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  1. Hey everyone, Last summer I came across some videos on YouTube of tourists filming their experiences in the city - some were really great, and it was nice seeing the city from someone elses perspective, especially people who had never been here before. I started saving the ones I really liked. A few weeks ago Tourisme Montreal started releasing their ads for the 375th celebrations. Here are the first two: Une ville qu'on aime, ca se fete. - YouTube Honestly, what the fuck? Lequipe de hockey le plus titree? Des ruelles pleines de vie? Im so tired of them painting the city with such a shallow brush. Theyve never properly captured the spirit of Montreal. And the Toronto one? Cringe. So, I've been working on this for a little while. Below is a link to a short film I made and posted to YouTube today. Nearly all of the footage is from Tourists/YouTubers/Vloggers. If Tourisme Montreal can't explain our city to the world, maybe outsiders can. I used the music from Tourisme Montreal's first ad.* This one features only English-speaking tourists. Ive saved a bunch of French vlogs as well; when I get time Ill make one in French. I have some truly incredible footage for that one. Let me know what you think - share it, send it wherever and to whoever you like. Maybe we can get it to go viral, and get some attention from people who are wondering what city to check out next. Because it is mostly amateur footage, Ive added subtitles in case you can't understand some of the lines.
  2. Reclusive billionaire Robert Miller built a business empire far from the public eye. Now, a bitter divorce has thrown his legacy into question. By Joe Castaldo From Canadian Business magazine, September 27, 2010 http://www.canadianbusiness.com/managing/strategy/article.jsp?content=20100927_10022_10022&page=1 To say Robert Miller is a reluctant interview is a grand understatement. He has avoided attention his entire career, and there are no doubt countless activities he would much rather be doing right now than standing in his opulent office with a reporter. He has previously given a single media interview since co-founding Future Electronics Inc., a multinational distributor of electronic components based in Pointe-Claire, Que., that generates nearly $4 billion in revenue each year. Miller is the sole owner. He has never authorized a picture of himself to be published, and his name is rarely, if ever, attached to his extensive charity work. Miller does not do public appearances. He will never be seen at a ribbon-cutting ceremony or posing with an oversized novelty cheque. His desire for privacy has been his most identifiable trait — aside from his wealth. This magazine estimated his net worth last year at $1.19 billion. Forbes magazine valued him at US$2.5 billion. In the absence of any visible public image, the one surrounding Miller is that of an eccentric billionaire recluse. But now he has welcomed a reporter into his office, extending a large hand and wearing a warm smile. He is a tall, lanky man with a slightly stooped posture, sporting a pair of chunky black orthopedic shoes and rimless glasses. At 65, his hair is tinged with grey. He says he would like to write a book about Future Electronics some day. "It's an amazing story," he says in a gravelly baritone. "It could fill 600, 700 pages." The meeting comes at a time when the comfortable, profitable obscurity in which both Miller and his company have operated is threatened. He is in the midst of a long-running and acrimonious divorce proceeding with his ex-wife, Margaret Antonier, which has thrown this most private of men and his business empire into an unflattering spotlight. The pair was married for nearly 38 years before Miller filed for divorce in 2005. Assets likely totalling hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions, are at stake, but the exact details of the proceedings are sealed in a Montreal court. The legal battles do not end there. In June, Miller filed lawsuits in Florida and Montreal against Antonier and the real estate development company they co-own, Miromar Development Inc. He is alleging Antonier and another executive are shutting him out of the company, and have even siphoned money from the firm. Antonier's lawyers, meanwhile, have accused Miller of "horrendous personal behaviour," the specifics of which are outlined in a filing Miller's lawyers have requested the court keep sealed. A Florida newspaper picked up on the case, followed by the Journal de Montreal, which splashed a picture of Miller across its front page, the first photo of him ever published. What it all means for the business empire he built remains to be seen. For Miller himself, it means reluctantly inching from the shadows to take hold of his public image. But that image is anything but simple. Current and former employees — even competitors — describe him as a genius and a visionary. Everything about him, from the way that he operates his company and interacts with employees to the many varied causes he supports (cryogenics research, for one) contribute to the image of a tycoon unlike any other. The more he reveals, the question "Who is Robert Miller?" becomes all the more difficult to answer. The basic biographic details are simple enough: Miller was born in 1945 and raised in Montreal, and later studied at what was then called the Rider Business College in New Jersey. He worked as a radio disc jockey in New Jersey in the 1960s, where his music program, The Bob Miller Show, aired three hours a day during the week and six hours on Sundays. He moved back to Montreal and joined a small wholesaler called Specialty Electronics. Owner Ben Manis, an acquaintance, hired him. Miller threw himself into the job and became close with Manis's son, Eli, who also worked at Specialty. But the younger Manis eventually had a disagreement with his father and left the company. Miller suggested he and Eli go into business for themselves. In 1968, they started Future Electronics out of a small rented office in Montreal. They essentially acted as middlemen, buying obscure electronic parts from component manufacturers and selling them to makers of finished products, ranging from consumer goods to industrial equipment. Manis says he came up with the name. "I just sort of said, let's forget the past. Look to the future," he says. The company grew steadily, and Miller proved to be a workaholic. To Manis, who didn't share his partner's devotion, it wasn't evident Miller had any outside interests. "Something came into his head, and he said, 'What do I need him for?'" Manis recalls. In 1976, Miller bought his partner's half of the company for $500,000. Future operated differently nearly from the start. Distributors in this industry are essentially stores for electronic components, but typically try to limit their inventory, reducing costs and risks. Component prices are volatile, and no one wants to sell product at a loss. Instead, Miller bought large quantities of components when they were cheap. He then charged a significant markup selling to equipment manufacturers when demand hit. Put crudely, Miller made his name as a speculator in electronic parts, and he's an exceptionally gifted one. One former vice-president who asked to remain anonymous recalls only one slip-up in his 15 years at the company, and there were consequences. "Some people were demoted," he says. Miller is often credited with having an intuitive sense of the market, but his moves are based on excellent intelligence. He got to know many of the executives at component makers in part to find out where manufacturing would be constrained. "Just through networking, he got a feel for what commodities would be hot," says the former VP. Holding inventory has another major advantage. "We became known for being the one place you could go to and always find product," says Gregg Smith, another former vice-president, adding that was how Future won new customers. The model works because Future is privately held. Building out the infrastructure to hold loads of inventory is expensive and tough to justify to shareholders. So too are speculative bets. But as the sole proprietor, Miller is accountable only to himself. Today, the product marketing department, mostly housed at headquarters, is the heart of the company. The department buys from suppliers and sets resale prices for Future branches across the world. Competitors assign product marketers to work with specific suppliers, but Miller turns the model on its head. His employees focus exclusively on a component group, becoming experts able to see trends in the market for specific parts. The job is demanding. "The phone is ringing non-stop," recalls a former employee. "It would be usual to have three or four lines on hold while taking another call and trying to close a deal." The pace takes its toll on some. One former employee recalls developing migraines, another, stomach pains. (Future has a medical clinic on-site). Lindsay Blackett worked at Future for six years in sales and marketing, and is now Alberta's culture minister. "Politics, people think it's hardball. But it's nothing compared to Future," he says. In the 1990s, when Blackett worked at Future, Miller would call up individual