Updates from March, 2023 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Kate 21:48 on 2023-03-07 Permalink | Reply  

    Place des Nations, once a key part of Expo 67, sitting unused for decades, will be rebuilt now that an architecture firm has been chosen. With a coda about how annoyed Ensemble is – even though the project was initially picked up then dropped by the Coderre administration.

    • Kate 21:42 on 2023-03-07 Permalink | Reply  

      A man who held up a bank in RDP on Friday was easily traced to his home nearby, and rounded up.

      • Kate 16:33 on 2023-03-07 Permalink | Reply  

        Extending the story of abandoned and decrepit social housing, CBC looks at some buildings on Walkley in NDG, empty for almost ten years, and presenting an eyesore as well as a mockery to people who need an affordable place to live.

        • Ian 21:12 on 2023-03-07 Permalink

          Lots of that in all the poor neighbourhoods. Race definitely plays a part whether the city recognizes it or not “officially”, black neighbourhoods are historically and currently underfunded. Thhere are lots of social housing projects the city has let fall into disrepair all over. Little Burgundy, the Point, CDN, HoMa, Viauville, it’s a travesty. Our City administration is predicated on elitist views of civic improvement, social housing isn’t nearly as sexy as low-hanging fruit with little investment required – like traffic calming and bike paths.

          As in pickpocketing, how our City governs is called “misdirection”. They distract you from the real action with some other immediately interesting performance. It’s the basis of almost every physical con, and they have clearly learned the lesson well – feed the elites that keep them in power and do lots of fun hand-wavey/ virtue signalling stuff when the poors (especially from districts with low voter turnout) are involved.

          As poor people have no real power, they don’t matter to PM. Remember that the City literally subscribes to Richard Florida’s (largely debunked) urbanist consultancy.

        • DeWolf 22:39 on 2023-03-07 Permalink

          Once again, Ian, you seem to think that municipal governments in this country have power and resources they simply don’t have.

          Traffic calming and bike paths cost a pittance compared to their return on investment (they literally save lives) which is why they’re so readily implemented. Social housing requires an enormous amount of funding, far beyond what the city can afford. It’s not a municipal responsibility. Even the SHDM’s funding does not primarily come from the municipal government.

          The provincial government should be the real target of your anger, and yet you take up any opportunity to drag PM over the coals…

        • Spi 00:00 on 2023-03-08 Permalink

          Dewolf if municipal governments aren’t able to act or don’t have the ressources to, then why do they insist on campaigning every election cycle on a promise of building more affordable and social housing? Am I just misremembering the empty promises that have been made?

        • DeWolf 02:05 on 2023-03-08 Permalink

          The Plante administration has acted, they passed the 20/20/20 law which is building up a reserve of land and money for social housing, and they’ve bought more land for social housing than any recent administration.

          But it costs $340,000 just to build one social housing unit in Quebec. That’s enormous. The entire cycling budget for 2022 could have built a grand total of 50 new units. With the limited revenues and budget of the city, that’s not municipal money, that’s money that needs to come from Quebec but isn’t.

          To answer your question more directly, Plante hasn’t made any specific promises about building a certain amount of social housing, but Legault promised 15,000 units and hasn’t even come close to delivering.

        • SMD 08:03 on 2023-03-08 Permalink

          DeWolf, Plante promised to create 6,000 social housing units in her first election. In her second election, after they hadn’t reached that target, her team chose to run on a promise to create 60,000 “affordable housing units” (that can’t be sold or rented for more than 90% of the median sale or rental price). Source: https://www.ledevoir.com/politique/montreal/634458/elections-municipales-valerie-plante-promet-60-000-logements-abordables-de-plus-a-montreal.

        • Ephraim 09:46 on 2023-03-08 Permalink

          Creating social housing is just PART of the problem. The city needs right of eminent domain on abandoned buildings that the can redevelop and sell 75% of, with 25% being for social housing. Instead of trying to get developers to give them 20% of a building for social housing, tax each new build apartment at 25% if they haven’t given the city social housing. And create a Crown Corporation to be the city’s developer. All the funds from that tax are used to pay for the eminent domain takeovers and social housing, as well as the sale of those lands afterward.

          And if we can’t manage to handle it, then make a deal with a developer to do it for the city with a straight percentage of profit. Or hire the CDPQ to do it. But just get it done.

