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Found 66 results

  1. Best deals in real estate by Don Sutton, MoneySense Wednesday, June 16, 2010 It’s a crazy time for real estate in Canada. Prices are sky-high, people are feeling pressured into selling into a hot market and buyers fear purchasing an overpriced home only to see the bubble burst. But MoneySense magazine has come to the rescue and crunched the numbers to identify the best real estate deals in the best cities. Using hard data on 35 major housing markets, the magazine has awarded a letter grade based on how reasonable the house prices are, whether home prices are likely to rise and how prosperous the local economy is. Surprisingly, none of the winning cities are Canada’s largest, but instead reflect medium-sized cities with affordable house prices that have the ability to grow strongly with local economic conditions. The best deals in real estate in Canada are to be found in Moncton and Regina, both of whom received an A-, while Fredericton, St. John’s, Ottawa, Gatineau, Winnipeg, Guelph and Saint John all received a B+. The criteria for the study was strict and comprehensive. MoneySense compared average rents to average home prices, which gives a great indicator of how valuable a home is. Next it compared local wages as to average home prices to see how long it would take for a family to purchase a home. The magazine also evaluated how quickly homes sold and prices increased over the years. Last, the economic environment of the city was also analyzed. The magazine looked at how fast a community grew, what the unemployment rate was and what kind of discretionary income the citizens had. This method avoided identifying cheap real estate in communities where prices were unlikely to increase due to a poor local economy or widespread unemployment. The analysis gives a comprehensive overview of where to get the best real estate deals in Canada. The study is also useful for identifying which real estate markets to avoid. For example, Abbotsford and Montreal both only rated Cs. MoneySense’s study also identified overpriced markets. For instance, Kelowna, B.C., scored well in the category of growth potential and has a great local economy. But the average house price makes it hard for the typical family to buy into the market. With this aspect in mind, Kelowna rated a D+ in the value category and a C+ overall. Windsor, Ont., where house prices are among the best values in Canada, is in the opposite situation. It rated an A for affordability, but since the city is slowly recovering from deep layoffs in the car industry, it only rates a C in the momentum category and a C+ for local economy, giving it a B+ overall. In concrete terms, what the best cities for real estate like Regina and Moncton have going for them is big-city growth and opportunities without big-city prices. While the affordability and growth value of a home are not always the prime reasons to buy in a particular location, knowing that your home is a sound investment in an economically vibrant city offers great peace of mind. Top 5 cities: 1. Moncton A- 2. Regina A- 3. Fredericton B+ 4. St. John's B+ 5. Ottawa B+ http://ca.finance.yahoo.com/personal-finance/article/moneysense/1662/best-deals-in-real-estate
  2. http://www.montrealgazette.com/business/Deal+would+bring+Citytv+Montreal/6560252/story.html Rogers Media buys Montreal TV station Metro 14 By Steve Faguy, The Gazette May 4, 2012 9:36 AM MONTREAL - Citytv could be coming to Montreal soon. Rogers Media announced on Thursday that it had reached a deal to purchase Montreal multicultural television station Metro 14 (CJNT) from Toronto-based Channel Zero Inc. Rogers plans to turn CJNT into a Citytv station, expanding the national network’s presence. Citytv has stations in Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver. The company also announced that it will sign long-term affiliation deals with three stations owned by the Jim Pattison Group: CHAT-TV in Medicine Hat, Alta., CJFC-TV in Kamloops, B.C., and CKPG-TV in Prince George, B.C. All three have been Citytv affiliates since 2009, and are, like CJNT, former members of the Canwest CH/E! network. Rogers also announced in January it would purchase educational regional cable channel Saskatchewan Communications Network from Bluepoint Investment Corp. and rebrand it as Citytv Saskatchewan. “Citytv, up until recently, has only been available in 7.2 million homes, and when we buy and produce programming, the cost of that is similar to what other networks pay when they buy national footprint rights,” Rogers Media president of Broadcast Scott Moore told The Gazette. “It’s essential for us to expand our footprint.” Though the new deals give Citytv good coverage west of Montreal, there are no stations east of the city. Moore said there are no specific plans for expansion into Atlantic Canada, but said it represented a gap in the network and “we’ll continue to work on that in the next six to 12 months.” The deal must be approved by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission before Rogers Media can take over. In the meantime, Rogers and Channel Zero have signed an affiliation agreement that will see Citytv programming on CJNT as of June 4. Citytv programs include American shows like New Girl, Modern Family and How I Met Your Mother, as well as original productions like Canada’s Got Talent and the upcoming The Bachelor Canada. Channel Zero president Cal Millar told The Gazette the station also will air some programming from Rogers’s OMNI network of ethnic stations. Channel Zero also owns CHCH television in Hamilton, Ont. It purchased CHCH and CJNT from Canwest for $12 in 2009 after the struggling company (which also owned The Gazette) decided to shut down its secondary network of conventional television stations. Moore said he would not comment about the purchase price, but joked that it was “more than double” the $12 Channel Zero paid for it. CJNT’s licence requires it to broadcast 14 hours of local ethnic programming each week and at least 75 per cent ethnic programming from 8 to 10 p.m. But after the sale from Canwest to Channel Zero, the station stopped producing its ethnic programming. It has since been airing reruns – some of them three years old – of its local ethnic shows. The rest of its schedule is made up of music videos, foreign films and some low-rated U.S. programming whose Canadian rights haven’t been scooped up by CTV, Global or Citytv. Moore did not comment on any changes Rogers might propose for CJNT’s licence, or whether it would even continue to be a multi-ethnic station. “We’ll be spending the next couple of months in Montreal, speaking with stakeholders in the community,” he said. As far as local programming, Moore said it was still too early to tell, but it was unlikely the station would produce a daily newscast. “I don’t know that Montreal needs another English-language supper-hour newscast,” he said. Citytv stations outside of Toronto meet local programming requirements with morning shows. Moore said it was “a good bet” that a similar strategy would be used in Montreal. Millar said the sale was bittersweet for Channel Zero, which he said had been making progress building its audience with a new morning show that’s heavy on music videos. He said Rogers has been trying to buy the station since “shortly after we acquired it” and made multiple offers. But this time, “Rogers was more determined than ever to expand their national reach,” Millar said. “It was far more valuable to them at that point than to us.” Channel Zero had been in talks with a local producer to bring back some local ethnic programming this fall. Millar said he doesn’t know if those plans will continue as the company waits for a decision on the acquisition. Rogers said it would expect a decision by the CRTC in the fall. [email protected] Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/Rogers+Media+buys+Montreal+station+Metro/6560252/story.html#ixzz1tuid8rb0
  3. Je ne suis pas sûr que c'est un compliment de se faire dire que Montréal goûte la poutine! Et les clichés sur notre supposée "joie-de-vivre", juste parce qu'on parle français, c'est un peu éculé, mais comme l'article est positif, on va leur pardonner... A foodie's guide to Montreal USA Today By Michele Kayal For The Associated Press Montreal may sound like Paris, but it tastes like poutines. A mess of french fries, gravy and cheese curds, this signature dish of French-speaking Canada's largest city captures its engaging and independent culinary personality. Originally inhabited by Native Americans, later populated by hunters, trappers and missionaries, and eventually battled over by the French and British, Montreal offers gutsy, creative and hearty fare that honors its diverse forbears. "There is a tradition of English cooking and French cooking, but it's taken on that lusty explorer, wilderness, joie de vivre," says Catherine MacPherson, a food columnist for Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio. "It's rib sticking, and it's got that independent spirit." That wasn't always so. Until the early 1990s in Montreal, "good" cuisine meant "French" cuisine, and all the local stars had trained in France. That's also where they got their ingredients — lamb, lobster, artichokes, nearly everything. Until a young chef named Normand Laprise returned from the Continent more impressed by the freshness of ingredients in France than by their Frenchness. He began cultivating farmers and ranchers and launched a movement toward fresh, local ingredients that drew from Quebec's rich landscape. His restaurant, Toque!, opened in 1993, and remains the standard-bearer for upscale Quebequois cuisine. "When you come in Montreal, you feel that the food is more about us, about Quebec philosophy and Quebec roots," he says. "It's our produce, our chefs." Today, Montreal is "bigger and better," Laprise says, as the scene has filled with choice, from bistros to sandwich shops to corner grocers and cheese shops that offer fresh, delicious, local foods. The city claims 6,000 restaurants spanning 80 cuisines for its scant 2 million people, making it a city of foodies, by foodies, for foodies. The food scene could take weeks to explore, but with just a few days — and a big appetite — a dedicated eater can make a thorough and delicious survey. Start the tour at L'Express, a traditional bistro in the Plateau neighborhood where the floor is checkered, the ceilings are high and French is spoken all around. The steak of steak-frites is juicy and fatty, crowned with herb butter. The frites are crispy and light. Pistachio-studded pate literally melts on the tongue leaving hints of thyme and cognac behind. The chocolate tart is so glossy and thick with flavor that the otherwise stone-faced waiter is moved to speak, telling two diners that it is made with 76% cacao. Montrealers have made L'Express their local hangout for nearly three decades, but recently it's gotten some company. Around the corner, Au Pied de Cochon plumps up the bistro concept, making traditionally thrifty Quebecois cooking richer, fatter, heartier. Chef Martin Picard offers pickled venison tongue; a salad of rich, bitter greens topped with crunchy bits of fried pig cartilage; and nearly everything stuffed with foie gras, from peasant food such as pig's foot to the famous poutines. Picard's menu honors the region's sweet tooth not only with the famous tarte au sucre — literally, sugar pie — but even with a playful take on breakfast that features buckwheat pancakes, thick bacon, and yes, foie gras, all of it doused with maple syrup. On the other side of town in the Petite-Bourgogne neighborhood, Restaurant Joe Beef redefines the British pub with a decidedly modern take on roasts, puddings and other delectables. Named after a legendary tavern keeper known for scoring rations for his fellow British soldiers, the tiny restaurant's menu changes with the seasons and the whim of chef Fred Morin. But Joe Beef traffics in items such as fresh lobster tossed with bacon, baby peas and pasta, and dishes for two, such as sliced rib steak with marrow bones, or a whole rack of Quebec lamb with mint sauce. Tucked in the back, but at the establishment's heart, is the oyster bar, a half-dozen seats crowded around a dinged-up counter where three-time Canadian oyster-shucking champion John Bil recently popped dozens of briny bivalves mostly from the waters of Prince Edward Island. No matter where or what a visitor eats in Montreal, it's likely to be decadent. Butter, sugar, lard: these ingredients do not scare Montrealers. "There's never been a fear of indulgence or fats when it comes to their food," MacPherson says. "They see no reason for self-flagellation at the dinner table." Which brings us back to poutines. Gravy-and-cheese slathered french fries, are, perhaps, a dish best understood when inebriated. Or when you're very, very cold. "Imagine yourself being here in February, you're on a ski hill and it's minus 27," says Nathalie Cooke, a culinary historian at the city's McGill University. And she's talking Celsius. "You'd be amazed how good poutines can taste." Au Pied's foie gras-laden poutines are revered by gourmets, but students and bloggers seem to favor the slapped down version at Patati Patata, a tiny corner joint near McGill whose name roughly translates as "blah blah blah." But poutines aren't the city's only casual food. A flourishing culture of quick but delicious — and above all real — food can be found at patisseries, fromageries (cheese shops), and places that fall somewhere between bakery, sandwich shop and grocery store. At Olive et Gourmando in the Vieux-Montreal neighborhood, flaky palmiers are delivered alongside dense Valrhona brownies and hot sandwiches dripping with caramelized onions and succulent pork. "We're not interested in how many tables there are," Cooke says. "We're quite willing to go to a place that has two tables, or even to stand." At Au Pied de Cochon, chef Martin Picard offers a playful take on breakfast that features buckwheat pancakes, thick bacon and foie gras, all of it doused with maple syrup. Chef Yann Laguna puts the finishing touches on a salad at the McCord Cafe in downtown Montreal. The city is packed with bistros, bakeries, markets and cutting edge eateries.