workers on the floor to inquire about particular deals. "That could be very intimidating, or very rewarding," he says. "He knew what everyone was doing in that building." Competition thrives at Future, which not everyone can handle. "Robert Miller sat on a cloud like Zeus and said, 'Go at it, boys,'" recalls the former VP. "He saw that through confrontation, people would excel." Those who do perform rise quickly through the ranks, and salespeople can make hefty commissions. More than 10 years ago, Future bought massive amounts of tantalum capacitors, used in mobile devices, before the wireless boom hit. When it did, supply was scarce — except at Future. The company sold millions of them a month with a markup as high as 2,000%. Gross profits were so large that for a couple of years, Miller held monthly meetings with sales staff in the auditorium. He handed out their commission cheques individually, from smallest to biggest, announcing the sum for all to hear. The largest topped six figures. Those at the bottom were driven, not only by the desire for bigger commissions but out of embarrassment, to make more and bigger sales. Employees who have little interaction with Miller tend to regard him with a mixture of apprehension and awe. Spotting their boss loping through the hallways is akin to a celebrity sighting. Usually the only opportunities for many to lay eyes on their leader are the addresses he gives roughly once a quarter. He'll often speak for well over an hour, sometimes two. "I always say the intellectual property for Future Electronics is Robert's brain," says Lindsley Ruth, a corporate vice-president. Even employees many years removed from the company still respectfully refer to him as Mr. Miller. Those who work more closely with Miller say he offers plenty of encouragement and room to be entrepreneurial. A few years ago, Jamie Singerman, currently a corporate vice-president at the company, was rolling out a new division called Future Lighting Solutions, which is focused on the LED market. Future didn't have expertise in that area, and building it up required lots of investment. "I went in with a presentation," Singerman recalls. Miller didn't look at it and instead asked if it was the right thing to do. "I said yes, and he said, 'Done.'" Miller is sometimes unpredictable, however. A few years ago, some of the product specialists in Montreal were told not to come in for a month to allow their managers to fill in and become more knowledgeable about the parts the company was dealing with. A former product specialist says many of his colleagues felt they would no longer be needed, and started looking for other jobs. The managers, meanwhile, were overworked and started polishing up their resumés, too. "If the exercise was a natural culling exercise," says the former employee, "it worked." The first time people outside the industry heard of Future Electronics or Robert Miller came on May 7, 1999, when some 30 RCMP officers, in the presence of an FBI agent, raided corporate headquarters. They toted away dozens of boxes of material for reasons officials would not disclose. The company's lawyers successfully fought in court to keep investigators from looking at the seized material, arguing the search was unjust. After six months of media lawyers wrangling in court, the search warrant detailing the reason for the raid was unsealed by the Supreme Court of Canada. The U.S. Department of Justice alleged Future was defrauding a handful of U.S.-based suppliers out of approximately US$100 million a year. The company was accused of maintaining two sets of accounting records — one real, one false — and only Miller and select executives, dubbed the A-Team, had access. The false records were allegedly used to take advantage of debits and rebate programs from suppliers so that Future could pad its margins. Miller never spoke to the press, but Future issued statements denying any wrongdoing and calling the allegations "absurd." There were also whispers the whole investigation was sparked by disgruntled ex-employees, and based on a misunderstanding of how the distribution business worked. More than a year later, Future's lawyers succeeded in quashing the search warrant that justified the raid, and the seized material was returned without having been examined. Nearly three years after the initial search, the U.S. Department of Justice dropped its investigation entirely. Neither that investigation nor anything else has kept Miller from expanding his company to become the fourth-largest electronics distributor in the world. Future Lighting Solutions is booming, scaling up from virtually nothing in 2004 to nearly $350 million in revenue today. The division, which doesn't simply distribute parts but works with customers to meet specific lighting needs, could some day rival the size of the components business. The company is also re-launching a division called Future Active Industrial that focuses on the countless smaller customers generally ignored by larger distributors. The beneficiaries of Future's success spill far beyond the company's headquarters. Miller committed years ago to giving away more than half his earnings to charity. Much of it goes to employees and their families. Miller receives many letters from employees seeking help, often for medical issues. Gina Galardo joined Future 17 years ago as an administrative assistant, but over the years, fielding these requests eventually took over her job. Lori-Ann MacDonald was brought on six years ago to assist. In an interview in a Future boardroom, they explain that when a letter comes in, they conduct research to find the best doctors or specialists, book appointments, provide moral support or anything else that needs doing. Miller has a deep interest in medical research with extensive connections in the community, and can usually immediately recommend a doctor or clinic. He has paid for expensive medical procedures for countless employees, and finds time for hospital visits and phone calls. "Should we get the binders?" MacDonald asks. She makes a phone call, and two other assistants enter, each with two five-inch-thick binders in their arms. The binders are brimming with letters and thank-you cards from employees, organized alphabetically by name. Galardo and MacDonald are soon lost recounting the stories on each page. There is even a section on Ben Manis, the man who hired Miller at Specialty Electronics back in 1967. Manis is in his mid-90s today. Miller employed him at Future for a time and set him up with an apartment across from headquarters. He now supports Manis's accommodations in a seniors' residence, and has allotted money for his funeral. The two have lunch plans for Manis's 100th birthday, however. "I think this sums up Mr. Miller," Galardo says, turning the page. The allegations being made in a Florida civil court against Miller by his ex-wife stand in stark contrast to the benevolent man who never says no to a worthy cause. Miller married Margaret Antonier in 1967. They had two sons, and Antonier remained an active businesswoman. She originally worked in radio advertising, and in 1988, Miromar Development Inc. was formed and received financing from Future Electronics. Miller and Antonier each own 50% of the real estate firm, and Antonier serves as chief executive officer. "I have learned the business from the ground up," Antonier wrote in response to e-mailed questions. "I am pretty hard on myself when it comes to succeeding." Miromar built Canada's first outlet mall, in Montreal, and in the mid-1990s, began developing properties in Lee County, Fla., including an 1,800-acre residential resort with a private beach and golf course. Employed at Miromar was Robert Roop, who had worked at Future for 20 years prior. He served as the company's chief financial officer at the time he resigned and moved to Florida to work at Miromar with Antonier. The lawsuit against the firm states Antonier and Roop became "romantically involved," but does not specify when. In 2005, for reasons that remain under seal in a Montreal court, Miller filed for divorce. Antonier's lawyers in Florida say she filed a demand in the divorce proceeding for Miller's stake in Miromar, a company "she created and operated for decades," be transferred to her and that loans owed to Future Electronics by Miromar be forgiven. Miller sought a valuation of Miromar's assets, and in 2008, he filed a lawsuit in Florida to get access to its corporate records that he was allegedly being denied. The case plodded on until February, when Miller voluntarily dismissed it. But in June, Miller filed new lawsuits in Florida and Montreal, including a declaration from Frank Holder, a senior manager at a forensic consulting firm hired to probe Miromar. Holder concluded Antonier and Roop are violating Miller's rights as a shareholder and director in Miromar by excluding him from the company, and refuse to provide full access to corporate documents. He also claims to have discovered Antonier and Roop engaging in "various acts of misconduct, including theft and diversion of corporate funds." Miller is seeking for a receiver to be put in place. Lawyers for Antonier in Florida refute all of the charges and dismiss Holder's account as baseless, arguing