          I will point out that I personally, after reading a lot of the studies, still think that rent-to-own and having a REIT do the management will have better results. The REITs have the maintenance people, accounting people and management in place and can scale. And mixing lower income into buildings with higher incomes has been shown to work, repeatedly. Also rent-to-own also shows a certain amount of pride and people are more willing to take care as well as participate in maintenance when they have an interest. But this is all pie-in-the-sky dreams, really. Because no one is willing to sit down and get it done… they all cower to the developers, which is why there is no money in the pot.

        • Kate 11:00 on 2023-03-08 Permalink

          Ephraim, I understand the psychology in rent to own – make people value the premises more as their own investment. But that leads into a dead end. Margaret Thatcher was really keen on making people buy their social housing, but then the UK ran out of social housing units, just like we have. It didn’t take long before the units were being sold at market rates. Once someone owns a property, they can do what they like with it.

          It doesn’t solve the basic problem and often makes it worse.

        • Ephraim 11:04 on 2023-03-08 Permalink

          Kate – You use the rent-to-own money to build new units. They also managed to lift a lot of people out of the cycle of poverty. Thatcher wasn’t interested in the cycle of money, she was Conservative and trying to sell it all off for the money without investing in any more. Habitat for Humanity is only rent-to-buy with a work component as part of the equity.

        • Ian 11:40 on 2023-03-08 Permalink

          @DeWolf “The provincial government should be the real target of your anger, and yet you take up any opportunity to drag PM over the coals…”

          This is the MTL City weblog. I assure you, I have no love for the CAQ either.

          That said, as others have pointed out, if PM campaigns on social housing then they need to walk the walk, too. If ANY municipal party campaigns on things that the province holds the purse strings to, they must think we are grade A idiots to keep voting for them.

          Social housing, public transit, gentrification, AirBnB – PM goes on and on about these topics and their like but when push comes to shove they pass the buck so they get to look like they are on the right side of history without actually doing anything about it.That might play in the sticks like Rouyn-Noranda but I had hoped Montrealers were a bit more sophisticated – and increasingly I can see that this hope was misplaced. I do continue to hope that we might learn from our mistakes.

          As the saying goes, fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

        • DeWolf 12:27 on 2023-03-08 Permalink

          @SMD, thanks for the reminder. Given that you’re more directly involved in these issues than most of us, what are the things the city government can do (within its power and budget) that would help most?

          @Ian, Everything you mentioned is outside the power of municipal governments, not just in Quebec but in every province. And yet they’re all municipal issues. It’s fucked up.

          I’m not a PM member and I would gladly vote for another party that has a better plan to tackle any of those big issues. Or any party that has a really concrete plan to deal with them within the city’s very limited competence. But that won’t happen until cities are given vastly more power, or at least until we have a more enlightened government in Quebec City.

          It doesn’t help that every major city in North America and Europe is dealing with exactly the same affordable housing crisis, and that public transit is collapsing throughout the continent. The problems are not unique to Montreal and they’re deeply structural. And there are two three types of municipal governments dealing with them: the ones that are making an effort and usually failing (like here, or in Paris, or Berlin), the ones burying their head in the sand and pretending it will all go away (Toronto) and the ones that are actively making things worse (take your pick). It’s not a pretty picture anywhere you look.

          I know I’m making apologies for PM. And it’s fine to criticize them, they should be held to a high standard. I certainly have a list of grievances where I feel they haven’t been ambitious enough or they’ve been content to cut corners in many of their initiatives. But there’s critique and then there’s what you keep posting, which is this cartoonish view of PM as moustache-swirling villains who are taking us all for dupes as they conspire to gentrify the city and line their pockets. It’s outlandish.

        • walkerp 12:54 on 2023-03-08 Permalink

          Agree fully with DeWolf’s argument here. Ian, it really feels like you have some deep personal disappointment with Projet Montréal that is messing with any objectivity. I have my issues with them as well but honestly we have one of the best municipal governments in North America. The bar is very low, but still things could be (and were) much, much worse.

          That being said, I do not disagree with the heart of your critique. PM has a white, bourgeois, upper middle class vision of the city that undercuts their progressive rhetoric. Worse, they seem to be in the control of the cops and the union so that corruption, though lessened, remains the significant blight on our city.

          But what is the response? To just hate them? No, we need to put pressure on them as citizens. There is no better alternative and PM has done a lot of good in the very challenging circumstances that is our poisoned neo-liberal political landscape today.

        • Ian 13:36 on 2023-03-08 Permalink

          Both of you are missing the point. If PM consistently campaigns on and makes public statements about things they literally have no control over, they are misleading us at best.

          It’s like student council president campaigning on the promise to have free pepsi in the cafeteria. – but then coming back for a second election saying “well I still want free pepsi but you see, my hands were tied”, putting the blame on the school admin – and expecting to get elected again on the same campaign.

