Updates from February, 2024 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Kate 21:18 on 2024-02-25 Permalink | Reply  

    Contradicting the mayor’s recent statement that things are going better in the Village, the area’s SDC found that one quarter of its merchants are considering moving or closing their businesses sometime soon, and many more are unsatisfied with the area’s declining cleanliness and safety.

    La Presse cites a report showing that the decline of the Village started before the pandemic, and that similar trends have been noted in established gay neighbourhoods elsewhere, as more general acceptance of homosexuality means there’s no longer any need for a special area for gay socializing.

    • qatzelok 11:29 on 2024-02-26 Permalink

      Also, there haven’t been any abandoned buildings to host spontaneous gay orgies in the Village since the late 90s. Grinder has done the same thing to these *spots* that Amazon has done to storefront retail.

    • dwgs 14:11 on 2024-02-26 Permalink

      Well that’s quite a tangent.

    • Ian 14:17 on 2024-02-26 Permalink

      There’s still orgies qatzi, you’re just not invited. Montreal is internationally known for its swinger scene, which is known for all the flavours.

      Grindr ruined nightlife about as much as Tinder did, which is to say not at all.

      The gay village diaspora is happening because people don’t need to hide away in an enclave tacitly tolerated by the police.

    • bob 14:40 on 2024-02-26 Permalink

      I think it’s part of a general trend of subgroup neighbourhoods. At first they existed as”ghettos” or enclaves (many Somethingtowns or Little Somethings or just some place becoming associated with the group), then as the groups got more assimilated the neighbourhoods ended up targeted for Disneyfication into tourist attractions (Quartier this and that) and/or gentrified. As to the declining safety and cleanliness, that’s on the City. And as to socializing – is that even a thing any more?

  • Kate 21:07 on 2024-02-25 Permalink | Reply  

    A project to build 230 units of affordable and social housing in St‑Michel risks collapsing because of government delays.

    In other construction tales, Quebec has plans to build the same apartment building in several towns, to help face the housing shortage.

    • Kate 16:08 on 2024-02-25 Permalink | Reply  

      Michel C. Auger asks a question I’ve often considered: should city councils be structured like Parliament? We’ve become so used to this idea that journalists routinely refer to “city hall opposition” although – as Auger points out – municipal parties don’t have the object persistence of federal or provincial parties, meaning that “when the leader of the party is defeated, his team often find themselves orphans and too easily take refuge in a sort of systematic opposition.”

      The oppositional situation tends to become acrimonious and toxic with no benefit to the city or its residents. So often we see Ensemble carping at Projet simply because they are the opposition and they feel it’s their job, even though they’re currently without a permanent leader and it would serve the city better if a more consensus‑oriented approach were considered normal.

      • Nicholas 17:00 on 2024-02-25 Permalink

        I think it’s not structured enough like Parliament. (Well, maybe not ours….) Having personality-based parties/slates is very common in municipal government (“independent” municipal governments usually just form around mayoral candidates), and is also common is developing democracies, where a party is created around the saviour who will fix everything. These parties tend to be unstable for the reasons you identify, and partly due to the low salience of the elections. Projet Montreal is the first party I can remember formed around an ideology, which is what modern developed democratic parliaments produce. And I expect PM to continue after Plante leaves (whether due to defeat or retirement), because it has partisans who believe in the party’s ideology rather than just holding power. Many of the Vancouver parties are more longstanding, and parties are very stable in countries where the national party contests local seats.

        There is not an easy way to switch to a more stable party system, but Montreal may have lucked into one. Parties are the central way people express their political values, and the anti-party movement has not done good for the world. Especially for low-salience local elections, parties help show differences, and let voters more easily find out what candidates stand for. Having just independents mean only the most committed understand the options, which leads to lower turnout and lower voter satisfaction. I hope we don’t move backwards to no parties, but instead forwards to more parties that really stand for something rather than someone, even if I don’t agree with them.

      • Kate 19:09 on 2024-02-25 Permalink

        Projet started out as a venture led by Richard Bergeron, so Valérie Plante inherited an already existing party.