  4. http://www.newswire.ca/fr/news-releases/elaboration-dun-plan-local-de-deplacements-au-centre-ville-525757551.html
  5. Le Petit Maghreb By Joel Ceausu Little Italy and Chinatown are getting a new sibling — and since it’s just a few blocks, maybe Louise Harel won’t mind. Le Petit Maghreb is now more than just a casual moniker for a certain part of the city: it’s an official part of Montreal’s commercial destination network, and an unofficial but growing tourism draw. The area in the Villeray-Saint-Michel-Parc-Extension borough has received $40,000 from the city of Montreal’s Programme réussir à Montréal ([email protected] Commerce) recognizing the efforts of the local Maghreb business association for revitalization of Jean-Talon Street between Saint-Michel and Pie-IX boulevards. “Thanks to this support, local businesspeople finally have the means to create an official new district in Montreal,” said a clearly delighted borough mayor Anie Samson. “It’s excellent news for the Maghreb community, as well as the growing attraction of our borough and Montreal.” The local Maghreb community hails mostly from North Africa, particularly Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. Over the years, this important stretch of Jean-Talon has become a gathering place for Montreal’s Maghreb community — estimated at about 150,000 people. The funds will be used to develop a master plan to mobilize businesses, reach targeted communities, and carry out an economic and physical strategy to define a public image for the sector. About half of the 105 area businesses are related to Maghreb culture in bakeries, butchers, Arab pastry shops, restaurants and tearooms, along with hairdressing salons and travel agencies. Malik Hadid is also happy that after three years of work the designation will become official. “I am very happy that the Association can count on the support of [email protected] Commerce,” said the travel agency owner and local association president. He was quick to add that the Maghreb association also enjoys close cooperation with the borough, the local economic development agency and Station 30 police. The city’s [email protected] program is already at work in other neighbourhoods around the island, helping spruce up commercial districts and adding appeal to important arteries using architecture, infrastructure and marketing, and helping boost investment by matching funds of local investors. Other east-end streets selected for the program include Promenade Fleury, Jean-Talon St. in Saint-Leonard, and Charleroi in Montreal-Nord.
  6. Local architect pledges to stop the ‘joke’ of high-rise Rotterdam World War II saw the destruction of many cities around Europe and not least hit was the city of Rotterdam. While devastating on a human and financial scale this allowed the city to evolve into what is now considered as the ‘high rise city of the Netherlands’. But local architect Jan Willem van Kuilenburg, principal of Monolab Architects has derided this label as ‘a joke’ calling for an extension to the local authorities’ planned high rise zone to the south and proposes Rotterdam's first super-tower, the 450 m high City Tower. “Rotterdam is too hesitant, too defensive and too much like an underdog. After the Erasmus bridge we are in need of a real skyscraper of European scale of which Rotterdam can be proud,” says Kuilenburg, “All currently realised towers in Rotterdam are of mediocre quality and very primitive. As we should save in prosperous periods, it makes the current economic crisis the right time to invest.” Kuilenburg proposes City Tower as the leader in this campaign. The 450 m mixed-use tower with a photovoltaic skin would be built in the water by the Maas Harbour. According to Kuilenburg it would allow the high-rise zone to serve the whole city and help to connect Europe’s largest port to the rest of the city. The tower would be connected to land via a steel pedestrian boulevard to a separate parking lot with the capacity for 1000 cars. Kuilenburg believes this element of the project could aid the local authorities’ plans to liberate the downtown area of traffic by creating a 6th park and ride zone with its close proximity to the Metro. Asked about the likely response from the people of Rotterdam to what would be a very bold visual landmark, Kuilenburg said: “I don’t know. In general Rotterdam people are proud of the skyline, they are energetic and ready to go for new proposals. It has always been a scene for experiment. Rotterdam was bombed in the Second World War and so new buildings emerged, since then people are used to change.” Kuilenburg is currently in talks with developers and calling for international investment for the project. Niki May Young News Editor http://www.worldarchitecturenews.com/index.php?fuseaction=wanappln.projectview&upload_id=10909
  7. Canada to switch to plastic bills next year Last Updated: Saturday, March 6, 2010 | 2:19 PM ET CBC News They say money doesn't grow on trees. Well, the federal government has taken that adage to heart — it announced earlier this week that Canada's paper-cotton banknotes would be replaced by newly designed plastic ones next year. It's part of a plan to modernize and protect Canadian currency against counterfeiting. The new plastic bills, made from a polymer material, are harder to fake, recyclable, and two to three times more resistant to tearing, the Bank of Canada said. Australia has used polymer banknotes since the 1990s, and an Australian company will provide the material for Canada. Several other countries have adopted polymer banknotes including New Zealand, Vietnam and Romania. The new notes won't be in circulation until sometime in 2011. In the meantime, the central bank is keeping mum on what the new bills will look like. "I can't divulge that information because they will be issued in about 18 months — that's a long ways away," said Bank of Canada spokesperson Julie Girard. "We want to keep a little bit of information from potential counterfeiters so they don't get a leg up and start producing any counterfeits." CBC News wanted to get some local Canadians' impressions of the polymer bills. Reporter Sandra Abma took an Australian banknote and a classic cotton-paper Canadian bill and asked people on the streets of Ottawa to compare. The opinions were mixed. "It would be easier to lose, I think," said one woman, after rubbing her fingers on the polymer bill. "It's soft and smooth and it could slide out easier." "This feels like Monopoly money actually," said a young man. "It's like I took this out of a board game and then went to buy Timmy's with it." Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/ottawa/story/2010/03/06/ott-plastic-money.html#ixzz0hXA51DI4
  8. (Courtesy of The Montreal Gazette) Congrats Montreal Lets hope 2011 will be another amazing year.
