Montreal 2021

Written by  //  October 9, 2021  //  Montreal  //  No comments

Hanes: Memo to federal leaders — Cities need way more power
…there is an added wrinkle to voicing such demands during this busy election season: a municipal campaign is also well under way in Montreal. So it’s not just Plante outlining her priorities for the next federal government that takes power in Ottawa, but her rivals, too.
Denis Coderre, the former mayor and head of Ensemble Montréal, also wants a handgun and assault weapon ban, along with a federal-led crackdown on gun trafficking. A rise in gun violence in Montreal has moved this issue higher on the agenda for mayoral hopefuls this summer.
But Coderre has some ideas of his own. So does Balarama Holness, leader of Movement Montreal. And there are things that Montrealers themselves need that only the federal government can provide.
Affordable housing is another crisis cities are confronting that they badly need Ottawa’s help to fix. Between soaring real-estate prices driving families further away and rising rents from renovictions putting tenants in an increasingly precarious position, both Plante and Coderre are looking for federal funds to accelerate the construction of affordable and social housing.
Holness specifically wants federal lands in the Peel Basin set aside for 24,000 social and 30,000 affordable units, rather than ceded to business interests seeking to build a stadium to attract a Major League Baseball team.
Perhaps motivated by more generalized angst over housing, polls conducted on the eve of the election call showed widespread public support to end homelessness. That’s right: not just open more shelters, but find permanent housing for those who fall through the cracks.
… Among the challenges cities face are:
protecting vulnerable citizens in dense, paved neighbourhoods during heat waves;
updating infrastructure to manage extreme weather; and
operating public transit services that need to be expanded to reduce emissions from vehicle traffic.
This summer, Plante unveiled Montreal’s plan for banning single-use plastics, but the federal government has a role to play in instituting national standards for plastics, helping establish a circular economy and nurturing new industries that make use of recycled materials.
Coderre is calling on the federal government to save the Champs de Monarques, wild grassland that serves as a Monarch butterfly sanctuary, on lands owned by Aéroports de Montréal that are incomprehensibly favoured for a new medical mask manufacturing facility.
Coderre, who negotiated more power for Montreal from the Quebec government during his term as mayor, is now looking for more autonomy from Ottawa. He is asking for the federal government to give Montreal half a point of GST revenue to diversify the city’s sources of revenue, which are heavily dependant on residential and commercial property taxes.
Holness, for his part, wants a new legal framework that would grant Montreal state-like powers.

10 October
Seems like we have heard this before
Denis Coderre vows to cover part of Montreal’s Décarie Expressway
The $700 million project, which Coderre wants Ottawa or Quebec to fund, would cover the noisy expressway with a park and outdoor sports facilities.
“We want to build an N.D.G. and C.D.N. that’s green and more inclusive,” said Lionel Perez, who is running to be borough mayor with Coderre’s Ensemble Montréal party. “We want to reduce the auditory and visual pollution.”

6 October
Bill 96 hearings: Valérie Plante fully endorses overhaul of French charter
“As the biggest francophone city in North America, Montreal is and will be an ally of Bill 101 and its reform,” Plante told the committee.
Philip Authier
Mayoralty candidate Valérie Plante said she does not want Montreal to become a bilingual city and fully supports the Legault’s government’s Bill 96 overhauling the Charter of the French Language.
… The CEGEP representatives also said they agree with the bill’s plan to freeze enrolment on their large Montreal campuses, but say capping enrolment for off-island CEGEPs is more complicated because their enrolment is more fragile.
… Plante went on to say under her administration the city created an action plan to give French its rightful place back in the city at the same time as being inclusive of anglophone and Indigenous communities. She mentioned her decision Tuesday to name former Parti Québécois cabinet minister Louise Harel responsible for following up on the plan.

