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  1. MONTREAL - It’s the talk of downtown: big changes are said to be coming to Ogilvy’s and Holt Renfrew. The buzz is that Holt’s will close in its current location, move into Ogilvy’s, and the Art Deco Holt building will become condos. Sales staff in the area worry about their jobs, while merchants wonder what effect the loss of a retail anchor on Sherbrooke St. W. would have on the foot traffic for boutiques on Crescent and de la Montagne Sts. The rumours come after Selfridges Group Ltd., owners of Holt Renfrew, acquired Ogilvy’s this summer. Terms for the sale, which closed on Sept. 8, were not disclosed. The sale came just a year after a consortium of Quebec real estate investors bought the historic department store. “As of now, it’s business as usual for both,’’ said Jean-Sébastien Lamoureux, a spokesman for SGL, part of the billionaire Weston family’s empire. The Toronto family also owns Selfridges department store in the United Kingdom, stores in Ireland and the Netherlands, and controls Canada’s Loblaw grocery chain. An Ogilvy’s branch at Quartier Dix30 had been set to open next August. SGL still plans to open a store in Phase 3 of the South Shore mall, but no date for the opening has been set, said Lamoureux of National Public Relations. “Rumour is rumour,’’ said Ogilvy president Michel Théroux. “There’s no way to kill a rumour.” “The owners are studying a lot of scenarios,’’ Théroux said, emphasizing he has no information on any changes. He, too, tells employees it’s business as usual. A retail analyst, as well as executives speaking off the record, say that merging Holt Renfrew and Ogilvy’s stores is logical. The big question, said one source, is the future of Ogilvy’s as a heritage brand. “They’re not looking to walk away from it as brand, but it won’t be the name on the door,’’ the source said, adding that Ogilvy’s has great recognition and appeals to many people who don’t shop at Holt’s. “Heritage and tradition is worth something, but at the end of the day – I don’t know. We’re all waiting.” Holt’s has about 64,000 square feet of selling space compared with Ogilvy’s 120,000 square feet. About 80 per cent of Ogilvy’s is leased to boutiques, including Louis Vuitton, Ports, Les Chaussures Ogilvy (actually run by Jean-Paul Fortin shoes) and the large Design Louis George boutique on the fourth floor. Holt’s, with 11 stores across Canada, leases space to Hermès, Chanel, Links, Max Mara and the fur boutique. The future of many of those leased boutiques is at risk, a source said, wondering how the brands from the two stores will be merged. The source said Holt Renfrew has to face up to competition across Canada and in Montreal, with U.S. chains moving in and with the online shopping onslaught . “It’s time for a wow store in Montreal,’’ the source said. “I don’t know where the bagpipes will be.” Whatever is in store is years away, observers say. Asked whether Montreal can afford two high-end department stores, consumer analyst Neil Linsdell said there is definitely enough money here. “But when you get on that very high end, you’re not competing with everyone else in Montreal, because you probably have more travelled customers,’’ said Linsdell, of investment bank Versant Partners. “To a certain extent, you’re probably competing with London, New York.” In every sector, the selection is greater in the U.S., he added. “You can be very successful at either end of the market, high end or low end. Everybody is being squeezed in the middle,’’ Linsdell said. “High end is probably a better place to be.’’ To Théroux, Montreal has had room for the two high-end stores in the past, so he sees no reason that should not be in the case in the future. That said, Montreal is a small market and not a shopping destination for well-heeled tourists. “It’s not Toronto, it’s not New York. So you have to be a little bit different – offer things that people enjoy and like. We have to be humble,’’ he said. “Let’s address quality for the Montreal market.’’ He said the Louis Vuitton boutique at Ogilvy’s does very well; its accessories are affordable for many people. “But can we have a Prada boutique (with a) full assortment, etc., etc.? I’m not sure.” Real estate agent Liza Kaufman, who sells the adjacent Ritz condos, had heard the rumours, too. She said she thinks nobody really knows the plan. “There is going to be a Holt Renfrew,’’ she said. “Holt’s is a national brand. Ogilvy’s is only local. I do love Holt Renfrew. I love the location, obviously. Having said that, the store is small.’’ She and her clients travel and do a lot of their shopping elsewhere, she said, for the greater selection and the better prices. Kaufman said she thinks it’s business as usual for five years. As for possible changes to the real estate on Sherbrooke St. W., she suggested storefronts could remain on Sherbrooke St. W. even if the building becomes condos. “I would hope that other retailers take over that space if Holt’s does move,’’ Kaufman said. Linsdell noted that the demographics of an aging population favour the construction of more condos in the downtown area. And on the city council side: “There seems to be a war on the commuter.” Linsdell does not predict a major backlash from Montrealers by a move to Ogilvy’s by Holt Renfrew. It could be considered just a real estate play, he said, with Holt’s moving to the much roomier Ogilvy quarters and not losing that much in the availability of product.“There’s the immediate payoff on the real estate, selling it to a condo developer,’’ he said. Last week, the Quartier du Musée association staged a fashion show featuring designers in the area. Marie Rouzaud, coordinator of the group, said the goal is to keep designers and artisans – be it fashion or chocolate – and small businesses in the area. “We suffered because of the construction. Everywhere downtown is difficult, because parking is expensive, taxes are high,’’ Rouzaud said. “It’s hard to survive. Boutiques close, and big chains come in. Downtown must keep its authenticity,’’ she said. “If Holt Renfrew moves, it will be sad for the quartier.’’ The arrival of Montreal’s first Anthropologie, a U.S. chain store with a devoted following, and Tiffany’s jewellers is seen as good news in the short term. Both are expected to open early next year, Anthropologie next to Holt’s on de la Montagne, Tiffany’s in the new Ritz condo project on Sherbrooke. Designer Michel Desjardins, who opened a bright atelier-boutique on Crescent St. two years ago, said he likes the shopping corridor created by Holt’s and Ogilvy’s from Sherbrooke to Ste. Catherine St. “The circuit would be broken,’’ he said, if Holt’s were to wind up on Ste. Catherine, which he characterizes as less luxe than Sherbrooke. For Sally Yep, a boutique owner on de la Montagne, it’s difficult to imagine the merging of the two stores. “You always think of them as being separate fashion visions. I have the impression that Holt’s is going to stay strong,’’ she said. “Holt is the dominant brand. Ogilvy has more tradition.” Another merchant, not wishing to be named, also spoke of the different characters of the two stores. “It would be terrible without a free-standing Holt Renfrew and Ogilvy,’’ she said. “There is a clientele that is loyal to these stores.’’ http://www.montrealgazette.com/business/changes+predicted+Ogilvy+Holt+Renfrew/5756714/story.html
  2. http://www.montrealmirror.com/wp/2010/09/16/news/tacofying-city-hall/ YESSSSSSSS PLEEEEEEEEAAAAAASE!
  3. Jay Baruchel flew the flag at a Just for Laughs gala in 2013, but the longtime Montrealer now admits that part of the reason behind his move to Toronto is that "Quebec’s politics did my head in." Peter McCabe / Montreal Gazette files SHARE ADJUST COMMENT PRINT Jay Baruchel has been a relentless booster of his hometown in general and his ‘hood of N.D.G. in particular, for years telling anyone who would listen that he would never move to L.A. even though so much of his work brought him to Tinseltown. Well, things have changed, as Bob Dylan so succinctly put it. Baruchel has moved to Toronto, for work and personal reasons. Here he talks about what prompted him to do what so many anglo Montrealers have done in the past four decades and make the move down the 401. RELATED Jay Baruchel will roll with the punches in Goon sequel Montreal Gazette: So you’ve made the move to Toronto? Jay Baruchel: I’ll be perfectly honest: I’ve kind of moved here for a while. MG: I did hear rumours. Advertisement JB: I just bought a house here. There’s a few contributing reasons, not the least of which is between the movie (Goon: Last of the Enforcers, Baruchel’s upcoming feature directorial debut) and my TV show (Man Seeking Woman), I was here as of September, then shot to Christmas, went home (to Montreal) for about a month and a half, and then I’ve been here since. There’s going to be basically a month between the end of the shoot of our movie and the start of Season 2 of Man Seeking Woman, so I’m going to be here a s—load. And I won’t lie — Quebec’s politics did my head in. My mom calls it a five-year plan. I’m giving it five years to try to live somewhere else. I’ve never done it, really. MG: Yeah, because we’ve talked about this for years, ever since we’ve known each other. You were basically couch-surfing when working in Los Angeles and you always said you didn’t want to move to L.A. JB: And I didn’t. MG: So what happened? JB: A few things happened. I realized that not only did I not hate it in Toronto, but I quite like it here. I was bred to hate it. My parents fed me with all the Montreal anglo stuff — the “it’s where we go to die” stuff. But I also realized I had never spent that much time here. It was when I was here two or three winters ago doing RoboCop, I had a lot of time off and I realized I’d never spent more than five days in a row here. Between that and doing the TV show and a lot of my friends living here, I won’t lie — I fell in love with it a bit here. It’s just a bit of an easier place to live than back home. The last election was very traumatic in a way. MG: Why? JB: I was faced with a truth: I either will just swallow it and make peace with it, like I always have, that this is part and parcel of what it is to live in Montreal, the political climate as it is. It was either shut up or move. It was untenable. It was my fault if I keep living someplace that keeps giving me a headache. MG: Well, obviously the Liberals won that provincial election. So what I take from that is that separation, the referendum, was one of the big issues in that election, and it’ll be a big issue in the next provincial campaign, and you can’t deal with that anymore. JB: And it always will be. Aside from that silly stuff, which I wish would just go away but it won’t, it was less that than the kind of poisonous ethnic dialogue, which really, really left a sour taste in my mouth. It didn’t feel like the place that Mom wanted me to live in. She wanted me to grow up in someplace multicultural and to see every complexion of the world on the street, and to hear all the languages, and for that not to be a defeat or a sacrifice, but a good thing and a strength. You come here and it really is a pretty diverse place. Just some of the issues, some of the editorial subject matter in Quebec — it’s from 100 years in the past, man. I wake up here and I’m just a dude in a city. And when I go outside and speak English, it’s not a loaded or political deed of any kind. I’m just living. There’s just way less headaches here. Everything is a bit easier here. MG: I realized after spending a fair bit of time in Toronto myself that it’s not such a bad place, and I came to the conclusion that the Montrealers complaining the most about Toronto are people who haven’t been there since 1974. JB: That’s it. It’s not Toronto the Good anymore. It hasn’t been that for a long time. Also, the other thing is, if I want to put my money where my mouth is and be a filmmaker in Canada, as opposed to the States, I gotta be honest and realize that the vast majority of the ideas I have are in English, and that’s why it makes much more sense for me to be here. That being said, I still have my house in Montreal, and so I’ll always keep one foot in N.D.G. It might just turn into a pied-à-terre, but I’ll always have one foot there. That’s the other thing I realized: I don’t have a particular (passion) for the province of Quebec. I have a great deal of love for Montreal, but really, more than anything, it’s just my neighbourhood — it’s just N.D.G. So I miss that, but it happens to be located in a pretty difficult part of the world. MG: Obviously you’re a Leafs fan now? JB: Oh, f— you. That’s part of the fun of being here — being part of the Habs expat scene. It’s massive. Once upon a time you were scared to wear Habs s— in Toronto, and we just run this town now. There’s just nothing they can say. Very sad. :mtl:
  4. Opinion: The pros and cons of life in Montreal A newcomer finds that compared with Toronto, this city has lower rents, but higher taxes; better cycling lanes, but worse roads By Chris Riddell, Special to The Gazette September 2, 2014 4:42 PM MONTREAL — To an outsider, Montreal might seem like the perfect place to live. It has the lowest rents of all the major cities in Canada, it’s the nation’s epicentre of art and culture, and there are more restaurants and cafés than you can visit in a year. When I moved here from Toronto last year, it was mostly for the lower cost of living, but also for the enriching experience of a new culture so different from my own. In Montreal, I could theoretically have a better quality of life than I did in Hogtown, where the rents are some of the highest in the country. But is living in Montreal really all it’s cracked up to be? I hit the streets, speaking to everyday citizens about why they moved to Montreal, and tried to nail down some of the advantages and disadvantages of living here. What I found was interesting. Jesse Legallais, a 31-year-old musician, moved to Montreal from Toronto 10 years ago and hasn’t looked back. Sitting on a bench outside Café Social on a sunny Friday afternoon, he says: “It’s a bit of a slower pace than some of the other major cities and there is a diverse community here. There are a lot of talented people, so you’re kind of kept on your toes, but you don’t have to constantly scrape for work as hard as, say, New York or Toronto or L.A.” Montreal turned out to be the perfect place to nurture his craft as a musician. The cheaper cost of living was one of the main factors drawing him here, along with the bilingual nature of the city. Some people come to Montreal and find it’s a great place to open a business. Take Andre Levert, for example. Originally from St. Catharines, Ont., he moved to Montreal in 2000. Today, he and his wife own a head shop on Prince Arthur St. E. called Psychonaut. “I found that because commercial space and the cost of living is cheaper in Montreal, for starting a business it was less risk in the beginning,” he says. “I went and checked the rent for stores like mine in Ottawa, and it was way more expensive.” Levert stresses that it really is the people that make the city such a great place to live. Many other aspects of Montreal are lacking: language laws and infrastructure are problems that need to be addressed, and the city has its work cut out for it in those areas. It certainly isn’t all sunshine and roses in Montreal. While there are some great advantages to living here, there are also a number of drawbacks. Here is what I’ve noticed. Pro: Cheap rent. I can definitely say that I am not the only person who moved to Montreal from Toronto at least partly for the cheaper rents. According to Numbeo.com, the average rent in Montreal for a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre is $877. In Toronto, a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre goes for an average of $1,463. If you came to Montreal more than 10 years ago, you would have paid even less. “After the referendum they were just giving them away here,” says Legallais. “Especially up in this neighbourhood (Mile End) before it became so trendy. You’d get 6½s, first month free, for $400 or $500.” Con: Taxes are higher. Although the cost of living might be lower here, you are also paying some of the highest taxes in the country. In Quebec we pay 16 per cent provincial income tax on amounts up to $41,095. Add that into the federal rate for the same bracket (15 per cent), and you’re losing almost a third of your paycheque in taxes. Sales tax is also high. Here you pay five per cent goods and services tax and also 9.975 per cent provincial sales tax. This, along with the high income tax rate, could be enough to offset any savings you might enjoy from the cheap rents. Pro: Dépanneurs. Since I’m from a province where the sale and distribution of alcohol is