  9. Nouvelle adresse dans le Quartier des spectacles : Café Parvis : un petit nouveau, rue Mayor Publié le 4 février 2014 par Quartier des spectacles Les huit partenaires derrière le Furco frappent encore. Situé dans le grand local adjacent au populaire bar, le Café Parvis, ouvert depuis quelques jours à peine, est un café et une pizzeria. L’endroit séduit déjà les Montréalais le jour et on prévoit une ouverture en soirée d’ici le printemps. Rencontre avec Éric Bélanger, chef superviseur et associé au Café Parvis, au Furco et à la Buvette Chez Simone. Comment est né le Café Parvis? Quand nous avons ouvert le Furco, en octobre 2012, nous avions prévu qu’il serait en opération midi et soir. Nous avons d’abord ouvert le soir, pour le rodage, puis, après une semaine, le bar était déjà plein tous les soirs. C’est devenu très rapidement un endroit où c’était continuellement la fête. Nous n’avons donc jamais ouvert le midi. Puis, on nous a proposé le local adjacent. Au départ, nous étions plus ou moins intéressés parce que nous étions satisfaits du Furco. Mais l’idée d’ouvrir un café me trottait dans la tête depuis un moment. Puisque le local était parfait et que ça fonctionnait bien avec les associés du Furco, nous avons décidé d’aller de l’avant. Le Parvis, lui, sera ouvert seulement le midi? Notre objectif est de l’ouvrir matin, midi et soir! Le Parvis ouvre dès sept heures le matin. Nous servons un café haut de gamme – notre barista est même allée suivre une formation en Oregon! – ainsi que des viennoiseries qui sont cuisinées sur place. Nous nous préparons pour l’ouverture de soir, qui se fera d’ici le printemps, quand tout sera à mon goût. Pour le moment, donc, nous sommes ouverts du lundi au vendredi, de 7 h à 15 h, et, bientôt, nous ouvrirons les soirs et les week-ends. Qu’est-ce qu’on retrouve au menu? Il y a six sortes de pizzas, autant de salades et une soupe. On peut manger sur place ou commander pour emporter. Le concept ressemble à celui de la Buvette chez Simone [où Éric Bélanger est aussi associé], c’est-à-dire que, sur le menu, vous encerclez ce que vous voulez et nous l’apportons sur des plateaux pour permettre le partage entre les convives. C’est parfait pour le midi. Cela nous permet de faire un service rapide en moins de 45 minutes. Nous proposons des pizzas romaines, qui ont une pâte plus épaisse et plus croustillante que la pizza napolitaine. Les recettes se veulent inventives. Il y a, par exemple, une pizza avec du boudin maison et des oignons caramélisés. Une autre est garnie de saumon fumé maison, de salade fraîche et d’huile citronnée. Vous avez un permis d’alcool? Oui. C’est un permis pour restaurant, donc il faut manger pour consommer de l’alcool. Nous proposons six bières en fut d’une microbrasserie québécoise. La carte des vins est restreinte, mais bien choisie : il y a douze bouteilles et au verre, nous proposons deux vins d’importation privée qui ont été créés spécialement pour nous. Le vrai bar, il est à côté; c’est le Furco. Ici, nous voulions créer une pizzeria conviviale où les prix sont abordables. Quelle est l’ambiance du Parvis? Nous avons voulu créer une ambiance un peu seventies. Nous souhaitions déménager l’esprit du Mile-End au centre-ville, parce qu’il n’y a pas vraiment d’établissement de ce genre ici. C’est le designer Zébulon Perron, aussi partenaire dans l’aventure, et moi-même qui avons pensé le décor qui comprend des références rétro et beaucoup de plantes. Quels autres projets avez-vous en tête pour le Parvis? Nous souhaitons avoir des places de terrasse sur la rue dès le printemps. La demande de permis a été faite. La terrasse serait ouverte du matin jusqu’à environ 21 h ou 22 h. Nous pourrions la garder ouverte jusqu’à 23 h, mais nous voulons nous assurer d’une bonne cohabitation avec le voisinage. Aussi, j’aimerais ajouter une serre sur le toit. Nous pourrions y faire pousser nos propres piments. Nous allons probablement commencer les travaux en mai. Quelle image vous vient en tête quand vous pensez au Quartier des spectacles? L’Église Unie Saint-James. J’aime beaucoup l’architecture et je venais souvent me promener dans le quartier pendant les travaux de revitalisation de l’église. C’est comme ça d’ailleurs que j’ai trouvé le local de la rue Mayor, derrière l’église, et que nous nous sommes installés ici. Café Parvis 433, rue Mayor
  10. http://www.cyqm.ca/en/home/aboutus/news/kfaerospaceannouncesnewdomesticandinternationalcar.aspx Too bad YUL (prob due to curfew) and YMX couldn't get this business. Does anyone know how the Cargo Market in YMX and YUL are doing? Anything besides just local services?
  11. Brazil’s economy The devil in the deep-sea oil Unless the government restrains itself, an oil boom risks feeding Brazil’s vices Nov 5th 2011 | from the print edition DEEP in the South Atlantic, a vast industrial operation is under way that Brazil’s leaders say will turn their country into an oil power by the end of this decade. If the ambitious plans of Petrobras, the national oil company, come to fruition, by 2020 Brazil will be producing 5m barrels per day, much of it from new offshore fields. That might make Brazil a top-five source of oil (see article). Managed wisely, this boom has the potential to do great good. Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, wants to use the oil money to pay for better education, health and infrastructure. She also wants to use the new fields to create a world-beating oil-services industry. But the bonanza also risks feeding some Brazilian vices: a spendthrift and corrupt political system; an over-mighty state and over-protected domestic market; and neglect of the virtues of saving, investment and training. So it is worrying that there is far more debate in Brazil about how to spend the oil money than about how to develop the fields. If Brazil’s economy is to benefit from oil, rather than be dominated by it, a big chunk of the proceeds should be saved offshore and used to offset future recessions. But the more immediate risks lie in how the oil is extracted. The government has established a complicated legal framework for the fields. It has vested their ownership in Pré-Sal Petróleo, a new state body whose job is merely to collect and spend the oil money. It has granted an operating monopoly to Petrobras (although the company can strike production-sharing agreements with private partners). The rationale was that, since everyone now knows where the oil is, the lion’s share of the profits should go to the nation. But this glides over the complexity in developing fields that lie up to 300km (190 miles) offshore, beneath 2km of water and up to 5km of salt and rock. To develop the new fields, and build onshore facilities including refineries, Petrobras plans to invest $45 billion a year for the next five years, the largest investment programme of any oil firm in the world. That is too much, too soon, both for Petrobras and for Brazil—especially because the government has decreed that a large proportion of the necessary equipment and supplies be produced at home. How to be Norway, not Venezuela By demanding so much local content, the government may in fact be favouring some of the leading foreign oil-service companies. Many would have set up in Brazil anyway; now, with less price competition from abroad, they will find it easier to charge over the odds. Seeking to ramp up production so fast, and relying so heavily on local supplies, also risks starving non-oil businesses of capital and skilled labour (which is in desperately short supply). Oil money is already helping to drive up Brazil’s currency, the real, hurting manufacturers struggling with high taxes and poor infrastructure. When it comes to oil, striking the right balance between the state and the private sector, and between national content and foreign expertise, is notoriously tricky. But it can be done. To kick-start an oil-services industry, Norway calibrated its national-content rules realistically in scope and duration, required foreign suppliers to work closely with local firms and forced Statoil, its national oil company, to bid against rivals to develop fields. Above all, it invested in training the workforce. But Brazilians need only to look at Mexico’s Pemex to see the politicised bloat that can follow an oil boom—or at Venezuela to see how oil can corrupt a country. Petrobras is not Pemex. Thanks to a meritocratic culture, and the discipline of having some of its stock traded, Petrobras is a leader in deep-sea oil. But operating as a monopolist is a poor way to maintain that edge. Happily, too, Brazil is not Venezuela. Its leaders can prove it by changing the rules to be more Norwegian.
  12. Eat like a local in ... Montreal Poutine may still be a student staple but Kevin Gould finds fresh, inventive dishes in the city's bistros, delis and micro-breweries Kevin Gould The Guardian, Saturday June 7 2008 Slow food ... find friendly service and fresh food as part of Montreal's creative food scene. Photograph: Rudy Sulgan/Corbis I start my search for the fresh local tastes of Montreal at Marché Jean-Talon (7075 Casgrain Ave between De Castelnau and Jean-Talon metro). This is not some bourgeois foodie faux-farmers' market. Held indoors in winter, the market spills outside at this time of year, with countless eat-ins, takeaways, wine shops and stalls, busy with people expecting (and getting) high-quality, well-priced, local, seasonal produce. As with the rest of Montreal's food and drink culture, someone has done a marvellous job of inculcating the virtues of the Slow Food movement, without the pretentious nonsense we're often served up in Europe. Montrealers are disarmingly friendly. A cheerful tubby bloke munching a pickled cucumber on a stick invites me to his restaurant, a minute away from the market. Jean-Philippe's Kitchen Galerie (60 rue Jean-Talon Est,+514 315 8994, no website) has no waiters: you're served by one of the three chefs who cook your dinner. He pours me a glass of excellent red from L'Orpailleur in the eastern townships, which has the grace of a French pinot noir, and the energy of a Californian one. "We're not sommeliers," he smiles, "but we know how to drink!" They sure know how to cook, too. Minestrone with chorizo and calves' sweetbreads with soft-shell crab give a flavour of Jean-Philippe's full-on stance on food. The standout main course is a massive côte de boeuf with tarragon sauce and roast veg. You can "super-size" it with truffles and foie gras. Gloriously, ridiculously rich. Strawberry salad with basil syrup and 7-Up jelly completes the feast. The most creative, interesting food scenes in town are mostly in Le Plateau and Mile End, where you find a mixture of ethnic communities, students and sophisticates. I loved Maison Cakao (5090 rue Farbre, corner of rue Laurier, +514 598 2462) for its cupcakes and brownies, and Le Fromentier (1375 rue Laurier Est), where the bread and charcuterie are at least as good as anything you'll find in Paris. Fairmount Bagel (74 rue Fairmount Ouest, fairmountbagel.com, open 24 hours, 365 days) is a tiny local institution that hand-makes 18 varieties and bakes them in wood ovens. Another institution worth its reputation is Schwartz's (3895 blvd St Laurent, +514 842 4813, schwartzsdeli.com, all you can eat $15. No reservations, expect to stand in line), whose smoked meat - think salt beef with deeper flavour - is sensational and worth queuing for. Order your meat "lean" unless you're in with a cardiologist, and eat too much of it with gorgeous dark brown fries, crunchy pickles and a soda. Around the corner, Le Reservoir (9 rue Duluth Est, +514 849 7779) is a micro-brewery with a kitchen. It is the most happening