Updates from April, 2024 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Kate 17:36 on 2024-04-10 Permalink | Reply  

    The STM says it’s boosting security in ten metro stations in response to a sense of insecurity among passengers – but only till the end of April, and no new agents are being hired. Pretty explicitly it’s a matter of public reassurance and not of permanent solutions, because STM chair Éric Alan Caldwell says the STM can’t fix the social crises driving people into the metro to shelter, sleep or take drugs.

    • Nicholas 18:28 on 2024-04-10 Permalink

      So they’re paying for overtime hours for three weeks when they admit it only papers over the problem and can’t solve it. Did I miss the story that their massive budget deficit was somehow solved and they won’t have to layoff all those other staff and cut service?

    • Chris 19:57 on 2024-04-10 Permalink

      It might not be totally useless if it encourages enough people to return to taking transit, thus increasing revenue. It could also serve to shoo away some of the undesirables, who maybe don’t know it’s only for 3 weeks, and may not return.

    • Kate 20:15 on 2024-04-10 Permalink

      By the end of April the weather will be milder and they can rely on spring and summer weather to reduce the numbers taking shelter in the metro – but the same problems will return in six months’ time.

    • walkerp 07:12 on 2024-04-11 Permalink

      Is it actually any less safe in the metro? I wasn’t here in the 70s and 80s but I’m sure it was much less safe then (statistically that was the case for crime in Montreal). A lot of this is perception, with social media attacks on cities as a concept in general and more homeless people and drug addiction freaking out some people while not actuallly being dangerous.
      Though did see a foiled purse-snatching at the St-Henri station last week, which was the first time I’d ever seen an actual crime on the STM in Montreal.

    • Kate 09:28 on 2024-04-11 Permalink

      walkerp, a lot of the crime recorded then – as now – was internecine gang stuff. I walked around alone a lot, and took public transit all the time, often at night, and never felt under threat.

      I don’t think people exactly feel threatened, even now, but they do feel unnerved. Faced with fucked‑up unpredictable people in public spaces, we don’t know what to do.

    • maggie rose 10:09 on 2024-04-11 Permalink

      Just saw a piece on BBC World News that they’ve temp brought in the National Guard for this same issue. Stats say the subway in NYC is safe, but video of gunshots inside a full subway car and musicians being attacked and robbed are unnerving. Most interviewed said they’re not afraid. Of course truly affordable housing and truly affordable healthcare for the ensuing mental health issues that often come from such suffering would benefit more than sinking millions more into policing. Yay, we’re sort of like NYC now.

    • Chris 20:54 on 2024-04-11 Permalink

      >A lot of this is perception…

      Perception matters.

  • Kate 11:35 on 2024-04-10 Permalink | Reply  

    The city has acquired numerous buildings with the intention of converting them to social housing, but layers of bureaucracy means very little has been done. Now they have to decide whether to keep acquiring properties, since government requirements have been blocking renovation plans at every turn.

    • Nicholas 12:29 on 2024-04-10 Permalink

      Finding a non-profit that has the capacity and experience to find funding for and then retrofit or construct a housing project is not easy, and just adds complications, costs and time to a project. Sometimes it’s the right move, but usually it’s just better to build it yourself (and by that I mean put it out to bid) and the builder can either return the completed project to you or OMHM or whatever or can operate it itself under contract. Or if that doesn’t work, let a for-profit builder do its thing and then subsidize some low income people to live there, or anywhere, with the sale and increased property taxes from the new building. I trust the city to hand out some cash to low income people who need housing way more than I do for them to build a housing project.

    • bob 13:53 on 2024-04-10 Permalink

      Maybe acquiring “entre autres des incinérateurs, des églises, des garages, des bureaux, même des étables et un caveau à légumes” is not the best strategy when you want to make housing. It’s a great way to take worthless property off the books of some connected person or organization. Maybe enforcing rent controls and forcing empty housing stock onto the market would be a more effective to keep housing affordable. Not likely.

    • Kate 14:09 on 2024-04-10 Permalink

      True. Maybe that’s why Maxime Bergeron focuses on the old Chinese hospital, which really would be worth converting, but should be worked on soon before it starts to crumble. Like Bergeron, I pass the building quite often, and never fail to ponder its condition and its future. Forty new housing units in that location would be a benefit not only to its residents, but to the surrounding neighbourhood.

