Jump to content

Recommended Posts

Royal Bank of Canada is seeking buyers for its U.S. retail banking operation a decade after entering the market, Bloomberg reported Thursday.

 

Royal Bank is getting advice from JPMorgan Chase & Co. on the potential sale of the RBC Bank unit, said Bloomberg, citing three people with knowledge of the talks

 

More to come …

 

(Courtesy of the Financial Post)

 

RBC is pulling out, yet BMO and TD are expanding. Lets see what happens.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Royal Bank of Canada is a profit powerhouse north of the border, but its U.S. retail and commercial division has proven to be a major disappointment for Canada’s biggest bank. After a decade of challenges, the unit is said to be on the chopping block.

 

But that doesn’t mean the entire U.S. market is a failure for Canadian banks.

 

No one proves that better than Toronto-Dominion Bank. Even in the depths of the financial crisis, the U.S. operation churned out strong profits, boasting a full-year profit of just under $1-billion in 2010. In December, Bank of Montreal plunged into the U.S. market with its $4.1-billion (U.S.) acquisition of the Midwest’s Marshall and Illsley Bank.

 

Analysts say RBC and TD employed sharply different approaches in their U.S. forays. Chiefly, RBC viewed its U.S. operation as a portfolio investment, while TD devoted itself to making the U.S. division work.

 

At TD, “the management team put their credibility on the line and made an all-in investment,” said National Bank Financial analyst Peter Routledge. “They were either going to be hailed as successful investors and managers or ridiculed as failures.”

 

RBC’s strategy was much more piecemeal. After buying North Carolina-based Centura for $2.2-billion in 2001, the bank tacked on a few smaller deals, and then added on Alabama National Bancorporation for $1.6-billion in 2007. Neither acquisition was huge. In contrast, TD bought its first majority stake in Banknorth for $3.8-billion and later purchased Commerce Bank for $8.5-billion in shares and cash.

 

As for assets, unlike RBC’s venerable Canadian retail network, Centura catered more to commercial banking than retail banking, and it was more rural than it was urban.

 

“RBC bought a rural bank, run by, until very recently, rural bankers,” Mr. Routledge said. For TD, however, Commerce Bank could be found in urban and affluent suburban areas. Travel to Cape Cod today and colonial style TD Bank branches are seen situated behind manicured lawns.

 

More importantly, RBC’s U.S. banks had a history of lending to commercial real estate and construction firms. Thirty-six per cent of Alabama National's loan portfolio was in real estate construction, with a further 28 per cent in commercial mortgages. When the market crashed, RBC had to inject $3-billion to $4-billion into RBC Bank USA, which holds all of its U.S. retail assets. “It wouldn’t have survived if it wasn’t for RBC, so it was that weak of a franchise,” Mr. Routledge said.

 

That RBC is pondering a possible sale of its U.S. retail bank, or a vend-in deal, has surprised few people. RBC’s U.S. assets, combined with all other international assets, are worth just 8 per cent of the bank’s total balance sheet. Contrarily, TD’s U.S. assets alone comprise 19 per cent of the bank’s total.

 

BMO has adopted TD’s model and decided to go all-in in the U.S. Midwest. BMO already had retail operations in the region through Harris Bank, but that operation suffered three years of losses during the crisis.

 

Not only has BMO devoted the resources to make this deal work, but it also stole another play from TD’s book and bought quality deposits. Although M&I got into trouble with real estate loans in Arizona and Florida, BMO completely stripped them out of the purchase price.

 

But the all-in strategy comes at a price. “If M&I works, then [bMO’s management team] will be hailed as great conquerors.” If it fails, however, it will be more than “an inconvenient sale of a portfolio asset,” Mr. Routledge said.

 

(Courtesy of The Globe and Mail)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...
Royal Bank of Canada (RY), the nation’s biggest lender by assets, is in advanced talks to sell its U.S. retail banking unit to PNC Financial Services Group Inc. (PNC), people with knowledge of the matter said.

PNC is likely to prevail over a rival bid from BB&T Corp. (BBT), and a deal may come within days, said the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks are private. The business may fetch as much as $3.7 billion, according to Peter Routledge, an analyst at National Bank Financial.