          I don’t expect PM to be miracle workers but I would appreciate if they stopped lying to us by campaigning under false pretenses. That said, they literally do have control over the police and STM budget so I’m not sure why you guys are playing apologia for that switcheroo. For that matter, PM has been blaming Coderre for the STM’s underfunding since they got elected, and now they do the same. It’s about time they slowed up about campaigning on their green bona fides.

          All in all though I agree that the pressure does need to be put on them in the form of voting. PM won the last election but with a smaller margin – they know that they need to cater to their elites to maintain power because those are the only people that are voting right now. If more people get out and vote, politicians may actually have to work for our support. Crazy idea, I know – but way more effective than crafting apologia for the lesser of several evils.

        • saintjacques 13:43 on 2023-03-08 Permalink

          TL;DR: People campaigning for election or re-election to public office can oftentimes be disingenuous when making promises.

        • Ian 14:07 on 2023-03-08 Permalink

          … and we need to hold their feet to the fire by actually turning out to vote.

        • Tee Owe 16:10 on 2023-03-08 Permalink

          Doing this like on another thread – agree with Ian. If voting really mattered then ‘they’ would pay more attention – there was a graffito some years ago that read ‘If voting made a difference, it would be made illegal’

        • DeWolf 16:13 on 2023-03-08 Permalink

          I’m not sure where you’re getting your election numbers, Ian, but PM won the last election with a larger margin than in 2017. The party increased its seat count by 7 and Plante slightly increased her share of the vote. On the borough level, there’s a lot of variation, but in general PM lost vote share in 7 of the 19 boroughs: CDN/NDG, St-Léonard, Île-Bizard, LaSalle, Montreal North, Pierrefonds, Sud-Ouest. In the other 12 boroughs, PM vote share remained stable or increased. (There are a couple of oddball cases: in VSL where the PM candidate for mayor did much worse than in 2017 but the PM candidates for council did better. And in Outremont, PM increased its share of the vote in every race but still lost the mayoralty.)

          I don’t buy your “PM wins because people who turn out to vote are disproportionately elite gentrifiers” theory. If that was correct, PM would succeed in boroughs with low turnout, but it’s just the opposite – the party struggles the most in boroughs where people don’t turn out to vote, like St-Léonard and Montreal North. And among boroughs with the highest turnout (eg Rosemont, Île-Bizard, Outremont, Plateau) it seems impossible to draw a conclusion either way.

          Re the STM and police – I’m extremely disappointed by the SPVM budget increase and I’d like to know more about the political machinations that led to it. PM certainly hasn’t done enough to find solutions to the STM budget crisis. It will be something I think about when the next election comes around.

          But it’s worth noting that even the huge amount given to the SPVM ($63 million) wouldn’t cover the STM’s 2023 deficit ($78 million). And most of the SPVM and STM’s budget comes from Quebec, directly or indirectly, even if it’s Montreal that decides how the money get spent.

          That goes back to my original point: the city doesn’t raise enough money from its own taxes to pay for everything that needs to be paid for. Montreal has an annual budget of $6.7 billion, compared to $14 billion for Paris, which has roughly the same population. Chicago and Toronto have roughly the same population and yet Chicago has a municipal budget of $23 billion versus $10 billion in Toronto.

        • SMD 17:14 on 2023-03-08 Permalink

          @DeWolf Honestly, PM hasn’t been the worst on social housing but as @walkerp notes, the bar is incredibly low. They have put more money towards acquiring land for social housing, often by using the right of first refusal (negotiated by Coderre but first used by Projet). But they see their role as stopping there, and count on the provincial (and more and more the federal) level to actually fund the building of the housing. And then nobody wants to fund the ongoing maintenance, as we see on Walkley. @Ian is also right that certain sectors seem to be a higher priority than others, and in my experience race is unfortunately a factor. It acts sometimes as a proxy for voting participation, in that it is taken for granted that certain communities either won’t vote at all or will always vote for certain parties.

          The municipal level has power over questions of zoning, like flexibility on number of stories and minimum parking spaces. Boroughs can also covering the costs of permits, and identifying and placing lots on the “right of first refusal” register. Then it is up to City Hall to find the budget to acquire them when they have been sold. But the whole social housing sector is cash-strapped and sclerotic, and the old funding and building models can’t keep up with the speed and costs of the speculative housing market. I would love to see more innovative projects like SOLIDES just announced for Drummondville, or the partnership with the Sainte-Anne nuns in Lachine. Cities can take leadership to promote success stories like these to inspire others, and streamline the red tape to allow them. Other housing ideas for the municipal level that could interesting would be to keep innovating in the zoning categories, for example, to keep buildings as rentals instead of everything being turned into condos. I also see the mayor now building a coalition with other mayors to follow-through on her campaign promise to defer municipal tax increases for elderly homeowners on fixed incomes, but it requires changing provincial legislation (a good example of promised Pepsi from @Ian’s school election example).