    • Ephraim 15:23 on 2024-04-10 Permalink

      I wonder if anyone has talked to Habitat for Humanity. The people who want social housing, though, will have to put in sweat equity.

    • Nicholas 18:16 on 2024-04-10 Permalink

      The page on the Heritage Montreal site for the old hospital says it needs “major renovation”, and was built in 1974. Having been abandoned for a quarter century, half its life, and given the potential to maybe make it four or five stories to increase the housing potential, I would assume it’s easier to knock it down and start over, and it’s not like it’s a significant heritage structure.

    • mare 18:49 on 2024-04-10 Permalink

      @Ephraim Habitat for Humanity only does new construction and appear to have problems in Montreal, probably of the same kind as the city. Walls of bureaucracy and a lack of terrains (they rely on donated land). They have build *very few* homes so far in Montreal. (I tried to find their yearly reports to find exact numbers but it seems they don’t make them available anymore.)

      I worked on two duplexes in Mercier 13 years ago, and the problems they had then don’t seem to have been solved. Lack of terrains, lack of continuity in paid and volunteer staff, lack of funding.

    • JaneyB 22:13 on 2024-04-10 Permalink

      @mare and @Ephraim – I tried to volunteer with Habitat in Montreal back about 15 years ago and it was a non-starter – rudderless, lack of professional tradespeople, and also Quebec doesn’t really have a volunteer culture. In my hometown of Winnipeg, Habitat is a steamroller of efficiency and know-how, largely because it is sponsored by the Mennonite churches (15% of the population) and their community includes many tradesmen and construction companies. Those companies lend Habitat their tradespeople as a charitable donation for tax purposes. This method works; you need to have a critical mass of skillful people around which you can add volunteers. Habitat here needs to talk to Habitat in Winnipeg to figure out how to get the ball rolling in Montreal.

    • JP 13:13 on 2024-04-11 Permalink

      Interesting that you’ve observed that Quebec doesn’t have a volunteer culture. I was a regular volunteer at a meals on wheels for a long time, but when it came up with friends, acquaintances or colleagues the reactions would range from mild confusion to bewilderment.

    • Ian 13:20 on 2024-04-11 Permalink

      @JaneyB The Mennonites run https://www.maisondelamitie.ca/ which is very volunteer-centric. I used to volunteer teaching ESL there. There isn’t much of a rural Mennonite population here compared to even Ontario.

    • Kate 13:35 on 2024-04-11 Permalink

      Quebec tends to feel that paying high taxes means we get the services we need in return, and nobody needs to work for free. There are exceptions but I’ve definitely seen studies showing that volunteering is much lower here than elsewhere in Canada.

      And JaneyB: I don’t see Montreal taking lessons from Winnipeg.

    • Blork 14:04 on 2024-04-11 Permalink

      “Quebec tends to feel that paying high taxes means we get the services we need in return, and nobody needs to work for free.”

      The problem with that model is that it is entirely money-based and doesn’t touch on the more humanistic aspect of service to your community and fellow citizens. It’s a bit like saying as long as you hand over cash to a coterie of robotic bureaucrats you can be as much of a selfish prick as you want because it’s not your job to be helpful.

      The other thing is that in a more volunteer-oriented society it’s not seen as anyone needing to work for free. It’s volunteer work. You don’t NEED to do it, you do it because it helps people and contributes to creating a better and more sympathetic society. And not everyone does so; only those who want to.

      But yes, Quebec society can’t seem to get over the idea of deferring to the higher authority. It used to be the church. Now it’s the government. Same shit, different asshole.

      That said, I haven’t done any notable volunteer work in decades, largely because (as JaneyB said) Quebec doesn’t have a volunteer culture.

    • Kate 23:54 on 2024-04-11 Permalink

      Blork, I’m not implying that anyone needs to work for free, but that I have deep distrust of any social system that relies on having a certain number of people work for free so it can deliver needed services. Our taxes should guarantee that people need not appeal to volunteer‑based charities for help when they need it.

      Also, I’ve never volunteered, but over the years I’ve encountered various kinds of projects that were being done on an unpaid basis, and they were inevitably a mess, because it’s almost impossible to fire incompetent volunteers. It’s not a great way to get things done.

