didn’t quiz him about the layout of the built landscape. I don’t see it happening in any of the neighbourhoods I know in Montreal. But maybe I just don’t pay attention because I’m not in a risk group.

    • Vazken 05:22 on 2020-05-20 Permalink

      When my parents moved into our current home back in 1972 in Park Ex, it used to have an alleyway. By the time I was born and I could remember things (which would be somewhere in the early ’80s) the alleyway was no more. I always wondered about why other blocks have alleys and we don’t .

    • dwgs 07:39 on 2020-05-20 Permalink

      That half wild alley in NDG is bounded by Draper, Monkland, Melrose, and Terrebonne.

    • MtlWeb 07:52 on 2020-05-20 Permalink

      So much fun was had in the alley (lane) growing up in Park Ex. From tag, pitch & catch, 3 on 3 touch football in summer and tackle in winter, hide and seek, tomato-throwing over the buildings onto the street timed to perfection via walkie-talkie, ball hockey, learning to ride your first bike, reading your friend’s comics & other magazines, trading collectible cards…..was a safe and mostly car-free area that parents could allow their children to play from morning to night.

    • Tee Owe 12:03 on 2020-05-20 Permalink

      @dwgs – thanks for the memories!

  • Kate 08:49 on 2020-05-19 Permalink | Reply  

    Unions want safety guaranteed for workers as Montreal gradually reopens. Some merchants want to be able to require masks to protect themselves and their employees.

    The price of gas is on the rise in the Montreal area as the long weekend ends and more of us get back to work.

    The city will be contracting with some private businesses for the intensive cleaning needed in all its buildings as things reopen. The blue collar union is not thrilled.

    • dwgs 10:15 on 2020-05-19 Permalink

      Correction – The blue collar union is making a show of being displeased. Their members wouldn’t want to do that job to begin with and will be paid just the same as always anyway while having one less major task.

    • Kate 11:05 on 2020-05-19 Permalink

      Fair enough, but it’s part of their job to hold the line against privatization, even if it’s just a gesture. It’s clear from the article that the cleaning job is bigger than they have people for just now, for example, and the city has placed the unionized workers where they can work together. I don’t think this administration is anti-union, but the union needs to be seen to speak up.

  • Kate 08:25 on 2020-05-19 Permalink | Reply  

    The start of work on the L-H-Lafontaine tunnel may be delayed as only one qualifying bid has come in.

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