place in the area for Sunday brunch - expect fresh cranberry scones with yoghurt; cod cheeks and chips with home-made ketchup; fried eggs and smoked bacon over sublime Yorkshire pudding. Poutine is a Quebecois speciality, consisting of oily french fries strewn with curd cheese and smothered in salty gravy. Oddly comforting, and excellent for mopping up alcohol, together with every last drop of saliva in your mouth. The Montreal Pool Room (1200 blvd St Laurent), an appealingly grungy, noisy and popular diner, is a good place to try it. If poutine is old-school Montreal cuisine, the Cluny ArtBar (257 rue Prince, +514 866 1213, cluny.info) is its new wave. Cluny is in the centre of town, only a short walk from the touristy joints of the old town. It's near the riverside, attached to a gallery in an ex-foundry. Come here for generous, innovative salads and grills. A few steps away, Le Cartet (106 rue McGill, +514 871 8887) is everything you'd ever want for a buzzy, Scandinavian-smart take on the communal canteen. Great for lunch, Le Cartet has a deli attached and also offers a blowout Sunday brunch buffet, where you can nurse the hangover you nurtured the night before at Pullman (3424 du Parc ave, +514 288 7779, pullman-mtl.com), the gastro bar du choix for Montreal's beautiful people. They're serious about their wine at Pullman, but also mix a mean cosmopolitan. Try tapas like venison tartare with chips, tuna sashimi with pickled cucumber salad, mini bison burgers and roasted marrow bones with veal cheeks. Were Pullman in London, it would be double the price and snooty. Here, it is honest, exciting and fun. As Montreal reinvents itself as a multicultural, modern city, so its young chefs have thrown off the shackles of classical French cuisine. My favourite example of this pared-down, matter-of-fact excellence was in the 10-table neighbourhood Bistro Bienville (4650 rue de Mentana, +512 509 1269, bistrobienville.com). There are no starters or mains, just whatever's good today. They'll fix you a stunning seafood platter, grill you a beautiful piece of fish, and roast you a perfect fat joint of beef. I also ate excellent local cheeses, drank fantastic wine, and thought that if I lived in Montreal, I'd be in here every day. Instead of parading a love of good food and drink as accessories to an ostentatious life, Montrealers celebrate the joys of the table with the matter-of-fact verve born of living half the year in the teeth of an Arctic gale. · Canadian Affair (020-7616 9184, canadianaffair.com) flies Gatwick-Montreal from £99 one way inc tax. The stylish La Place d'Armes (+512 842 1887, hotelplacedarmes.com) has rooms for around £125 including breakfast, cheese and wine and hammam. The training hotel, l'Institut de Tourisme et d'Hôtellerie (+514 282-5120, ithq.qc.c http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/2008/jun/07/montreal.restaurants/print
  13. City has designs on becoming fashion centre $2.4 million for clothing industry. Quebec, Montreal launch 3-year plan to promote local couturiers The GazetteMarch 4, 2009 Retail sales are declining and people are thinking twice before spending money to renew their wardrobe. But as far as Quebec's minister of economic development is concerned, support for the province's clothing industry never goes out of fashion. "It's clear that consumers are slowing their spending because they don't know what's going to happen to them," Raymond Bachand told reporters yesterday as the Quebec government and the city of Montreal announced plans to promote this city as a centre of fashion design. "But there are still 92 per cent of Quebecers who are at work," he noted. "This is the best timing because what we're doing ... is focusing on our designers, helping our designers ... getting buyers from around the world to come to this fashion show, getting our designers to go elsewhere in the world ... branding Montreal as a city of creation and design and putting it on the world market. "This is not a one-shot deal. ... This a long-term vision of building Montreal. ... We always have to keep in mind where we want to be in 18 months, where we want to be in two years." Bachand and Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay met with reporters during the first full day of Montreal Fashion Week to announce a three-year plan to promote internationally this city's fashion and design industry and the people working in it. During Fashion Week's kickoff Monday night, the province announced a $1.1-million investment in three local fashion enterprises in addition to the $82 million over three years earmarked in 2007 to bolster the industry. Tremblay, who this week confirmed the economic downturn has compelled the city to trim $100 million in costs, shared Bachand's opinion that the $2.4-million set aside for the plan would be money well spent. "Everyone's talking about stimulus in the economic situation we're going through," Tremblay said. "We want to encourage Montrealers, Quebecers and Canadians to buy local, to encourage our local designers, the ones that are known and the ones that are less known. "We want to make sure we have better recognition around the world. ... We don't want to copy what is happening in other cities or by being Paris, London or New York. "We want to be different." The local fashion industry employs about 50,000 people and accounts for more than 80 per cent of the exports by Quebec's clothing industry. © Copyright © The Montreal Gazette
  14. Montreal by the mouthful POSTED: October 7, 2010 It's a city that loves France, but its tastes lean to the rich local bounty. By Craig LaBan Inquirer Restaurant Critic http://www.philly.com/philly/restaurants/20101007_Montreal_by_the_mouthful.html?viewAll=y
  15. as much as Aubin is a loud mouth - he;s not far from the truth. A wake up call to forum members.. we all love Montreal but we need to seriously wake up. 2011/2012 was a bad 2 years - we need to improve MONTREAL — SNC-Lavalin Inc. — founded by francophone Montrealers, headquartered in Montreal and active in engineering and construction projects in more than 100 countries — has long been the proud symbol of Québec Inc. Now, however, it risks becoming a symbol of something else — the decline of Montreal’s place on the world stage. The company announced last week that it is creating its largest corporate unit (one focused on hydrocarbons, chemicals, metallurgy, mining, the environment and water) and locating it not in Quebec but in London; heading it will be a Brit, Neil Bruce. As well, the company also said it was creating a global operations unit that would be based in the British capital. To be sure, SNC-Lavalin denies speculation by a La Presse business columnist that the company might be slowly moving its head office from Montreal. The two moves to London must be seen as reflecting “our healthy expansion globally,” says a spokesperson. “The corporate headquarters and all its functions still remain in Montreal.” Nonetheless, this unmistakable shift of authority abroad takes place within a broader context of fewer local people atop the SNC-Lavalin pyramid. In 2007, six of the top 11 executives were francophone Quebecers; last year, three. Note, too, that only two of 13 members of its board of directors are francophone Quebecers. When the company last fall replaced discredited Pierre Duhaime of Montreal as president, CEO, and board member, it picked an American, Robert Card. What’s happening to the company based on René-Lévesque Blvd. is the latest sign of the erosion of Montreal’s status as a major business centre. Of Canada’s 500 largest companies, 96 had their head offices in this city in 1990; in 2010, says Montréal International, only 81 remained, a 16-per-cent decline. It’s true that Toronto, too, has seen a decrease (with some of its companies heading to booming Calgary), but it’s only of six per cent. As well, because Hogtown has more than twice as many head offices as Montreal, the trend there has far less impact. Anyone with a stake in Montreal’s prosperity should care about what’s happening here. Head offices and major corporate offices, such as the SNC-Lavalin’s units, bring more money collectively into the city than do big events — the Grand Prix and the aquatics championship — whose threatened departures cause political storms. Such offices employ high-spending, high-taxpaying local residents and attract visiting business people year-round — people who represent income for cabbies, hoteliers, restaurateurs, computer experts, lawyers and accountants. Indeed, this week’s controversy over the absence of direct air links from Trudeau International Airport to China and South America is pertinent to this trend. It’s not only federal air policy over the decades that’s responsible for this isolation. It’s also that Montrealers have less money, and one reason for that is, as Trudeau boss James Cherry notes, “there are far fewer head offices in Montreal.” Keep losing them and we’ll be a real backwater. But how do we avoid losing these offices? We don’t need more studies. Tons of studies — good ones — already exist. The No. 1 factor for a company when choosing a head office location is corporate taxes, according to a Calgary Economic Development study. Quebec’s are the highest in Canada and the U.S. Thirty-four per cent of the executives at 103 local companies say that Montreal’s business climate had “deteriorated “ in the previous five years, Montreal’s Chambre de commerce found a year ago. The main reason: infrastructure (not only roads but also the health system). A study called “Knowledge City” that Montreal city hall commissioned in 2004 is still relevant. Its survey of 100 mobile, well-educated people (some of whom had already left Montreal) found that their top three biggest complaints with the city were, in descending order, high personal taxes, decaying infrastructure and political uncertainty from sovereignty. All studies agree that the quality of Montreal’s universities helps attract companies. Weakened universities would lower this power. The Parti Québécois government’s minister for Montreal, Jean-François Lisée, declared before Christmas that he was “Montréalo-optimiste.” He did not, however, spell out concrete steps for addressing the above-listed problems. Too bad that his government on Jan. 1 imposed higher personal taxes for people with high incomes — which hits business people. Too bad it has reduced spending on infrastructure by 14 per cent. Too bad that it has not only reduced funds to universities by $124 million over the next three months but that it says it might cut their funding in other years as well — in effect weakening them. And, finally, too bad that Premier Pauline Marois said this week her party would soon launch a campaign to promote sovereignty and that her government would step up its strategy of wresting powers from Ottawa. In the next few says, she’ll further promote Quebec independence with a meeting in Edinburgh with Scotland’s sovereignist leader. Staunch the hemorrhage of corporate offices from Montreal under this government? The very idea is Montréalo-irréaliste. Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/life/Henry+Aubin+avoid+losing+head+offices/7862525/story.html#ixzz2IrXbVaOH
