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Found 18 results

  1. 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>
  2. J'ai pris 1850 photos lors de mon voyage a travers les E-U, voici un preview Panorama tres vite fait, mais bon... voici Times Square! Cliquez pour agrandir: http://i531.photobucket.com/albums/dd355/notcataclaw/USA%202008/tspano1-1.jpg[/url] Deux autres preview: Je vais faire un mega post bientot avec des centaines de photos de New York, Washington D.C., Baltimore, St-Louis, Cleveland, Memphis, Nashville, Louisville, Baton Rouge, Houston, Dallas, Denver, Boulder, Atlanta, etc.
  3. Cette société de conseil établie à Houston se spécialise dans l'aide aux entreprises qui veulent se départir de leurs propriétés pétrolières et gazières. Pour en lire plus...
  4. What do you think of these Hamiltonians claiming to make better Montreal-style bagels than Montrealers? The guy hasn't even eaten a St-Viateur bagel! Article from the Montreal Gazette
  5. Les raffineries de pétrole de la région de Houston (Texas, sud) devraient rester fermées pendant huit à neuf jours à la suite du passage de l'ouragan Ike, a déclaré dimanche à la télévision la sénatrice du Texas Kay Bailey Hutchison. Pour en lire plus...
  6. Changing the plans America’s oil capital is throwing up a few environmental surprises Jul 14th 2012 | HOUSTON | from the print edition STEVE KLINEBERG, a sociologist at Rice University, mentions a couple of events that made Houston’s leaders take notice of a looming problem. One was the day, in 1999, when their city overtook Los Angeles as America’s most polluted—evidence that the rise in asthma attacks among the city’s children, and the students passing out on football pitches, were no coincidence. Another was when Houston came up short in its bid to compete to host the 2012 Olympics. No one on the United States Olympics Committee voted for it, despite the fact that Houston had a brand-new stadium and had promised to turn an old sports field into the world’s largest air-conditioned track-and-field arena. At a casual glance, Houston looks much as it ever did: a tangle of freeways running through a hodgepodge of skyscrapers, strip malls and mixed districts. A closer inspection, though, shows signs of change. The transport authority, which branched into light rail in 2004, is now planning three new lines, adding more than 20 miles of track. Most of the traffic lights now boast LED bulbs, rather than the incandescent sort. More than half the cars in the official city fleet are hybrid or electric, and in May a bike-sharing programme began. Every Wednesday a farmers’ market takes place by the steps of city hall. Other changes are harder to see. The energy codes for buildings have been overhauled and the city is, astonishingly, America’s biggest municipal buyer of renewable energy; about a third of its power comes from Texan wind farms. Houston, in other words, is going green. Laura Spanjian, the city’s director of sustainability, says that businesses are increasingly likely to get on board if they can see the long-term savings or the competitive advantages that flow from creating a more attractive city. She adds an important clarification: “We’re not mandating that they have to do this.” That would not go down well. Houston is the capital of America’s energy industry, and its leaders have traditionally been wary of environmental regulation, both at home and abroad. In fact the city has been sceptical of regulations in general, and even more of central planning. Houston famously has no zoning, which helps explain why the city covers some 600 square miles. It is America’s fourth-largest city by population, but less than half as densely populated as sprawling Los Angeles. People are heavily dependent on cars, the air quality is poor and access to green space is haphazard. At the same time, Houston has jobs, a low cost of living and cheap property. Many people have accepted that trade-off. Between 2000 and 2010 the greater metropolitan area added more than 1.2m people, making it America’s fastest-growing city. Still, the public is taking more interest in sustainability, and for a number of reasons. As the city’s population has swelled, the suburbs have become more crowded. Some of the growth has come from the domestic migration of young professionals with a taste for city life. And despite living in an oil-industry hub, the people of Houston are still aware of the cost of energy; during the summer of 2008, when petrol prices hovered around $4 a gallon, the papers reported a surge of people riding their bicycles to bus stops so that they could take public transport to work. The annual Houston Area Survey from Rice’s Kinder Institute also shows a change. This year’s survey found that 56% think a much better public transport system is “very important” for the city’s future. A similarly solid majority said the Metro system should use all its revenue for improvements to public transport, rather than diverting funds to mend potholes. In the 1990s, most respondents were more concerned about the roads. People’s views about houses have changed, too. In 2008 59% said they would prefer a big house with a big garden, even if that meant they had to use their car to go everywhere. Just 36% preferred a smaller house within walking distance of shops and workplaces. By 2012, preferences were running the other way: 51% liked the idea of a smaller house in a more interesting district, and only 47% said they wanted the lavish McMansion. http://www.economist.com/node/21558632
  7. Newbie

    Do you litter?