4 October
Why the stakes are high in Montreal’s municipal election
A look at the most pressing issues heading into the Nov. 6 and 7 vote
Benjamin Shingler
(CBC) Heading into the election, Montreal faces an ever-tightening housing market, questions about the role of policing after a spike in shootings, growing concerns over the climate crisis and the resulting extreme weather and, yes, the lingering pandemic.
With the price of both rentals and real estate climbing, housing ranked as the top issue in a recent opinion poll among voters by Léger, commissioned by Le Devoir.
All the mayoral candidates have promised to take steps to address the problem, even if much depends on the actions of the federal and provincial governments.
Plante and Coderre in particular, though, differ in their approaches, with the former promising to build more affordable housing under a model that places more requirements on developers, and the latter advocating a more business friendly approach.
The previous municipal election focused heavily on transit and ways to improve getting around the traffic-clogged city.
Plante won with a promise to get the city moving again, with more bike paths, bus lanes and, eventually, a new Pink metro line.
The latter hasn’t happened, of course, and the pandemic has kept many people at home.

30 September
Balarama Holness and Mouvement Montreal join forces with another party ahead of municipal election
Marc-Antoine Desjardins will no longer run to become Montreal’s mayor
Balarama Holness, the leader of Mouvement Montreal and Marc-Antoine Desjardins, the leader of Ralliement pour Montréal announced their plans to merge their parties during a news conference on Thursday.
Holness will stay in the running to become the city’s next mayor and Desjardins will remove himself from the race.
Desjardins will instead try to become a borough mayor, though he did not specify which one. According to Radio-Canada sources, he will run in Outremont.
One of Ralliement pour Montréal’s top campaign priorities is strengthening the French language.
The platform of Mouvement Montreal, meanwhile, includes having the city “officially recognized as a bilingual metropolis,” instituting a bylaw to allow businesses to operate in both French and English and having all municipal government documents available in both languages.
In the past, the two mayoral candidates have clashed on this point. Just on Monday, Desjardins replied to a tweet that referred to Holness’s plan as “anti-Quebec” by saying “the only vaccine for this is Ralliement pour Montréal. Simple as that.”

28 September
Holness sees Montreal as a bilingual city-state
Would seek special status and taxation powers if elected mayor.
… “We are going to encourage all businesses to do business in both languages. And when tourists come to Montreal, they’ll be able to be welcomed in the language of their choice, English or French.”
Denis Coderre’s campaign platform includes backtrack on pit bulls
Coderre says he “won’t attack a race, but will attack dangerous dogs.”
He also promised to create two animal shelters — one in each of Montreal’s east and west ends — and a central fund to help boroughs create or refurbish existing dog parks.
The pledges came Monday as the former mayor’s Ensemble Montréal party announced its campaign platform, which also includes plans for housing, mobility, the environment, and making Montreal a leader in Quebec and abroad.
Coderre was flanked by platform co-presidents Guillaume Lavoie and Emilia Tamko, who explained the details.

21 September
EMSB’s Joe Ortona calls on mayoral candidates to speak out against Bill 96
The bill would affect how services are delivered to the city’s English-speaking minority, said the candidate for Loyola.
“The candidates should pronounce themselves for or against Bill 96; Montrealers should know this prior to voting,” said Ortona, who was dumped from mayoral candidate Denis Coderre’s party after the English Montreal School Board that he chairs took a position against the proposed law.

7 September
English school board chair booted from Denis Coderre’s party over stance on language reform
(CBC) Joe Ortona, chair of the English Montreal School Board (EMSB), was the Ensemble Montréal candidate for Côte-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grâce’s hotly contested district of Loyola — a largely English-speaking neighbourhood that currently has no councillor after Christian Arseneault’s recent resignation.
EMSB commissioners adopted a resolution last week calling on Quebec to withdraw Bill 96. It also called on the federal government to refer the bill to the Supreme Court of Canada to rule on whether it’s legal.
When Ensemble Montréal announced Ortona’s candidacy back in July, the party touted his “dedication to upholding the constitutional rights of the English-speaking community.”
That exaltation flipped to condemnation as Coderre proclaimed that the protection of French is “one our fundamental values.”
“We have demonstrated this publicly on several occasions, in particular with our request for the creation of a French language council,” he says in a statement.