criteria for installing a receiver have not been met. They also contend the suit is designed to delay the divorce proceedings, alleging "wrongful acts" on Miller's part and arguing he has a "desperate desire to avoid the consequences of the Canadian divorce proceedings." That case is sealed, and it is unknown what either party is seeking in those proceedings. None of the allegations in the Miromar litigation have been proven in court, and neither side will comment on the cases. But the disputes and the resulting publicity cut very close to the bone for Miller. Not even during the three-year-long ordeal with U.S. authorities did he speak with reporters. But after researching Future Electronics for weeks, this magazine received a call from the company's general counsel with an almost unprecedented invitation: Miller was willing to sit down and talk. Miller is reticent to say too much about himself or the company. He wants to save the best material for the book. But he has agreed to an interview, provided it is not recorded. Similarly, he would not pose for a photograph. He certainly is not afraid of the camera, however. Hanging on the wall opposite his desk are two huge portraits, one of Miller solo in a suit, another of him shaking hands with Quebec Premier Jean Charest. His aversion to published photographs, he explains, stems from his desire for security for himself and his sons. Miller speaks slowly, but has an intense manner. He leans forward when talking, his bushy eyebrows shooting up when he wants to emphasize point, and rarely breaks eye contact. He has a habit of saying whatever pops into his head. While making a point tangentially related to health, he offers that "I have colonoscopies with startling regularity." He also has a knack for numbers. He can remember exactly when Eli Manis phoned him to say he had quit Specialty Electronics: Nov. 20, 1968, at 4:45 p.m. The phone number at Future Electronics' first office? 418-7701. The number of stairs leading up to that office? Thirty-two. He politely deflects most personal questions. He is more comfortable expounding on Future's unique operating model — based on inventory and market research, rather than pipelining product. "It's so basic that it amazes me that our competitors don't recognize the benefit of having inventory," he says. "Inventory drives sales." He attributes much of the company's success to its privately held status. As a sole proprietorship, it can move much more quickly than its competitors. The fact that Miller doesn't have to answer to shareholders or a board of directors also allows Future to offer the longest customer payment terms in the industry, up to 180 days. "Our competitors can't compete with us. They would be clobbered if they did that," he says. The possibility of taking Future public has never seriously crossed his mind. Miller says he had no business mentors. "It all came to me. It's a gift. I just knew what to do," he says. A strange, metaphysical thread runs through some of his other explanations for his success. Take his work ethic. There was a time he worked 765 days in a row, without a day off, and rarely left the office before 11 p.m. He accounts for this drive by telling a story of walking the streets of Montreal once as a teenager and seeing a red Thunderbird convertible. He knew he had to have one some day. "I recall talking to myself. I said, 'Boy, you're really special.' I think that was a real turning point." He pauses. "But I had just been swimming, and I later read swimming releases endorphins. It's a natural high." He reached another turning point in the early-1970s, when his motivation shifted from material wealth to something larger. When one of his acquaintances passed away, Miller was one of only three people to attend his funeral. "I didn't want that to be me," he says. Charity took on a greater importance from that moment. In fact, growing Future's profits in order to have more money to give away is his primary motivation. "I believe you give till it hurts," he says. Talking about specific causes would take hours, he adds, but he does tell a story of a former employee diagnosed with cancer. Miller sent her to a specialist and ultimately paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for her treatment. "Your encouragement ... for treatment gave me the last three years of my life," she wrote to Miller in a letter delivered after her death in 1995. Nearly all of his charity work has been done anonymously. "I'm not seeking attention," he says. The one area to which Miller's name has been attached is cryogenics research. The Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Arizona has even described Future Electronics as its greatest benefactor. "These people are doing so much," he says. "They're pure, pure people." There have long been rumours Miller will have himself cryo-preserved when he dies. "I'll leave it to my sons to decide," he says. He is in good health today, though. In fact, he recommends the line of "life extension" vitamins marketed by the foundation. "They're the finest vitamins known to man," he boasts. "You should take them." After talking for a couple of hours, Miller signals an end to the interview. It's 10:30 p.m., and he's been awake since five in the morning. He walks to the door, again proffering his hand and a smile. There are still many unanswered questions: the backstory to all of the legal proceedings, what he has in store for Future, and whether his new-found openness will last. But he's closed the door. We'll have to wait for the book.
  3. Even if i'm very intolerant of the PQ - and it's devastating consequences on the Quebec economy - this is why English Canada is half the battle. There's so much bullshit in this article I don't even know where to begin. http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/10/06/conrad-black-as-quebec-decays-toronto-seizes-greatness/ The announcement this week of an effort spearheaded by art collector and impresario David Mirvish, international architect Frank Gehry and innovative developer Peter Kofman to provide Toronto with a novel vertical, arts-based downtown residential complex is potentially a big step in Toronto’s quest to vault itself into the front ranks of the world’s cities — where it has sometimes prematurely claimed to belong. Whether Canadians from other centres like it or not, Toronto is now and will remain the comparative metropolis of the country, having surged past Montreal after that city entered into a sustained suicide attempt based on separatist agitation and accompanying racial and cultural discrimination. Behind the pretenses to egalitarianism that dress up confiscatory Quebec tax laws and repressive language laws, the real driving ambition has been to push the non-French out of Quebec, buy up the real assets they cannot physically take with them, especially their mansions and office buildings in Montreal, and eliminate up to half the emphatically federalist votes in the province. Montreal’s loss has proven to be Toronto’s gain. Historically, almost all Quebec’s non-French (comprising about 20% of the provincial population) are anti-separatist; and about an equal number of Quebec federalists are authentic French-Canadians who have thrown in their lot with the pan-Canadian option, and are routinely reviled by their peppier Quebec nationalist compatriots as vendus, sell-outs. (In my recent debut as a co-host with Amanda Lang on her CBC news program, the only line of mine that was excised was to this effect — so squeamish does the CBC remain about calling Quebec nationalism what it is: outright racism, at least in the worst cases. Radio Canada, the French CBC, is a notorious infestation of separatists.) The principal bulwark of federalism in Quebec, and therefore in Canada, has been the English-Canadians, who have habitually voted Liberal, and have been shamefully neglected by the Liberal Parties of Canada and Quebec (the first now eviscerated and reduced to the unimaginably dubious expedient of elevating a leader whose sole qualification for high public office was surviving childbirth, and the second defeated and discredited, and now about half English, despite all its ingratitude). But 50 years of nationalist pressure in Quebec, uncompetitively high tax-rates on upper income groups and the endless redefinition of the use of English as a “privilege” that can be whittled down and compromised, have driven over 500,000 people out of Quebec, most of them to the Toronto area. These former Quebecers, and the comparative welcome that Toronto has given external immigration (unlike the Québécois, who are generally hostile to any non-French immigration and none too accommodating even to ostensibly francophone immigrants who don’t speak like Québécois and aren’t too preoccupied with Quebec nationalism), has made Toronto an unusually, almost uniquely multi-cultural city. In fact, Toronto is one of the few jurisdictions where multi-culturalism has not been a disaster. The Netherlands has just rolled back its former official deference to the non-Dutch, and required assimilation in the education system, a belated response to an Islamist influx that is threatening domestic tranquility and social coherence. For less defensible motives, Quebec is placing further