        Earlier on, the Montreal Citizens’ Movement lasted from 1973 to 2001, held city hall for two terms under Jean Doré, but was voted out in 1994 and fell apart gradually after that. But it had some ideas similar to Projet’s and it did come up with the first urban master plan, rather than relying on the leader’s big ideas as Jean Drapeau’s Civic Party had always done.

      • Tim S. 19:47 on 2024-02-25 Permalink

        This might make sense for Montreal, but not sure about smaller cities. On one hand, it’s useful to have cooperation, especially as portfolios need to be handed out to everyone (if there’s only 8 councillors, say). On the other hand, it’s nice for voters to have at least a vague idea of where the candidates stand ideologically.

    • Kate 12:39 on 2024-02-25 Permalink | Reply  

      A program being run by Welcome Hall Mission is keeping people from drifting into homelessness by finding them places to live before they end up destitute. But once again I find myself thinking this should not need a charity, but be something our society does as a normal service.

      • Kate 10:29 on 2024-02-25 Permalink | Reply  

        Great piece on the Journal site Sunday tells how close the demolition of Windsor Station came in the 1970s, although it doesn’t expand on the later decision to construct the Molson (now Bell) Centre so that the rails were blocked off forever and the original purpose of the building was lost.

        While other cities in eastern North America have notable train stations, Central Station is, as the writer says, “imbriquée dans un bâti dense qui l’entoure et la dissimule” so that you have to approach it by tunneling in. This city merits something better.

        • DeWolf 13:02 on 2024-02-25 Permalink

          We used to be a multi-terminal city like London or Paris: when Central Station was opened by CN in 1943, we already had Windsor (CP), Bonaventure (Grand Trunk) and Viger (CP).

          Viger closed in 1951, but at least the building remains. Bonaventure closed in 1948 and was demolished just three years later. Based on photos, it was the smallest of the four termini, but it was a handsome Second Empire building.

          Central Station is modest but it has a certain late Art Deco charm. The big issue is that its main street-level access point is through a giant parking garage. There have been plans to add a couple of high-rise apartment towers on top of the garage (or maybe in replacement of it), which would be a good opportunity to open the whole thing up with a new atrium. And of course the surface parking along Belmont should be converted into a plaza where people can actually appreciate the structure of the actual train station, which I bet most people haven’t noticed.

        • Kate 13:39 on 2024-02-25 Permalink

          Bonaventure had had an explosion and a fire in 1948, according to Wikipedia. It probably had to go.

          It’s fairly amazing now that when King George and Queen Elizabeth (his wife, not his daughter) came here in 1939, they arrived at the station in Park Ex that’s now Parc metro station.

          I was born in Montreal and had a lot of local lore imparted to me by my parents, but I wasn’t aware of the Art Deco station buried inside the Belmont Street complex till a few years ago. I’ve spoken to people who’ve lived here for years yet have no idea where Central Station actually is, from a street geography point of view.

          That access by shimmying into a parking garage is really low rent for a city like this.

        • Robert H 14:17 on 2024-02-25 Permalink

          In large cities or small towns, we have become used to a concern for the built heritage of our communities. This concern has become a staple of discussion around so many changes in the cityscape whether it is invoked to protect a threatened, beloved edifice or prevent the construction of something new or controversial. So I was startled to learn, regarding Windsor Station, how indifferent and dismissive a federal official like Peter Bennett charged with stewardship of historic sites in 1973 could be. I shouldn’t have been, as I’m a boomer old enough to remember the scorched-earth urban renewal policies that reigned during my youth.

          There wasn’t much focus on historic preservation. Instead, there was a feeling, especially even earlier during the 1960s, that the best measure was the destruction of all that was old and decrepit to make way for for the shining, pristine future unencumbered by dusty remnants of the past. Given such attitudes, it’s easier to understand how the director of an agency dedicated to heritage sites could say that Windsor Station, the central rail terminal of the Canada’s then largest city and principal economic centre, was of no national importance.