14 August
Large crowd marches in Montreal to protest against Quebec’s vaccination passport
(CBC) The crowd, which stretched at least four to five blocks on René-Lévesque Boulevard West, began marching toward Place des Festivals at 2 p.m. ET, with people chanting “No to vaccine passports,” in French.
Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé confirmed earlier this week that a vaccination passport system will be implemented as of Sept. 1 in an effort to combat a growing COVID-19 caseload and what he described as an “inevitable” fourth wave.

19 July
How Empty Storefronts Are Killing Our Neighbourhoods
All over North America, speculators are raising rents and pushing out tenants. Will our cities ever be the same?
by Lucy Uprichard
(The Walrus) On February 25, when a photo of a For Rent sign in the window of S. W. Welch was posted on Twitter, shock spread across social media. The used bookstore, owned by Stephen Welch, had been a mainstay of Montreal’s Mile End since it relocated there, in 2007. A few years ago, a real estate firm bought Welch’s building. As Welch approached the end of his lease, which was to expire in August, his new landlord told him that the store’s monthly costs—rent, taxes, insurance, and maintenance—would go up an impossible 150 percent, to $5,000 a month. “I think they’d rather [the building] be empty than have me here,” the sixty-eight-year-old bookseller told Cult MTL.
For Mile Enders, it was no surprise who was behind the shop’s ouster: Shiller Lavy. No other developer is name-checked as often in the city’s anti-gentrification graffiti. Composed of Stephen Shiller and Danny Lavy, the duo is…notorious for buying property, hiking rents, and shoving out long-term tenants.
Once these establishments are sent packing, the communities around them—sometimes built over decades—often fade away too. After closing, many storefronts were boarded up for months or even years. A healthy vacancy rate is between 4 and 10 percent, a range that accounts for renovations and normal turnover. In 2019, a consultation revealed that Montreal had hit 15 percent—in some areas, 26 percent—and that properties were sitting empty for an average of nineteen months.

30 June

29 – 30 June
24-hour shelter opening at former Hôtel-Dieu hospital as contract ends with downtown Montreal hotel
The former hospital will have at least 100 beds, with a capacity of 200 if needed, according to health officials who led reporters on a tour Wednesday.
The Old Brewery Mission and Welcome Hall Mission partnered with one of the Montreal health boards, the CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal, and the CHUM superhospital to set up the shelter.
The shelter will open Thursday, about three weeks after dozens of homeless people were told to find a new shelter because emergency accommodations in Place Dupuis — another temporary shelter in a downtown hotel — would close at the end of June.
Residents will be able to leave their belongings in the room they are staying in, and meals and snacks will be provided.
The goal is to help residents find long-term housing by connecting them to rent subsidies and other programs to find housing, as rents in the city rise.
Facing high rent and limited options, hundreds of Quebec tenants struggle to find new homes
Vacancy rate is improving in Montreal, but many renters can’t afford rising rents
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, throughout her time in office, has called on the province and federal government to invest more in social housing.
While a tentative $1.4-billion social housing agreement was reached between Quebec and Ottawa last September, Plante has said that will take several years to bring to fruition.
In the interim, her administration passed a bylaw this spring that forces developers to include social, family and, in some places, affordable housing units to any new projects larger than 4,843 square feet (about five units). Those who don’t are on the hook for hefty fines.

28 June
Defiant Sue Montgomery says she won’t resign despite ethics violations
Municipal Commission finds Côte-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough mayor guilty of 11 ethics violations
All the violations cited in the ruling stemmed from the fallout of an investigation into workplace culture at the borough by the city of Montreal’s comptroller general in 2019.
That investigation found that Montgomery’s chief of staff, Annalisa Harris, had psychologically harassed two borough employees. The comptroller general recommended that Harris no longer have contact with those employees.
Montgomery also formed her own political party, Courage. She’s running for re-election as borough mayor in November, and Harris is running for a seat on the borough council.