  16. Many cities bum rush towards bankruptcy, raising taxes instead of cutting spending, but one city – Colorado Springs – has drawn the line. When sales tax revenues dropped, voters were asked to make up the shortfall by tripling their property taxes. Voters emphatically said no, despite the threat of reduced services. Those cuts have now arrived. More than a third of the streetlights in Colorado Springs will go dark Monday. The police helicopters are for sale on the Internet. The city is dumping firefighting jobs, a vice team, burglary investigators, beat cops — dozens of police and fire positions will go unfilled. The parks department removed trash cans last week, replacing them with signs urging users to pack out their own litter. Neighbors are encouraged to bring their own lawn mowers to local green spaces, because parks workers will mow them only once every two weeks… City recreation centers, indoor and outdoor pools, and a handful of museums will close for good March 31 unless they find private funding to stay open. I bet they do find private funding. That and community involvement is a better solution than throwing more money to government bureaucrats. A private enterprise task force is focusing on the real problem; the city’s soaring pension and health care costs for city employees. Broadmoor luxury resort chief executive Steve Bartolin wrote an open letter asking why the city spends $89,000 per employee, when his enterprise has a similar number of workers and spends only $24,000 on each. Good question, and also the subject of my Fox Business Network show tonight. Government employee unions are a big reason cities spend themselves into bankruptcy. Some union workers in Colorado Springs make it clear that they are not volunteering to help solve the budget problems. (A) small fraction of city employees have made perfectly clear they won’t stand for pay cuts, no matter what happens to the people who pay their wages. The attitude of a loud minority of employees, toward local taxpayers, sometimes sounds like “(expletive) them.” Maybe those workers should sense change in the air. Colorado Springs residents understand that if you can’t pay for it, you can’t have it. And if a rec center has to be closed, or the cops lose their helicopters, or government workers get a pay cut, so be it. Read more: http://stossel.blogs.foxbusiness.com/2010/02/11/colorado-springs-walks-the-walk/#ixzz0fH4d5Mpd
  17. Un autre article intéressant du Telegraph de Londres. Ils publient régulièrement des articles touristiques sur Montréal et le Québec, toujours très flatteurs, d'ailleurs. Montreal: a thrilling collision of cultures Part French, part English and a lot more besides, Montreal is stylish, intriguing, and full of joie de vivre, says Kathy Arnold. On a sunny Saturday morning, we stroll through the Quartier Latin. Apart from a few dogwalkers and the occasional cyclist, the streets are quiet. We take a table at an outdoor café, order café au lait and read through La Presse, the local newspaper. It is all oh-so French, but when an American sits down nearby, the waitress slips effortlessly into English. We are in Montreal, the third-largest French-speaking metropolis in the world (after Paris and Kinshasa) – and one of the most intriguing cities I know. Montreal is proud of its Gallic roots. From its founding in 1642 until 1763, when the British took over, this island in the St Lawrence River was an important outpost of France. Down by the harbour, 19th-century banks and warehouses testify to the wealth generated by the port. It still ranks as one of the largest in North America, despite being 1,000 miles from the Atlantic. Traditionally, the Anglophones lived on the west side, the Francophones to the east. The dividing line was - and still is - the boulevard Saint-Laurent, referred to as “The Main” in English or “La Main” in French. The look of the city reflects this mixture of cultures, as if, in an architectural game of tit-for-tat, classic French designs are matched by traditional British. In front of the Hôtel de Ville, we crane our necks to look up at columns and porticoes as grandiose as any on a 19th-century town hall in France. By contrast, at Christ Church Cathedral, Anglican Gothic rules, from arches to spire. Then there are the street names: Saint-Jacques and Victor-Hugo share the map with Sherbrooke and Queen-Mary. And where else boasts a rue Napoléon and a rue Wellington? Canada’s second city may rest on European foundations, but its mirror-windowed skyscrapers are pure North America. So is the grid system of streets that spreads from the St Lawrence up to Mont-Royal, the hill for which the city is named. But unlike many US cities, Montreal is very walkable. We saunter along cobbled streets and lanes in the oldest part of the city, the Vieux-Port, where harbourside seediness has given way to galleries, trendy hotels and restaurants. Up the hill, in the Plateau area, we photograph the escaliers - the outdoor staircases that are a feature of the century-old duplex townhouses. Some insist that the curved steps reduced building costs; others say they created space for a front garden. Local lore suggests otherwise. “We are very Catholic,” a friend explains. “To ensure propriety, the church insisted on exterior entrances so everyone on the street could always see who was going in and out of each apartment.” Many Montrealers still live downtown, so the urban bustle continues after work and at weekends. Thanks to a passion for the arts, there is always plenty going on. Over the years, we have been to the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and the Grands Ballets Canadiens, enjoyed jazz and comedy at small clubs. And we have always eaten well. Like their cousins in the Old World, Montrealers love good food. As well as four busy, European-style markets, piled high with local produce, there is a huge range of well-priced restaurants. Some offer hearty Québec favourites such as smoked meat, tourtière (meat pie) and, thanks to the Jewish community, arguably the best bagels in North America. My favourite restaurants are those offering a modern take on traditional recipes; the most famous is Toqué!, whose chef, Normand Laprise, was in the vanguard of the foodie revolution. Still others reflect the influx of immigrants from Italy and Greece, Spain and China. These newcomers have spiced up the pot-au-feu that is Montreal: Vietnamese-run flower stalls look like mini-garden centres and red-shirted Benfica supporters celebrate the Portuguese club’s victory. Although locals still talk about the “French” and the “English”, meaning Francophone and Anglophone, Montreal today embraces so much more than just these two cultures. It all adds up to a city that is vibrant, confident and forward-looking, with a joie de vivre that is impossible to resist. As the franglais slogan for a local radio station puts it: “Plus de hits! Plus de fun!” Essentials Montreal is five hours behind UK time; the international dialling code for Canada is 001; the current exchange rate is C$1.88 to the pound. Where to stay Luxury The city is dotted with designer-cool hotels, such as the 30-room Hotel Gault at 449 rue Sainte-Hélène (514 904 1616, http://www.hotelgault.com; from £90), on the edge of Vieux-Montreal. Behind its elegant 1871 façade are bare brick and modern art. Traditionalists should opt for the Auberge Bonaparte at 447 rue Saint-François-Xavier (514 844 1448, http://www.bonaparte.com; £80), with its romantic ambience, excellent restaurant and 30 comfortable rooms. In fine weather, take in the views over Vieux-Montreal from the sixth-floor roof terrace. Mid-range The 60-room Hôtel XIXe Siècle at 262 rue St-Jacques Ouest (877 553 0019, http://www.hotelxixsiecle.com; from £70) scores for price and location – on the edge of Vieux-Montreal and an easy walk from downtown. The lobby and bar still have the high ceilings from the building’s origins as a 19th-century bank. Budget When the Auberge Les Passants du Sans Soucy at 171 rue St-Paul Ouest (514 842 2634, http://www.lesanssoucy.com) opened as an art gallery-cum-b&b some 15 years ago, Vieux-Montreal had yet to be revived. Today, guests staying in this 1723 stone house are steps away from galleries, shops and restaurants. Nine rooms only, so book early; Daniel Soucy’s breakfasts are lavish. What to see Museums For a quick history lesson, visit Pointe-à-Callière, built right on top of the city’s first Catholic cemetery (1643-1654). Look down through glass to the graves of Iroquois Indians buried near people named Tessier, Thibault and Hébert, family names that are still in the local phone book. On the top floor, L’Arrivage restaurant has great views over the port (514 872 9150, http://www.pacmusee.qc.ca). As well as the obvious European Old Masters, the Musée des Beaux-Arts (514 285 2000, http://www.mbam.qc.ca) has fine Canadian works. Paintings by the renowned Group of Seven capture the ruggedness of the country in the early 20th century; more contemporary are Quebecois talents such as Jean-Paul Riopelle and Serge Lemoyne . The Olympic Park From the 1976 Olympic Stadium, the Montreal Tower rises 537 feet (164m) - at an incline of 45 degrees. Take the funicular up to the Observatory for spectacular views across the city. Another legacy of the Games is the pool. For £2, you can swim where David Wilkie of Scotland took gold in the 200m breaststroke, breaking the world record in the process (514 252 4737, http://www.rio.gouv.qc.ca). Then there is the velodrome, recycled as the Biodôme. Under a vast roof, this space is divided into four eco-systems, which are always in season. Sloths hide in the Tropical Rainforest, cod and salmon swim in the St Lawrence Marine Eco-system, beavers build dams in the Laurentian Forest, but the biggest crowd-pleasers are the penguins, which torpedo into the icy waters of the Antarctic (514 868 3000, http://www.biodome.qc.ca). Montreal Botanical Garden An easy walk from the Olympic Park is the city’s answer to Kew Gardens (514 872 1400, www2.ville.montreal.qc.ca/jardin). Within its 180 acres are 10 giant greenhouses and 30 themed gardens. Learn all about toxic and medicinal plants; compare Chinese and Japanese horticultural styles. Montreal Insectarium Across from the Botanical Garden is the Insectarium (514 872 1400, www2.ville.montreal.qc.ca/insectarium), a must for children. This is a world of creepy-crawlies, with dung beetles, stick insects, cochineals, bees and more. There is even a set of scales that registers your weight, not in pounds or kilos but in ants. A 10-year-old weighs in at about 1.5 million. What to buy Shopping With sterling riding high, shopping is a pleasure. All the international brand names are here, but most fun are the boutiques featuring the work of stylish local designers. Downtown, head for rue de la Montagne, between Boulevard de Maisonneuve and rue Sherbrooke; up on the Plateau, check out rue Saint-Denis, chock-a-block with shops, and the funky boulevard Saint-Laurent. The three big department stores are Holt Renfrew, La Baie (Hudson’s Bay Company) and La Maison Ogilvy, where noon is still marked by a kilted piper playing the bagpipes. Markets Join locals shopping for produits du terroir at the art deco Marché Atwater, with its cheeses and maple syrup, and, next to Little Italy, the Marché Jean-Talon, ringed with busy bistro tables. The Marché Bonsecours in Vieux-Montreal no longer sells fruit and veg: the handsome 1847 building is now devoted to arts and crafts. Where to eat Toqué! Back in the early 1990s, Normand Laprise startled locals with his flavour combinations and the dramatic look of his dishes. As inventive as ever, his seven-course, £45 “mystery menu” could include scallops marinated in strawberry and bell pepper jus and suckling pig with a curry glaze (900 Place Jean-Paul-Riopelle; 514 499 2084, http://www.restaurant-toque.com). La Porte At this family-run operation, Pascale Rouyé looks after front of house while her husband, Thierry, and their son cook. They do what the French do best (local ingredients, classic techniques), and the five-course, £22 menu would be hard to beat