extremely regulated, I think the ability to buy beer at my local corner store is amazing. No matter where you are in Montreal, you’re never too far from an ice cold case of Boréale. Some dépanneurs take it a notch higher by adding extras like sushi bars, craft beer rooms and sandwich shops. Con: The SAQ. I have often said that Montreal is a kind of purgatory for scotch or bourbon drinkers. Finding a bottle of Wild Turkey involved looking up online which SAQ store to go to, and then travelling across town to buy it before the store closed at 6 p.m. Ally Baker, an arts student at Concordia, agrees. She hails from Edmonton and has been living in Montreal for 2½ years. “Coming from a province where it’s not government regulated, I find the selection is a lot less, you’re paying a lot more for whatever you’re getting, and you have to travel a lot more to get to different stores. The hours aren’t that great as well,” she says. Pro: Great parks and cycling lanes. In 2013, Copenhagenize rated Montreal the best city in North America for cycling, and it’s no wonder why. The bike-lane network is excellent, and I have been taking a great deal of time this summer to make effective use of it. The separated lanes especially are fun and make you feel safe. Coming from Toronto, a city with a terrible bike network, this is a very attractive feature for an avid cyclist. The parks in this city are second to none. There are tons of green space to spend time in when the weather is nice, and many of the large parks have facilities for just about every sport you can think of. You are also allowed to drink in public (as long as you have some food), so picnicking is always a popular summer activity. There is certainly no shortage of things to keep you busy in Montreal once the weather warms up. But of course that means ... Con: Cold and snowy winters. Montreal is notorious for long, cold, snowy winters. This past winter was especially brutal, and many Montrealers would agree with me. During these cold months, the city is comparatively dead. This doesn’t mean there is nothing to do, however. There are still events like Igloofest, for example, if you know where to look. But if you expect to survive the season, you will need to adapt. “I’m coming from Michigan, so it wasn’t so much of a shock for me,” says Rochie Cohen, a mother of four in the Côte-des-Neiges area. She has been living in Montreal for 12 years. “We just have to leave the house a half an hour earlier. There is a lot of bundling up: coats, scarves, gloves and boots. It takes a lot longer.” Pro: A world-class cultural scene and laid-back attitude. Montreal is a magnet for young artists looking for a place to develop their craft and connect with like-minded people. Numerous artists, writers and musicians of renown were born here. Not only that, the citizenry is much more laid-back than elsewhere in Canada. “My brother asked me, ‘What can you do in Montreal that you can’t do in Ottawa?’ and I told him basically nothing, but everything you do in Montreal is more entertaining,” says Levert. He adds: “You go to a grocery store and shoot a few jokes with the people in line. It’s a joie de vivre that you don’t get anywhere else.” Con: Language barriers. Language issues have been in the spotlight for a long time in Montreal. It’s virtually impossible to get a decent job if you aren’t bilingual, and it can also be isolating for some people. This is true for anglophones who don’t speak French, but it also goes the other way. Aurore Trusewicz is a freelance translator from Belgium. She came to Montreal to attend McGill University in 2007, and French is her first language. “Even though I was attending an English university, I was just listening to English all the time and not really speaking it,” she says. “I was concerned about that because I knew that in Montreal a lot of people speak English, and I was intimidated about how I would speak with (the customers at work).” Although it was intimidating at first, she stuck with it and polished her English skills with diligent practice. The same can be said for learning French. It can be scary to practise speaking it when you aren’t good at it yet. But if you show a genuine effort, you’ll find there are many people out there willing to help. Pro: Affordable public transit. When I moved here, I looked forward to using Montreal’s affordable and extensive transit system. The cost of a monthly pass is much lower than in Toronto, and the métro covers more of the city, so it’s easy to get around. The stations are also designed with better esthetics than the system of my hometown. “The public transportation system is quite nice compared to other places,” says Trusewicz. “Last year I had the chance to go to Miami, and really, you can’t do anything without a car over there. It’s nice to have a métro and buses, even in the middle of the night, to go wherever you want to go.” Con: Traffic and infrastructure problems. This city is disintegrating around us. After riding my bike around these streets, it’s plain to see that some of the roads are in a pitiful condition. After driving here, it’s also plain to see that the design of some of the highways and intersections is very confusing to someone who hasn’t been living here all his life. Combine this with the heavy amounts of roadwork and construction going on, and you’ve got some very bad traffic problems. The roads and sewers have been neglected for years, and now the city has a tremendous amount of work to do with upgrading its ailing infrastructure. City hall is also hard pressed to find the financing to pay for it. It seems this is one problem that Montrealers are going to have to suffer through for years to come. - - - For and against relocating to Montreal The good: Universities have the lowest tuition rates in the country, making Montreal a popular city for students. Residents enjoy the cheapest electricity in Canada, thanks to Hydro-Québec. Daycare is affordable, due to the reduced-contribution spaces for children 5 or younger; parents pay $7 per day. Operational costs for running a business are the lowest in North America, according to a 2013 KPMG survey. Approximately 2,000 hectares of public parks are spread across 17 large parks and 1,160 small neighbourhood parks. The bad: Many people leave Quebec each year for better job prospects in the rest of Canada (28,439 people left from January to September in 2013). Political corruption and allegations of ties to the Mob have besmirched the city’s image. Montreal has some of the worst traffic congestion in the country. It seems essential to be bilingual in order to build a life here; that can be hard for newcomers. Part of the city’s water system is well over 100 years old and prone to leaks. Boil-water advisories have been issued in the past. Chris Riddell is a freelance journalist and copywriter who lives in Côte-des-Neiges.
  5. With Festival Season Underway, Montreal Reflects on 10-Year Cultural Plan BY GREG SCRUGGS | JUNE 17, 2016 Summery electronic beats floated through the air alongside fragrant cheese and the occasional whiff of marijuana. Picnic blankets laden with pâté and baguettes commingled with flowing bottles of beer and wine. Families parked strollers, millennials lounged near their bikes, and techno tourists went gaga for Swedish DJ and producer Peder Mannerfelt. The occasion for such a languid Saturday afternoon earlier this month in downtown Montreal was MUTEK, a festival dedicated to electronic music and digital arts that held its 17th edition this year. Its free programming at the Parterre, a simple plaza easily converted into a performing arts venue, is just a small sampling of the festival overload that takes hold every summer in the city’s Quartier des Spectacles, a downtown cultural district that hosts most of the outdoor fêtes. Even as the 40,000 MUTEK attendees, roughly half from outside the metropolitan area, fluttered among a handful of the Quartier’s sleek venues, workers were busy maneuvering lighting trusses and erecting stages on downtown streets to accommodate the 500,000 that came for Les FrancoFolies, a French-language music festival that wraps up Friday, and the 2.5 million expected for the Montreal Jazz Festival, which starts June 26. Montreal is North America’s undisputed festival capital, with 200 annual medium- to large-size events downtown that generate over 1,000 festival days, according to the city’s Bureau of Cinema, Festivals, and Events. “For the size of Montreal, that’s pretty astounding,” says the bureau’s director, Daniel Bissonnette. The metro area of 4 million has a comparatively low GDP per capita, he points out, but through a combination of dedicated cultural infrastructure and savvy marketing, it punches well above its weight. Cities have come knocking at his door to ask what’s in Montreal’s secret sauce, he says, most recently Los Angeles. At the end of June, Bissonnette will travel to Kraków, Poland, for a meeting of a nascent, as-yet-unnamed international network of festival cities that also includes the likes of Adelaide, Barcelona, Berlin and Edinburgh. But as the city’s international festival acclaim grows, it must also continue to nurture the local cultural community, whose public arts funding is in limbo as the provincial government plans to cut back while the federal government has pledged to increase support. Plus, next year concludes the scope of the city’s 10-year cultural plan and the city council is poised to adopt a new strategy. While it’s still early for any concrete details, the bustling summer scene downtown offers some clues as to what the future might hold. The square-kilometer patch of the eastern edge of downtown Montreal demarcated as the Quartier des Spectacles was once the city’s red light district and a popular cheap housing option for artists. But it was also the home to the symphony and opera halls, a clutch of theaters and music venues, and the Museum of Contemporary Art — now MUTEK’s annual home base. First proposed in 2002, the Quartier des Spectacles came together over the last decade through a series of demolitions, rehabs and new constructions. The artists living there were, by and large, kicked out — whether by eviction or escalating housing costs as new condos came into the neighborhood. Some affordable live-work space was built in the Mile End neighborhood in exchange for the loss, but the artistic community who created the cachet for the neighborhood to become the Quartier des Spectacles was not compensated directly. While some of Montreal’s infamous strip clubs remain, it’s hardly the red light district it used to be — though red illumination on many of the Quartier’s sidewalks pay homage to its seedier days. And new construction continues apace, from outdoor spots like the Parterre and the Place des Festivals to new anchors like a fresh home for the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and next year’s planned arrival of the National Film Board of Canada. The result has been a resurgence in downtown living by a more well-heeled crowd attracted to the city’s cultural offerings, which mirrors trends across North America. But while cities like Philadelphia have managed at best an Avenue of the Arts, Montreal has taken over a whole neighborhood and it continues to grow. “The Quartier des Spectacles is not a finished thing,” notes MUTEK Director Alain Mongeau. Chantal Fontaine opened a bistro two years ago in the heart of the quarter along Boulevard Saint-Laurent, which is pedestrianized during the summer festival months. “The golden age of the red light district passed a long time ago,” she says, dismissing any nostalgia for the neighborhood’s previous incarnation. Also an accomplished comedienne, Fontaine lives three blocks away and notes that she can walk out the front door of her condo at 7:45 p.m. to make an 8 o’clock show. She envisions the Quartier as the city’s answer to Broadway in New York and hopes that the city’s new cultural strategy will reflect that ambition. “International renown, that Montreal becomes an incubator of shows that tour the world,” she says. “We must value our local culture abroad, we have the talent for that.” MUTEK, meanwhile, is already doing that and downtown is essential to its identity. “If we moved to another neighborhood we’d have to remap the whole discourse of the festival,” Mongeau says. “We feel like we’re contributing to the brand of the city.” Blending culture and commerce doesn’t sit well with everyone however. “Western society is pushing us to be entrepreneur artists,” laments Ghislain Poirier, a DJ/producer and a fixture on Montreal’s music scene who has played at MUTEK in past years. In 2010, he wrote an open letter to the mayor complaining that the city was kowtowing to new condo dwellers’ noise complaints and shutting down music clubs — the very venues that made the neighborhood appealing for real estate developers in the first place. That issue has since quieted down, with Bissonnette pointing out new building codes requiring triple-pane windows, policies governing the timing of outdoor amplified sound during festivals, and municipal noise inspectors who will come to a complainant’s home to objectively measure interior sound. “That’s the price you pay to have the excitement downtown,” he says. “A park far away from downtown? That’s not how Montreal works.” Nevertheless, Poirier is convinced that the cultural geography of the city has changed as a result. “Downtown is more for performing, it’s not a place of creation,” he says. “Before it was lofts and artists. Now it’s venues and festivals, mass culture and Hollywood big events.” At the same time, such bookings are valuable and Poirier looks forward to the fat paycheck from festival gigs in the Quartier des Spectacles, which help him pay Montreal’s still affordable, but nevertheless rising, cost of living. While the trend of displaced artists is hardly unique to Montreal, the phenomenon of cultural gentrification is atypical — newer, fancier forms of culture displacing older, scruffier types. As the city prepares to plan ahead for the next 10 years, it may be time to put on the brakes, Poirier says. “There are almost too many events. We’re coming to a saturation point.” https://nextcity.org/daily/entry/montreal-festivals-10-year-cultural-plan
  6. Article intéressant dans le NYMAG : The Psychological Cost of Boring Buildings By Jacoba Urist April 12, 2016 10:56 a.m. <cite class="credit">Photo: Philip Laurell/Getty Images </cite>New Yorkers have long bemoaned their city being overrun by bland office towers and chain stores: Soon, it seems, every corner will either be a bank, a Walgreens, or a Starbucks. And there is indeed evidence that all cities are starting to look the same, which can hurt local growth and wages. But there could be more than an economic or nostalgic price to impersonal retail and high-rise construction: Boring architecture may take an emotional toll on the people forced to live in and around it. A growing body of research in cognitive science illuminates the physical and mental toll bland cityscapes exact on residents. Generally, these researchers argue that humans are healthier when they live among variety — a cacophony of bars, bodegas, and independent shops — or work in well-designed, unique spaces, rather than unattractive, generic ones. In their book, Cognitive Architecture: Designing for How We Respond to the Built Environment, Tufts urban policy professor Justin Hollander and architect Ann Sussman review scientific data to help architects and urban planners understand how, exactly, we respond to our built surroundings. People, they argue, function best in intricate settings and crave variety, not “big, blank, boxy buildings.” Indeed, that’s what Colin Ellard, a neuroscientist at the University of Waterloo and director of its Urban Realities Laboratory, has found in his own work. Five years ago, Ellard became interested in a particular building on East Houston Street — the gigantic Whole Foods “plopped into” a notoriously textured part of lower Manhattan. As described in his book, titled Places of the Heart: The Psychogeography of Everyday Life, Ellard partnered with the Guggenheim Museum’s urban think tank to analyze what happens when someone “turns out of a tiny, historic [knish] restaurant” and encounters a full city block with nothing but “the long, blank façade of the Whole Foods Market.” The Whole Foods on Houston. In 2011, Ellard led small groups on carefully planned Lower East Side walks to measure the effect of the urban environment on their bodies and minds. Participants recorded their response to questions at each stopping point and wore sensors that measured skin conductance, an electrodermal response to emotional excitement. Passing the monolithic Whole Foods, people’s state of arousal reached a nadir in Ellard’s project. Physiologically, he explained, they