          Just some thoughts off the top of my head. Would love to hear more from others!

        • Ian 18:33 on 2023-03-08 Permalink

          @Tee Owe perhaps appropriately for #IWD that quote “If voting could change the system they would make it illegal” is from Emma Goldman.

          Free Pepsi for everyone! /s

        • Tim S. 00:07 on 2023-03-09 Permalink

          As a PM member, I can say they do more outreach than any other org that I’ve been a member of (and I’m a member because they keep calling me and reminding me to renew etc!). They’re responsive to what members ask for, collect donations from satisfied members, and so yes, to a certain extent govern in the interest of their members. Nonetheless, they do make a constant effort to reach into marginalized groups. I’m not sure if women count as marginalized exactly, but they’ve done a very impressive job of recruiting women into all levels of decision-making.

          I say this not to deny any of the points made above, even Ian’s. The thing is, democracy is incredibly demanding in terms of time and energy, and it’s a certain group of middle and upper class people who have the time to participate, even loosely. And so parties respond to those groups, and the problem becomes circular. PM does more to escape that circle than most, but can’t entirely.

          (different topic, but increasing democratic participation is one reason why I’m a huge fan of universal basic income)

      • Kate 12:34 on 2023-03-07 Permalink | Reply  

        The ARTM is looking for an supplier to add fare purchase by phone to transit in Montreal.

        • Kate 11:42 on 2023-03-07 Permalink | Reply  

          A wooded area near Assomption metro is to fall to the axe for a real estate development. Nearby residents are making a last ditch effort to save it.

          • Blork 13:20 on 2023-03-07 Permalink

            TIL there’s a wooded area near Assomption metro.

            What an odd and random little patch of forest. It’s not very big — 120×175 metres — but as the article says, it’s a nice bit of green amid a somewhat industrial area. (Lungs!)

            I’m surprised it took developers this long to find it. It’s not really well located to be used as a park, and I don’t think there’s any other framework for what to do with a patch of wild trees in the middle of the city.

            I hope those people are successful in their unlikely attempt to stop the developers. If this were an episode of The Sopranos the developers would dump a few dead bodies in the park to show how such a space is a danger to society, and they’d get the DENSITY AT ANY COST advocates on board and that would be that.

          • DeWolf 13:38 on 2023-03-07 Permalink

            @Blork More like they’d send some guys to chop down all the trees at midnight. Happens all the time on Montreal’s suburban fringes, but probably not in a site like this with a lot of public scrutiny.

          • DeWolf 13:43 on 2023-03-07 Permalink

            Seriously though, as the article mentions this project is “de plein droit” according to the area’s zoning which means there isn’t any legal way for the city to stop it. The most they could do would be a land swap but I doubt the developer would be interested given the prime location next to the metro.

            Seems like a serious oversight from when the Assomption PPU (local master plan) was adopted in 2017. Maybe you wonder about how much on-the-ground knowledge the planning department actually has.

          • Chris 13:58 on 2023-03-07 Permalink

            If they don’t cut *those* tree down to build houses, they’ll cut down some *other* trees in the exurbs and sprawl the city out further. The almost 1/2 million new immigrants we added last year have to go somewhere.

          • Cadichon 14:02 on 2023-03-07 Permalink

            No, it’s not a matter of knowledge, that wooden lot has been known and targeted for development since forever and the people mobilizing to keep it as a park have also been active for a lot of time. Actually, I wonder if it’s more a matter of delay. Almost10 years have passed since planning started. Trees have had time to grow and the area may look nicer now than it did.

        • Kate 11:40 on 2023-03-07 Permalink | Reply  

          Another pepper spray incident caused a stoppage on the metro’s yellow line and parts of the orange and green lines Monday evening, and the evacuation of several stations while they were aired out.

          • Kate 10:29 on 2023-03-07 Permalink | Reply  

            Now it’s Richard Martineau’s turn to write the We Hate Montreal column du jour, making out that the cancellation of an old‑fashioned seasonal stage show is equivalent to the entire metropolis feeling disdain for Quebec’s regions – and blaming it on Montreal having people here from other cultures.