in their native Brittany (3627 Boulevard Saint-Laurent; 514 282 4996) . Olive + Gourmando Wood floors and chairs and young, cheerful staff make this a pleasant place to start the day with steaming café au lait and a blueberry brioche (351 rue Saint-Paul Ouest; 514 350 1083, http://www.oliveetgourmando.com). Garde-Manger The disco beat gets louder as the evening progresses in this brick-walled restaurant. Get stuck in to ribs and platters piled with crabs, mussels and shrimp from Québec’s Iles de la Madeleine. Finish with maple-pecan pie (408 rue Saint-François-Xavier; 514 678 5044). Aszú In this basement oenothèque, David Couture’s modern cuisine is matched with 50 wines by the glass (212 rue Notre-Dame Ouest; 514 845 5436). Night owls During Prohibition, Americans escaped to Montreal for whisky and jazz. There is still no shortage of clubs and bars. Join the fun on rue Crescent, boulevard Saint-Laurent and rue Saint-Denis in the Quartier Latin. One of the best jazz clubs is The Upstairs (1254 rue MacKay; 514 931 6808, http://www.upstairsjazz.com). Getting there Canadian Affair has return flights from London Gatwick and Manchester to Montreal Trudeau International from £198; flights and six nights’ three-star accommodation from £396, based on two sharing (020 7616 9184 or 0141 223 7517, http://www.canadianaffair.com). Getting about No car is needed. The STM three-day tourist pass (£9) offers unlimited travel on the fast, safe metro and bus system. Metro stops are part of RÉSO, the network of cheerful, brightly lit underground walkways that stretches for some 20 miles, linking shops and apartment blocks, restaurants and museums. Getting in The Montreal Museums Pass gets you in to the 30 principal museums, and includes the three-day travel pass (£23, http://www.museesmontreal.org). More information Tourism Montreal: http://www.tourisme-montreal.org. At Tourism Québec, talk to a real person on 0800 051 7055 (http://www.bonjourquebec.com/uk). In the know Three of the best events on the city’s calendar include: Canadian Grand Prix, June 6-8 (http://www.grandprix.ca). International Jazz Festival, June 26-July 6 (http://www.montrealjazzfest.com). Just for Laughs Comedy Festival, July 10-20 (http://www.hahaha.com).
  18. The banking system in eastern Europe is increasingly vulnerable to a severe economic downturn, Moody’s has warned, saying western European banks with local subsidiaries are at risk of ratings downgrades. “The relative vulnerabilties in east European banking systems will be exposed by an increasingly tougher operating environment in eastern Europe as a result of a steep and long economic downturn coupled with macroeconomic vulnerabilities,” Moody’s said in a report. The ratings agency said it expected “continuous downward pressure on east European bank ratings” because of deteriorating asset quality, falling local currencies, exposure to a regional slump in real-estate and the units’ reliance on scarce short-term funding. Eurozone banks have the largest exposure to central and eastern Europe, with liabilities of $1,500bn – about 90 per cent of total foreign bank exposure to the region. Shares of the handful of banks with substantial investments in eastern Europe – led by Austria’s Raiffeisen and Erste Bank, Société Générale of France, Italy’s UniCredit (which owns Bank Austria) and Belgian group KBC – tumbled after the ratings agency said it was concerned about the impact of a slowdown and the ability of the parent banks to support their support units in the region. The Austrian banking system is the most vulnerable, with eastern Europe accounting for nearly half of its foreign loans, while Italian banks are exposed to Poland and Croatia and Scandinavian institutions to the Baltic states. Central and eastern European currencies have come under intense pressure in recent weeks. The credit crisis has raised fears over the region’s ability to finance its current account deficits and slowing global growth has heightened concerns over the health of its export-dependent economies. The Polish zloty plunged to a five-year low against the euro on Tuesday, while the Czech koruna hit a three-year trough against the single currency and the Hungarian forint falling to a record low. The Prague and Warsaw stock indices meanwhile fell to their lowest levels in five years, while the smaller markets of Budapest, Zagreb and Bucharest skirted close to multi-year lows. The euro dropped to a two-month low against the dollar on Tuesday on heightened concerns over eurozone banks’ exposure to the worsening conditions in eastern Europe. Amid the growing sense of crisis in eastern European economies, Hungary on Tuesday outlined plans to save Ft210bn (€680m, $860m) this year to prevent an increase in the budget deficit. Hungary’s economy is expected to contract by up to 3 per cent this year, much more than earlier expectations. Antje Praefcke at Commerzbank said eastern European currencies were in a “self-feeding depreciation spiral.” “The creditworthiness of local banks, companies and private households, who hold mainly foreign currency denominated debt, is deteriorating with each depreciation in eastern European currencies, thus further undermining confidence in the currencies,” she said. Ms Praefcke said further depreciation of eastern European currencies was thus a distinct possibility, which was likely to undermine the euro. “The collapse of these currencies is likely to constitute a risk for the euro,” she said. “So far markets have largely ignored this fact, but are unlikely to be able to maintain this approach if the weakness of the eastern European currencies continues.” Western European banks have piled into the former Communist countries in recent years as economic growth in the region outpaced domestic gains. The accession of 10 new members to the European Union in 2004, and of Romania and Bulgaria in 2007, added to optimism about the region. In 2007, Raiffeisen and Erste Bank earned the vast majority of their pre-tax profits in eastern European countries including Russia and Ukraine. Since the onset of the global financial crisis, Hungary, Latvia and Ukraine have all received emergency loans from the International Monetary Fund, with other countries in the region expected to follow.
  19. Cirque du Gourmet Montréal’s Jean Talon Farmers’ Market is a feast for the eyes, too By Matt Scanlon You can’t beat the people-watching at Café Italia on Boulevard St. Laurent in Montréal. From the coffeehouse’s small sidewalk tables, an observer can take in the city’s swirling blend of color and culture: a Rasta-capped dad pushing a tandem stroller; a reed-thin, ghost-pale city girl; a man-sandaled Red Sox fan, presumably from the States; a fiftysomething Asian woman in a sky-blue business suit. One thing unifies this disparate urban crowd: loot from the Marché Jean Talon. Grasping sacks filled with guava, pineapples, wedges of cheese and the requisite torpedoes of French bread, the shoppers spill out of one of the best open-air farmers’ markets in the city . . . some say the continent. To those who’ve fallen prey to the Jean Talon addiction, the place is much more than an opportunity for bag filling. Since its opening in 1933, the market has been an impromptu park: part “Where am I?” landmark for tourists, part political forum and part all-day hang-out for everyone from skateboard kids to fashionistas. Think of a circus with much better food . . . and no clowns. Situated between avenues Casgrain and Henri-Julien, closest to the Jean Talon metro stop, the Marché Jean Talon is one of only two large farmers’ markets in Montréal — the other is Atwater in the Westmount neighborhood. However, many locals feel Jean Talon represents a more faithful adherence to the “buy local, sell local” motto. Its 300-odd stalls — shaded from the sun by a roof without walls, train-station-style — overflow with cheese, meat, produce of virtually every shape and description, freshly cut flowers, fish just plucked from the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and Québec crafts such as hand-woven hats and rugs. The outside edges of the market hold restaurants, larger food stores and a raft of cafés. Though the market resides on the northwestern edge of Little Italy, the neighborhood vibe is more Gallic than Latin, and the happiest customers are those who can at least introduce their inability to speak French . . . in French. Stylish epicurians are quick to note that the Atwater market, with its tonier locale, has more cachet these days, and for people less eager to immerse themselves in Québécois culture, its largely Anglophone location is certainly American-friendly. But that’s just the point: When we go to Montréal, it’s because we want to get away. And Jean Talon has plenty of exotic tastes, including Québec favorites such as Rougemont and Mont-Sainte-Hilaire apples, lamb and pork from the Rigaud hills, and chèvre and Pied-de-Vent cheeses. Open year-round, a market of this size naturally has its share of imports, too. You can grab a Florida orange for nostalgia’s sake, but really. Fromage fans in particular have good reason to make the journey to Jean Talon. Though we have plenty of fine unpasteurized cheeses in Vermont, the market is a prime place to sample Québec’s offerings. Purists believe heat kills much of the earthy texture and place-presence (or terroir) of cheese, and after a hockey-puck-sized serving of a goat’s milk variety called “Tome,” it’s difficult to argue the point. Grassy, sharp and with a white-wine-like finish, it’s a revelation. Such bliss comes with a side order of caution; unpasteurized milk is more prone to have listeriosis and E. coli passengers on board, and pregnant woman should abstain. Though there are at least a dozen great places to buy, Fromagerie Qui Lait Cru — a nifty pun that means both “raw milk” and “Who would’ve believed?” — has a particularly garrulous staff when it comes to answering questions. There are few better examples of Jean Talon’s emphasis on local flavor than Porc Meilleur. Supplied by a family-run farm of the same name in the Maskoutan region, its hormone- and antibiotic-free meat comes from pigs that are fed a combination of grains, yogurt and milk — the proportions are a house secret — and the results are the stuff of local legend. It’s not uncommon for shoppers to come from as far as Ottawa for the bacon, and a shortage of chops can be cause for a near-riot. If veal is your thing, Veau de Charlevoix, just a stone’s throw from Porc Meilleur, is just as passionate about animal raising and quality. Les Délices de la Mer has the unofficial designation of the go-to place for fresh fish in the market. You’ll know it by the number of people standing nearby eating fried fillets out of paper wrappers, eyes turned heavenward in appreciation. Les Délices sells and cooks what’s in season, of course, and at the moment turbot is in abundance. A relative of the flounder, this 10- to 30-pound bottom dweller is prized for delicate (if firm) flesh and a decidedly non-fishy flavor. More than anything else, though, what you see in the market is produce, and again, as long as the harvest lasts, local fruits and vegetables are the stars of the show. For sheer scale and diversity, start with Sami Fruit, just off the market on Rue Jean Talon South. Portage potatoes look appreciably different from their Idaho cousins, while Reliance peaches and Nova Scotia grapes put many in the States to shame. Though these staples of Jean Talon anchor the day, the best part of the market is the unexpected. One day an intrepid shopper might find a small stall offering fresh lobster; the next, a display of crayfish; the next, kosher pickles