strictures on the teaching of English in the state school system, a terrible disservice to the province, which despite its ululations of sufficiency, is a demographically dwindling repository of a not overly dynamic French fact outnumbered 50:1 by its English-speaking North American neighbours, and which by its addiction to transfer payments from English Canada has become a white-collar secular clerisy that contributes little economic added value to anything. Electricity, over-unionized base metals and forest products industries, and a scattering of high tech and financial services are all that generate any earned income for Quebec now. The migrations from Quebec and elsewhere have gradually, over 50 years, transformed Toronto from a tank town of low church Protestant bigotry and ugliness, and radical segmentation between the Catholic and Protestant sections of an almost monochromatic white city — where only hotels had liquor licences, and cinemas were not open on Sunday, and even on Saturday night, everything (which wasn’t much) shut down before 11 o’clock — to a serious metropolis by international standards. The forces of racial and cultural snobbery and intolerance have retreated into a few fetid clubs, where the denizens fester like despotic toads in their unregenerate hypocrisy. Greater Toronto has over 6 million people, the fifth metropolitan area in North America, and 160% of Greater Montreal, and about one fifth of the people who live there are non-whites, and over 30% speak a language other than English or French at home, the exactly opposite policy to the desperate and restrictive cultivation of French in Quebec. These trends will continue, and the rise of Toronto as an increasingly important metropolis of a steadily more important Canada is almost inevitable. This is why it is hazardous, as well as dishonest, for the NDP to paint itself into the Quebec corner, complaining of Albertan oil, and calling, in effect, for repeal of the Clarity Act, to facilitate the separation of Quebec by a bare yes majority on a trick question, and committing the federal government virtually to ban English among its employees in Quebec. It is a disgraceful policy of pandering, minority cultural oppression, and regional abrasion, completely unsuitable for the official, pan-Canadian opposition. It is as if Gilles Duceppe and his unlamented Bloc Québécois had held its majority of Quebec MPs but also elected 40 people in other provinces, mainly Ontario and British Columbia. Returning to this revolutionary plan for Toronto’s entertainment district, all three project leaders, David Mirvish, Frank Gehry and Peter Kofman, are, in their different fields, innovators and creators, and precisely what Toronto needs to translate economic boom and ethnic diversity and population growth into a distinctively great city. Toronto is recognized to be liveable by world standards, and relatively safe and prosperous. But as a great city, it lacks history, drama and flair. History, dramatic historic events, epochal personalities, and great cultural achievements and trends can’t just be confected. And drama is mainly violence: the French Revolution and Napoleonic and other wars in Paris; the Civil War and Blitz in London, the drastic changes of regime in Berlin, and the incomparable drama of Rome, as the imperial and ecclesiastical, and then reunited Italian capital. Even New York and Chicago have the tragic mystique that surrounds gang and gangster wars, revolutionary and Indian skirmishes, countless riots, earth-shaking financial upheavals, 9/11. Toronto obviously does not seek tumult and bloodshed to tart up its ambiance; so to be great, it must ensure that more of its growth comes in the form of brilliant architecture — the construction of iconic projects of the future. The Mirvish project consists of a trio of unusually interesting, 80-storey buildings. It will contrast well with the city’s existing skyscrapers. (Three of Toronto’s impressive bank office complexes, for instance, TD, CIBC and BMO, while fine plazas, are just knock-offs from Mies Van der Rohe, I.M. Pei, and Edward Durrell Stone.) Frank Gehry, who appeared to be descending into self-indulgent eccentricity with his proposed memorial in Washington to Dwight D. Eisenhower that featured a statue of the victorious theatre commander and two-term president as a 14-year-old farm boy, has produced a beautiful design (though it would be better if the Princess of Wales Theatre could be preserved). Toronto must avoid the Canadian tradition of nit-picking the ambitious and original and, as it did when it built the new city hall, it must seize and promote this great and self-generated opportunity.
  4. (Courtesy of the Financial Post) RBC is pulling out, yet BMO and TD are expanding. Lets see what happens.
  5. We get our petrol from Alberta, I know its more costly than a Saudi operation, seeing its oil sand and what not. Plus all the taxes, but with the situation in Libya why are people freaking out about oil production, when we have our own shit. For one why should our prices go up, if we produce and refine our own petrol The way I see it, if people in Canada raise their gas prices because of Libya, they are just profiting from people's stupid fear. Plus what we are paying doesn't make sense already, but thats just me. We pay around 0.16 cents per liter. Actually, I might have figured out my question. Seeing most oil prices are set by outside production (i.e OPEC) that was really effects the price, which to be if thats the case, fuck them and their oil politics and Canada and other countries should form a new oil union for other countries who want off OPEC oil and want something else. -end /rant.
  6. some of you might have already seen this, but a friend posted this on facebook and thought it was funny: YOU KNOW YOUR FROM MONTREAL WHEN : • You pronounce it "Muntreal", not "Mahntreal". • You have ever said anything like "I have to stop at the guichet before we get to the dep." • Your only concern about jaywalking is getting a ticket. • You agree that Montréal drivers are crazy, but you're secretly proud of their nerves of steel. • The most exciting thing about the South Shore is that you can turn right on a red. • You know that the West Island is not a separate geographical formation. • You bring smoked meat from Schwartz's and bagels from St-Viateur if you're visiting anyone. • You refer to Tremblant as "up North." • You know how to pronounce Pie-IX. • You greet everyone, you meet with a two-cheek kiss. • You're not impressed with hardwood floors. • You can watch soft-core porn on broadcast TV, and this has been true for at least 25 years. • You were drinking café-au-lait before it was latte. • Shopper's Drug Mart is Pharmaprix and Staples is Bureau en gros, and PFK is finger lickin' good. • You really believe Just For Laughs is an international festival. For two weeks a year. • Everyone, – drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists – think they're immortal, and that you'll move first. • You're proud that Montréal is home of the Great Antonio... • You know that Rocket Richard had nothing to do with astrophysics. • You've seen Brother André's heart. • No matter how bilingual you are, you still don't understand "île aux tourtes." • You know the difference between the SQ, the SAQ, and the SAAQ. • You measure temperature and distance in metric, but weight and height in Imperial measure. • You show up at a party at 11 p.m. and no one else is there yet. • You know that Montréal is responsible for introducing to North America: bagels, souvlaki, smoked meat. • You don't drink pop or soda, you drink soft drinks. • You have graduated from high school and have a degree, but you've never been in grade 12. • There has to be at least 30 cm of snow on the ground in 24 hours to consider it too snowy to drive. • You remember where you were during the Ice Storm. • You used to be an Expos fan, but now all you really miss is Youppi. • You know that your city's reputation is for beautiful women. • You discuss potholes like most people discuss weather. • "The Futuristic City" is actually Habitat '67. • You find it amusing when people from outside Québec compliment you on how good your English is. • You have yet to understand a single announcement made on the Métro PA system. • You think of Old Montréal as nothing but a bunch of over-priced restaurants, old buildings. • You understand that La Fête Nationale is not a celebration of "Québec's birthday" • You don't find American comedians speaking "gibberish" French even remotely funny. • You don't find it weird that there's a strip club on every corner downtown. • You know the words to the national anthem in French. • You often switch from "heat" to "A/C" in the same day. • You use a down comforter in the summer. • Your parents drive at 120km/h through 13 feet of snow during a blizzard, without flinching. • You carry jumper cables in your car and your girlfriend knows how to use them. • You design your kid's Halloween costume to fit over a snowsuit. • Driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled with snow. • You know all 4 seasons: almost winter, winter, still winter, and construction. • You don't understand anyone from Lac-St-Jean, but you can fake the accent.