          One also begins to understand how the travesty of the Van Horne mansion demolition could have been allowed. The heroes of this saga are clearly Michael Fish, Peter Lanken et Jean-Claude Marsan, the founders of Les Amis de la Gare Windsor, not only because they saved this «monstre hérissé de tourelles inutiles», but they helped to spark a shift in attitude toward the importance of preserving, valuing and even re-using existing, old buildings and infrastructure. The idea, for example, that Vieux Montreal should be leveled for a bright new quartier of orderly, wide streets and fresh waterside towers would be ridiculed now, but we shouldn’t forget how close that almost came to happening back in the bad old days of brave new world urbanism.

          I’m very pleased to see that Windsor Station still stands, it’s a jewel of the city. But the victory of those pioneers in preservation Les Amis was marred by the construction of the Molson/Bell Centre, a construction that matches the Van Horne demolition in odiousness. I remember there was some discussion at the time of building it over the rails as was done in Boston with the new Boston Garden arena which sits next to the commuter line terminus of North Station. But it was unfortunately, ultimately decided that Windsor Station’s continued viability was not worth the additional 30 to 40 million it would have required to construct the new venue on a giant platform over the tracks

          It’s annoying, and I do envy what’s been done in New York with Grand Central Terminal and the Post Office Building adjacent to Penn Station. I console myself with the fact that at least Windsor Station, unlike the Van Horne mansion, still exists. When I see the Bell Centre, I indulge a favorite fantasy: Does anyone know whether it is possible, feasible to raise (if not raze) an entire enormous structure?

        • Kate 20:19 on 2024-02-25 Permalink

          Robert H, thanks for writing that. I’ve paragraphed it for legibility but not changed anything else.

        • Robert H 23:39 on 2024-02-25 Permalink

          Much appreciated, Kate. I realize I need to better manage my word-bombs, but my enthusiasm for certain subjects gets the better of me.

        • dhomas 13:12 on 2024-02-26 Permalink

          Well, the Forum lasted as a hockey venue for about 72 years (1924-1996). We’re now into year 28 of the Bell Centre (FKA the Molson Centre), which opened in 1996. So, the Bell Centre could be disused by 2068 (1996 + 72 years). Maybe we could restore the train line to Windsor station then? 🙂
          Another way to calculate the depreciation of the Bell Centre would be by the value of the building. It was built in 1996 and was worth $265M ($463.45M in 2023 money). During the last municipal tax evaluation in 2023, it was given a value of $150M (source: https://www.lapresse.ca/affaires/2023-11-27/impots-fonciers/les-taxes-du-centre-bell-encore-en-baisse.php). Given this rate of depreciation, it could depreciate to 0$ by 2036 (or 40 years after construction). Then we could re-attache Windsor Station.
          I know these are highly unlikely scenarii, but I like to play with numbers. 😀

        • Taylor 16:05 on 2024-02-26 Permalink

          @dhomas –

          Given the NHL seems to have a 30 year rule on stadiums, I wouldn’t be surprised if they soon started getting antsy that the Bell Ctr is too old.

          This is the only time I’d advocate spending any amount of public money on a pro sports team. Demolish the Bell Ctr for the sole purpose of regaining Windsor Station, and move hockey back to the old Forum site (with the caveat being that the city would own the new Forum). It would require demolishing the old Forum building, but I don’t think anyone would mind at this point. Perhaps bits and pieces could be recycled and integrated into the new building for continuity’s sake.

        • dhomas 18:34 on 2024-02-26 Permalink

          The old Forum was designated a National Historic Site shortly after it was decommissioned as a hockey venue. Not sure if that means it needs to be protected in any way, like a Heritage building would be.

        • Kevin 21:22 on 2024-02-26 Permalink

          Destroying the old Forum would make life really hard for Dawson College, since it’s become the de facto expansion building for the school.

        • Ian 08:57 on 2024-02-27 Permalink

          Much like the Faubourg and Concordia. The old Forum is a bit of a white elephant, although the cinema has proved to be a pretty decent anchor over the years. Backfill from other local institutions short on space is a good thing in this regard.

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