manufactured by the remnants of the area’s once-sizeable Jewish community. Each visit is different, and as you dip your baguette into a jar of brandied strawberry puree over the low notes of a Mexican guitarron, suddenly the ennui of the border crossing seems worth it. Fruit Flight What’s the point of filling your bags with the wonders of Québec if they end up in the hands of customs agents? Crossing the border is nervewracking enough without worrying about the rules regarding the legal importation of Canadian goods, and the trouble is that these regulations change constantly. With every new potato worm, fruit fly or blight, products that were acceptable yesterday become illegal today. Generally, though, things play out like this: Prepared items such as jam, jelly, sauce, olive oil, mustard, honey, wine and vinegar are permissible, with the very strict exception of anything containing meat. Importing a meat product of any kind is forbidden. For the sake of your stomach, and because it generally falls under the meat heading, leave the fish on your plate, too. The rules are a bit more relaxed regarding Canadian fruit and vegetable importation than with flora of Mexico, Central America or Europe. As long as your plunder is not exotic (eat the last of that pineapple before you leave) and/or bears a “grown in Québec” label either on the fruit or on the bag, you’ll most likely be OK. To be safe, don’t mingle different types of fruit in one bag. Hard cheeses, even those containing raw milk, are generally allowed, but no soft varieties — sorry, Brie lovers. Be further advised, though, that any customs agent can decide for any reason that an item is inadmissible or exceeds the maddeningly vague “reasonable amount” rule. Don’t press your luck by proclaiming your rights — you really don’t have any when it comes to this stuff — or doing your Alan Shore impersonation from “Boston Legal.” Smile, surrender the olives, and move on.
  20. (Courtesy of Monocle) She is actually 1st of 5 people Monocle profiled for "city voices" for their July/August issue.
  21. Source: http://www.bbc.com/travel/feature/20130531-how-the-quebecois-came-to-love-poutine/1 The day began eight hours earlier in Europe, under the light drizzle of Switzerland’s rain. As the plane began its descent into Montreal through layers of blue, pink and peach-streaked skies, the vast Canadian landscape came into view. Soon we were on the ground, making our way through the buzzing airport, past maple syrup souvenir shops and a cacophony of French and English conversations. Almost immediately, a familiar craving crept up and my stomach began to rumble. Poutine was calling. Poutine is the ultimate Quebecois comfort food – a pile of thick-cut French fried potatoes, generously sprinkled with fresh cheese curds and slathered with velvety gravy. When in the province, duck into a greasy spoon, stop by a cabanes à patates (roadside chip wagon) or take a seat at some of the city’s haute cuisine hotspots – invariably some version of poutine will be on the menu. As Montreal food blogger Na’eem Adam put it, “we all have a little gravy in our blood”. Here that gravy is usually made with a chicken, veal or turkey stock mixed with a roux of equal parts butter and flour. The result is a savoury sauce thick enough to coat a spoon and hot enough to warm – but not melt – a scattering of cheese curd. The by-product of cheese making, the curds are separated from the liquid whey of coagulating milk and heated until they reach a doughy consistency. In poutine, their freshness is paramount, measured by an unmistakable “squeak” between the teeth while chewing. European legacies Cheese making is a deeply rooted culinary tradition in Quebec. Samuel de Champlain, the founder of Quebec City, introduced cattle from Brittany and Normandy around 1610. At the time, arriving French brought with them a taste for cheese – as well as the recipes to continue the tradition abroad. As the rate of settlers increased, so did the cattle, and soon dairy farms and cheese making were vital to local economies. Canada’s history meant that settlers benefited from both French and English influences, and cheese was no exception. After the American Revolutionary War (1775 to1783), a wave of defeated loyalists moved to Canada, bringing the quintessentially English cheddar cheese. With the invention of pasteurisation and the advent of industrialisation in the late 19th Century, cheese production flourished in Quebec. By World War I, Quebecois factories were even exporting cheddar back to England. Where cheese curds fall in this timeline is imprecise. The dominant theory points to a milk surplus from Quebec dairy farms around the 1950s. With a plethora of cheddar cheese factories and an excess of milk, the leftover curds found their way into takeaway shops and diners around the province. Posh poutine Rumour has it the Quebecois harbour a hint of embarrassment over their love for poutine – an apparent juxtaposition to their branded sophistication. Combining French-influenced style and North American affability, Montreal brims with creativity and swagger. And at one hip eatery, Au Pied du Cochon in the Plateau Mont-Royal neighbourhood, the city’s penchant for cool meets their not-so-secret love for chips and gravy. Here, chef Martin Picard makes a play on French-Quebecois flavours with adventurous and brilliantly executed nose-to-tail dishes, throwing in a heavy dose of off-the-wall culinary creativity. Heaps of pork, duck, foie gras and boudin (blood sausage) dot the calorific menu, and under low hanging Edison light bulbs and butcher-block wooden tables, you dine on fat. The poutine is no exception. Picard’s interpretation starts with a chicken velouté gravy enriched with pork stock, foie gras and egg yolks. The decadent sauce is ladled over cheese curd-dotted chips fried in duck fat and topped with 100g of expertly seared goose liver. Picard’s poutine is gorgeously fatty, rich, savoury, sublime. It is the kind of dish that inspires scheduled layovers through Montreal just to snag another taste. A messy history But poutine was not born topped with a slab of foie gras. Its origins lie 150km northeast of Montreal in the town of Warwick. History points to restaurateur Fernand LaChance who, in 1957, added cheese curds to a takeaway bag of chips at the request of customer Eddy Lanaisse. Legend has it LaChance replied to Lanaisse’s request saying, “ça va faire une maudite poutine” (that's going to make a damn mess). It is argued that the etymology for poutine lies here with LaChance. Others point to an adaption of the English word “pudding”, while some Quebecois claim poutine is the evolution of the local slang, poutingo, or “bad stew”. Nevertheless LaChance indulged Lanaisse, and soon word of his chips-meets-curds creation spread. However, gravy did not enter the equation until seven years later. It was in Drummondville, a small town 50km southwest of Warwick, that sauce married chips and cheese. At a local restaurant, Roy le Jucep, owner Jean-Paul Roy was slathering gravy on his chips when he noticed diners throw cheese curds, displayed for sale on the countertops, into their takeaway bags. He put the mash up on his menu, thereby effectively creating poutine as we now know it. Roy le Jucep still stands in the same spot today. Word-of-mouth steadily carried poutine from local villages and cheese-making towns around the province into Montreal, and by the 1980s, poutine was so engrained in Quebecois culinary culture that Burger King and McDonald’s had it on their menus. In 2007, Canadian news agency CBC conducted a survey that rated poutine 10th on a list of Canada’s best inventions. Local love In Montreal today, you can find everything from classic to avant-garde poutine. La Banquise in Plateau Mont-Royal is one celebrated eatery where you can do both – even at 3 am. A family-run local favourite, La Banquise opened in 1968 as an ice cream shop before growing into a snack bar specialising in hot dogs and chips. Poutine first hit their menu in the 1980s, but when Annie Barsalou took over the restaurant from her father, Pierre, they started to experiment with the dish and never looked back. Today, La Banquise is a 24-hour dedicated poutine joint with more than 28 varieties on offer, such as poutine with merguez sausages, hot peppers and Tabasco. Lunchtime is saturated with a loyal crowd of nearby workers, while at night the students roll in. This is the kind of rowdy spot you seek out after an evening of boisterous drinking – it is informal, packed and noisy. And their poutines are exactly what you crave after midnight, with fat chips that retain their texture against smooth, well-seasoned gravy. Along with late-night greasy spoons, the Quebecois also have a shared love for poutine from cabanes à patates. These roadside food trucks dot the province serving up classic poutines that make purists swoon. Lucky’s Truck is a contemporary take on the traditional, serving up haute street food out of a repurposed Fedex truck that traverses Montreal’s cobblestoned streets. Theirs comes with duck confit, caramelised balsamic onions and a foie gras and red wine sauce. The confit is melt-in-your-mouth, the gravy is full-bodied and indulgent and the onions are beautifully sweet with a touch of balsamic tartness that cuts through the richness of the sauce. Poutine party. And then, there is Poutine Week, an entire week dedicated solely to poutine. Founded by blogger Na'eem Adam, the first ever celebration took place in February 2013 and more than 30 restaurants featured the Quebecois icon on their menus as the city embarked on a culinary food tour to uncover the best. Diners hopped from spot to spot, taste testing poutines and voting for their favourite on the festival’s website – which got more than 100,000 hits in the week. From amateur eateries to poutine connoisseurs, the Quebecois spent the week indulging in jazzed-up versions – such as Le Porky Pig at St Laurent Boulevard’s Macaroni Bar, which served theirs with sliced porchetta, fontina cheese and sweet potato fries – alongside the classic, where the focus was on hand-cut fries, perfect gravy and the freshest curds. By week’s end, Poutineville on Ontario Street was voted the best for their General Tao Poutine, made with crushed potatoes, cheese curds, scallions, sesame seed and General Tao sauce, a North American-Chinese sweet, sour and spicy sauce. Next year’s Poutine Week is already in the books for 1 to 7 February. Quebec has not one, but two poutine-related celebrations, with the St Albert Cheese Curd Festival taking place from 14 to 18 August 2013. Held each year by one of Montreal’s most prominent cheese curd producers, the St-Albert Cheese Co-operative, the festival celebrates the factory, the small town about 150km west of Montreal and – of course – cheese curds. This year’s event is particularly meaningful; in February 2013 a fire destroyed the factory. For this village of 500 residents, St Albert’s has served as the backbone for the community since it opened in 1894 as a collective of 10 milk producers. Today, the Quebecois are rallying around St Albert’s, supporting the rebuild and working together to ensure the factory’s survival. The soul of Quebec It is perhaps this camaraderie – more so than all of the events, roadside wagons, poutine hotspots and jazzed-up versions – that speak to the deep connection to this iconic dish. Simply, poutine is in the Quebecois consciousness. And from the moment you land in Montreal airport to finding your way through to the city’s beautiful and bustling centre, this feeling of fellowship is palpable, best expressed over a generous plate of warming poutine.