  7. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjTs3iZ7OHI The Montreal Gazette About time. Sucks that they charge 0.40 cents per transaction though.
  8. Avec quelques commentaires architecturaux pour vous tous. Source: Dallas News “This,” says Martin Robitaille, “is the Old Sulpician Seminary. It dates to 1685 and is the oldest building still standing in Old Montreal. And this,” he goes on, sweeping his hand at a building across the street from the seminary, “is Mistake No. 1.” The more formal name of the latter edifice is the National Bank of Canada Tower. It was finished in 1967 and is done in the International Style: 52 concrete pillars rising 32 stories, covered in black granite, framing black-tinted windows. “Its elegant, sober appearance was intended to harmonize with the rest of the historical quarter of Old Montreal,” according to a panel in the nearby Centre d’histoire de Montréal museum, but many, including Robitaille, think it most certainly does not. Robitaille could be considered biased: He’s a professional tour guide, and his beat today is the section of Montreal just north of the St. Lawrence River, roughly a dozen blocks long and three blocks wide, that is the city’s historic center. The quarter’s small, crooked streets are filled by handsome buildings of dressed limestone, some somberly Scottish and plain, some effusively Italian, with intricate carvings and terra cotta ornamentation. Stand at any of a dozen intersections — Sainte-Hélène and des Récollets is a good example — and you are transported, architecturally at least, back in time. Which is why Robitaille finds the incursion of something in the International Style so grating. It really ruins the mood. His tour begins at Place d’Armes, in the shadow of a statue of one of the people who founded the city in 1642, Paul de Chomedey de Maisonneuve. “They came here to convert the natives,” Robitaille says. “Not so successful. After about 20 years, it became a commercial center. The fur trade.” As European demand for fur grew, so did Montreal. Its success as the funneling point of pelts from Canada’s vast forests to the Continent made it the obvious spot to locate head offices when settlers began to pour into the west. “The Golden Age was from 1850 to 1930,” Robitaille says. “That’s when Montreal was at its best.” And that’s when most of the buildings in Old Montreal were constructed. Robitaille’s tour takes us along Rue Saint-Jacques, once the heart of Montreal’s — and Canada’s — financial district. At the corner of Rue Saint-Pierre he points out four bank buildings, two of which, the CIBC and the Royal, still perform their original function. The Royal’s banking hall, built in 1928, is “a temple of money,” our guide says: soaring stone, coffered ceiling, echoing and imperious. The other two banks have been turned into high-end boutique hotels . LHotel is the plaything of Guess Jeans co-founder Georges Marciano. Marciano has sprinkled its lobby and hallways with $50 million worth of art from his private collection, including works by Roy Lichtenstein, Joan Miró, Robert Rauschenberg , Marc Chagall, David Hockney, Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol. Across the road, the former Merchants Bank is now the St. James, “considered the most luxurious hotel in town,” says Robitaille. The top floor is where folks like Elton John, U2 and the Rolling Stones stay when they’re in town. We twist and turn through Old Montreal’s narrow streets. Hidden away at 221 Saint-Sacrement is one of the few old houses left, three stories, solid stone. Today, it houses offices. “Most of the architecture surrounding us is commercial, not residential,” Robitaille says. The banks were the most lavish in design, but the warehouses, many now renovated as condominiums, were nearly as spectacular. When Robitaille was a child, his parents never brought him to Old Montreal. Then, as now, it was a bit cut off from the present-day downtown, further north, by the auto route Ville-Marie. After the banks decamped in the 1960s, Old Montreal spent the next several decades in decay. At one point, much of it was to be torn down for yet another freeway. A slow-swelling preservation movement finally gained traction in 1978 when the grain elevators blocking the view of the St. Lawrence River were demolished and a riverside walk opened. Over the next three decades, investors began to see the value in resuscitating the neighborhood. Now, more than 5,000 people call Old Montreal home, living mainly in converted warehouses. Restaurants, cafes, small hotels and plenty of art and clothing stores keep the area bustling. A tour like Robitaille’s is a fine way to be introduced to Old Montreal. For those who want to know more, two museums, the Centre d’histoire de Montréal, in a 1903 fire hall next to Place d’Youville (the site of the two Canadas’ parliament until rioters torched it in 1849), and the Pointe-à-Callière Montreal Museum of Archaeology and History, are the places to go. In the basement of the latter are the ruins of buildings that previously stood on the site, along with part of the tunnel that Little Saint-Pierre River once ran through and the city’s first graveyard, filled largely with the bodies of those killed by Iroquois attacks in the settlement’s earliest days. For those who prefer to strike out on their own, Discover Old Montreal, a well-illustrated booklet published by the provincial government, provides a detailed self-guided walking tour and is for sale in both museums. For those who just want to soak in the ambience, the simplest thing is to start in Place Jacques Cartier and stroll first east and then west along Rue Saint-Paul, Montreal’s oldest street. (Its rough paving stones make comfortable walking shoes a necessity.) Robitaille’s final stop is at the Château Ramezay. Built in 1705 as a home for the governor of Montreal, it served several other purposes through the years, including sheltering Benjamin Franklin in 1776, before it became a museum in 1895. “It’s one of only six buildings from the French period, before 1763, still standing,” says our guide. A block away is the modern courthouse complex, finished in 1971 and designed by the same people who did the National Bank tower. “That,” says Robitaille with a final flourish, “is Mistake No. 2.” And so Old Montreal comes to an end.
  9. Read more: http://westislandgazette.com/news/32511#comment-17239 All I can say is, these people should just buy some earplugs. It will cost the city of Beaconsfield nothing, instead of building a sound barrier or costing people of Montreal and Quebec, to slow down cars / trains. They are the morons for buying a home, that should have never been built so close to the highway / railway. The city is to blame for zoning those areas as residential. I am so going to town hall meetings from now on. Time to put these senior NIMBYs in their place. Sort of on topic, but not really, the highway speed should be increased to a maximum of 140 and a minimum of 100. Boulevards / Service roads should be 70, instead of 50. The whole transport rules/regulations in this province have to be worked on.