24-25 June
Artturi Lehkonen’s OT goal sends Canadiens into Stanley Cup final
Montreal will face the winner of the other semifinal between the Islanders and Lightning. Game 7 in that series will be played Friday night.
Downtown Montreal transformed into one big party after the Habs’ win
As the Montreal Canadiens secured their place in the Stanley Cup final, there were makeshift parades, some tear gas and a guy on a hoverboard directing traffic.
Dunlevy: Habs’ epic Stanley Cup run brings out best and worst in Montrealers
The unifying power of the Habs’ success is almost enough to let us overlook the thuggish shenanigans around the Bell Centre on Thursday.
…fans celebrated the Fête nationale, downtown revellers marked the occasion by mass-gathering in distinctly anti-socially-distanced fashion and vandalizing and overturning cop cars.
Montreal police made 15 arrests and gave out 60 tickets for infractions including assault, armed assault and obstructing a police officer in the line of duty, according to Inspector David Shane, spokesperson for the SPVM.
“The first thing I’ll say is that the vast majority of Montrealers participating and present downtown handled themselves very well,” Shane said. “They celebrated in (a spirit of) respect and harmony. That’s important to underline. There were a few individuals who got a little out of control, and that carried over”.

25 June
Balarama Holness veut un statut bilingue pour la Ville de Montréal
Le candidat à la mairie de Montréal Balarama Holness plaide en faveur d’un statut bilingue pour la Ville de Montréal, jetant du même coup un pavé dans la mare en pleine journée de fête nationale. Selon lui, les citoyens anglophones et allophones devraient avoir un meilleur accès aux services en anglais à la Ville et les entreprises devraient pouvoir mener leurs activités dans les deux langues afin d’assurer à la métropole un meilleur rayonnement sur la scène internationale.
Hanes: Royalmount project is a bad idea no matter what it looks like
Even if Royalmount is now being billed as “a true, 100% pedestrian eco-innovative neighbourhood,” building 3,250 condos in a busy industrial park next to a major highway junction is still a terrible idea. See: Moratorium on Royalmount project is essentialRoyalmount will not bring economic development but “economic displacement” to Montreal, groups warn in open letter calling for a moratorium. (1 March 2019)

22 June
$48.2M real-estate project targets students in downtown Montreal
The 19-storey building on Peel St., with average monthly rents at $885, is expected to be completed in May 2022
At last, a setback for developers Brandon Shiller and Jeremy Kornbluth thanks to the Ville-Marie demolition committee.
Downtown borough rejects demolition of Drummond St. building
The project lacks social acceptability, said councillor Sophie Mauzerolle of the Ville-Marie borough’s urban planning committee

19 June
Le taux de logements libres atteint 10 % à Montréal et à Québec
(La Presse) Le taux de logements vacants ou bientôt disponibles a poursuivi sa hausse fulgurante observée depuis le début de la pandémie et atteint maintenant 10 % dans l’île de Montréal et à Québec, selon une étude de la CORPIQ obtenue par La Presse.
« La baisse drastique de l’immigration, la possibilité d’étudier ou de travailler à distance, le retour massif de logements autrefois loués à des touristes, les règles de confinement plus restrictives, l’attrait moindre pour les grandes villes devenues sans évènements festifs ni lieux de rencontres sont autant de facteurs qui ont poussé vers le haut le taux d’inoccupation », résume le document qui sera rendu public ce samedi.

18 June
Montreal unveils strategy to protect historic Chinatown district
The strategy includes improving pedestrian access to the area, increasing parks and green spaces and developing social housing.
A historic block of Montreal’s Chinatown, including a collection of buildings on de la Gauchetière St., was recently threatened for development.
Citing its historic and cultural importance, Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante said it’s crucial to protect Montreal’s Chinatown district.
The city unveiled an action plan Friday to protect the sector, which Plante pointed out is Quebec’s only true Chinatown and the only one in North America situated in a French city.
The plan, which is the fruit of nearly two years of consultation, puts in place several measures. Among them:
Improving pedestrian access to the area from the downtown core.
Increasing parks and green spaces in both private and public areas.
Maintaining and developing social housing.
Supporting businesses in the area by creating a local merchants’ association.
Encouraging initiatives to generate more interest in the sector, and to encourage more visitors.
The city also wants to partner with the Quebec government to create a working group that will come up with strategies to protect heritage buildings that are part of the sector.