were bored. In their descriptions of this particular place, they used words like bland, monotonous, and passionless. In contrast, one block east of the Whole Foods on East Houston, at the other test site — a “lively sea of restaurants with lots of open doors and windows” — people’s bracelets measured high levels of physical excitement, and they listed words like lively, busy, and socializing. “The holy grail in urban design is to produce some kind of novelty or change every few seconds,” Ellard said. “Otherwise, we become cognitively disengaged.” The Whole Foods may have gentrified the neighborhood with more high-quality organic groceries, but the building itself stifled people. Its architecture blah-ness made their minds and bodies go meh. And studies show that feeling meh can be more than a passing nuisance. For instance, psychologists Colleen Merrifield and James Danckert’s work suggests that even small doses of boredom can generate stress. People in their experiment watched three videos — one boring, one sad, and one interesting – while wearing electrodes to measure their physiological responses. Boredom, surprisingly, increased people’s heart rate and cortisol level more than sadness. Now take their findings and imagine the cumulative effects of living or working in the same oppressively dull environs day after day, said Ellard. There might even be a potential link between mind-numbing places and attention deficit hyperactivity disorders. In one case, physicians have linked “environmental deprivation” to ADHD in children. Homes without toys, art, or other stimuli were a significant predictor of ADHD symptoms.Meanwhile, the prevalence of U.S. adults treated for attention deficit is rising. And while people may generally be hardwired for variety, Dr. Richard Friedman, director of the pharmacology clinic at Weill Cornell Medical College, makes the case that those with ADHD are especially novelty-seeking. Friedman points to a patient who “treated” his ADHD by changing his workday from one that was highly routine — a standard desk job — to a start-up, which has him “on the road, constantly changing environments.” Most ADD is the result of biological factors, said Dr. Edward Hallowell, a psychiatrist who specializes in ADHD, and co-authored numerous books on the subject, such as Delivered From Distraction: Getting the Most Out of Life With Attention Deficit Disorder. But, he explained, he sees a lot of socially induced ADD, too, a form of the disorder that makes it appear as though you inherited the genes, although you really haven’t. And one way you might have the socially induced condition, according to Hallowell, is to suffer severe boredom or live in a highly nonstimulating environment. “It makes total sense that for these people changing where they work or live to add more visual stimulation and daily variety could be extremely helpful,” Hallowell said. At the same time, many adults may feel they have ADHD because the world has become hypersaturated with constant texts, emails, and input. For them, life has become too adrenalizing. “They don’t have true ADHD,” Hallowell said, “but, rather, what I call a severe case of modern life.” So the trick, it seems, is to design a world that excites but doesn’t overly assault our faculties with a constant barrage of information: Scientists aren’t proposing that all cities look like the Vegas strip or Times Square. “We are, as animals, programmed to respond to thrill,” said professor Brendan Walker, a former aerospace engineer and author of Taxonomy of Thrill and Thrilling Designs. In Walker’s University of Nottingham “thrill laboratory,” devices gauge heart rate and skin conductance to see how people respond to adrenaline-producing experiences such as a roller-coaster ride. And he’s reduced “thrill” to a set of multivariable equations that illustrate the importance of rapid variation in our lives: A thrilling encounter moves us quickly from a state of equilibrium to a kind of desirable “disorientation,” like the moment before you rush down the hill of a roller coaster. “Humans want a certain element of turmoil or confusion,” he said. “Complexity is thrilling whether in an amusement park or architecture.” Environmental thrill and visual variety, Walker believes, help people’s psyche. As many of us instinctively feel a wave of ennui at the thought of working all day in a maze of soulless, white cubicles, blocks of generic buildings stub our senses. It’s not only that we’re genetic adrenaline junkies. Psychologists have found that jaw-dropping or awe-inspiring moments — picture the exhilarating view of the Grand Canyon or Paris from the Eiffel tower — can potentially improve our 21st-century well-being. One study showed that the feeling of awe can make people more patient, less materialistic, and more willing to help others. In an experiment, researchers showed students 60-second clips of waterfalls, whales, or astronauts in space. After only a minute of virtual images, those who said they were awed also felt less pressed for time. In a second experiment, individuals recalled “an awe-inspiring” event and then answered a range of survey questions; they were also more likely to say they’d volunteer for a charity, as compared to those who hadn’t spent time thinking about a past moment of awe. And in yet another variation, people made hypothetical choices between material and experiential goods of equal monetary value: a watchor a Broadway show, a jacket or a restaurant meal. Those who recently “felt awe” were more likely to choose an experience over a physical possession, a choice that is linked with greater satisfaction in the long run. In other words, a visual buzz — whether architectural or natural — might have the ability to change our frame of mind, making modern-day life more satisfying and interactive. It’s important to note, however, that architectural boredom isn’t about how pristine a street is. People often confuse successful architecture with whether an area looks pleasant. On the contrary, when it comes to city buildings, people often focus too narrowly on aesthetics, said Charles Montgomery, author of Happy City: Transforming Our Through Urban Design. But good design is really is about “shaping emotional infrastructure.” Some of the happiest blocks in New York City, he argues, are “kind of ugly and messy.” For instance, Ellard’s “happier” East Houston block is a “jumbled-up, social one”— the Whole Foods stretch, in comparison, is newer and more manicured. Sometimes what’s best for us, Montgomery explained, just isn’t that pretty. His research also shows cacophonous blocks may make people kinder to each other. In 2014, Montgomery’s Happy City lab conducted a Seattle experiment in which he found a strong correlation between messier blocks and pro-social behavior. Montgomery sent researchers, posing as lost tourists, to places he coded as either “active façades” — with a high level of visual interest — or “inactive façades” (like long warehouse blocks). Pedestrians at active sites were nearly five times more likely to offer help than at inactive ones. Of those who helped, seven times as many at the active site offered use of their phone; four times as many offered to lead the “lost tourist” to their destination. Fortunately, it’s not necessarily a dichotomy — new architecture can achieve the optimal level of cacophony and beauty. Take the 2006 Hearst Tower in midtown Manhattan. From the outside, the façade is likely to jolt city dwellers — if anything will — from their daily commutes, while “thrilling” employees who enter it each morning. Designed by Pritzker Architecture Prize–winning architect Norman Foster, Hearst Tower is a glass-and-steel skyscraper, 40 stories of which are designed in a triangular pattern contrasting the 1920s Art Deco base. For many who walk by, Hearst Tower’s design may not be the easiest to understand; it’s both sleek and old. The top looks like it traveled from the future. Inside, workers travel upon diagonal escalators, up a three-story water sculpture, through the tower’s historic atrium” flooded with light. It’s not the view from the Eiffel Tower or the Grand Canyon, but it’s probably as close a modern lobby can come to awe-inspiring. Few New Yorkers who pass by would find this building boring. And they’re likely happier — maybe even nicer to each other — because of it. <cite class="credit"></cite>
  7. http://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/good-architecture-pays-french-expert <header class="entry-header" style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: 15px; line-height: 24px; font-family: BentonSans-Regular, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">The good, the bad and the ugly: French expert assesses Montreal architecture MARIAN SCOTT, MONTREAL GAZETTE More from Marian Scott, Montreal Gazette Published on: April 13, 2016 | Last Updated: April 13, 2016 7:00 AM EDT </header><figure class="align-none wp-caption post-img" id="post-783124media-783124" itemprop="associatedMedia" itemscope="" itemid="http://wpmedia.montrealgazette.com/2016/04/montreal-que-april-6-2016-emmanuel-caille-is-an-edito.jpeg?quality=55&strip=all&w=840&h=630&crop=1" itemtype="http://schema.org/ImageObject" style="margin: 0px 0px 2em; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: inherit; line-height: inherit; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; overflow: hidden; color: rgb(255, 255, 255); float: none;"><figcaption class="wp-caption-text" itemprop="description" style="margin: -1px 0px 0px; padding: 10px; border: 0px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: inherit; line-height: inherit; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; zoom: 1; text-align: right; background: rgb(12, 12, 12);"> Emmanuel Calle, editor of the French architecture magazine "d'a", at the Canadian Centre for Architecture. Caille shared his thoughts on Montreal's architecture. MARIE-FRANCE COALLIER </figcaption></figure>SHAREADJUSTCOMMENTPRINT What would an international expert think of Montreal’s recent architecture? To find out, the Montreal Gazette took French architecture critic Emmanuel Caille on a walking tour of downtown and Griffintown. He also visited the $52.6-million indoor soccer stadium that opened last year in the St-Michel district. Caille, the editor of the Paris-based architecture magazine “d’a”, was in town to take part in a panel discussion last week on architectural criticism, organized by the Maison de l’architecture du Québec and the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC). Caille’s verdict on our fair city ranged from a thumbs-up for the pricey new soccer stadium to shocked incredulity over a new hotel annex to the Mount Stephen Club, a historic mansion at 1440 Drummond St. <figure id="attachment_783141" class="wp-caption post-img size_this_image_test align-center" itemprop="associatedMedia" itemscope="" itemid="photo url" itemtype="http://schema.org/ImageObject" style="margin: 0px auto 15px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: inherit; line-height: inherit; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; overflow: hidden; color: rgb(255, 255, 255); float: none; max-width: 100%; width: 1000px;"><figcaption class="wp-caption-text wp-caption" style="margin: -1px 0px 0px; padding: 10px; border: 0px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: inherit; line-height: inherit; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; zoom: 1; text-align: right; background: rgb(12, 12, 12);"> The Mount Stephen Club. DARIO AYALA / MONTREAL GAZETTE </figcaption></figure>Built from 1880-83 for Lord Mount Stephen, the first president of the Canadian Pacific Railway, it has been in the news recently after suffering structural damage during construction of the annex. Caille, an architect as well as an editor, did not comment on the structural problems, but he did give a visual assessment of the hotel addition, an 11-storey cement-panel structure tucked behind the mansion. “It’s quite brutal in the city,” he said. From de Maisonneuve Blvd., the hotel addition presents a view of three blank walls with a shed-style roof. “It’s astonishing. It’s bizarre,” he said. Caille was also perplexed by the front façade, dotted with small windows of different sizes. “What is not obvious is what relationship there is between this building and the mansion. I don’t see any,” he added. The hotel addition shows why projects should not be conceived in isolation, Caille said. City planners should have put forward a vision for the entire block, which includes an outdoor parking lot on de la Montagne St. that would have made a better site for a high rise, he said. Interesting alleyways and outdoor spaces could have been included, he said. “Everybody is turning their back to one another,” he said of how the different properties on the block don’t relate to each other. At the Ritz-Carlton hotel on Sherbrooke St., Caille said a glass condo addition completed in 2013 is a good example of how to update a historic building for modern use. But he criticized white PVC windows on the hotel’s Sherbrooke St. façade for their thick frames and mullions, which don’t suit the building. “That’s horrible,” he said. “Windows are the eyes of a building. When women use an eye pencil to emphasize their eyes, it changes everything.” <figure id="attachment_783158" class="wp-caption post-img size_this_image_test align-center" itemprop="associatedMedia" itemscope="" itemid="photo url" itemtype="http://schema.org/ImageObject" style="margin: 0px auto 15px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: inherit; line-height: inherit; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; overflow: hidden; color: rgb(255, 255, 255); float: none; max-width: 100%; width: 997px;"><figcaption class="wp-caption-text wp-caption" style="margin: -1px 0px 0px; padding: 10px; border: 0px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: inherit; line-height: inherit; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; zoom: 1; text-align: right; background: rgb(12, 12, 12);"> Construction workers work on the District Griffin condo project in Griffintown. DARIO AYALA / MONTREAL GAZETTE </figcaption></figure>In Griffintown, Caille was unimpressed by the banal architecture of condo towers that have sprouted in recent years in the former industrial district, which is undergoing rapid transformation. But the former Dow Planetarium at 1000 St-Jacques St. W. caught his eye. Built in 1966, it closed in 2011. The city turned it over to the Université du Québec’s École de technologie supérieure in 2013. ÉTS announced it would transform the building into a “creativity hub” but so far the building has sat vacant. Caille said the domed landmark has great potential to be recycled for a new vocation. “When a building is dirty and dilapidated, people don’t see its beauty. You have to see the beauty underneath the neglect,” he said. Today there is a consensus that older heritage buildings should be preserved but it’s still difficult to rally public opinion behind buildings from more recent eras, like the 1960s, Caille said. <figure id="attachment_783147" class="wp-caption post-img size_this_image_test align-center" itemprop="associatedMedia" itemscope="" itemid="photo url" itemtype="http://schema.org/ImageObject" style="margin: 0px auto 15px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: inherit; line-height: inherit; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; overflow: hidden; color: rgb(255, 255, 255); float: none; max-width: 100%; width: 1000px;"><figcaption class="wp-caption-text wp-caption" style="margin: -1px 0px 0px; padding: 10px; border: 0px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: inherit; line-height: inherit; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; zoom: 1; text-align: right; background: rgb(12, 12, 12);"> The 26-storey Deloitte Tower between Windsor Station and the Bell Centre. DARIO AYALA / MONTREAL GAZETTE </figcaption></figure>The Deloitte Tower, a new 26-storey glass office tower between the Bell Centre and Windsor Station, is nothing to write home about, in Caille’s opinion. “It’s developer architecture,” he said. “There’s nothing interesting about it.” Built by developer Cadillac Fairview, it is part of the $2-billion, nine-tower Quad Windsor project. That includes the 50-storey Tour des Canadiens, which will be Montreal’s tallest condo tower for about a year, until the even taller nearby L’Avenue tower is completed. Most people don’t notice the difference between good and bad architecture when a building is new, Caille said. But over time, the defects of bad buildings grow increasingly obvious, while the good ones become beloved monuments, he said. “People go to New York to see the architecture of the 1920s and 30s,” he said, referring to landmarks like the 1931 Empire State Building