  10. Middle-class communities disappearing Big increase in poor neighbourhoods in Toronto and more rich districts, according to U of T study February 08, 2009 Daniel Dale STAFF REPORTER "PRIMO PIZZA," the sign reads. "SINCE 1965." Like the store's walls, it is green and white and red, the colours of the Italian flag, and, on the left, there is a cartoonishly mustachioed man carrying a pepperoni pie above his head. This could be any Italian-owned pizza joint in the city. It was indeed Italian-owned until last year. Then a man named Rocky sold it to a man named Abdul. Abdul Malik, a 43-year-old Indian immigrant, kept its name and its oven and its sauce and its dough. He made just one addition to the top right corner of the sign, easy to miss if you're darting in from the cold, above the shop's phone number. "Halal 100%." "Some people, when they see the sign `halal,' they don't come," said Malik, who also drives a taxi. "We're losing some customers. But we're gaining other types of customers." The neighbourhood known to Statistics Canada as Census Tract 354 is changing. A community of 1950s red-brick bungalows, sturdy front-lawn maple trees and long, narrow driveways, it seems the very embodiment of white middle-class suburban Canadiana. But like the rest of Scarborough, it is decreasingly white. And by University of Toronto Professor David Hulchanski's definition, it is no longer middle-class. Later this year, Hulchanski – associate director for research at the U of T's Cities Centre – and a team of researchers will release an update of their 2007 report The Three Cities within Toronto. Their new analysis of data from the 2006 census confirms a trend they found in the first study: the income gap between Toronto's rich areas and poor areas is growing, while its middle-income neighbourhoods are disappearing. Hulchanski's findings, in aggregate, are dramatic. At the micro-level of this individual neighbourhood, however, the impact of relative economic decline is not unlike Malik's change to the pizza shop's sign. Significant, certainly, but subtle. Between 1995 and 2005, the 5,225-person census district, roughly bordered by Lawrence Ave. E. to the north, Knob Hill Park to the south, Brimley Rd. to the west and McCowan Park to the east, gained 1,020 members of visible minority groups. They now comprise more than 55 per cent of the population, up from about a third in the 1990s. Most of the newcomers came to Canada this decade or last from South Asian countries – predominantly India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Like recent immigrants of all types, many of them struggle to make an adequate living. The area's average individual income in 2006 – $29,929 – was 25 per cent lower than the average for Toronto census districts: $40,074. Hulchanski classifies areas 20 per cent or more below the city-wide average as low-income; according to him, this area has been low-income since at least 2000. Yet ask long-time white residents to classify their neighbourhood and they will inevitably call it middle-class. Ask them to describe recent demographic changes and they will think for a moment, then point down the street to a house an Indian family bought from a British couple, or around the corner to another now owned by Sri Lankans. "When we moved in almost 30 years ago – we moved in '79 – there were more Anglo-Saxon people," said Filomena Polidoro, 53. "Now there are more ethnic people. It's more mixed. And it's nice, still nice. We like it." The old-timers' shrugs about its low-income status reflect a key caveat to the discussion of the disappearance of the city's middle-class census tracts: to fall from "middle-income" to "low-income," in relative terms, a neighbourhood need not get significantly poorer. Since the city's high-income neighbourhoods are getting richer, a middle-class neighbourhood that maintains its income level will be relatively poorer. The influx of South Asians has not made this one destitute; it remains largely populated, said Polidoro, by people who work as teachers, nurses, and factory and construction workers, among other unpretentious jobs. But the new arrivals contributed to a decline of about $1,000 in the neighbourhood's inflation-adjusted average individual income between 2000 and 2005. Two local real estate agents said about 70 per cent of people now inquiring about houses in the neighbourhood are South Asian. Many recent buyers, said Coldwell Banker agent Raffi Boghossian, are large extended families who have pooled limited incomes, sometimes "not much more than minimum wage," to acquire property. Local businesses have adjusted accordingly. At Reliable Parts, an appliance parts shop beside Primo Pizza, employee Warren Lastewka has a polite "the price is the price" speech he delivers when cash-strapped customers reared in haggling-friendly countries ask for unadvertised discounts. The Paperback Exchange, a bookstore in the plaza since the 1970s, now stocks elementary educational books with titles like Basic Learning Skills and Parts of Speech near its sci-fi novels. "I'll get a family of Pakistanis in when the teacher says to them, `Your kid's not going to make it if they can't read English.' From now through to June, that's when they usually get the notice," said Joy Ritchie, 64, the mother of owner Troy Ritchie. "I keep those books on the wall there. And I do very good business on that from now to June." Low-income areas sometimes lack proximity to social services and other essential conveniences. This one is served by Scarborough General Hospital, a Royal Bank, a Shoppers Drug Mart, a library and a Price Chopper. "Everything is convenient for us in this area," said Kaushik Maisuria, 28, an India-born auto garage employee who lives with his two uncles and two young cousins. "We can get whatever we want." Including, increasingly, products and services targeted to them, like Malik's halal pizza or the plaza's JD's Market and Halal Meat, where large bags of basmati rice line the aisles and a butcher works out back. Once a Becker's Milk, the location was a standard convenience store until October, when Jaffer Derwish's Afghanistan-born family converted it into a small grocery. In a tough economy, business is slow, said Derwish, 23. So is demand for local real estate. "The market is sort of dead in the area," Boghossian said. Many prospective buyers, he said, "are people with income that is not certain." "Typical Scarborough," said Royal LePage Signature realtor Joan Manuel. "You're not getting multiple offers. And if you do, you're not getting them over (the listed price)." Those people still making offers, however, are drawn to the neighbourhood's increasing ability to meet distinct South Asian needs. About 800 metres from Brimley Rd. is the large new Jame Abu Bakr Siddique mosque, a gleaming white facility whose minarets loom over another halal pizzeria. Prospective buyers have cited the mosque as a key lure to the area, said Manuel. And other attractions abound. Down the street is the bustling Bombay Bazaar grocery store in a Lawrence Ave. plaza so busy people park their cars in the middle of the parking lot, preventing those lucky enough to find spots from backing out. Nearby are a Hindi video rental store-slash-hair salon and a fish market. It is, for some, a sight to behold. "Where there used to be an old mom-and-pop operation," said Joy Ritchie, a touch of wonderment in her voice, "now they're selling saris." http://www.thestar.com/News/GTA/article/584203 Poor neighbourhoods growing across Toronto RENÉ JOHNSTON/TORONTO STAR Newspapers in South Asian languages serve the city's many new immigrants. Toronto's middle class is disappearing. Since 2001, 15 of the city's middle-income neighbourhoods have vanished, according to a yet-to-be released University of Toronto report. The majority became low-income areas, where individual earnings are 20 to 40 per cent below the city average. Hardest hit are the suburbs. Declines in Scarborough and north Etobicoke have continued. Falling income is also affecting parts of Brampton, Mississauga and Durham. In 1970, 86 per cent of 905 neighbourhoods were middle class. In 2005, that number had tumbled to 61 per cent. From 2000 to 2005, the number of city neighbourhoods with very low earnings – more than 40 per cent below the Toronto-area average – grew by almost 50 per cent. Residents in these neighbourhoods live on welfare-level earnings, says U of T researcher David Hulchanski. The report, due out this year, is an update of the groundbreaking 2007 The Three Cities within Toronto report by Hulchanski and a team of university researchers. It analyzed and mapped Statistics Canada census data from 1971 to 2001, finding that not only were middle-class neighbourhoods disappearing, but Toronto was divided into three distinct geographic areas: City 1, which consistently gained income; City 2, which maintained its income but shrunk in size; and City 3, whose residents saw their earnings fall over the 30-year period. Hulchanski says municipal governments are not to blame. "The people of Toronto did not do this to themselves. This is a national trend. What