6 June
Anti-lockdown march in Montreal draws several thousand protesters
It drew a diverse group of people, including young parents with their children (none wearing masks), 5G conspiracy theorists, anti-vaxxers, motorcycle gang members and right-wing extremists.
Few, if any, of the protesters wore masks, and many carried signs accusing Quebec Premier François Legault of imposing draconian measures during the pandemic even as the government is now easing restrictions amid falling COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

3 June
Hanes: Old Montreal must be rescued again, this time from hooligans
Within the last year, the old quarter has been the site of riots, brawls and shootouts.
Back in the 1950s, there were plans to build an expressway along the waterfront, which would have meant razing countless historic buildings in the previously shabby district of the city. Fortunately, the old quarter was saved by a pair of architects, Blanche Lemco van Ginkel and her husband, Daniel van Ginkel, whose commitment to heritage preservation and visionary urban planning won the day. My Gazette colleague Marian Scott wrote about their David-versus-Goliath battle almost a decade ago.
Now, though, Old Montreal needs saving of a different sort.
The pandemic has emptied the streets of millions of tourists. Many Montrealers, too, have stayed home from work and play over long months of lockdown. In their absence, a less desirable crowd has shown up, bringing trouble. Last weekend was a prime example of a deteriorating security situation.
… In April, protesters opposed to Quebec’s nightly pandemic curfew rioted, smashing windows, looting, setting fires and committing other vandalism.

1 June
Will ‘textgate’ hurt Denis Coderre’s bid to become mayor again?
Most people aren’t buying his explanation that he simply picked up the phone after it fell out of its holder in his car. … The controversy came a day after Plante was also caught on camera sitting at a table at an outdoor café with four other people, only one of whom wore a mask. The permitted maximum is two.

27 May
‘If tourists don’t come, I don’t make money’: Shops in Old Montreal say reopening plan does nothing for them
Shops that cater to tourists in Old Montreal are struggling to stay afloat without visitors from other countries and provinces
Travel between regions in the province will be also allowed as of tomorrow, and that should help downtown shops. However, Corraya says most of his customers come from abroad.

23 May
Montréal, métropole trilingue
Il est possible de protéger la langue française tout en affirmant le caractère cosmopolite et multilingue de Montréal
Marcel Boyer, Professeur émérite de sciences économiques de l’Université de Montréal et Fellow du CIRANO
(La Presse) À l’encontre de cette proposition, on affirme souvent que le progrès du multilinguisme pourrait mettre le français en difficulté. Comme dans bien d’autres domaines, le protectionnisme agressif est une source de déclin à moyen et à long terme.

20 May
Allison Hanes: Holness’s candidacy could energize Montreal’s mayoral race
What was shaping up to be a rematch between tried-and-tested Valérie Plante and Denis Coderre, the current and previous mayors, now has a new contender: Balarama Holness
Activist Balarama Holness will run for mayoralty of Montreal
Though he is not the first alternative to throw his hat in the ring (actually he is the sixth mayoral candidate), Holness is the first whose arrival is likely to shift the dynamic of the contest away from being a two-horse showdown.
Holness, who ran unsuccessfully for Plante’s Projet Montréal in 2017, will lead the newly created Movement Montreal. The Grey Cup-winning former Montreal Alouette player and McGill University law student has pushed systemic racism and discrimination to the forefront of the political agenda in the city. If elected, he would also be Montreal’s first Black mayor.
This is where his candidacy could have a notable impact on the field. Both Plante and Coderre have gone to great pains to show their parties are open and inclusive.

28 March
Hanes: Denis Coderre is ‘running for Montrealers’
Coderre may be a familiar face to Montrealers, but he’s trying to prove he’s not yesterday’s man.
He’s in.
In one of the worst kept secrets in politics, former Montreal mayor Denis Coderre revealed Sunday night on talk show Tout le monde en parle that he will be vying to reclaim his old job in this November’s municipal election.
… Mostly he’s trying to convince voters he’s a changed man, who has learned humility and introspection since his first term, when his ego, stubbornness and refusal to admit when he was wrong tripped him up toward the end of this first mandate.


5 November
Allison Hanes: With her mayoralty disrupted, Plante has been in the eye of city’s COVID storm
Most of the third year of Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante’s mandate has been spent managing a global health emergency rather than focusing on her agenda.

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