and 1928 Chrysler Building. “Good architecture always pays off in the long term.” Unfortunately, much development is driven by short-term considerations, he said. While a developer can walk away from a mediocre building once it’s sold, city-dwellers are stuck with it, he said. “For him, it’s no problem. But for the city, it’s a tragedy,” he said. “Today’s architecture is tomorrow’s heritage,” he noted. Caille is a strong proponent of architectural competitions, which he sees as a way to seek out the best talents and ideas. “It forces people to think and it shows that for every problem, there are many solutions. It’s a way of accessing brainpower,” he said. <figure id="attachment_783196" class="wp-caption post-img size_this_image_test align-center" itemprop="associatedMedia" itemscope="" itemid="photo url" itemtype="http://schema.org/ImageObject" style="margin: 0px auto 15px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: inherit; line-height: inherit; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; overflow: hidden; color: rgb(255, 255, 255); float: none; max-width: 100%; width: 1000px;"><figcaption class="wp-caption-text wp-caption" style="margin: -1px 0px 0px; padding: 10px; border: 0px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: inherit; line-height: inherit; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; zoom: 1; text-align: right; background: rgb(12, 12, 12);"> Kids arrive at the the new soccer complex at the Complexe environnemental St-Michel. PHIL CARPENTER /MONTREAL GAZETTE </figcaption></figure>The St-Michel soccer stadium has been criticized for its high price tag but Caille hailed it as an example of excellent design. The ecological building designed by Saucier & Perrotte has three glass walls overlooking a park in the St-Michel environmental complex. Caille said the stadium could be a catalyst for improvements in the hardscrabble north-end neighbourhood. During Tuesday’s panel discussion, Paul Goldberger, a Pulitzer Prize-winning former architecture critic for the New York Times and the New Yorker, said that unlike other types of journalists, architectural critics rarely have an immediate impact on public opinion. “Architectural criticism must take a very long view,” he said. “One learns to think of one’s influence as more gradual, as shifting tastes and judgment over time.” Goldberger, author of books including Why Architecture Matters, published in 2009, has written that the critic’s job is not to push for a particular architectural style, but rather to advocate for the best work possible. He said the time in his career when architectural criticism enjoyed greatest prominence was following Sept. 11, 2001, during discussions over the rebuilding of the World Trade Center. “It was a time when architectural criticism really was, I think, front and centre in the public discourse,” he said. “There it was so clear that an issue of architecture was intimately connected to significant world affairs and one did not have to struggle to help people understand the connection between architecture and the rest of the world,” said Goldberger, who now writes for Vanity Fair and teaches at The New School in New York. In a 2011 review of the new World Trade Center for the New Yorker, Goldberger said the design by architect Daniel Libeskind “struck a careful balance between commemorating the lives lost and reestablishing the life of the site itself.” The panel discussion followed the awarding of two $1,000 prizes to young writers for architectural writing on the topic of libraries. The winning entries by Marie-Pier Bourret-Lafleur and Kristen Smith will be published respectively in Argus and Canadian Architect magazines. mascot@montrealgazette.com Twitter.com/JMarianScott
  8. Lecture intéressante!! CARY PLANTATION, Me. — Up here, near the end of Interstate 95, a single main road ridged with stately conifers runs past the odd house that at night casts an orange glow over the snow. There is no school. No police department. Not even a stoplight. But there are property taxes. And some residents say the taxes’ growth has pushed this community of about 200 to the brink. To save Cary Plantation, they say, they want to dismantle it. “What do you do, what does the town do, when they can’t pay their bills? Do we go bankrupt? Do we lose our homes?” asked Diane Cassidy, a former nursing assistant. “There was no answer, other than deorganization.” Ms. Cassidy is leading an effort to dissolve the local government and join the Unorganized Territory, a vast swath of forest and townships in north, central and eastern Maine run by a partnership between the state and the counties. Last month, residents here voted, 64 to 0, to continue the process. At a time of rising municipal costs, local governments around the country are looking for ways to rein in tax bills, pursuing privatization, the consolidation of services, mergers and even bankruptcy. But in northern Maine, as operating costs have increased, the economy has stagnated and the population has aged and dwindled, a handful of struggling towns have pursued the unusual process of eliminating local government entirely. In the West, citizens are protesting to constrain government power. And over all, Americans tend to resist ceding their local authority. But these communities are handing their governing power over to the state and the county. “Knowing how dependent towns are in Maine on the property tax, they may have just reached a point where they’ve decided, ‘We’d be better off just not existing as a town,’ ” said Elizabeth K. Kellar, the chief executive of the Center for State and Local Government Excellence in Washington. Under state law, dismantling a local government takes 12 complex steps, often over at least two years, including legislative approval and a series of local votes. When a town deorganizes, state agencies and the county administer its services, like snow removal, policing and firefighting. Children are assigned to appropriate schools, often in a nearby district. Town-owned buildings and land are sold or held in trust by the state or the county. And every local government job is eliminated. Thus, there are no local officials’ salaries to pay and no infrastructure to maintain locally. And the cost of servicing each township is spread across the Unorganized Territory either in each county or statewide. “It’s basically like a company: There’s so much less overhead,” said Paul G. Bernier, the public works director for Aroostook County, who is responsible for overseeing services to the unorganized territories at the very top of Maine. “Sometimes it’s half of what they were paying.” In Aroostook County, Bancroft, population 60, completed the process last summer and now exists in name only. Besides Cary Plantation, Oxbow, about an hour northwest, is well on its way, although both have legislative approval and a final vote yet to go. State officials said that an effort to deorganize Atkinson, which began in 2013, may soon take a step forward, and that more municipalities had told the state that they were interested. Advertisement Continue reading the main story “Just the price tag to keep their local governments up and running is more or less untenable,” said Mark Brewer, a professor of political science at the University of Maine. “It’s the final step in this long, drawn-out process, which really starts with population decline.” Marcia McInnis, the fiscal administrator for the Unorganized Territory, estimated there have been 41 deorganizations in Maine’s history, about half of them during the Great Depression. But “it has become recently more common than it has been in the last, really, two decades,” she said. The last town to deorganize before Bancroft was Centerville, population two dozen, in 2004. There have also been deorganization attempts that failed at the local level, often because residents did not want to lose local control, or in some cases did not secure legislative approval. Photo A map of Cary Plantation. Residents there recently voted unanimously to continue the deorganization process. Credit Tristan Spinski for The New York Times “I attribute the recent increase in interest in deorganizing as a direct result of the economic Great Recession and in the loss of jobs in the logging industry,” Ms. McInnis said. Steve Sherman, a lifelong resident of Oxbow, where roughly 50 people are spread across six miles, began working to disband the government after years of watching the local labor market for papermaking and farming shrink along with the population. In November, 21 residents voted unanimously to move forward with deorganization; a third vote will take place in the future. “We’re not growing here. We’re headed the other way, it would seem,” said Mr. Sherman, a logger and Christmas tree farmer. “That’s just life, in northern Maine especially.” In Oxbow and in Cary Plantation, local government is already all but gone. Local meetings in Cary are held in Ms. Cassidy’s heated garage. With no public building, records are generally stored in officials’ homes. And most services are already contracted out. “I figure the state can do a better job,” Ms. Cassidy said. Other states have unorganized or unincorporated areas, but in Maine about half of the land is Unorganized Territory. The area predates the state itself — it was laid out when Maine was still part of Massachusetts and new settlers were expected to flock there. But the harsh climes of Maine’s wild lands, as they used to be known, never filled out with enough people to self-govern. “Maine has this oddity of having all of this space in an area of the country that cherishes town meetings and town governments,” said Kenneth Palmer, a professor emeritus at the University of Maine. “These tiny towns don’t have enough people to generate the municipal staff to really run the town. It’s this abandonment of a town structure.” But some in Cary say deorganizing is a way to give the community a new lease on life, not to abandon it. “I think it’s going to bring more people in,” said Kai Libby, 55, a retired Border Patrol agent who became the town’s first assessor last year to help shepherd the deorganization effort through the multistep process (and thus eliminate his own position). Mr. Libby and his wife, Tina, who led the withdrawal of Cary from its school district, live in the only house on their road, with a vast tract of land, enough space for four dogs and stacks of documents related to deorganization near their kitchen table. “There’s privacy, and it’s so quiet,” said Ms. Libby, 51. “We want to stay here. And to do that, it needs to be affordable for us to stay here.” http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/17/us/in-maine-local-control-is-a-luxury-fewer-towns-can-afford.html?smid=fb-nytimes&smtyp=cur&_r=0
  9. Stage is set for Montreal to grow as a technology startup hub BERTRAND MAROTTE MONTREAL — The Globe and Mail Burgeoning tech companies are on the rise in Canada, attracting funding and IPO buzz in hubs across the country. Our occasional series explores how each locale nurtures its entrepreneurs, the challenges they face and the rising stars we’re watching. Montreal provides an ideal setting for the early care and feeding of tech startups. The city boasts a lively cultural milieu, a party-hearty mindset, cheap rents and a bargain-priced talent pool. ALSO ON THE GLOBE AND MAIL MULTIMEDIAStartup city: The high-tech fever reshaping Kitchener-Waterloo What it doesn’t have, though, is sufficient critical mass to propel promising tech companies forward in their later stages. Case in point: VarageSale Inc., the mobile app and listings marketplace that serial entrepreneur Carl Mercier co-founded with his wife Tami Zuckerman three years ago. Mr. Mercier and Ms. Zuckerman were quite content in the early going with the Montreal zeitgeist and support from the city’s tightly knit startup community as they nurtured their baby, a combination virtual garage sale, swap meet and social meeting place. But as VarageSale took off, the burgeoning company was no longer able to feed its growth relying only on Montreal resources. Mr. Mercier eventually opened an office in Toronto to tap into the wider and deeper software-developer talent pool in the Toronto-Waterloo corridor and he ultimately decided to move the head office to the Queen City. “We were growing extremely fast. We were hiring like gangbusters in Montreal but we needed to hire even faster, so we decided we needed two talent pools, but Toronto ended up growing faster than Montreal,” Mr. Mercier explains. “Occasionally, we will hire people in Montreal. “There’s a vibrant startup scene [in Montreal]. It’s not a big startup scene but it’s a vibrant one,” he adds. “There is lots of activity, a lot of events, a lot of early-stage capital. Startups can get off the ground cheaply and quickly.” It’s the later stages that present problems, according to successful local entrepreneur and angel investor Daniel Robichaud, whose password-management firm PasswordBox Inc. was bought last year by U.S. chip giant Intel. “Montreal is a terrific place to build a product but it’s not where the action is. It’s not a place to raise funding,” Mr. Robichaud said in a recent industry conference presentation. Montreal startup founders often find themselves having no choice but to move to bigger playgrounds because of a still-embryonic domestic investor scene, says Université de Montréal artificial intelligence researcher Joshua Bengio. The startup sphere in Montreal is “quite active, but the investors are too faint-hearted and short-term oriented, and so the developers often go elsewhere, particularly California and New York,” he said. In true Quebec Inc. fashion, the provincial government and labour funds have stepped in to fill the gap of funding homegrown companies. A key player is Teralys Capital, a fund manager that finances private venture capital funds that is backed by a score of provincial players – including the mighty pension fund manager Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, the labour fund Fonds de solidarité FTQ and Investissement Québec – said Chris Arseneault, co-founder of Montreal-based early-stage venture capital firm iNovia Capital. “They’ve been the most creative groups to try and put money at work,” he says about Teralys and its backers. Startup directory BuiltinMtl, has about 520 Montreal startups listed (excluding biotechs, film-and-tv-production houses or video-game developers). The actual number is probably closer to a “few thousand” if very early-stage startups still under the radar are included, according to Andrew Popliger, senior manager in PricewaterhouseCooper’s Assurance practice. Data from the Canadian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association indicate venture capital firms invested $295-million in Quebec last year – just 15 per cent of the Canadian total – compared with $932-million in Ontario and $554-million in B.C. Most insiders and observers agree that what works in the Montreal tech “ecosystem” is a strong sense of community. There is a spirit of collaboration and collective vision. Notman House, a repurposed mansion adjacent to Sherbrooke Street’s famous Golden Square Mile, which sits at the crossroads of the city’s tech startup scene, rents office and workstation space, stages events, and acts as an incubator and networking locale and launch pad for budding companies seeking their big break. It represents everything that makes Montreal distinct in the North American startup sphere, says Noah Redler, the venue’s campus director. “We’re not just an incubator. We’re a community centre. We bring people together and collaborate. People are supported and surrounded by [successful] entrepreneurs,” he said. “There are more startups in the Waterloo area but there is more of a community feeling in Montreal,” says Katherine Barr, the Canadian-born co-chair of C100, a Silicon Valley expat group that helps connect Canadian entrepreneurs with U.S. investors. “They’ve built a real community here. Like Silicon Valley, its co-opetition, both competing and helping each other,” Ms. Barr said during a break at AccelerateMTL, an annual conference that brings together “founders and funders.” There may not be as great a number of head offices as in Toronto but the potential for big breakthroughs in Montreal is impressive, says John Ruffolo, chief executive officer of OMERS Ventures, the venture arm of the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System. “For Montreal, it’s only a matter of time. They’re going to have their Shopify,” he says in reference to the Ottawa-based e-commerce platform that has become a stock market star. For now though, Montreal may have to settle for being a relatively small player and modest incubator of talent and ideas on the North American startup scene, even compared with Vancouver and Toronto.
  10. Merci à MTLCity pour m'avoir aiguillé sur le sujet! http://w5.montreal.com/mtlweblog/?p=49437&utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter http://vtdigger.org/2015/06/30/vermont-pbs-soaks-up-montreal-qulture/
  11. The Bilbao Effect: is 'starchitecture' all it’s cracked up to be? Every struggling post-industrial city has the same idea: hire a star architect (like Frank Gehry) to design a branch of a famous museum (like the Guggenheim), and watch your city blossom with culture. After all, it worked for Bilbao ... didn’t it? Tomasz Kacprzak, chairman of the city council of Łódź, the third-biggest city in Poland, was telling me about the time he met David Lynch. “We went to his house in California,” Kacprzak said. “He loves Łódź. He wants to build us a cultural centre.” (Lynch’s plan for a 90-acre site comprising a film studio, cinema, gallery, offices and bar in an abandoned power plant in Łódź – the city that also inspired the cult director’s film Inland Empire – is expected to open in 2016.) “Actually,” Kacprzak continued, “Lynch’s house is not great. The interior. It is not modern.” “Oh, no,” I said. “Retro? Nineties?” “No,” Kacprzak said. “Eighties. Gehry’s house was much nicer.” “You went to Frank Gehry’s house, too?” This was interesting. We were standing in the soaring atrium of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, designed by Gehry. Through the window, in the courtyard, you could make out the back of Jeff Koons’ huge, Edward Scissorhands-style plant sculpture, Puppy. “Yes,” Kacprzak said. “We asked for the Guggenheim in Łódź.” “You wanted Gehry to design a new museum?” “No,” Kacprzak said. “The same.” He swept his arm over the pine, glass and steel that curved above our heads. “You wanted him to build the exact same building?” “Yes,” Kacprzak said casually. “The same. But we would use it for a concert hall.” Much is made of the so-called ‘Bilbao effect’, the idea that attracting a world-class cultural institution – in Bilbao’s case, a branch of New York’s Guggenheim art museum – will put your city on the map, and in turn attract more investment, brands, tourism and cultural energy. This was the first time, however, that I’d heard someone say they wanted to copy Bilbao’s building exactly, swooping metal sheet for swooping metal sheet. “What did Gehry say?” I asked. “He said, ‘OK – but it will very expensive.’” Kacprzak shrugged. “We are a small city.” So, of course, was Bilbao 18 years ago when it rose to fame almost overnight. The fourth-largest city in Spain had lost its former glory as a manufacturing centre: its factories shuttered, its port decrepit. But after Spain joined the EU in 1986, Basque Country authorities embarked on an ambitious redevelopment programme for their biggest city. They drafted in expensive architects to design an airport (Santiago Calatrava), a metro system (Norman Foster), and a footbridge (Calatrava again), and in 1991 landed their biggest fish – the Solomon R Guggenheim Foundation, which decided to bring a new branch of the legendary Guggenheim Museum to the city, and hired star California architect Frank Gehry to build it. The building was an instant hit. Critics agreed Gehry’s deconstructed meringue of sweeping metal, which opened in 1997, was a work of “mercurial brilliance”. The collection inside, featuring art by Willem De Kooning, Mark Rothko, Anselm Kiefer and Richard Serra, was world-class. The construction even came in on budget, at $89m. What’s more, Bilbao now had a landmark. Visitor spending in the city jumped, recouping the building cost within three years. Five years after construction, Bilbao estimated that its economic impact on the local economy was worth €168m, and poured an additional €27m into Basque government tax coffers – the equivalent of adding 4,415 jobs. More than one million people annually now visit the museum, which became the centrepiece of the Bilbao Art District: a cluster composed of the maritime museum, the fine arts museum and the Sala Rekalde art centre. In 2010, French designer Philippe Starck completed his renovation of a former wine cellar to create the Alhondiga culture and leisure centre (recently rebranded as Azkuna Zentroa). And Zaha Hadid has presented radical plans to redevelop the neglected Zorrozaurre peninsula and turn it into a high-tech residential and cultural island. A struggling city, decimated by the decline of its manufacturing base, had seemingly reinvented itself by – of all things – betting big on culture. Other post-industrial cities noticed. When I told Kacprzak’s story to Maria Fernandez Sabau, a cultural and museum consultant for cities around the world, she sighed. “Yes, many of my clients say the same thing: give us the Guggenheim,” she said. “Often the exact same building! But you can’t just copy it.” Don’t tell that to Abu Dhabi. Possibly in an attempt to buttress itself against the day the oil runs out, the city is building a museum complex called Saadiyat Island, which will feature branches of not just the Guggenheim (again) but the Louvre as well. In Hong Kong, the West Kowloon Cultural District will be home to M+, a new museum of Chinese contemporary art. There are plans for new cultural hubs centred on museums in Mecca, in Tirana, in Belo Horizonte and in Perth, Australia. It’s the same in the UK: Dundee has drafted in Kengo Kuma to build a new V&A Museum of Design, while Liverpool and Margate have welcomed the Tate Liverpool (designed by James Stirling) and the Turner Contemporary (David Chipperfield). Every city, it seems, wants to create the next Bilbao-Guggenheim-Gehry vortex. Praise for this model reached its zenith last month, as mayors, cultural attachés and city representatives descended on Bilbao for the UCLG Cities and Culture Conference. Walking the streets with Kacprzak from Łódź, I could see what the delegates liked so much. The city centre is clean. There are lots of expensive retail shops. “El Fosterito”, the glass-tube metro entrances designed by Foster, are slick and futuristic. And the people seem disproportionately well-off. Presiding over it all, like a monolith of gentrification, is the Guggenheim. Yet despite this icon of culture, the city seems strangely quiet. Where are the local galleries, the music, the graffiti, the skateboarders? Spain’s difficulties with youth unemployment are well-documented, but I expected more twentysomethings in what is regularly billed as a cultural capital. Does the Guggenheim actually encourage creativity in the city, as advertised, or is it a Disneylandish castle on the hill with a fancy name and an expensive entrance fee for tourists and the well-heeled? Is the Bilbao effect to spread culture, or just to spread money? “The Guggenheim put our city on the map, no question. But you also can’t get anything support here unless it’s top-down,” says Manu Gómez-Álvarez, an animated man of around 40 wearing earrings and a black hoodie, who is the driving force behind ZAWP, the Zorrozaurre Art Working Progress, a cultural group based on the Bilbao peninsula that Zaha Hadid proposes to completely redevelop. ZAWP is precisely the kind of cultural organisation that gets praised in megacities like London and New York. It’s a decentralised collective of young artists, theatre-makers, musicians and designers, with co-making spaces in the old industrial buildings of Zorrozaurre and a thriving entrepreneurial atmosphere in their colourful, funky headquarters – which also house a bar, a cafe, a gig space and a theatre. Gómez-Álvarez is leading a movement he calls Meanwhile, which aims to use the still-derelict buildings of the peninsula as temporary sites for plays, gigs, artistic interventions or even just cafes. Every proposal, at every turn, gets the same answer back from the authorities: no. “There’s no support for grassroots culture,” he says. “We waited 20 years before we got any funding from the government at all.” Last year, he says ZAWP finally received a grant – but they still don’t get a permanent home in the new Zorrozaurre, and will almost certainly have to move again. It’s hard to imagine: ZAWP’s premises are huge, stretching through half a dozen buildings and decorated in amazingly elaborate detail. And yet “we are nomads”, says Gómez-Álvarez. I asked Igor de Quadra, who runs Karraskan Bilbao – a network of more than a dozen theatre groups, venues and creative organisations – what he thought of the Guggenheim’s effect. He struggled to frame his words carefully. “It is fine for what it is,” he said at last, “but it gets a lot of attention from people who are just passing through. Events like this [uCLG forum] take up a lot of attention, but don’t leave much behind for Bilbao culture. Frankly, we don’t think about the Guggenheim.” The Guggenheim certainly doesn’t claim to be in the business of fostering local culture, nor would you expect it to. The museum has some Basque art and occasionally runs cultural workshops, but it’s an international art museum, rather incongruously plonked down in northern Spain. (Extreme Basque nationalists didn’t take kindly to its arrival: the week before it opened, ETA killed a police officer in a foiled attempt to bomb the museum.) There are, of course, Basque cultural organisations in the city, such as Harrobia Bilbao, a performing arts group established in a former church in the Otxarkoaga area in 2011, but their presence feels surprisingly marginal in a city that is supposed to be at the heart of Basque culture. “In English Canada, culture’s nice to have – in French Canada, it’s crucial,” says Simon Brault, head of the Arts Council of Canada, talking about a similar dynamic between French-speaking Quebec and the rest of the country. Brault helmed what you might call an “anti-Bilbao effect” – a completely different type of culture-led regeneration in another struggling post-industrial city, Montreal. Brault helped found an open, non-hierarchical cultural network called Culture Montreal, which rather than speaking only to the Guggenheims and cultural superstars of the city, was open to everyday Montrealers – bar owners, teachers, musicians. “An artist just in from Chile would be at the same table as the head of Cirque du Soleil,” he says. The aim wasn’t to secure funding for massive projects, but to put culture at the heart of the city’s regeneration. It was controversial at first. “The cultural groups thought it was a distraction and that what the culture sector needed was more money,” he said. “But within a year, we got what cultural groups had been asking for for 20 years: a seat at the table.” Rather than championing culture only for an elite group of professionals – and asking for money just for the huge institutions – Culture Montreal was better received by city and provincial governments, says Brault. Their goals were less arrogant: to increase cultural access for Montrealers, and to include culture as part of the solution to any civic problems. They achieved this, Brault says, by making everyone feel as though culture was a daily part of everyone’s life, not something for a sophisticated few. “There is definitely room for starchitects, but it’s always better to tap into local culture rather than buy it from outside. You can’t do culture in a city without involving citizens,” he said. So, which is the better way for cities – bottom-up cultural movements or big-ticket splashes? “Of course, there will always be top-down decisions,” Brault said. “The key is to look for a middle ground.” Hadid’s billion-pound redevelopment of Zorrozaurre will be a test for that middle ground in Bilbao. Will its 6,000 new houses, two new technology centres and park genuinely engage with local culture, or will it simply be a flashy area for rich Spaniards looking for a waterfront property? The Bilbao effect might be famous, but it’s here that it could be truly tested. Those cities around the globe hoping a brand-name museum will save them should be watching carefully. “The Guggenheim Bilbao was a rare occurrence,” says museum consultant Maria Fernandez Sabau. “There was an incredible confluence of amazing, talented people. You had a museum that was hungry to expand, available land for cheap, a government with money, an architect itching to make a statement, and a city that desperately needed a new reason to exist. You can’t just buy that.” http://www.theguardian.com/cities/2015/apr/30/bilbao-effect-gehry-guggenheim-history-cities-50-buildings?CMP=twt_gu
  12. Sur le site de SNC-LAVALIN http://www.spiegelworld.ca/ EMPIRE CANADA Direct from its world premiere smash-hit season at Times Square in New York City and sold-out seasons across Australia, Japan and New Zealand, EMPIRE is the most jaw-dropping show ever seen on a spiegeltent stage – and now it’s heading to Canada. Smashing through the borders of comedy, circus, vaudeville and burlesque, EMPIRE presents the sexiest most daring artists from across the globe. UPCOMING TOUR DATES Montreal : Starting 15 April 2015 Québec City : Starting 1 July 2015 sent via Tapatalk
  13. Per this article in The Gazette: http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/Montreal+picked+five+hubs+Future+Earth+project/10008798/story.html Montreal has been selected as one of five global hubs for a United Nations project called Future Earth, an ambitious 10-year initiative to build and connect international research on the environment and sustainable development — and to find ways to intensify and accelerate the impact of that research. It is a united, international effort to create sustainability and advance scientific study on questions of environmental impact, to merge science and public policy — and to address urgent environmental challenges. Future Earth’s globally distributed secretariat will also have hubs in Paris, Tokyo, Stockholm and Boulder, Colo. Those involved in petitioning to get the hub here — there were at least 20 competing bids — believe that Montreal’s star will definitely shine brighter on the international stage now. While the project will involve all of Montreal’s universities, Concordia University will house the local hub that will bring together Quebec researchers to contribute to this major scientific initiative. It is news that has Concordia president Alan Shepard smiling these days, although he is primarily focused on what a coup this is for Montreal and the opportunities he believes will emerge from it. “This is great for Montreal and very good for Concordia,” Shepard said in an interview on Monday. “We’ll be the host but it’s collaborative, an intersection for all the universities in Montreal to work together on climate change and the health of the Earth.” The universities came together to work on a joint proposal to lobby for the hub at the urging of Montréal International, which acts as an economic driver for Greater Montreal. Montréal International vice-president Stéphanie Allard is also convinced that Montreal’s involvement in the project can only be a boon to its universities and to the city itself. “It’s a very big opportunity for all the universities and for Montreal,” said Allard, who oversees international organizations. “It will increase our visibility in the world, it will establish us as an international city and it will certainly make us more attractive to researchers.” Future Earth is the result of a commitment made in 2012, at the United Nations conference Rio+20, to develop a new international network to advance sustainability. It is being overseen by the International Council of Science, a non-governmental association with a goal to strengthen international science for the benefit of society. The project is committed to developing the knowledge for responding effectively to the risks and opportunities of global environmental change and for supporting transformation towards global sustainability in the coming decades. It will mobilize tens of thousands of scientists while strengthening partnerships with policy-makers and other stakeholders in the quest for a sustainable planet. “Solutions to the major sustainability challenges facing humanity require integrated science and a closer relationship with policy-makers and stakeholders than we have seen to date,” said Yuan-Tseh Lee, president of the ICSU. “Future Earth has been designed to respond to these urgent needs, and I am impressed by the innovative consortium that has come together to drive the program forward.” In making its pitch, Montréal International cited that Montreal has a rich, diverse and high quality research network already in place, that it is multicultural and multilinguistic, that it is very well-positioned to be a hub and that office space is cheaper here than in many cities. Shepard said it’s hard to say what financial benefits there could be for the city, but he said having the secretariat will certainly bring UN resources, international visitors, research opportunities, graduate students and lots of attention. “Montreal becomes a neuronetwork and it’s glowing really bright,” he said, adding that the project meshed well with Concordia’s “intellectual values” of integrating different academic disciplines. An added bonus is that it also fits well with a preoccupation of the university’s students, namely sustainability and environmental science. “Future Earth clearly recognizes Montreal’s research capacity and the valuable contribution we will make in developing solutions to global environmental challenges,” said Shepard. “It’s a beautiful thing to have in your city; it will bring great intellectual leadership and passion and opportunity.” kseidman@montrealgazette.com Twitter: KSeidman
  14. http://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/two-montrealers-striving-to-improve-citys-economic-lot?__lsa=4920-2f19 Among the people charged with promoting Montreal’s economic development, Éric Lemieux and Dominique Anglade are on the front lines. They’re battling with other cities around the world as Montreal vies for scarce new jobs and investment dollars, often competing against lucrative incentives offered by other jurisdictions. Lemieux is trying to breathe new life into the city’s financial sector while Anglade seeks out high-tech companies, aerospace firms and life science businesses willing to invest here. Banks and insurance companies have moved their headquarters to Toronto and local stock exchanges have closed but Lemieux, who heads the private-public agency known as Finance Montreal, sees new opportunities ahead. “Canada has a stable economy with good financial regulation,” he says, and the country emerged from the 2008-09 financial crisis with a healthy banking sector. That should help to attract international banking activities. The city has an “excellent pool of talent supplied by its universities and business schools,” he says, with 8,000 students enrolled in finance programs. It also boasts much cheaper operating costs than places like New York and Boston. “Banks like BNP Paribas, Société Générale and Morgan Stanley all made the decision to locate some of their operations here.” Montreal has over 100,000 jobs in the financial sector and derives close to 7 per cent of local GDP from the 3,000 financial firms working here. It’s become an important centre for pension fund management, led by the giant provincial agency the Caisse de dépot et placement as well as other large players such as PSP Investments and Fiera Capital. The sector includes more than 250 money-management firms. The city is developing a new area of expertise in financial derivatives like futures and options on stocks, currencies and bonds, which are traded on the Montreal Exchange. And financial technology is also a selling point for Montreal. It has a growing presence in software development and information technology for the asset management industry, as traders look for every technical edge they can get. Part of Lemieux’s effort comes through the International Financial Centre program, which offers employment-based tax credits to financial firms that set up international operations here. “I think it’s a good success story,” he says. “There are more than 60 companies and 1,000 jobs that have located here” under the plan. “Seventy per cent of them would not be in Montreal if there wasn’t this support. We’re talking of $100 million in direct and indirect benefits.” Another important asset is the local venture capital industry, which finances startups and early-stage firms founded by entrepreneurs. The sector is led by such funding institutions as Teralys Capital and the Fonds de Solidarité. Put it all together and the portrait of the city doesn’t look too bad. According to the Global Financial Index — an international ranking that measures both size and industry perceptions — Montreal is the world’s 18th financial centre, up from 31st spot four years ago. Dominique Anglade runs Montreal International, the agency that prospects worldwide for foreign direct investment on behalf of the 82 municipalities in the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal. Like Lemieux, she sees fierce competition for investment dollars. In this tough environment, the Montreal area has had its share of successes. 2013 was an exceptional year, as Montreal International helped to secure a record $1.2 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI). The year just ended will fall short of that mark but will “continue our momentum,” says Anglade. The city was recognized as having the best attraction strategy in North America in a survey by FDI Magazine, a sister publication to Britain’s Financial Times. The record performance was driven by several major expansions of foreign multinationals in the Montreal area, including French video-game maker Ubisoft and Swedish telecom giant Ericsson. The presence of multinationals is critical to the Montreal economy. They account for 20 per cent of local GDP and nine per cent of jobs, as well as a large share of private research and development. Montreal International’s task is to convince them not only to stay but to invest and expand here. Multinationals often pit one plant location against another to see which one will produce the best value proposition. Montreal International’s job is to stay in constant touch with the companies that have a presence here to find out what they want to accomplish and what they need to survive. Anglade targets certain niches where the city is already strong such as information technology, video games, special effects for movies and TV, aerospace and life sciences. Information technology represented by far the biggest share of the new money coming into the city in 2013. The video game industry also remains a strong performer, with five of the world’s top 10 selling games produced in Montreal. A significant percentage of deals — about 60 per cent — involve government financial assistance through provincial tax credits but Anglade doesn’t apologize for the financial aid offered to the private sector. “The competition in the U.S. has no limit. They have billions in terms of incentives and that’s why we have to be extremely strategic in Montreal and focus on specific sectors.” She notes that Swedish appliance maker Electrolux opted to close its plant in nearby L’Assomption, employing 1,300, and shifted operations to Tennessee after it was offered a rich package of incentives by three levels of government. Still, in industries that require more skill and knowledge, the availability of talent is Montreal’s strong point, Anglade says. “One of the surprises that people have about Montreal is its talent pool. I can’t tell you how many companies have said ‘wow, this is amazing’ when they start to fill positions here. It’s why we need to stress the importance of education. It’s critical for the future of Quebec.”
  15. via The Gazette : The Restaurant Scene in Montreal : Boom Equals Bust Lesley Chesterman Montreal Gazette Published on: November 21, 2014 Last Updated: November 21, 2014 9:14 AM EST Le Paris-Beurre is an excellent neighbourhood bistro that Outremont residents are lucky to have called their own for more than thirty years. The braised leeks with curry vinaigrette, the goat’s cheese salad, the famous gratin dauphinois and côte de boeuf for two, plus the best crème brûlée in town, make this restaurant a sure bet. Yes, the wine list has been on the predictable side for a decade too many and maybe the soup has a tendency to be a little watery, but the terrasse is divine and the dining room offers the ideal out-of-a-Truffaut-film bistro setting. If Le Paris-Beurre were located in Paris, it would be frequented by both locals and tourists looking for that fantasy French bistro. In Montreal, Le Paris-Beurre has relied on locals to fill its 65 seats. And increasingly, those locals are often grey-haired, owner Hubert Streicher said in a recent interview. Now after 30 years in business, Le Paris-Beurre will be serving its last bavette and duck confit on Dec. 23. Streicher still hopes the restaurant will be sold, yet he’s not holding his breath. “Our sales fell over the last three years,” he said. “We have a very loyal customer base, but those customers are aging. And younger customers are now heading to bistros on Avenue Bernard.” Normally, the closing of this Montreal institution would come as a surprise, but considering the number of iconic Montreal restaurants that have shuttered this year – big players including Le Continental, the Beaver Club, Globe, Le Latini and Magnan’s Tavern – Le Paris-Beurre is just another establishment to give up on the increasingly volatile Montreal restaurant scene. Driving around the former popular restaurant neighbourhoods of our city, and seeing locale after locale with rent signs in the windows, it’s obvious the restaurant industry is hurting. It’s one thing when the bad restaurants close. A regular purging of the worst or the dated is to be expected. But now the good restaurants are hurting as well. There are too many restaurants in Montreal and not enough customers” – Restaurant owner Sylvie Lachance Upon closing, restaurants like Magnan’s Tavern and Globe issued press releases that raised many of the same issues: road work, tax measures, staff shortages, skyrocketing food costs, parking woes, the increasing popularity of suburban restaurants and changing tastes. Add to that list a shrinking upscale tourist clientele, and there are sure to be more closings on the horizon. People have less cash to spend and more restaurants to choose from. Competition is fierce. Tourism Montreal notes that ours is the city with the largest number of restaurants per capita in all of North America. According to François Meunier of the Association des Restaurateurs du Québec, the number of new restaurants with table service increased by 31 per cent from 2005 to 2012 in Montreal. Yet people are spending less. “Sales are down 4.2 per cent in full-service restaurants from last year,” Meunier said. “People don’t have money to spend. We don’t always like to admit it, but Quebec is a poor province.” There’s a definite shift taking place on the Montreal restaurant scene and for many restaurateurs, the obstacles are looking insurmountable. Up the street from Le Paris-Beurre is the restaurant Van Horne. Owner Sylvie Lachance was so discouraged by how the restaurant scene is evolving that she sent an open letter outlining her exasperation to various media outlets last May. “There are too many restaurants in Montreal and not enough customers,” her letter began, before outlining several trends she believed were holding her back from garnering the attention she deserved. Of her chef, Jens Ruoff, she wrote: “(He) is not a hipster, has no tattoos on his arms and does not serve homemade sausage on wood planks.” Of Van Horne’s marketing approach, she said: “We do not have cookbooks for sale, nor a sugar shack, much less a television show. We do not personally know Anthony Bourdain or René Redzepi.” She closed with the final thought: “We are not dying at Van Horne but it is unfortunate, given all the hard work we do, to be forgotten so often.” Now, six months later, Lachance is still discouraged. “Are there too many restaurants in Montreal? Yes!” she said without hesitation. “Everyone is looking for staff. It has become the biggest problem. I have young chefs here who say, ‘I could go to you, Toqué! or Boulud.’ They can go anywhere. And I also see restaurants that open up that are constantly looking for chefs, waiters, bus boys. They don’t even staff their restaurants properly before opening. And as for chefs, they have to be everything these days: creative, good at marketing, eager to meet with suppliers, manage employees, calculate food cost. Good luck finding one who can do all that.” Across town, Carlos Ferreira is facing many of the same concerns at his famous Peel St. restaurant, Ferreira Café. The restaurant’s lunch scene draws the elite downtown crowd. Dinner is equally popular. Now going on 18 years in business, Ferreira should be leaning back, counting the profits, happy with his multi-restaurant empire. Not quite. “Montreal has become a restaurant city focused on fashions and trends,” he said between bites of grilled octopus at lunchtime recently. “New restaurants invest a lot in decor and ambience. In the past, the food in trendy restaurants like Prima Donna and Mediterraneo was very good. But today, it’s not serious. The ambience is exaggerated, the markups on alcohol too. A lot of those restaurants took their clients for granted and now they’re all closed. And today there is this new Griffintown phenomenon. If you don’t go to eat there, you are a loser!” When asked if he thinks there are too many restaurants in Montreal, Ferreira nodded. The problem, he said, is a lack of direction. “We’re losing sight of what a restaurant should be,” Ferreira said. “People are opening restaurants without knowing the business.” Ferreira does know the business – he’s been drawing in customers to enjoy his modern Portuguese food coming up on 20 years. Next year, though, he will be re-evaluating his entire business. “In 2013, we served 1,800 fewer customers,” he said. One of the problems now is that with the ongoing erosion of the high-end restaurant genre and the increasing popularity of casual dining, the middle ground is getting crowded. To Ferreira, restaurants can be divided into four categories: high-end (gastronomic), casual (bistros), cafés and fast-food. “The high-end restaurant is condemned,” he said, matter-of-factly. “They are too expensive and people say they’re very good but … boring. And if people go into a half-full restaurant, they don’t want to return.” Another highly successful Montreal restaurant, Moishes, celebrated its 75th anniversary this year but has faced its share of challenges. Yet owner Lenny Lighter is not willing to blame the lack of business on the booming number of new restaurants. “Competition always makes me nervous,” Lighter said. “And not just another steakhouse but anyone in my price category. But where is that ‘too many restaurants’ statement going? We live in a free society. Anyone can open a business. It’s not for us to tell people what to do. You know what’s not good? Not enough restaurants. The more choices people have, the more interesting the game gets for everyone.” To Lighter, there’s too much going on in Montreal lately to curtail entrepreneurial spirit. Young people willing to raise the capital and take the risk should do it, he said. “Some will close, there will be heartbreaks. But the ones that survive might just be the next big thing. We never know what the next Joe Beef will be or who the next Costas Spiliadis will be. Only the strong will survive. Competition is good. It raises the stakes.” And yet the hurdles in the game may also make for an uneven playing field. Next August, Ferreira will face a lengthy construction period on Peel St. and the makeover of Ste-Catherine St., both of which he is dreading. “I understand it has to be done,” he said. “But it must be done intelligently, so that there is still access to businesses.” The fear of being barricaded by a construction site is a prime concern for many a restaurateur. Even at arguably the city’s most popular restaurant right now, Joe Beef, construction worries loom large. “If the city ripped up the street in front of me here for three weeks,” said co-owner David McMillan, “I’d go under.” At Thai Grill on the corner of St-Laurent Blvd. and Laurier Ave., owner Nicolas Scalera watched his business come to a halt when the sidewalks were widened. For four months, the entrance to his restaurant was accessible only by a small plank set over a mud pit. Construction, estimated to last a month, started in August yet only finished in early November. Scalera said customers not only petered out, many called to see if he was closed. “I paid $68,000 in taxes to the city last year. It would have been nice to see a break during construction.” “I’ve been here for 17 years. I have some rights as well. But they don’t care,” Scalera said. “I had (city councillor) Alex Norris (for the Jeanne-Mance district) tell me right to my face that they don’t want people coming in from other areas or Laval to eat in restaurants in this area. He told me the Plateau is for the Plateau residents. I’d like the city to promote our restaurants instead of doing nothing to help us. Instead, I’ve seen a major decline in business. I will never open anything or invest in the Plateau again. It’s too risky. You could lose everything.” Norris, the city councillor in question, disagrees. “The Plateau gets hundreds of thousands visiting our streets,” he said. “We encourage people from all over the city to frequent our businesses. It’s a densely populated neighbourhood, so we’ve had to manage the relationship between commercial endeavours and residents. To suggest we don’t want people to visit our neighbourhood is absurd.” Inflated taxes didn’t help Le Paris-Beurre’s Streicher in Outremont, either. “I was charged $2,500 in taxes (this year) for my terrasse alone, and my terrasse is part of my restaurant, in the back courtyard, not on the street.” Van Horne’s Lachance is also disheartened by the lack of interest from the people who collect her tax dollars. “In Outremont where I am,” she said, “not one elected municipal representative has been to my restaurant. They go to the cheap restaurant down the street. I’ve served Tony Accurso, but I’ve never had any mayor or elected official in my restaurant. There is a lack of appreciation for our restaurant scene. People don’t talk about what show they went to anymore, but what restaurant they ate at. Restaurants are part of our culture now.” When asked if he frequents restaurants in his neighbourhood, Norris could name only one, L’Express. “There are others,” he said. “I’ll have to get back to you.” We’re losing sight of what a restaurant should be.” – Carlos Ferreira Even at the internationally acclaimed Joe Beef, Montreal officials have been scarce. “I’ve served three former prime ministers,” McMillan said. “The governor of Vermont has eaten at my restaurant four times, but not one Montreal mayor or one municipal councillor from my area has eaten at Joe Beef. The last five times I ate in restaurants in New York, three of the times I saw the mayor eating there, too.” “I have taken note of the comments, and I am pleased to see that the people at Joe Beef’s want to see more of me,” Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre said via email on Thursday. “I was happy to see them recently at the Corona Theatre, where they catered an event celebrating David Suzuki. Unfortunately, the last time I was near Joe Beef’s restaurant, I was in a hurry and went to eat at Dilallo Burger.” “The city doesn’t understand how important the restaurants are in Montreal,” Ferreira said. Lighter is less dismissive, though he does see a lack of interest from above. “They’re not understanding the risk people take,” Lighter said. “There are payroll taxes, property taxes, operating taxes, school taxes. Government should be supporting you, not always policing you. And ultimately, with more sales, they get more taxes. Good business is profitable for them, too.” Despite the many factors hindering business, Montreal restaurateurs are not blaming customers. Client fidelity is at an all-time low, they say, yet they understand the desire to go out and eat around. “Montrealers follow the buzz,” Lachance said, “but they come back.” And yet there is one clientele all restaurateurs would like to see more of: tourists. “There is gigantic work to be done,” Ferreira said. “The summer of 2014 was the worst summer for tourists. Tourism Montreal says it was a record year, but they are drawing in the cheap tourists. These people aren’t spending.” Ferreira would like to see the city attract high-end conventions and tourists with money to spend by focusing more on the luxury market. “But no one will talk about that,” he said, discouraged. Pierre Bellerose, vice-president of Tourism Montreal, agrees the restaurant scene is hurting but with about 6,500 restaurants in the city, that’s to be expected. “We have more restaurants per capita than New York,” he said. “But we’re a poor city. Many close, many open. It’s a lot to ask the population to support the industry.” According to Bellerose, tourism is up 50 per cent from 20 years ago, and drawing visitors to the restaurant scene is one of the agency’s priorities. Bellerose said: “There is a good buzz about Montreal. It’s estimated that between 20 to 25 per cent of the clientele at high-end restaurants are tourists. There’s a lot of interest in food. But that interest varies. Some people just want smoked meat and poutine. And tourists are mostly circulating in the central areas of the city. We can’t follow them around and tell them where to go.” McMillan thinks Tourism Montreal could find better ways to promote our restaurant scene. “Tourism Maine and Tourism New York follow me on social media, but not Tourism Montreal,” he said. “And they keep paying for these bloggers to come in and discover the city. Instead, why not send some of us chefs out to promote Montreal restaurants abroad at food festivals or even in embassies? I’ve never been asked to promote my city or cook in an embassy – and if asked, I would do it.” And there is plenty here to promote. The New York-based website Eater.com recently dropped both their Toronto and Vancouver pages yet held on to their popular Montreal site. Though low on the high-end restaurant count, Montreal has an impressive number of chef-driven restaurants, with an increasing number of them drawing international attention to our scene. Plus, Montreal remains a far more affordable restaurant city than the likes of Paris, London or even Toronto – although the down side of being an affordable dining destination means less money in restaurant owners’ pockets (the ARQ estimates profits at a paltry 2.6 per cent). “We should be a premier destination,” Lighter said. “We have a unique culture, a great reputation. But Montreal has suffered economically. We’re highly taxed. There’s not a lot of disposable income and it’s expensive to eat out. I sense there is a certain defensiveness restaurateurs have with customers, but we have to learn from customers, too. We always have to have our eyes and ears open, ready to adjust.” Restaurants in Montreal: 6,500 People per restaurant in Montreal: 373 People per restaurant in New York City: 457 Increase in the number of new restaurants in Montreal from 2005 to 2012: 31 per cent Decline in sales at full-service restaurants in 2013: 4.2 per cent Sales at high-end Montreal restaurants from the tourism industry: 20 per cent End-of-year profit margin on all sales for Montreal full-service restaurants: 2.6 per cent Restaurants closing this year : Le Paris-Beurre : The bistro on Van Horne Ave. in Outremont will close on Dec. 23 Le Continental : Closed in May Le Latini : Closed in September Beaver Club : Closed in March Magnan Tavern : Will close on Dec. 21 Globe : Closed in September
  16. ScarletCoral

    Maps show who's putting Montrealers to work

    Carte intéressante sur la répartition des types d'industries par arrondissement : Via Montreal Gazette : http://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/maps-whos-putting-montrealers-to-work Maps show who's putting Montrealers to work ROBERTO ROCHA, MONTREAL GAZETTE Published on: October 23, 2014Last Updated: October 28, 2014 2:06 PM EDT If you want a job at a clothing store, you’ll have better chances finding work in St-Léonard. But if working at a private residence is your thing, Hampstead is a good place too look. Data released by Montreal’s statistics bureau breaks down the number of jobs in each industry, for every borough and demerged suburb. The data confirms obvious truths — that the main industry in Dorval is transportation, and that manufacturing is heavy in St-Laurent and the east end — but it also offer some surprises. The data details the number of jobs in each type of industry and workplace. These are jobs that exist inside a borough’s or city’s borders, not the jobs of residents who live in those places. There’s a large swath, stretching from Pierrefonds to Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, where the dominant industry is health care and social services. And though it’s no surprise that places like Ville-Marie and Westmount would be heavy in professional services, but Sud-Ouest is less obvious. We can assume the condo boom in Griffintown, as well as the gentrification of Pointe St-Charles created demand for skilled workers. However, only 13 per cent of jobs in Sud-Ouest are in that field, which suggests the borough has a rich diversity of jobs. However, this maps only gives us a big-picture view of general industries. The data also breaks down the number of jobs by more granular workplaces. Here’s another map, this time by type of employer. We see that the boroughs where health and social services are strong are split between hospitals and schools as main employers. Banking, not surprisingly, is the main employer downtown, while the top job in the Plateau is in restaurants. Surprisingly, it’s the same in Dollard-des-Ormeaux. And did you ever imagine so many people in Montreal-East worked in furniture stores? Or that the federal government employs lots of Westmounters? A curious outlier is Hampstead, which has, as the dominant employer, private households. These refer to domestic labour, like cleaners, maids and cooks. “Being a city with one of the highest incomes in the region, it’s plausible to find so many jobs in that sub-category,” said Yan Beaumont, researcher at Montréal en statistiques. Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue also stands out, with colleges and CEGEPs being the main employer. The tiny, partly rural city is home to John Abbott College and Gérand Godin College. Here is the summary of the data for the three levels of the Montreal area. [TABLE=class: grid, width: 600] [TR] [TD][/TD] [TD]Montreal metropolitan region[/TD] [TD]Montreal agglomeration[/TD] [TD]City of Montreal[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]Largest industry[/TD] [TD]Retail[/TD] [TD]Health care and social services[/TD] [TD]Health care and social services[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]Second-largest industry[/TD] [TD]Health care and social services[/TD] [TD]Manufacturing[/TD] [TD]Professional, scientific, and technical services[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]Largest employer[/TD] [TD]Hospitals[/TD] [TD]Hospitals[/TD] [TD]Hospitals[/TD] [/TR] [TR] [TD]Second largest employer[/TD] [TD]Primary and secondary schools[/TD] [TD]Primary and secondary schools[/TD] [TD]Primary and secondary schools[/TD] [/TR] [/TABLE] Full data sheet at the end of the article
  17. http://www.citylab.com/politics/2014/07/paris-wants-landlords-to-turn-vacant-office-space-into-apartmentsor-else/374388/ Paris Wants Landlords to Turn Vacant Office Space Into Apartments—Or Else The city has a surplus of empty commercial buildings that could better serve as residences. And it plans to fine owners who don't convert. FEARGUS O'SULLIVAN <figure class="lead-image" style="margin: 0px; max-width: 620px; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: Oxygen, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 17px;"><figcaption class="credit" style="color: rgb(153, 153, 153); font-size: 0.82353em; text-align: right;">Justin Black/Shutterstock.com</figcaption></figure>Leave your office space unrented and we’ll fine you. That’s the new ruledeclared by the city of Paris last week. Currently, between six and seven percent of Paris' 18 million square meters of office space is unused, and the city wants to get this vacant office space revamped and occupied by residents. The penalties for unrented space will be as follows: 20 percent of the property’s rental value in the first year of vacancy, 30 percent in the second year and 40 percent in the third year. The plan is to free up about 200,000 square meters of office space for homes, which would still leave a substantial amount of office space available should demand pick up. The city insists that, while the sums involved are potentially large, this isn’t a new tax but an incentive. And, if it has the right effect in getting property re-occupied, may end up being little-used. Landlords' groups are taking the new plan as well as can be expected. They’ve pointed out that, while the cost of the fines might be high, it could still cost them less to pay them than to convert their properties to homes. According to a property investor quoted in Le Figaro, the cost of transforming an office into apartments can actually be 20 to 25 percent more expensive than constructing an entirely new building. Many landlords might be unwilling or unable to undertake such a process and thus be forced to sell in a market where, thanks to a glut of available real estate, prices are falling. There is also the question of how easy the law will be to enforce: Landlords could rent out vacant properties at a token rent simply to avoid the vacancy fine. <aside class="pullquote instapaper_ignore" style="font-family: Bitter, Georgia, 'Times New Roman', serif; font-size: 2.11765em; line-height: 1.05556; border-top-width: 5px; border-top-style: solid; border-top-color: rgb(0, 0, 0); border-bottom-width: 1px; border-bottom-style: solid; border-bottom-color: rgb(0, 0, 0); padding: 25px 0px; margin: 30px 0px;">As Paris becomes a laboratory for new legislation to make homes more plentiful and affordable, other European cities would do well to watch it carefully. </aside>It’s too early to see if these predictions will come true, but past experience in smaller French property markets suggests it won’t. The fines have already been introduced elsewhere in France: in the country’s fourth city of Lille (governed by the Socialist party) and in the Parisian satellite town of St Quentin-en-Yvelines (governed by the right wing UMP). So far, neither has experienced a legislation-exacerbated property slump. It’s also fair to point out that Paris is asking for a round of belt tightening from pretty much every group involved in the city’s real estate. The new levy is part of a plan announced last month that will also pressure state and semi-public bodies to release Parisian land for home building. Paris has some fairly large reserves of this, including space currently owned by the state health authority, by the national railway network and by the RATP—Paris’ transit authority, on whose unused land alone 2,000 homes could be built. In the meantime, stringent planning laws are also being relaxed to cut development costs for office converters. They will no longer, for example, be obliged to provide parking spaces for new homes, as they had been until the law change. Finally, starting next year, landlords will get an incentive to rent their properties to financially riskier lower-income tenants by having their rents and deposits guaranteed by a new intermediary, a public/private agency called Multiloc. Coming on top of laws that have relaxed building-height restrictionson the Paris periphery, it’s clear that, for Paris developers and landowners, there’s a decent ratio of carrot to stick. But will it all work? At the very least, Paris deserves recognition for being proactive, especially on a continent where many cities’ grip on the property sector is floundering. Berlin has recently had major new homebuilding plansrejected by residents (for good reason—they were due to get a bad deal), while the U.K.’s number of newly built homes has actually gone down, despite property prices continuing to rise sharply. As Paris becomes a laboratory for new legislation to make homes more plentiful and affordable, other European cities would do well to watch it carefully. (Photo credit: Justin Black/Shutterstock.com)
  18. Une journaliste du Toronto Star, Katie Doubs, s'en prend à un commentateur d'un quotidien de Chicago, Neil Steinberg, qui ridiculise la prétention de Toronto d'être la quatrième ville en importance en Amérique du Nord. Évidemment, Mme Doubs ne peut résister au passage de se montrer mesquine à l'endroit du Québec. Someone in Chicago has finally noticed Toronto has surpassed it in population, and he’s wryly congratulating us on the extra people. Neil Steinberg, Chicago Sun-Times columnist, notes that to even parse the comparison to Chicago is “an insult to our city.” He has been to Toronto and doesn’t want to “give the impression that people who live there are anonymous ciphers grinding through joyless lives devoid of charm or significance.” So he recalls some Toronto highlights: the Tim Hortons’ outlets, the monument to multiculturalism, the “nondescript skyline whose only noteworthy element is a TV antenna.” In the tradition of stories in which we report the different ways Americans notice us and defend our beloved TV antenna, doesn’t anyone in the Chicago media get the press releases about the CN Tower light show? Since amalgamation, Toronto has billed itself as North America’s fifth largest city behind Mexico City, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. But according to census data from Statistics Canada, as of last July 1, Toronto’s population was 2,791,140, about 84,000 more than Chicago’s 2,707,120. While the numbers are estimates, Toronto economic development staffers have already declared the city is “the fourth largest municipality in North America. Steinberg’s story was an assignment. He says he’s a humorist. He never would have heard of our alleged population victory otherwise. Somehow, that stings even more. He laughs. He knows that. “To me this is just jovial all good fun that journalists do to sell their papers. I don’t want to be the Ann Coulter of Canada,” he said from his office, where he’s checking out the reaction on Twitter, where people aren’t taking it in good fun. Steinberg says he is being called uneducated, bitter and even a “Nazi” for his effort. He said most people were upset by the bit he wrote about Americans never thinking or caring about Canada. “I’m sorry to be the one to tell you, if you ask people who the Prime Minister of Canada is — God is it Stephen Harper? Tell me it is — you could put a gun to most Americans heads, they would be dead, they wouldn’t come up with that,” he said. He noted that comparing cities is a classic trope. “Chicagoans, to the degree, if we did think about it, that we’re superior to Toronto, it’s to soften the sting of looking longingly towards New York City and wanting to be them,” he said. “Everyone is looking somewhere else for validation. There is nothing wrong with that. I don’t think we should be ashamed of that, we speak the same language, we’re all bound together in the mutual joy of not being Quebec.” Steinberg was last in Toronto in 2008, He stayed at the Fairmont Royal York, went to the Taste of the Danforth, checked out the CN tower. He really loved African Lion Safari, although that’s admittedly outside the population boundaries. “I was tempted to say I’ve been to the great cultural spots in Canada, I’ve been to Potato World. I actually did stop at Potato World. Do you know where that is? It’s on the way to Nova Scotia, it’s in some huge potato processing company there that runs a theme world about potatoes.”[/b]
  19. Where to buy now We tell you exactly which neighbourhoods are set to skyrocket in value. MONTREAL A small slice of Europe on this side of the big pond, Montreal has been dubbed Canada’s sexiest city. With a jam-packed festival season that includes the highly rated Just For Laughs comedy festival and the Festival International de Jazz, along with an array of local boutiques, restaurants and bistros, Montreal offers something for everyone—as long as you can find a job. While the national unemployment rate hovers at around 7%, Montreal’s unemployment rate sits at 8.2%. Still, the city saw a 4% rise in its population from 2011 to 2012 and announcements of inner-city rejuvenation—including the new McGill University Health Centre—are helping bolster property prices. Real estate is still cheap compared with other major Canadian cities—the average price of a home on Montreal Island is $481,386, and if you broaden the boundaries and look at the Greater Montreal Area, including the North and South Shores, the average home price is $324,595. “It’s comparatively cheaper than say Toronto or Vancouver, but we also battle to attract jobs,” explains Jeffrey Baker, a realtor with Royal LePage Dynastie. The best real estate opportunities right now are on the island itself. First on our list is the Rosemont/La Petite Patrie area, known locally as Little Italy. “This area is very, very hot,” says Baker. A big reason is that the neighbourhood is on the northern border of the Le Plateau/Mont-Royal area—a vibrant, popular and expensive place located near downtown. “Rosemont/La Petite Patrie isn’t a Plateau want-to-be,” says Baker. “It has its own distinct character. But many people who start out renting in Plateau end up buying here.” In fact, this is what Matthew Taylor, 50, and his 40-year-old Rosa De Leon did earlier this year. “We bought in mid-December after living and renting for 20 years in Plateau-Mont-Royal,” says Taylor, a CEGEP teacher at Dawson College. While the couple originally wanted to purchase in Plateau, they found they were priced out of the market. “Everything we looked at within our budget was far too small for a family of four,” says Taylor. That’s when the couple started looking at other neighbourhoods, eventually settling on a duplex in La Petite Patrie. “We really love checking out the local restaurants,” says Taylor. They aren’t the only ones. In the last three years, as the neighbourhood has become popular with buyers, prices have zoomed up 23%. “This is a high density area with lots of picturesque homes,” Baker says. In recent years many older textile buildings were converted into lofts, explains Amy Assaad, a Royal LePage Heritage realtor. This provided great first-time buyer opportunities, while helping to gentrify the neighbourhood. If the average property price of $468,000 is a bit daunting, consider our next top neighbourhood of Villeray/Saint Michel/Parc-Extension. Directly to the north, this large area has a population of 142,000 residents. The main draw is the neighbourhood’s affordability. Average property prices are more than $100,000 cheaper than neighbouring communities and the area is experiencing dramatic growth. “Lots of condo conversions are taking place in this community,” Assaad says. David Schneider, a Sutton Group Immobilia realtor and history-buff, explains that historically the neighbourhood has been one of the poorest urban communities in Canada. “Cheap rents meant students have been living here for decades. This, in turn, has made the area cool.” The third neighbourhood in our Montreal ranking was South-West (also known as Sud-Ouest). Homes in this area are 11% cheaper than the average Montreal Island home, but area prices have appreciated 40% in the last three years. “I’ve been buzzing about this neighbourhood for the last five years,” says Schneider. “Property values here are undervalued.” It’s an opinion shared by Nikki Tsantrizos, 29, and her partner, Steve Lavigne, 34. Two years ago, the couple started looking in the St. Henri district of South-West for a place to buy. “We’d rented in the area for 10 years and despite being a rough area, just loved it.” That was two years ago. Now, a full reno later, the value of their home has risen 40%. “When we bought there were strip clubs, hotdog stands and poutine shops,” says Tsantrizos. “Now these have been replaced by trendy cafes and boutiques.” But despite being close to downtown, the canal and the Atwater Market, this area’s reputation has been marred by social housing projects. Even so, recent developments are starting to put the community on the map. For instance, a high-tech hospital—slated to open in 2015—is prompting speculation on future home prices. Two other neighbourhoods to consider are Verdun and LaSalle—both on the southern tip of the island. While Verdun is an older neighbourhood (originally settled by the Irish) it’s got a lot of potential. Despite a three-year appreciation of 22%, families may be leery of the area, given its high crime rate. Still, with its close proximity to the canal, downtown, the Métro (Montreal’s subway system) and Concordia University, it’s only a matter of time before the area experiences true gentrification. Homes in LaSalle are also rising, with an 11% increase in the last year alone. “Though it’s much more suburban than the other four neighbourhoods—and not as well-served by transit—it provides a less dense community that’s very family-oriented,” Schneider says. It’s also a place known for having some of the best shopping in the city. http://www.moneysense.ca/property/buy/where-to-buy-now-2
  20. http://www.playboy.com/playground/view/ben-affleck-batman-playboy-interview [h=1]PLAYBOY INTERVIEW: BEN AFFLECK[/h]by Michael Fleming[h=3]PHOTOGRAPHY BY LORENZO AGIUS[/h] PLAYBOY: The Sum of All Fears. AFFLECK: I met Morgan Freeman, which was great because I was able to ask him to work for free when we did Gone Baby Gone. We shot The Sum of All Fears in Montreal, and it almost killed me. That town never closes. The food is amazing, the drink is amazing, the girls are gorgeous. It’s not a place to focus on your work.
  21. Via Global News : Plans for Pointe-Claire eyesore in Valois Village By Amanda Kelly Global News MONTREAL – Pointe-Claire could soon be getting a long-awaited economic shot in the arm in the Valois district. Global News has learned there are three to four interested parities to buy an abandoned building on Donegani Avenue next to the Sources Boulevard overpass. RELATED: Residents want new mayor to initiate change in Pointe-Claire The restructuring company Richter has confirmed that both residential and commercial developers are involved in purchasing negotiations. No amounts are being released but Raymond Massi of Richter has confirmed that the numbers were significantly higher than the assessed value of more than $1.6 million. Richter has been appointed by the commercial division of the Quebec Superior Court to sell the property by the end of November. But Massi thinks a sale could occur within the next several months. POLL: Should Pointe-Claire’s Valois Village get a facelift? The building has been boarded up and abandoned for years. The mayor of Pointe-Claire wasn’t aware serious buyers had stepped forward but he’s thrilled with the news. “If somebody is interested in purchasing that property and they want to develop it we’re very happy,” Morris Trudeau said. “It would obviously help the area because it’s a depressed corner and it’s the window to Pointe-Claire when you arrive from the Montreal airport. To run into a building like that is just unacceptable.” © Shaw Media, 2014