we're showing on these maps is the way federal and provincial policies, as well as the economy, have played out in Toronto's neighbourhoods." He says policies such as universal health care and social assistance helped build the middle class. Cutbacks, including downloading of social services from the province to cities and a lack of affordable housing and job protection, are leading to its destruction. "You didn't talk about McJobs in the 1970s, or even part-time jobs without benefits. Whoever heard of a job that wasn't full-time without benefits?" he asks. "That would be shocking 25 years ago. Now it's normal." Hulchanski's updated study, with another five years of data from the 2006 census, confirms the decline of the middle class and the continued polarization of rich and poor neighbourhoods. From 2001 to 2006, individual incomes in wealthy areas grew 14 per cent, while residents of low-income neighbourhoods made only modest gains. During the 1970s, Toronto was a predominantly middle-class city, with 341 of its 520 census tracts – neighbourhood areas determined by Statistics Canada so that they have roughly 4,000 residents each – in the middle-income category. Poverty was contained in the city's urban core. Thirty years later, it's a city divided. Richer residents live along the Yonge St. corridor, close to services and transit. Individual incomes average almost $90,000 a year. The proliferating poorer communities are located in Toronto's pre-amalgamation suburbs, the middle-class bastion of the 1950s. In 2006 that area included 40 per cent of the city's census tracts. Sixty-one per cent are immigrants. There is little rapid transit and an average income of $26,900. Sandwiched between the two areas is a shrinking City 2, neighbourhoods with static income where the average income is about $35,700. Hulchanski began his research in 2005 with a $1 million grant (spread over five years) from the Social Science Humanities Research Council of Canada. He teamed with St. Christopher House, an omnibus social service agency in the city's west end, to examine how gentrification was changing the neighbourhood. The data was difficult to analyze. Within the 30-year period, census boundaries had changed and some of the information wasn't available electronically. A U of T data analyst took more than a year to get it into shape. By the time Hulchanski began his work, Toronto and the United Way had completed research showing the city's poverty was highest in 13 priority neighbourhoods. "The trend line was clearly there. Researchers saw it and the city's work with the United Way was going on," says Fiona Chapman, manager of social research and analysis for Toronto. "What David's work has done is absolutely confirmed the concerns. And I think why everybody doffs their cap to David is (that) he's been very good at helping the public understand these concerns." BY THE NUMBERS How the income decline affects the outer suburbs $40,074 Average 2005 individual income, all Toronto census districts 61 Percentage of population comprising immigrants in districts where incomes have declined more than 20 per cent since 1970 34 Percentage of population comprising whites in such districts 19 Number of subway stations within 300 metres of such districts, versus 40 for biggest-gaining districts 54 Percentage of 2005-07 homicides in such districts, versus 12 per cent for biggest-gaining districts Source: University of Toronto Cities Centre U of T analysis of census data shows middle class shrinking, especially in Scarborough, Etobicoke February 08, 2009 Patty Winsa STAFF REPORTER http://www.thestar.com/Article/584204 interactive map: http://www3.thestar.com/static/Flash/map_middleclass.html PDF:http://multimedia.thestar.com/acrobat/51/c7/2cc835a5403d8d76478fae97bba0.pdf
  11. New York City fears return to 1970s Tue Jan 27, 2009 By Joan Gralla http://www.reuters.com/article/newsO...50Q6IH20090127
  12. 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
  13. Immigrants to Quebec find job search hard Last Updated: Friday, September 4, 2009 | 4:16 PM ET CBC News Recent immigrants to Quebec have a harder time finding work than the average person, according to a CBC report. Aurelie Tseng has been looking for a job in Montreal for two years.Aurelie Tseng has been looking for a job in Montreal for two years. (CBC)The unemployment rate for new immigrants living in the province is nearly double the national joblessness average of eight per cent. Language barriers are a major obstacle for many people looking for work, especially in Quebec, where the dominant language is French. But even for French-speaking immigrants, searching for employment can be frustrating. Aurelie Tseng is a Taiwanese immigrant who moved to Quebec two years ago to be with her husband. Tseng has a business degree, speaks French, and is looking for work in her field. But after two years of looking for a job, she remains unemployed, and her discouragement grows. "I have no clue how to do it," Tseng told CBC News. "It takes more courage [now] because I have been depressed for a long time." Tseng has sought advice from YES Montreal, a non-profit organization that offers job-search services. They told her networking is key to finding any job. But networking in a new country is daunting, Tseng said. "In my country nobody does that, nobody would tell you to do that," she admitted. Tseng believes her Taiwanese background has made her job search tougher. "We are more, you know, moderate and modest. You just want to say 'OK, yes, I probably can do this,' but for example people here, they don't like to hear that, they want you to say it out loud: 'Yes I can do it' not just, 'Oh yes I think I can do it,' for example." Tseng said she's hoping to eventually get a break at a bank in Montreal's Chinatown.
  14. Trouble on The Main The former home of American Apparel on St. Laurent Blvd. now carries a For Rent sign. “I won’t deny that the construction on the street did affect traffic,” says Dan Abenhaim, the chain’s Canadian regional director. Other shop owners say the recession and high rents have hurt business on along the strip. Photograph by: John Mahoney, The Gazette By Irwin Block, The GazetteApril 24, 2009 The former home of American Apparel on St. Laurent Blvd. now carries a For Rent sign. “I won’t deny that the construction on the street did affect traffic,” says Dan Abenhaim, the chain’s Canadian regional director. Other shop owners say the recession and high rents have hurt business on along the strip. It’s known to generations as The Main and it’s as Montreal as smoked meat and the Habs. St. Laurent Blvd. is us, and in tribute to its Portuguese component, city officials on Friday inaugurated a dozen marble-topped benches between Bagg and Marie Anne Sts. But things are not going that well for some merchants, especially on the trendiest part of the street between Sherbrooke St. and Pine Ave. It’s still home to such fancy eateries as Buona Notte and Primadonna, but in the past months several major tenants have closed. They include an American Apparel store and a Mac Cosmetics outlet; the space formerly occupied by Sofia Grill at the northwest corner of Prince Arthur St. and St. Laurent is for rent, as are several other shops farther north. Dan Abenhaim, American Apparel’s Canadian regional director, said that after five years the firm decided not to renew the lease. “I won’t deny that the construction on the street did affect traffic and we decided we want to open in another location.” He also said that over five years “the street has changed and the traffic is more north of Pine Ave.” However, clothing shops are also hurting north of Pine, where Adam & Lilith has closed one of two adjoining shops on St. Laurent. According to assistant manager Carmel Pacaud, people are still attracted to the street but they are not buying as they used to. Other shop owners blame almost two years of disruptive road repairs that ended last year, as well as the recession and high rents. “The city has murdered the street,” said one real estate agent, who spoke on the condition his name not be used. People who were put off by the construction are not coming back and there is a moratorium on new restaurants and bars between Sherbrooke and Mount Royal Ave., he added. Rent at the former Mac Cosmetics store is about $7,500 a month for 1,600 square feet. Rents tend to decrease north of Pine. “It’s a little distressing, slower than usual” remarked Marnie Blanshay, who owns Lola & Emily ladies wear just south of the abandoned American Apparel. Many who were discouraged from shopping there by the ripping up and repaving of the strip have not returned, she observed. And because few retail clothing shops remain, hers is more of a “destination store” with fewer shoppers coming by to go from store to store checking out and comparing. “It reminds me of Crescent St. in the 1990s,” she said, adding that “the landlords believe it’s better than it is and need to reduce rents.” When rents go down, the creative people will return to reinject the street’s normal vitality, she said. “St. Laurent Blvd. is not a street where chains succeed.” Apart from Jean Coutu and Pharmaprix, American Apparel was the only chain outlet on the street, noted André Beauséjour, executive director of the Société de développment du Boulevard St. Laurent. He said the vacancy rate between Sherbrooke and Mount Royal is a “normal” two per cent. A stroll up the boulevard yesterday indicated that many stores that have become institutions – Bar Bifteck, Salaison Slovenia, Schreter’s, Coco Rico, Moishe’s, Segal’s grocery, Berson Monuments – are still going concerns. And there was the proverbial lunchtime lineup inside Schwartz’s. But if you have a concept, there is lots of space for rent, including the former Laurentian Bank at St. Laurent and Pine. – all 5,400 square feet. [email protected] © Copyright © The Montreal Gazette