            • Blork 10:52 on 2023-03-07 Permalink

              I don’t understand how that is not a parody of a RM column. This guy gets paid for that?

            • Kate 11:24 on 2023-03-07 Permalink

              We don’t know whether QMI is using ChatGPT by now.

            • Nicholas 11:56 on 2023-03-07 Permalink

              We know Montreal has made it when it becomes a cultural signifier of allyship to hate it.

            • Kate 12:36 on 2023-03-07 Permalink

              It’s not unusual for a metropolis to be resented by the wider populace. But I wonder how common it is for a media empire to base itself on dislike of the metropolis the way QMI does.

            • DeWolf 13:09 on 2023-03-07 Permalink

              I wonder if we’ll ever see leaked text messages or emails that show it’s all an act – like how Tucker Carlson et al are actually quite disdainful of their audiences and fully aware of the bullshit they’re spouting.

              The old Richard Martineau is a very hazy memory, but I seem to remember his columns in Voir poking the bear of Quebec nationalism and generally trying to take the piss out of certain cultural orthodoxies. Now he’s doing the same, but in a way that serves his QMI masters. Narcissist or mercenary? Or both?

            • Kate 14:05 on 2023-03-07 Permalink

              I could believe Martineau is cynically writing this stuff to order. Not sure about MBC, though.

            • carswell 15:26 on 2023-03-07 Permalink

              You’re not misremembering, DeWolf. In both his Ondes de choc column in Voir and on Gzowski’s Morningside program on the CBC, where he was an occasional social/political commentator, he was a generally left-leaning provocateur. IIRC Radio Canada even characterized him as left-wing. These days, he’s a sad PKP hack who’s coasting on his reputation and churning out reactionary drivel like today’s column, shitting on the city that’s his birthplace and that he still calls home.

            • DeWolf 15:46 on 2023-03-07 Permalink

              There’s a column by Marie-France Bazzo in today’s La Presse that laments the state of Montreal. It’s more thoughtful than anything QMI would run, but it still hits the same points: Montreal is losing its soul, and that soul is “middle-class francophones” (dog whistle for white people). It’s a city that “lives differently and votes differently” to the rest of Quebec (actual quote) and this is somehow a problem.

              That last point in particular really perplexes me. I know Quebec has a strong tendency towards groupthink, but when did the CAQ become Quebec? Do these people know that only 40% of the population voted for that party?

            • Kate 15:52 on 2023-03-07 Permalink

              Here’s the Bazzo piece DeWolf describes.

            • Tim 20:45 on 2023-03-07 Permalink

              I don’t think that there is a dog whistle. The author laments the power that real estate promoters have over the city and the fact that the middle class is being squeezed out by price increases in housing. This has already happened in Vancouver and Toronto.

            • Ian 21:18 on 2023-03-07 Permalink

              Yeah, agreed – partially anyhow – Bazzo laments that the cities are becoming playgrounds for the rich.

              She does talk a lot about the noticeable “recule” of French though – which totally is a dogwhistle.

              Presumably only middle class French people can save Montreal but since they got chased out of Place Emile-Gamelin we’re done for. /s

              Tangentially related, I have noticed that more of the beggars/ junkies around UQAM are French, whereas those around Atwater skew English. Even in despair we live within two solitudes.

            • H. John 10:16 on 2023-03-08 Permalink

              This story seems to have more import in French media. It’s not just QMI.

              I first heard it Monday morning on Paul Arcand when he dedicated more than 10 minutes to interviewing the show’s owner/producer; and then surprisingly giving Régis Labeaume time to jump in with his opinion on the loss of Quebec “regional” culture.


              LaPresse also had an article.


            • Kate 10:54 on 2023-03-08 Permalink

              Thanks, H. John.

              I guess I get a Bad Anglo point because I was utterly unaware of this show for the entirety of its 20‑year run.

          • Kate 10:04 on 2023-03-07 Permalink | Reply  

            A business in St-Laurent was firebombed overnight, little damage done and no one hurt. Metro notes that it’s the sixth arson in that borough since the beginning of February; CBC says it’s nine since November and the latest victim says he hasn’t received threats and has no idea why someone would try to burn his business.

            • Kate 09:58 on 2023-03-07 Permalink | Reply  

              A man was spotted being forced into a vehicle in DDO on Monday evening. The victim was freed later in St‑Laurent, but was then sent to hospital with stab wounds.

              Compose new post
              Next post/Next comment
              Previous post/Previous comment
              Show/Hide comments
              Go to top
              Go to login
              Show/Hide help
              shift + esc