  22. http://edition.cnn.com/CNNI/Programs/cnngo/?iref=allsearch CNNGo Wednesday 8 August at 1030 BST / 1130 CET and 1730 BST / 1830 CET Saturday 11 August at 0530 BST / 0630 CET and 1930 BST / 2030 CET Sunday 12 August at 1230 BST / 1330 CET Duration: 30 minutes CNNGo visits Montreal in August This month 'CNNGo' sets its sights on Montreal, exploring the contemporary art scene around 'The Mile End' with local artist Gene Pendon. With summer in full swing, the programme takes viewers to the vibrant and bustling Jean Talon market, and samples the local produce. Talented singer and former child prodigy Nikki Yanofsky welcomes CNN to the internationally renowned Montreal Jazz Festival. And in this high flying city – that many street performers, acrobats and entertainers call home – cameras are there for the opening night of a thrilling new show from 'Les 7 Doigts de la Main.' All that, plus a stroll through the trendy Plateau district, as well as a bike ride over one of North America's most significant waterways.
  23. Toronto et Montréal, vues par des touristes anglais.... http://www.mirror.co.uk/advice/travel/north-america/2010/12/18/the-big-maple-lawrence-goldsmith-samples-the-delights-of-a-canadian-adventure-115875-22791873/
  24. There are an article in The Gazette (which I shall put after this post) that speaks about Montreal embracing open data. Also, anybody every been to Ottawa, Quebec? lol How Open Data Initiatives Can Improve City Life by Aliza Sherman Major city governments across North America are looking for ways to share civic data — which normally resides behind secure firewalls — with private developers who can leverage it to serve city residents via web and mobile apps. Cities can spend on average between $20,000 and $50,000 — even as much as $100,000 — to cover the costs of opening data, but that’s a small price to pay when you consider how much is needed to develop a custom application that might not be nearly as useful. Here are a few examples of initiatives that are striving to make city governments more efficient and transparent through open data. 1. Apps4Ottawa – Ottawa, Quebec Careful to adhere to security and privacy regulations for their open data program, the City of Ottawa started sharing data in several areas: geo-spatial (roadways, parks, runways, rivers, and ward boundaries); recreation facilities; event planning; civic elections data; and transit, including schedules. Other data the city is pursuing includes tree inventory, collections schedules for garbage, recycling and compost, and bike and foot paths. Ottawa aligned their first open data contest, Apps4Ottawa, with the school year (September 2010 to January 2011 ) to involve colleges and universities as well as residents and local industry. Categories for the contest included “Having Fun in Ottawa,” “Getting Around,” “Green Environment/Sustainability,” “Community Building,” and “Economic Development.” The winner is scheduled to be announced later this evening. Guy Michaud, chief information officer for the City of Ottawa, said their open data efforts have already spurred economic development and is meant to be good for local entrepreneurs. The city receives no revenue through the apps, and the developers can sell what they create. In turn, Ottawa residents get improved services from applications that are created, with better access to city data and more user-friendly formats and platforms. 2. CivicApps.org – Portland, Oregon After tracking Vivek Kundra’s efforts at the federal level with data.gov, Portland, Oregon launched CivicApps.org, a project initiated out of the mayor’s office to bring a more localized approach to the open data movement. Skip Newberry, economic policy advisor to the mayor, say that the project’s main objective is to improve connections and the flow of information between local government and its constituents, as well as between city bureaus. To call attention to the release of public data, they also launched an app design contest, highlighting the tech talent in Portland’s software community. According to Rick Nixon, program manager for the Bureau of Technology’s Open Data Initiative for the city of Portland, CivicApps.org took a more regional approach to cover the multiple layers of local government: County, Metro, TriMet, and the City of Portland, all of which collect and maintain various kinds of public data. Data sets released include regional crime, transit, infrastructure (i.e. public works), and economic development programs. Additional projects, such as the PDX API, have been launched in order to make the raw data from CivicApps more useful to developers. In addition to developer-specific apps, a number of transit related apps — bike, train, bus, mixed modes — were also developed. A very popular and established transit app, PDXBus, was re-released as open source under the rules of the CivicApps contest. Other popular apps helped provide residents greater awareness of their surroundings such as where to find heritage trees, where to find urban edibles, and where to locate each other during disaster relief efforts. 3. CityWide Data Warehouse – Washington, DC For years, the District of Columbia provided public access to city operational data via the Internet. In keeping with the mayor’s promise to be transparent, the program CityWide Data Warehouse was launched, and provides citizens with access to over 450 datasets from multiple agencies. The first two datasets released were service requests from the mayor’s call center, including trash pickup, pot hole repair, street light repair, snow removal, parking meter issues and crime data. According to David Stirgel, program manager for Citywide Data Warehouse, the project looks for data that be of interest to the widest possible audience and which will remain reusable over time. Some of the applications that have come out of the program include Track DC, which tracks the performance of individual District agencies, and summary reports that provide public access to city operational data. Some of the applications built by companies and individuals using the data include Crime Reports and Every Block. In 2008, the District Mayor’s office, the District of Columbia’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer, and digital agency iStrategyLabs launched Apps for Democracy, an open code app development contest tapping into District data that cost $50,000 and generated 47 apps. The contest was repeated in 2009. Over 200 ideas and applications were submitted, and the winner was an iPhone and Facebook app called Social DC 311. It could be used to submit service requests, such as reporting potholes and trash problems. An honorable mention was given to FixMyCityDC. Unfortunately, neither app is maintained today. 4. NYC Data Mine – New York, NY NYC BigApps 2.0 is part of an initiative to improve the accessibility, transparency, and accountability of city government. According to Brandon Kessler, CEO of ChallengePost, the company and technology powering the NYC BigApps 2.0 Software Challenge, Mayor Bloomberg challenged software developers to use city data from the NYC.gov Data Mine to create apps to improve NYC, offering a $20,000 in cash awards to the winners. The second annual challenge closed its call for submissions at the end of January 2011 and opened the vote to the public. Voting ends on March 9. Requirements included that the software applications be original and solely owned by the entrants, that they use at least one of the datasets from the NYC.gov Data Mine, and be free to the public throughout the competition and for at least one year after the challenge. The panel of judges reads like a “who’s who” of New York tech luminaries, and includes Esther Dyson of EDVenture, Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures, Jack Dorsey of Square and Twitter, and Kara Swisher of All Things Digital. One of the first year’s winning apps was WayFinder, an augmented reality Android app which allows users to point their phone in a direction and see which subways and Path trains are in front of them. 5. DataSF – San Francisco, California Like other city governments, San Francisco’s goal for their DataSF program was to improve transparency and community engagement as well as accountability. Ron Vinson, director of media for the city’s Department of Technology also stated potential for innovation in how residents interact with government and their community. With an emphasis on adhering to privacy and security policies, the city can stimulate the creation of useful civic tools at no cost to the government. Before launching, they reached out to Washington, DC to identify the most popular datasets, and learned that 20% of the datasets represented over 80% of the downloads. With this information, they went out first with crime, 311, and GIS data. They also allowed the public to request data through a submissions mechanism on the website where others could vote on their suggestions. This input is now required reading for the city administrator thanks to an executive directive and open data legislation. Since launching in August 2009, DataSF has accumulated over 60 applications in its showcase. According to Vinson, the city stays engaged with their tech community by participating in local unconferences and meetups. http://mashable.com/2011/02/15/how-open-data-initiatives-can-improve-city-life/