  15. 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
  16. I do research at the UQAM science campus and sometimes I see candy wrappers, party-invitation fliers, or pieces of paper on the floor in the halls inside the buildings. This is explained by the large amount of students walking those halls every day, and by the presence of vending machines. This doesn't bother me a lot and I normally just pick them up and put them in the garbage. As you probably know, however, they are extremely dangerous, and the probability of someone slipping is much higher than you would imagine (the chance of someone actually falling is probably not very high but that's another subject, since it has already became a safety issue). A few days ago I saw a sign by the door of an office that read "SAFETY FIRST: NO LITTERING IN THIS AREA." The sign is still there. I found it interesting for various reasons: 1) It was in English (besides the occasional ironic science-related comic strip on the wall by the doors of some professors, I never see anything in English at UQAM). 2) It tackled littering in a complete different manner than the usual "it looks bad." 3) It is the first time I see a sign tackling littering in Montreal, and I think Quebec in general, and it was not official in any way! It was not even in French! (wait, now that I remember there are some signs that look like they haven't been changed since the 60s behind some alleys, and there is those posters that didn't seem to have worked). 4) This sign seemed to have worked. Now I don't know about (4) because it might be that the person who put up the sign had been picking up candy wrappers out of safety concern. But it would have definitely worked for me (if I were among the ones who litter), since the consequence on my actions suddenly goes from annoying some people to possibly killing a person. Anyway I just realized I don't really have a conclusion for this post so I'm gonna try to wrap it up... A while ago I saw a TED lecture by an advertising man on changing the approach to give new value to existing products. I wonder if something similar could be done regarding littering. Would there be less littering if people saw it by default as a safety issue? It seems to me like changing the approach would work. Well I don't think there is any approach here anyway. Most people in Montreal would see me as a redneck for even worrying about littering.
  17. Dieppe (Moncton,NB) pushes French, bilingual sign bylaw Proposed sign law open for discussion in January Tuesday, November 10, 2009 | 6:13 AM AT CBC News Dieppe is proposing a bylaw that will require all future commercial signs on the exterior of buildings in the southeastern New Brunswick city to be either in French or bilingual. Dieppe city councillors brought forward the sign bylaw on Monday night in an attempt to quell a long-simmering debate in the francophone city over the number of English-only signs. The proposed bylaw is not in force yet and the city will give people opposed to the idea a chance to speak at a public meeting in January. The move was greeted with applause by people in the audience at Monday night's meeting, including Martin Rioux-LeBlanc, who ignited the debate after gathering 4,000 names on a petition in January in an attempt to get bilingual signs in the city. "It's a big step for New Brunswickers, it's a big step for Dieppe and we can be proud of that," Rioux-LeBlanc said. The bylaw states that any new signs that go up in Dieppe will have to be either in French or bilingual, but existing signs would not be affected. Dieppe, a city of roughly 18,000 people, is the province's only francophone city that offers municipal services in both official languages. Natural progression Dieppe Mayor Jean LeBlanc said the proposal is a natural progression from years of trying to convince businesses through education to switch from English-only signs. "Dieppe has been promoting French and promoting French culture — the linguistic landscape of our city — for a long time. This is just a continued progression towards making sure our community is well reflected," the mayor said. Dieppe, along with its neighbouring Moncton, are popular shopping destinations for people in the Maritimes and have attracted a large number of businesses in recent years. However, most business signs are still in English only, which is what instigated the petition to adopt a new sign bylaw. Although New Brunswick is officially bilingual, the province's language law does not cover the private sector. So any regulation over the language on signs in municipalities must come from the local government. Municipalities are covered under the Official Languages Act, if they are designated as a city or have an official language minority that forms 20 per cent of the population. That would require, for instance, local bylaws to be published in both official languages, but it would not extend to commercial signs. Positive regulation Michel Doucet, a prominent constitutional lawyer who specializes in language law at the University of Moncton, has been pushing the city to pass such a bylaw. Doucet said this is a step forward for bilingualism. "It's something that will be very difficult for somebody, who is in good faith, to oppose this," Doucet said. "What the municipality has done is ensure that the linguistic image for this municipality transpires through its sign law. And I believe that the council now needs the support of the people of Dieppe to come forward and to congratulate what the council has done." Along with the public meeting on the bylaw that is planned for January, Dieppe city council is also seeking an opinion from the Greater Moncton Planning Commission on the bylaw.
  18. http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/1063092--montreal-man-walks-around-the-world?bn=1
  19. I have wondered about this for quite sometime. A recent trip to europe only made me more aware of it. Why do we, in Montreal, have such large suburban trains? This in comparison to paris for example. here the new bimodal locomotives for the AMT as oposed to this: Pictured above is a Parisian RER train. They run on their own tracks as well as SNCF tracks. They appear to be between a conventional metro and a regular train in size. Meanwhile our AMT trains seem to be regional trains. I wondered why are OUR suburban trains so large and cumbersome, requiring locomotives and what not, while elsewhere they are light and quick. It certainly is not a distance issue, as the parisian RERs run MUCH farther distances than our AMT trains. It does not seem to be a cost issue either. And while i am aware that not all AMT lines are electrified, they very well should be. the whole point of public transport (as i see it) is to move people in a way that reduces congestion and pollution. I use the paris example, but other cities as copenhaggen or london have similar suburban trains to those in paris.
  20. Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/entertainment/Lambert+shouts+enough/3317503/story.html#ixzz0uhaLT8LV
  21. Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/CSIS+boss+cites+worrisome+terrorist+trend/3015056/story.html#ixzz0ngxLANsG Quite alarming news. All I can say is that their (and their family's) citizenship should be withdrawn immediately, and they should be given trials as soon as possible. If they are deemed to be a threat to society, then we send 'em to Gitmo. If they are just radical Muslims (but non-violent), deport them back to wherever it is they came from.
  22. http://www.thestar.com/travel/northamerica/article/805447--echoes-of-montreal-in-louisville
  23. Here are some photos I took in and around Caracas yesterday (I will post more later). I have always wondered what non-Venezuelan people think about Venezuelan cities. Here are my views: Venezuelan metro systems are much cleaner, modern and quieter (the trains, not the people) than the older North American and European subways. The streets outside are much dirtier though. These are photos of a metro station near my house: This is the skyline of a small section of the eastern (wealthier) part of Caracas: These are some photos of the area around Altamira, one of the most important business and residential districts of the city: These ones are from the area around the Bellas Artes metro station. Bellas Artes is the bohemian district of Caracas: