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  1. https://austinonyourfeet.wordpress.com/2015/11/23/9-things-people-always-say-at-zoning-hearings-illustrated-by-cats/?utm_content=bufferc065f&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer AUSTIN ON YOUR FEET 9 THINGS PEOPLE ALWAYS SAY AT ZONING HEARINGS, ILLUSTRATED BY CATS November 23, 2015Dan Keshet If you watch enough zoning hearings, the testimony begins to sound pretty repetitive. That novel argument you’re making? The Council members have heard it a million times before. Here are 9 of the things we hear most often at zoning hearings, illustrated by cats. 1. I’M NOT OPPOSED TO ALL DEVELOPMENT. JUST THIS DEVELOPMENT. Those 1,000 times you sat on your couch to support developments far away from you surely counterbalance that one time you came out to oppose your neighbor’s development. If you’re opposed, just tell us why; don’t go on about how you’re not a person that opposes things. 2. NOBODY TALKED TO ME! The city notifies neighbors and registered civic organizations about upcoming permits. Developers seek out people they think might be affected. But it’s hard to know who is going to care and notifications are often thrown out. Don’t feel left out! If you’re at the hearing, you’re being heard. Just say what’s on your mind. 3. REALITY IS, EVERYBODY DRIVES A CAR. Usually said while proposing somebody build more parking. If you want that reality to ever change, you have to accept building less car infrastructure. 4. THESE GREEDY DEVELOPERS ONLY THINK ABOUT PROFITS Land development is a business. Like all businesses, sometimes you make money and sometimes you lose money. You just try to make sure that you make enough money on the winners to cancel out the losers. Focusing in on the fact that the developer is hoping to make money makes your testimony sound more like you oppose out of spite than a particular reason. 5. LET ME TELL YOU MY THEORY OF ECONOMICS If council members haven’t learned economics by now, they’re not going to learn it from your three minute testimony. 6.WHAT THIS NEIGHBORHOOD REALLY NEEDS IS A COFFEE SHOP, NOT MORE APARTMENTS For all the mean things people sometimes say about developers, a lot of folks seem to fashion themselves amateur land developers, with a keen eye on exactly what types of businesses will succeed or fail. As it turns out, those things coincide perfectly with the things they personally enjoy. 7. I’M 5TH GENERATION! MY GREAT GREAT GRANDFATHER MOVED HERE BEFORE THIS WAS EVEN ON THE MAP! That entitles you to one vote, just like everybody else. Now tell us what you came up here to say. 8. WE NEED TO RESPECT THE HUNDREDS OF HOURS SPENT CRAFTING THIS NEIGHBORHOOD PLAN Respecting people for volunteering time making plans doesn’t mean those plans should never change. Now tell us your reasons for or against this particular change. 9. THIS HOUSING IS TOO SMALL FOR ME! Different people have different needs and desires! Just because you don’t like a particular thing doesn’t mean nobody would like it. sent via Tapatalk
  2. Read more: http://sports.nationalpost.com/2010/09/10/with-leafs-its-never-too-early-to-brainwash/#ixzz0zBLVTio4
  3. Works at le Bremner http://cultmontreal.com/2013/05/top-chef-canada-danny-smiles-le-bremner-montreal-chefs-canadian-cuisine/ Danny Smiles in the Le Bremner kitchen. Photo by Dominique Lafond. Danny Smiles is repping Montreal cuisine in this cycle of Top Chef Canada, and as the show hits mid-season, the le Bremner chef is well positioned to take the title, especially after winning last week’s elimination challenge. The challenge was to create Canada’s Next National Dish, with the carrot of a 10 G cash prize for the winner and the stick of two chefs’ elimination from the show. Smiles won the contest with his creation, which he calls the “Coast-to-Coast” roll — a shrimp and crab roll, served in pretzel hot dog bun with maple bacon and a side of house-smoked BBQ chips. The Coast-to-Coast roll. “It was a weird choice that I made, to do seafood. It was 40-something out, and we knew it was going to be hot. We knew it was going to be an outdoor event, and I was just like, I’m ready for the challenge. I wanted to go big or go home,” says Smiles, meaning it literally. “Those are the only options.” Smiles wanted to move beyond the usual signifiers of Canadian-ness — maple, pork and poutine. “That was the whole focus, a new national dish. I wanted to showcase fish. I’m a very