    • Blork 00:24 on 2024-04-12 Permalink

      Yes, I get that. But I have a deep distrust of any social system that just hands everything over to the government or government agencies. As with most things, I’m most comfortable when things are in balance. My lament in this case is really about the lack of volunteer culture in Quebec. It just feels weird to me, and it feels (as I’ve said above and elsewhere) like a variation of the passivity one sees in a society that is under authoritarian rule, be it church or state.

    • MarcG 09:13 on 2024-04-12 Permalink

      Quebec doesn’t have a volunteer culture but we do have a grassroots organization culture. Off the top of my head I can think of a few in Verdun alone: Centre des femmes de Verdun, Comité d’Action des Citoyennes et Citoyens de Verdun, Coopérative de Solidarité Abondance Urbaine Solidaire…

    • Blork 09:32 on 2024-04-12 Permalink

      MarcG, true that. I love me some grassroots. Different kind of thing, but useful and valuable.

    • K.D. 18:23 on 2024-04-12 Permalink

      Speaking of volunteering, If anyone is motivated to volunteer AND wants save a life, you can volunteer to be a living kidney donor. A living kidney is a better (longer-lasting) kidney for the transplant recipient to receive.
      Other provinces (BC and Ontario in particular) have a much higher rate of living kidney donor donations vs Quebec.
      There are three forms of donations: direct to someone you know; If you are incompatible with that person you can do a linked pair (chain) donation where a chain of donors matches compatible recipients; and a simple anonymous donation.
      I know this because I have spent the last few months going through tests to be a kidney donor. After meeting with a friend who I discovered had received a kidney transplant which saved their life, I signed up to be an anonymous donor. This part of the Quebec health care system works really good – it just needs donors to step up (kidney.ca for more info).
      In any case, please sign your organ donor card.

  • Kate 11:18 on 2024-04-10 Permalink | Reply  

    The city archives, which moved from their longtime home under city hall in 2018, will return home this summer. They were all moved to a building opposite Rosemont metro while the lengthy renovation of city hall was done.

    • Kate 11:17 on 2024-04-10 Permalink | Reply  

      From today, it will be possible to recharge an Opus card with a phone and we will soon be able to pay a fare with a bank card.

      • Blork 13:47 on 2024-04-10 Permalink

        No instructions as to how, but I suspect it’s this:

        Get the latest version of the Chrono app. (I’m not seeing an update today, but I suspect you’ll need an update.)

        Be signed in to the Chrono app, meaning you’ll need an account. (I’ve been waiting an hour for my activation link… tick tick tick tick…)

        Will probably need to input a credit card number, but if things are magical it will have the option go directly to your Apple/Android wallet. (I have doubts such magic will happen.)

        Most likely a menu item in the app, with on-screen instructions.

      • Joey 14:00 on 2024-04-10 Permalink

        I joined the open beta – it was a breeze. Didn’t need an account – there’s an icon on the top right (and a menu bar option) that previously was used to let you read the balance; you click on it, read the balance by holding your card up to your phone, and then choose what you want to buy, then you pay. Can’t recall if it used Apple Pay or not. But it was not account-based, so anyone could fill anyone else’s card.

      • Blork 15:32 on 2024-04-10 Permalink

        That’s good news, Joey. Sensible and easy to use. Hmmm… MUST BE A HOAX!

      • Blork 15:39 on 2024-04-10 Permalink

        Not working for me. I get the thing for reading the card and reporting the balance, but there’s no option to purchase.

      • jeleventybillionandone 18:30 on 2024-04-10 Permalink

        I believe the app with the payment option is on a phased rolllout. I did see news of up several weeks ago, but the version of the app with the payment option did not appear until the other day for me.

      • DeWolf 14:30 on 2024-04-11 Permalink

        You probably have to update the app.

        I just went into the metro, discovered I had no more tickets left and used the new feature to quickly add them to my Opus card instead of lining up at the horrible machine. Worked like a charm.

        We should really be able to add a virtual Opus to our phones like in countless other cities. Then you wouldn’t even need a physical card. I did that recently in Tokyo and it worked like a charm.

        What we really need is to scrap the silly ticket system and treat the Opus like a purse. You could still add passes, but instead of buying tickets you’d just add cash value that would be deducted when you take a trip. (And ideally it would max out at the value of a day pass.) For that to work properly you’d need to have people tap out, at least in zones B and C.

      • dwgs 09:35 on 2024-04-12 Permalink

        Like Joey, I was part of the beta testing, it works very well and I use Google Pay although there is the option to enter a cc as well.

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