    Every morning since a few days ago I go out of my apartment relatively happy, I get on the bus, I see all the litter inside it, I get angry, I consider posting this poll to inquire about people's habits, then I decide to post it later when I'm not feeling angry, so I don't write things I will later regret. But during the day I always walk around a lot, so there is no way that I'm going to be calm enough on a normal day. Luckily today I have not gone out yet, so I'm still happy Please answer the poll!! I am not necessarily looking to understand why this happens, as I know it has been discussed many times before. I find most other cities I've been to a lot cleaner than Montreal. I know some of them are dirtier in some aspects (Toronto, for example, appears to be home to a crazy amount of careless litterbugs), but I have not had to walk on piles of newspapers inside a bus shelter (see, for example, Plamondon and surroundings) anywhere else in the world, even when I don't remain within city centers. Sometimes I feel I'm too obsessive about litter, but then I hear friends complain about how "people from here are so dirty" (I do not share these generalizations!) while looking at the ground or at newspapers flying around, and then praising other cities like Vancouver, Columbus, San Francisco or Houston while on conferences. Most of the friends who complain are professionals from South America, some of them visiting Montreal under my recommendation. Educated Latin Americans tend to be very vocal about these things, so I guess other friends have similar thoughts but do not say anything.
  8. Houston study lauds red light cameras despite uptick in accidents We all know we shouldn't mess with Texas. And Houston, Texans shouldn't mess around with statistics, because the folks running the show are going to come to any conclusions they want no matter what the statistics say. This is the easy part: a study of red light cameras in the city shows that accidents have actually increased at intersections with the cameras. These are the parts that are open to interpretation: most intersections only have one camera looking at one (out of four) directions of traffic, but the accident rate went up for traffic in the other three unmonitored directions; and, in the one monitored direction, "accidents remained relatively flat or showed only a slight increase." What do you make of that? Mayor Bill White and the study authors say the city in general is experiencing a swell in the number of collisions, and claim that collisions at the monitored intersections haven't risen as much as the wider municipal rate. Yet they have no data to back up an increase in citywide collisions, and no year-on-year accident data at intersections (let alone an explanation for the uptick). White said that a 40-percent year-on-year drop in red light citations in the month of October shows the program is working and keeping drivers more safe. Critics say that the program is nothing but a cash register for city government. The study's authors plan to study insurance industry findings to come up with more substantive conclusions. http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/6185795.html
  9. Politicians Smother Cities by John Stossel I like my hometown, but I must admit that New York has problems: high taxes, noise, traffic. Forbes magazine just ranked my city the 16th most miserable in America. Ouch! Of course, that makes me wonder: What's America's most miserable city? Cleveland, says Forbes. People call it "the Mistake by the Lake. " Cleveland, once America's sixth-largest city, has been going downhill for decades. Why do some cities thrive while others decay? One reason is that some politicians smother their cities with the unintended consequences of their grand visions, while others have the good sense to limit government power. In a state that already taxes its citizens heavily, Cleveland's politicians drown businesses in taxes. One result: Since 2000, 50,000 people have left the city. Half of Cleveland's population has left since 1950. But the politicians haven't learned. They still think government is the key to revitalization. While Indianapolis privatized services, Cleveland prefers state capitalism. It owns and operates a big grocery store, the West Side Market. Typical of government, it's open only four days a week, and two of those days it closes at 4 p.m. The city doesn't maintain the market very well. Despite those cost savings, the city manages to lose money running the market. It also loses money running golf courses — $400,000 last year. Another way that cities like Cleveland cause their own decline is through regulations that make building anything a long drawn-out affair. Cleveland has 22 different zoning designations and 673 pages of zoning guidelines. By contrast, Houston has almost no zoning. This permits a mix of uses and styles that gives the city vitality. And the paperwork in Houston is so light that a business can get going in a single afternoon. In Cleveland, one politician bragged that he helped a business get though the red tape in "just 18 months." Randall O'Toole, author of "The Best-Laid Plans: How Government Planning Harms Your Quality of Life, Your Pocketbook, and Your Future," says Houston does have rules, but they are more flexible and responsive to citizens' needs because they are set by neighborhood associations based on protective covenants written by developers. Politicians' rules rarely change because the politicians don't have their own money on the line. Cleveland's managers thought that funding gleaming new sports stadiums (which subsidize wealthy team owners) and other prestigious attractions like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame would revitalize their city. Urban policy expert Joel Kotkin says, "This whole tendency to put what are scarce public funds into conventions centers and ... ephemeral projects is delusional." But politicians claim that stadiums increase the number of jobs. Not so, says J.C. Bradbury, author of "The Baseball Economist: The Real Game Exposed." "There's a huge consensus among economists that there is no economic development benefit to having these stadiums," he says. The stadiums do create jobs for construction workers and some vendors. But "it's a case of the seen and the unseen," Bradbury says, alluding to the 19th-century French economist Frederic Bastiat. "It's very easy to see a new stadium going up. ... But what you don't see is that something else didn't get built across town. ... It's just transferring from one place to the other. "People don't bury their entertainment dollars in a coffee can in their backyard and then dig it up when a baseball team comes to town. They switch it from something else." Stadiums are among the more foolish of politicians' boondoggles. There are only 81 home baseball games a year and 41 basketball games. How does that sustain a neighborhood economy? But the arrogance of city planners knows no end. Now Cleveland is spending taxpayers' money on a medical convention center that they say will turn Cleveland into a "Disney World" for doctors. Well, Chicago's $1 billion expansion of the country's biggest convention center — McCormick Place — was unable to prevent an annual drop in conventions, and analysts say America already has 40 percent more convention space than it needs. Politicians would be better stewards of their cities if they set simple rules and then just got out of the way. I won't hold my breath. John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of "Give Me a Break" and of "Myth, Lies, and Downright Stupidity." To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at johnstossel.com. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at http://www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2010 BY JFS PRODUCTIONS, INC. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM
  10. Air Canada instaure un service sans escale entre Montréal et Bruxelles MONTREAL, le 20 août /CNW Telbec/ - Air Canada a annoncé aujourd'hui l'instauration d'un service sans escale assuré toute l'année entre Montréal et Bruxelles, comprenant un vol direct à destination et au départ de Toronto. Sous réserve de l'approbation gouvernementale, les vols quotidiens seront assurés à compter du 12 juin 2010, à temps pour la haute saison estivale. 20090820 Air Canada to launch Montreal - Houston from Dec 09 Air Canada starting 30NOV09 launches Daily Montreal - Houston service with CRJ705. Schedule as follows: AC7997 YUL0900 - 1155IAH CRA D AC7998 IAH1225 - 1640YUL CRA D Montreal-Fort de France, Martinique - New Air Canada flights launched in July will continue year-round, departing every Sunday onboard 120-seat Airbus A319 aircraft. Montreal-Fort Myers, Florida - New Air Canada flights will depart Sundays beginning December 6 onboard 120-seat Airbus A319 aircraft. Montreal-Samana/El Catey, Dominican Republic - New Air Canada flights will depart Saturdays beginning December 19 onboard 120-seat Airbus A319 aircraft. Montreal-Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - New Air Canada flights will depart Fridays beginning December 25 onboard 120-seat Airbus A319 aircraft. Montreal-Tampa, Florida - Weekly flights doubled with flights departing Thursdays and Saturdays beginning November 7 onboard 120-seat Airbus A319 aircraft. Montreal-Punta Cana, Dominican Republic - Increase to four times weekly, departing Mondays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays onboard 140-seat Airbus A320 aircraft.
  11. Now this is news that is good for Montreal, good for the hub development, and ultimately important for the city. On aircanada.com at this moment, one will see that AC has loaded for summer 2016 a daily Montreal-Denver, Daily Montreal-Houston and Double Daily Montreal-Philly. Good news!
  12. 2010-06-22 WORLDHOTELS Adds 26 New Affiliate Hotels to Its Global Portfolio Since Jan. 1, 2010 For WORLDHOTELS-The Americas development team, new projects are in various stages of completion for new affiliate hotels in New York (2); Brazil (5), Argentina (2) and Mexico (2). Future regional development plans include hotels and resorts located in Memphis, Washington, D.C., Boston, San Francisco, Houston, Toronto and Montreal. Anybody knows anything about these folks? http: //www.worldhotels.com/hotels-and-resorts.html?&L=0 :)
  13. I would hate to be an astronaut right now. Seeing the toilet busted on the space station.
  14. Le port de Vancouver écope 29 novembre 2008 - 12h06 La Presse Philippe Mercure Si Montréal semble bien se sortir de la crise pour l'instant, la situation est différente à Vancouver. En milieu d'année, le Port de Vancouver avait déjà vu le volume total des marchandises manutentionnées reculer de 5% par rapport à un an auparavant. Directement branché sur la Chine, le plus important port au pays écope. Et doublement. «En temps normal, les matières premières vont en Chine, sont transformées et reviennent ici sous forme de biens de consommation, explique le capitaine Gordon Houston, président et chef de la direction du Port de Vancouver. Quand les Nord-Américains ne consomment plus, on voit donc l'impact des deux côtés. Si on cesse d'envoyer, on cesse de recevoir.» «La situation des lettres de crédit en Chine cause des problèmes au cours des dernières semaines. Plusieurs de nos produits - la pulpe de bois en particulier - ont subi un impact», dit aussi M. Houston. Sans compter la chute du prix des matières premières, qui ralentit temporairement les échanges. «On dirait que du côté des céréales, les acheteurs ont mis un frein aux achats parce qu'ils attendent de voir jusqu'où les prix vont descendre, croit le capitaine. C'est une question de spéculation - ils vont devoir acheter les céréales à un moment ou à un autre.» Dans la boule de cristal? «Les premiers trimestres de l'année prochaine vont certainement être difficiles, répond M. Houston. Et si j'étais capable de vous dire ce qui va se passer au-delà de ça, je serais probablement assis dans un autre bureau... Honnêtement, je ne le sais pas.»
  15. I'm seeing this on airliners.net under the latest list of OAG changes **UA IAH-YUL JUL 1.0>0 AUG 1.0>0 SEP 1.0>0 OCT 1.0>0 NOV 0.9>0 DEC 1.0>0 JAN 1.0>0 Has United dropped our route to Houston? I noticed also they dropped a couple of routes from YEG as well. What's going on?
  16. At A.T. Kearney, our Global Cities Index (GCI) examines a comprehensive list of 84 cities on every continent, measuring how globally engaged they are across 26 metrics in five dimen*sions: business activity, human capital, information exchange, cultural experience, and political engagement (see Appendix: Global Cities Index Methodology). Since we began the GCI in 2008, we've continually refreshed our metrics to reflect emerging trends, analyzed how cities evolve along each of them, and developed insights about how a city can become more global. ... Montréal ranks 30th ahead of Vancouver and many other important cities like Zurich , Roma , Munich , Houston and Atlanta . Click on the following link for the report : http://www.atkearney.com/documents/10192/4461492/Global+Cities+Present+and+Future-GCI+2014.pdf/3628fd7d-70be-41bf-99d6-4c8eaf984cd5
  17. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324425204578599533804057360.html#articleTabs%3Darticle A Move to Montreal A Texas couple's love of Europe leads them to a new life in Canada By JUDY THOMPSON When I tell people that we spend four months each year on a French-speaking island, they are puzzled. French Polynesia? French West Indies? No. Our island is in the middle of a mighty waterway in eastern Canada: the city of Montreal. With the St. Lawrence River rushing by on all sides, Montreal is a destination I've loved since 2000 when my husband, Cameron Payne, persuaded me to vacation in Quebec instead of France. I reluctantly said yes—and it was life-changing. I was smitten. I've always wanted to live in Europe, having a love of old cities, history and urban life, but gave up on it as too expensive, too fraught with language problems and too far away. On our first visit to Montreal, though, the atmosphere felt a little like Europe. The population (about 1.6 million) spoke French, food was an art form, public transportation was excellent, and the city's high-density neighborhoods were bursting with life. So in 2006 we committed to Montreal as a semiretirement refuge from Houston. (As tourists we can stay in Canada for a maximum of six months each year.) We bought a two-bedroom condominium in an old building (1906) on the Plateau, a neighborhood known for its high concentration of residents who make their living from the arts. Summers Outdoors From our doorstep, we can see Parc Lafontaine, a summer magnet for Plateau residents, children, dogs, friends, musicians, picnics and acrobats. It has two lakes, bike paths, a jogging path, an outdoor theater, a dog park and much more. For us, proximity to this park was the most important factor in choosing a home. We usually arrive in June. (Winters are inhospitable.) Summers are lived outside as much as possible. People are out and about, walking in tree-shaded neighborhoods, biking, Rollerblading, eating at sidewalk cafes, walking up Mount Royal (a hill, really, at about 765 feet, and the city's namesake) and tending flowers and gardens. Friends and acquaintances invariably ask: "But what do you do up there?" We live a simple life with no car or air conditioning and windows open—as unlike Houston as you can get. We never tire of walking around Old Montreal (some of it built in the 1700s) or visiting the Jean-Talon and Atwater farmers' markets. Life is lived close to the farm in Quebec, and these two markets put it all at your fingertips. Summer also brings festival season, which includes the Montreal International Jazz Festival in the new outdoor cultural heart of the city, Quartier des Spectacles. Montreal is a compact city; we can walk anywhere we regularly go within 30 minutes. (Our local grocer is less than a five-minute stroll.) That said, we often take advantage of BIXI, a citywide bike-sharing program. In the beginning I was skeptical that we would become BIXI users, since biking was something we hadn't done in decades. But Montreal has a strong bicycle culture, with 300-plus miles of bike paths and thousands of people pedaling to work every day. So in 2010 Cameron and I bought helmets and joined in, a decision that helps with errands, sightseeing—and expenses. The annual BIXI fee is only 82 Canadian dollars (about US$79 at current exchange rates). Even though Montreal is a French-speaking city, our experience has been that nearly everyone under 40 also speaks English, and they are friendly about it. There is a large English-speaking community located on the west side of the city, but our preference was to experience something different. So, we chose the predominantly French-speaking area. We have never regretted it. The downsides of settling in for several months each year are few. The cost of living and sales taxes (15%) are higher than in Texas. Given that Montreal is an island, summer days can be humid, and traffic in the city is complicated by many narrow one-way streets. (We also joined a car-sharing service called Communauto.) On balance, the benefits far outweigh any shortcomings. Take crime—or the lack thereof. It takes a while to stop looking over your shoulder at night while walking, but we don't do it anymore. Buyers' Market Not counting lodging (since we own our home), our living expenses for everything we do (renting cars, taking short trips, eating out, buying groceries, etc.) are about C$100 a day. Currently, a well-located older condo on the Plateau—generally, about 1,000 to 1,500 square feet—runs about C$350 to C$400 a square foot. Given the large number of new condos available in other parts of the city, the market currently favors buyers. We have spent seven summers in Montreal, and each year we see more of Quebec (and the rest of Canada), make more friends and appreciate more fully the retirement choice we made. This live-and-let-live place with so much joie de vivre and natural beauty suits us. It is a place where we live a simpler life but don't miss anything. And it feels a little like Europe. At least to an American coming from Texas. Ms. Thompson works in residential real estate in Houston. She can be reached at [email protected]
  18. en cherchant des photos du cv, j'suis tombe la dessus: Montreal vs Houston - Skyline Battle (construction, buildings, highrise)... j'ai pas trouve rien sur ces forums qui en fesait etat, alors je me demande si qqun ici l'avais deja vu ? ya plus de 20 pages dans cette thread, des gens qui defendent montreal, d'autre houston ... c'est drole de voir ce que les gens en pensent, de l'exterieur.