fish-oriented chef,” he says, his point proven by the shrimp and albacore tattooed prominently onto one forearm. “There’s not a lot of countries that border two of the biggest oceans in the world, too, so that’s really cool,” he continues. “I used B.C. Dungeness crabs and Nordic shrimp from Quebec,” while the overall concept references an East Coast foodie fad du jour, the lobster roll. Smiles explains that he wanted to create a dish that draws not only on Canada’s geography, but its history as well. “Smoking fish and preserving goes back to First Nations; it’s a huge part of Canadian history,” he says. “I was trying to also come up with a story, something that realistically made sense with the history of our country. I’m a huge history buff, so I decided to go back a bit and readapt that into what I thought would be the new national dish.” Smiles may be following in the footsteps of mentor (and le Bremner’s executive chef) Chuck Hughes, who rose to celebrity chef status after becoming the first Canadian to win the US Top Chef — an increasingly necessary career move for chefs as they emerge from the obscurity of the kitchen and into the limelight of cooking shows, contests and book tours in order to establish themselves. Top Chef Canada made sense to him as a next move, he explains. “I liked the show, and also just wanted to see where I match up to the rest of Canada, almost like a personal challenge.” The best part of doing Top Chef Canada, he admits, is that it actually gives him room for his first love, cooking. “Unfortunately, being a chef, you’re not always focusing on cooking,” he says. “You’re lucky when you get into the kitchen and start cooking. That’s like a bonus, because there’s food costing, there’s menu planning; you’re plumbing, gardening. Those are all fun things that I love about my job, but in a small restaurant, you kind of do everything. And now, for six weeks, your main focus — you’re not contacting anyone, you’re not phoning suppliers; that’s all supplied for you, and you’ve just got to focus on cooking. So it’s like it brought me back to when I first started on the line.” ■ Top Chef Canada airs Monday nights at 9 p.m. ET on Food Network Canada.
  4. 36 Hours in Montreal MAKE no mistake: visiting Montreal is not like going to Paris. True, the brooding facades and crooked streets of Old Montreal feel distinctly European, and yes, the locals take their French seriously. But don’t confuse this cosmopolitan Canadian port city for a fusty, Old World wannabe. Freshened up by a wave of trendy new hotels, shops and restaurants, Montreal sings its own tune — and it sounds more like Arcade Fire, the homegrown indie band, than La Marseillaise. With the city’s debilitating 1990’s recession behind it—and the specter of Québécois secession all but forgotten — a lively patchwork of gleaming skyscrapers, bohemian enclaves and high-gloss hideaways now outshines the city’s gritty industrial past. Given the weak American dollar (off about 9 percent against the Canadian dollar over the last two years), Montreal is not the bargain it used to be. But it’s still cheaper than Paris. And a lot closer. Friday 4 p.m. 1) DODGING MIMES Start in Old Montreal, and ignore the Wish-You-Were-Here postcards, skyline refrigerator magnets and street performers that clog the eastern end of Rue Saint-Paul, the area’s main drag. Instead, focus on the gas-lamped streets lined with rustic limestone buildings: this is the Montreal of romance. While you’re exploring, do a little shopping at Appartement 51 (51, rue Saint-Paul Ouest, 514-223-7648; http://www.apt51.com), a boudoirlike boutique filled with jewelry, stylish parlor furniture and crocodile bags, and Reborn (231, rue Saint-Paul Ouest, 514-499-8549; http://www.reborn.ws), another new shop that sells très chic labels like Bless, Preen and Alexandre Herchcovitch. 8 p.m. 2) FIELD AND STREAM The food is just one excuse to find out why everyone is talking about Le Club Chasse et Pêche (423, rue Saint-Claude; 514-861-1112; http://www.leclubchasseetpeche.com). Behind this young boîte’s unmarked door — save for an enigmatic coat of arms — the fashion flock joins forces with local tycoons and ladies in pearl necklaces in a cavernous interior that might be described as a Gothic-minimalist hunting lodge. Just as tantalizing are the Kurobata risotto appetizer (15 Canadian, or about $13 with $1 equaling 1.16 Canadian dollars) and lobster tail with sweetbreads (30 Canadian dollars). Saturday 9 a.m. 3) ARCHITECTURE ON WHEELS Time to work off last night’s dinner. Head to the Old Port and rent a bicycle at Montreal on Wheels (27, rue de la Commune Est, 877-866-0633; http://www.caroulemontreal.com; 7.50 Canadian dollars an hour). Follow the waterfront to the Lachine Canal, a former industrial corridor transformed into a well-manicured park. One of the last great world’s fairs was Montreal’s Expo 67. Hold onto your handlebars because you’re about to whiz past its most spectacular icons: Habitat 67 (2600, avenue Pierre-Dupuy; 514-866-5971; http://www.habitat67.com) and the Biosphère (160, chemin Tour-de-l’Isle, Île Sainte-Hélène; 514-283-5000; http://www.biosphere.ec.gc.ca). Habitat, designed by the architect Moshe Safdie, was an exhilarating experiment in modular housing: it looks like an enormous pile of building blocks. Across the Concorde Bridge, on the Île Sainte-Hélène, is the equally sensational Biosphere. Built as the American Pavilion for Expo 67, it houses a museum of hydrology, though the star attraction is the geodesic dome. Allow two to three hours for the entire excursion. 1 p.m. 4) A MILE OF HIPSTERS Follow the hipsters to the Mile-End neighborhood, and bite into a Montreal bagel — it’s a less doughy, but equally delicious, cousin to its New York counterpart. One of the best, with lox and cream cheese (4.79 Canadian dollars), can be found at Fairmount Bagel (74, rue Fairmount Ouest; 514-272-0667; http://www.fairmountbagel.com). This hole-in-the-wall has been churning them out from its wood-burning oven since 1919, an act of baking that becomes almost performance art when practiced by the quick-wristed chefs. Nearby, discover the well-heeled boutiques and restaurants of the Avenue Laurier, and then turn north onto the Boulevard Saint-Laurent, where the vibe becomes a bit more on the edge. In recent years, Mile-End has become a hotbed for Montreal’s young creative types, and the vanguard shops have followed. Make sure to visit Commissaires (5226, boulevard Saint-Laurent; 514-274-4888), a gallery of experimental furniture and design, and browse the deconstructed frocks of the local it-boy Denis Gagnon (5392A, boulevard Saint-Laurent; 514-272-1719; http://www.denisgagnon.ca). Most stores close at 5 p.m. on Saturdays. 7:30 p.m. 5) FORGET PARIS Who needs the Left Bank when you can have L’Express (3927, rue Saint-Denis; 514-845-5333). With crimson walls and checkerboard floors, this bistro-style institution in the fashionable Plateau neighborhood is a longstanding favorite among, well, pretty much everyone. One bite of the steak frites (20.75 Canadian dollars) or croque monsieur (9.10 Canadian dollars), and you’ll be a convert. 9:30 p.m. 6) POPCORN AND HEGEL Hollywood loves to film in Montreal, but you won’t find any Tinseltown blockbusters at the Ex-Centris theater (3536, boulevard Saint-Laurent; 514-847-2206; http://www.ex-centris.com; admission is 10 Canadian dollars), a futuristic temple to independent film where the ticket agents appear on video screens as disembodied heads (think Max Headroom). If you feel like talking Hegel, join the bespectacled cineastes who pontificate in the dimly lighted cafe. 11:30 p.m. 7) IS THAT CELINE DION? Ready to rock out? Continue north to Casa del Popolo (4873, boulevard Saint-Laurent; 514-284-0122; http://www.casadelpopolo.com), a vegetarian cafe that moonlights as an epicenter of Montreal’s thriving indie music scene. (Come earlier to hear the bands play, or just hang out afterwards at the bar.) Or, if you’re feeling lazy, Ex-Centris shares the block with several stomping grounds for the designer-label crowd. Start out at Globe (3455, boulevard Saint-Laurent; 514-284-3823; http://www.restaurantglobe.com) or Buonanotte (3518, boulevard Saint-Laurent; 514-848-0644; http://www.buonanotte.com), where scantily clad waitresses squeeze past dinner plates autographed by George Clooney, Leonardo DiCaprio and other celebrity patrons. Many Montrealers dismiss these venues as overheated feeding grounds for fashion victims and their star-gawking friends. But, heck, you’re on vacation. Sunday 11 a.m. 8) PAIN COUTURE Nurse your hangover at Café Holt (1300, rue Sherbrooke Ouest; 514-282-3750), but don’t forget your sunglasses. Set within the venerable Holt Renfrew department store, its interior is bright and airy with glass walls. Order the bread pudding served warm with peaches and chocolate (8 Canadian dollars), or the poached eggs and smoked salmon (16 Canadian dollars) — both using bread flown in from the Poilâne bakery of Paris. 12 p.m. 9) MUSéE OR MUSEUM? Ah yes, culture. A block from Café Holt, the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montreal (1379-80, rue Sherbrooke Ouest; 514-285-2000; http://www.mmfa.qc.ca; admission is free for the permanent collection, 15 Canadian dollars for special exhibitions) has a strong collection of modern design, Old Masters and contemporary Canadian artists, including Jeff Wall and Ken Lum. A 10-minute walk away is the Canadian Centre for Architecture (1920, rue Baile; 514-939-7026; http://www.cca.qc.ca; admission is 10 Canadian dollars). This pre-eminent institution, which holds regular exhibitions on architecture and urbanism, was founded by Phyllis Lambert, the Seagram heiress best known for landing Ludwig Mies van der Rohe the commission to design the Seagram Building in New York City. Housed in a 19th-century mansion with a modern stone addition, it’s a striking contrast of old and new—much like Montreal itself. The Basics From New York, travel time to Montreal is about one hour by air, seven hours by car. Round-trip fares from LaGuardia Airport this month start at about $153 on United. The Montreal-Trudeau International Airport is just a 20 minute cab ride from downtown. Taxis within the city center generally run from 7 Canadian dollars (about $6 at with $1 equaling 1.16 Canadian dollars) to 15 Canadian dollars, but the subway is also excellent. Stay in grand style at the 61-room Hôtel Le Saint-James (355, rue Saint-Jacques; 514-841-3111; http://www.hotellestjames.com) in Old Montreal. It’s only four years old, but you wouldn’t know it. Occupying a former bank building from 1870, it’s dripping in heavy curtains, dark-paneled walls and gilt chandeliers. Enjoy afternoon tea or predinner cocktails in the elegant atrium. Rooms start at 400 Canadian dollars. It’s not the city’s newest boutique property, but the Hôtel Gault in Old Montreal (449, rue Sainte-Hélène; 866-904-1616; http://www.hotelgault.com) is arguably the most sophisticated, with hushed concrete walls and off-white floors, lightly dusted with mid-20th-century furniture. The 30 rooms are similarly spartan and spacious. Rates start at 199 Canadian dollars; 235 Canadian dollars in summer. Le Petit Prince in downtown Montreal (1384, avenue Overdale; 877-938-9750; http://www.montrealbandb.com) is a bed-and-breakfast that excels on both counts. Its six color-themed rooms are souped-up with Wi-Fi, flatscreen televisions, boat-size whirlpool tubs and, in some cases, a terrace. The young staff is attentive and makes a mean breakfast. Rates start at 150 to 250 Canadian dollars. http://travel.nytimes.com/2006/10/22/travel/22hours.html
  5. For the best food, festivals and fun, head to Montreal, Canada Just like the United States postal service’s motto, “Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor hail” shall prevent Montrealers from throwing a fabulous festival. Be it musical, comedy, fashion, dance, circus, film or food & wine based, they’ve got it covered, and leave it to those crazy/generous Canadians to throw many a bash for free-particularly in the summer when you can virtually channel surf for festivals. when I was there a few weeks ago, there was almost an embarrassment of riches to choose from including the 35th annual Festival International de Jazz de Montreal, the 30th L’International des Feux Loto-Quebec and the Montreal Cirque Festival. If you’re planning a visit this year here are some upcoming festivals for you check out: 1. Festival Mode & Design Festival-allows you to get an inside look at the world of fashion. Choose from over 50 fashion shows (some of the finest Canadian designers will be represented) live creative sessions, designer showcases and musical performances. A MUST for the fashionista! 2. Montreal World Film Festival-is the only competitive Film Festival in North America recognized by the FIAPF (International Federation of Film Producers Associations) which is a pretty big deal. Now in its 38th year, you can view films from over 70 countries, as well as hear from some well-known filmmakers. 3. Pop Montreal- features Francophone, Canadian, and international pop musicians. , This dynamic five-day festival in September will present more than 600 artists to audiences of over 50 000. 4. La Biennale de Montreal- is a slightly more highbrow international event focusing on film, sculpture, photography, painting and installation art that respond to current conditions by considering “what is to come”. 5. Taste MTL- pack your stretchiest pants if you’re coming to this 10-day fall event with more than 100 restaurants participating. It’s sure to be a winner since Montreal often claims it has more restaurants per capita than any other metropolitan area in North America. To see a year’s worth of events check out Go Montreal Living Festivals and Events link. Where to feast between festivals For a respite from all the noise and commotion try Maison Boulud, one of the newest restaurants from acclaimed chef, Daniel Boulud, in the newly refurbished Ritz-Carlton Montreal, provides an elegant, yet non-stuffy option (including al fresco tables overlooking their peaceful pocket-park). Boulud’s magic touch combined with ingredients sourced from the finest local purveyors ensures a gastronomic dining experience, whether you stopping in for brunch, lunch or dinner. The sparkling arugula, cherry and Parmesan salad was the perfect opener to a succulent, Moroccan spiced chicken dish. Double down by dining at both of Chef Normand Laprise’s restaurants for guaranteed culinary winnings. The cheeky, casual, and much more affordable, Brasserie T , is located right in the heart of all the excitement at Place-des-Arts, Montreal’s cultural hub. If you reserve a seat on the bustling outdoor terrace, you can enjoy the jazz concert while nibbling on luscious little temptations such as pan seared fois gras, glistening salmon or beef tartar, betcha-can’t-eat-just-one farm-fresh deviled eggs or just an absolutely perfect cheeseburger and fries. Don’t forget to make reservations well in advance for a dinner at Laprise’s celebrated restaurant Toqué!, a landmark in Quebec’s gastronomical scene offering haute cuisine without the ‘tude. Toqué! has won more kudos and awards than Meryl Streep, including Relais & Châteaux, AA/AAA Five Diamond, James Beard Foundation, and the Gourmand World Cookbook Award for 2014 cookbook of the year. He was even appointed Knight in 2009 yet you’ll never meet a more down-to earth chef, who is passionate about showing respect for the multitude of cooks, farmers, foragers and fishermen responsible for bringing him the finest seasonal bounty– right down to the humblest root vegetable. This is one night that I recommend you skip all the festival offerings and instead indulge your senses in their unforgettable 7-course dinner with optional wine pairing, although the sommelier’s pairings were so innovative it should be mandatory. Where to stay Le St-Martin Hotel Particulier Montreal, a 17-floor boutique property, is a pleasing blend of luxury, warmth and contemporary styling (think faux-leopard blankets and colorful throw pillows, homey fireplaces, peek-a-boo glass showers offer views all the way through the big bay windows) also offers the perfect festival location: close enough to walk to most of the festivities, yet far enough away to enjoy a peaceful night’s sleep. After navigating the mini-jungle entrance, where the helpful doormen are wearing safari outfits (don’t ask me why) you check in with the unbelievably friendly staff at the front desk. I spent a full hour the next morning with Virginia, who answered dozens of my itievenerary questions and then marked each of my stops on the map in a different color. When she saw that I still looked a little lost, she went to the computer and printed out metro directions for each stop and never stopped smiling the whole time. The hotel recently won a Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor which I’m sure is partly based on their exemplary service as well as the fact that their signature Bistro L’Aromate serves an utterly fabulous breakfast, that could easily power you through the whole day. For a quick relaxation break simply step outside to their mini-heated pool, nestled alongside a waterfall, teak bridge and tropical plants for a little private Shangri-La. Within minutes you’ll be recharged for the next round of festivals. http://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2014/08/01/for-the-best-food-festivals-and-fun-head-to-montreal-canada/
  6. Read more: http://www.wired.com/autopia/2012/09/tesla-supercharger/ Tesla going to have their Supercharger stations in Canada by 2015/16. I have a feeling, when there will be more electric vehicles on the road, we might be seeing Hydro-Quebec stations.
  7. http://globalnews.ca/news/1895026/business-vacancies-skyrocketing-in-montreals-west-island/
  8. 1. You pronounce it “Muntreal”, not “Mahntreal”. 2. You have ever said anything like “I have to stop at the guichet before we get to the dep.” 3. Your only concern about jaywalking is getting a ticket. 4. You understand and frequently use terms like ‘unilingual,’ ‘anglophone,’ ‘francophone,’ and ‘allophone.’ 5. You agree that Montreal drivers are crazy, but you’re secretly proud of their nerves of steel. 6. The most exciting thing about the South Shore is that you can turn right on a red light. 7. You know that the West Island is not a separate geographical formation. 8. In moments of paranoia, you think that there’s no red line on the Metro because red is a federalist colour. 9. You have to bring smoked meat from Schwartz’s and bagels from St-Viateur if you’re visiting anyone west of Cornwall. 10. You refer to Tremblant as “up North.” 11. You know how to pronounce Pie IX. 12. You have an ancient auntie who still says “Saint Dennis.” 13. You believe to the depth of your very being that Toronto has no soul, but your high school reunion is held in Toronto because most of your classmates live there now. 14. You greet everyone, from lifelong bosom friends to some one you met once a few years ago, with a two-cheek kiss. 15. You know at least one person who works for the CBC, and at least one other person who used to work for Nortel. 16. You know what a four-and-a-half is. 17. You’re not impressed with hardwood floors. 18. You’ve been hearing Celine Dion jokes longer than anyone else. 19. You can watch soft-core porn on broadcast TV, and this has been true for at least 25 years. 20. You cringe when Bob Cole pronounces French hockey player names. 21. You get Bowser & Blue. 22. You were drinking cafe-au-lait before it was latte. 23. Shopper’s Drug Mart is Pharmaprix, Staples is Bureau en Gros, and PFK is finger lickin’ good. 24. You really believe Just For Laughs is an international festival. 25. For two weeks a year, you are a jazz afficianado. 26. You need to be reminded by prominent signage that you should wait for the green light. 27. Everyone on the street - drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists - think they’re immortal, and that you’ll move first. 28. You’re proud that Montreal is the home of Pierre Trudeau, Mordechai Richler, William Shatner, Leonard Cohen and the Great Antonio… 29 .And, you consider Donald Sutherland (and by default, Keifer), Guy Lafleur, Charlie Biddle, and Roch Carrier Montrealers, too. 30. You know that Rocket Richard had nothing to do with astrophysics. 31. You know the apocryphal story of the fat lady at Eaton’s. 32. You miss apostrophes. 33. You’ve seen Brother Andre’s heart. 34. No matter how bilingual you are, you still don’t understand “ile aux tourtes.” 35. You know the difference between the SQ, the SAQ, and the SAAQ. 36. You measure temperature and distance in metric, but weight and height in Imperial measure. 37. You show up at a party at 11 p.m. and no one else is there yet. 38. April Wine once played your high school (alternatively, Sass Jordon or Gowan). 39. You know that Montreal is responsible for introducing the following to North America: bagels, souvlaki, smoked meat and Supertramp. Also, Chris de Burgh. 40. You don’t drink pop or soda, you drink soft drinks. 41. You have graduated from high school and have a degree, but you’ve never been in grade 12. 42. The margarine in your fridge is the same colour as lard. 43. Every once in a while, you wonder whatever happened to Luba. 44. You never thought that Corey Hart was cool, but you know someone whose cousin or something dated him. 45. There has to be at least 30 cm of snow on the ground in less than 24 hours for you to consider it too snowy to drive. 46. You remember where you were during the Ice Storm. 47. You used to be an Expos fan, but now all you really miss is Youppi. 48. You know that your city’s reputation for beautiful women is based on centuries-old couplings between French soldiers and royally-commissioned whores (aka Les Filles du Roi). 49. You don’t understand anyone from Lac-St-Jean, but you can fake the accent. 50. You’ve been to the Tam Tams, and know they have nothing to do with wee Scottish hats. 51. You discuss potholes like most people discuss weather. 52. You encounter bilingual homeless people. 53. While watching an American made-for-TV movie, you realize that “Vienna” is actually Old Montreal, that “New York” is actually downtown and that the “The Futuristic City” is actually Habitat ‘67. 54. You find it amusing when people from outside Quebec compliment you on how good your English is. 55. You have yet to understand a single announcement made on the Metro PA system, no matter what the language. 56. You think of Old Montreal as nothing but a bunch of over-priced restaurants, old buildings and badly paved streets. 57. You understand that La Fête Nationale is not a celebration of “Quebec’s birthday”. 58. You don’t find American comedians speaking “gibberish” French even remotely funny. 59. You don’t find it weird that there’s a strip club on every corner downtown. 60. You like your pizza all-dressed 61. You say Métro instead of subway. 62. You only speak English, yet you suddenly realize you have no clue what a “depanneur” is called in English
  9. Opinion: The pros and cons of life in Montreal A newcomer finds that compared with Toronto, this city has lower rents, but higher taxes; better cycling lanes, but worse roads By Chris Riddell, Special to The Gazette September 2, 2014 4:42 PM MONTREAL — To an outsider, Montreal might seem like the perfect place to live. It has the lowest rents of all the major cities in Canada, it’s the nation’s epicentre of art and culture, and there are more restaurants and cafés than you can visit in a year. When I moved here from Toronto last year, it was mostly for the lower cost of living, but also for the enriching experience of a new culture so different from my own. In Montreal, I could theoretically have a better quality of life than I did in Hogtown, where the rents are some of the highest in the country. But is living in Montreal really all it’s cracked up to be? I hit the streets, speaking to everyday citizens about why they moved to Montreal, and tried to nail down some of the advantages and disadvantages of living here. What I found was interesting. Jesse Legallais, a 31-year-old musician, moved to Montreal from Toronto 10 years ago and hasn’t looked back. Sitting on a bench outside Café Social on a sunny Friday afternoon, he says: “It’s a bit of a slower pace than some of the other major cities and there is a diverse community here. There are a lot of talented people, so you’re kind of kept on your toes, but you don’t have to constantly scrape for work as hard as, say, New York or Toronto or L.A.” Montreal turned out to be the perfect place to nurture his craft as a musician. The cheaper cost of living was one of the main factors drawing him here, along with the bilingual nature of the city. Some people come to Montreal and find it’s a great place to open a business. Take Andre Levert, for example. Originally from St. Catharines, Ont., he moved to Montreal in 2000. Today, he and his wife own a head shop on Prince Arthur St. E. called Psychonaut. “I found that because commercial space and the cost of living is cheaper in Montreal, for starting a business it was less risk in the beginning,” he says. “I went and checked the rent for stores like mine in Ottawa, and it was way more expensive.” Levert stresses that it really is the people that make the city such a great place to live. Many other aspects of Montreal are lacking: language laws and infrastructure are problems that need to be addressed, and the city has its work cut out for it in those areas. It certainly isn’t all sunshine and roses in Montreal. While there are some great advantages to living here, there are also a number of drawbacks. Here is what I’ve noticed. Pro: Cheap rent. I can definitely say that I am not the only person who moved to Montreal from Toronto at least partly for the cheaper rents. According to Numbeo.com, the average rent in Montreal for a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre is $877. In Toronto, a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre goes for an average of $1,463. If you came to Montreal more than 10 years ago, you would have paid even less. “After the referendum they were just giving them away here,” says Legallais. “Especially up in this neighbourhood (Mile End) before it became so trendy. You’d get 6½s, first month free, for $400 or $500.” Con: Taxes are higher. Although the cost of living might be lower here, you are also paying some of the highest taxes in the country. In Quebec we pay 16 per cent provincial income tax on amounts up to $41,095. Add that into the federal rate for the same bracket (15 per cent), and you’re losing almost a third of your paycheque in taxes. Sales tax is also high. Here you pay five per cent goods and services tax and also 9.975 per cent provincial sales tax. This, along with the high income tax rate, could be enough to offset any savings you might enjoy from the cheap rents. Pro: Dépanneurs. Since I’m from a province where the sale and distribution of alcohol is extremely regulated, I think the ability to buy beer at my local corner store is amazing. No matter where you are in Montreal, you’re never too far from an ice cold case of Boréale. Some dépanneurs take it a notch higher by adding extras like sushi bars, craft beer rooms and sandwich shops. Con: The SAQ. I have often said that Montreal is a kind of purgatory for scotch or bourbon drinkers. Finding a bottle of Wild Turkey involved looking up online which SAQ store to go to, and then travelling across town to buy it before the store closed at 6 p.m. Ally Baker, an arts student at Concordia, agrees. She hails from Edmonton and has been living in Montreal for 2½ years. “Coming from a province where it’s not government regulated, I find the selection is a lot less, you’re paying a lot more for whatever you’re getting, and you have to travel a lot more to get to different stores. The hours aren’t that great as well,” she says. Pro: Great parks and cycling lanes. In 2013, Copenhagenize rated Montreal the best city in North America for cycling, and it’s no wonder why. The bike-lane network is excellent, and I have been taking a great deal of time this summer to make effective use of it. The separated lanes especially are fun and make you feel safe. Coming from Toronto, a city with a terrible bike network, this is a very attractive feature for an avid cyclist. The parks in this city are second to none. There are tons of green space to spend time in when the weather is nice, and many of the large parks have facilities for just about every sport you can think of. You are also allowed to drink in public (as long as you have some food), so picnicking is always a popular summer activity. There is certainly no shortage of things to keep you busy in Montreal once the weather warms up. But of course that means ... Con: Cold and snowy winters. Montreal is notorious for long, cold, snowy winters. This past winter was especially brutal, and many Montrealers would agree with me. During these cold months, the city is comparatively dead. This doesn’t mean there is nothing to do, however. There are still events like Igloofest, for example, if you know where to look. But if you expect to survive the season, you will need to adapt. “I’m coming from Michigan, so it wasn’t so much of a shock for me,” says Rochie Cohen, a mother of four in the Côte-des-Neiges area. She has been living in Montreal for 12 years. “We just have to leave the house a half an hour earlier. There is a lot of bundling up: coats, scarves, gloves and boots. It takes a lot longer.” Pro: A world-class cultural scene and laid-back attitude. Montreal is a magnet for young artists looking for a place to develop their craft and connect with like-minded people. Numerous artists, writers and musicians of renown were born here. Not only that, the citizenry is much more laid-back than elsewhere in Canada. “My brother asked me, ‘What can you do in Montreal that you can’t do in Ottawa?’ and I told him basically nothing, but everything you do in Montreal is more entertaining,” says Levert. He adds: “You go to a grocery store and shoot a few jokes with the people in line. It’s a joie de vivre that you don’t get anywhere else.” Con: Language barriers. Language issues have been in the spotlight for a long time in Montreal. It’s virtually impossible to get a decent job if you aren’t bilingual, and it can also be isolating for some people. This is true for anglophones who don’t speak French, but it also goes the other way. Aurore Trusewicz is a freelance translator from Belgium. She came to Montreal to attend McGill University in 2007, and French is her first language. “Even though I was attending an English university, I was just listening to English all the time and not really speaking it,” she says. “I was concerned about that because I knew that in Montreal a lot of people speak English, and I was intimidated about how I would speak with (the customers at work).” Although it was intimidating at first, she stuck with it and polished her English skills with diligent practice. The same can be said for learning French. It can be scary to practise speaking it when you aren’t good at it yet. But if you show a genuine effort, you’ll find there are many people out there willing to help. Pro: Affordable public transit. When I moved here, I looked forward to using Montreal’s affordable and extensive transit system. The cost of a monthly pass is much lower than in Toronto, and the métro covers more of the city, so it’s easy to get around. The stations are also designed with better esthetics than the system of my hometown. “The public transportation system is quite nice compared to other places,” says Trusewicz. “Last year I had the chance to go to Miami, and really, you can’t do anything without a car over there. It’s nice to have a métro and buses, even in the middle of the night, to go wherever you want to go.” Con: Traffic and infrastructure problems. This city is disintegrating around us. After riding my bike around these streets, it’s plain to see that some of the roads are in a pitiful condition. After driving here, it’s also plain to see that the design of some of the highways and intersections is very confusing to someone who hasn’t been living here all his life. Combine this with the heavy amounts of roadwork and construction going on, and you’ve got some very bad traffic problems. The roads and sewers have been neglected for years, and now the city has a tremendous amount of work to do with upgrading its ailing infrastructure. City hall is also hard pressed to find the financing to pay for it. It seems this is one problem that Montrealers are going to have to suffer through for years to come. - - - For and against relocating to Montreal The good: Universities have the lowest tuition rates in the country, making Montreal a popular city for students. Residents enjoy the cheapest electricity in Canada, thanks to Hydro-Québec. Daycare is affordable, due to the reduced-contribution spaces for children 5 or younger; parents pay $7 per day. Operational costs for running a business are the lowest in North America, according to a 2013 KPMG survey. Approximately 2,000 hectares of public parks are spread across 17 large parks and 1,160 small neighbourhood parks. The bad: Many people leave Quebec each year for better job prospects in the rest of Canada (28,439 people left from January to September in 2013). Political corruption and allegations of ties to the Mob have besmirched the city’s image. Montreal has some of the worst traffic congestion in the country. It seems essential to be bilingual in order to build a life here; that can be hard for newcomers. Part of the city’s water system is well over 100 years old and prone to leaks. Boil-water advisories have been issued in the past. Chris Riddell is a freelance journalist and copywriter who lives in Côte-des-Neiges.
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