 

“In U.S. personal and commercial banking you either go big or go home,” Routledge said in an interview today. “Royal has said they’re not going to make that big double-down bet, they’re going to go elsewhere, and I think that’s the right strategy.”

A deal would help Pittsburgh-based PNC expand its retail business in the U.S. Southeast beyond a foothold in Florida. The RBC Bank unit, based in Raleigh, North Carolina, has more than 420 branches concentrated in six states across the region. PNC Chief Executive Officer Jim Rohr, 62, told investors June 3 the bank is “disciplined” with acquisitions, preferring purchases that build 10 percent market share in “larger” cities.

 

“If you look at potentially what RBC’s unit could do for them, it expands PNC’s presence in an area that might be an attractive growth area,” said Craig Fehr, an analyst with Edward Jones & Co. in St. Louis, whose firm rates both banks a “buy.”

 

‘Rumors or Speculation’

Patrick McMahon, a spokesman for PNC, said the bank doesn’t comment on “rumors or speculation.” Katherine Gay, an RBC spokeswoman, declined to comment.

 

Royal Bank rose 86 cents, or 1.6 percent, to C$54.55 at 11:09 a.m. in Toronto Stock Exchange trading. PNC fell $1.55, or 2.6 percent, to $57.92 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading.

PNC has retail operations in 15 states and Washington D.C., including more than 2,500 branches, according to the bank’s website. The firm acquired National City Corp. in 2009 for about $3.9 billion in stock.

 

“PNC has really done a good job of righting the ship post credit crisis, they’ve done a good job of growing, and we’ve seen them in a short amount of time successfully integrate the NatCity deal,” Fehr said. “They’ve shown the propensity for being able to digest some of these acquisitions.”

 

Centura Takeover

Royal Bank is seeking to sell RBC Bank a decade after it entered the U.S. with a $2.16 billion takeover of Centura Banks. Royal Bank is retreating from U.S. consumer lending as competitors Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD) and Bank of Montreal (BMO) expand by acquiring troubled U.S. lenders.

 

RBC Bank has posted 11 consecutive quarterly losses as of March 31, with combined annual losses of about $3.1 billion since 2007, according to Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. filings. RBC Bank is the smallest of Royal Bank’s U.S. operations, which also include wealth management and RBC Capital Markets investment bank.

 

“We’ve long presumed Royal Bank had better opportunities to deploy capital in capital markets and wealth management, and that the U.S. retail or personal and commercial banking space wasn’t a good opportunity,” Routledge said from Toronto. “We thought it would be good news if they sold it and redeployed capital.”

 

Royal Bank spent at least $4.6 billion buying a network of U.S. consumer banks over the past decade, beginning with its 2001 takeover of Centura. Toronto-based Royal Bank’s last U.S. retail bank acquisition was the $1.6 billion takeover of Alabama National BanCorporation in 2008.

 

“They’ll have the discomfort of a little bit of a loss on the sale” of RBC Bank, said Routledge, who rates the bank “sector perform.”

 

Job Cuts

Royal Bank has spent two years reorganizing RBC Bank, which started after the lender said in May 2009 that it took a C$1 billion ($1 billion) writedown on the U.S. business. RBC Bank suffered losses due to impaired loans from homebuilders and other business clients during the U.S. subprime meltdown and financial crisis.

 

During restructuring, Royal Bank cut more than 1,000 jobs, replaced management, reduced ties to real estate and pared commercial lending.

 

(Courtesy of Bloomberg)

 

PNC is pretty much the US equivalent to Canada's BMO. It seems RBC is the only Canadian bank that has had a hard time in the US.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

  • Similar Content

    • By mtlurb
      Vibrant Montreal brings new Canadian rock sound to world scenes
       
      Posted on Thursday, May 10, 2007 (EST)
      Montreal, the Canadian city known for its fierce winters, has become an international hotspot for a new wave of indie bands.
       
       

      The Montreal band "Arcade Fire" during a performance
      © AFP/GettyImages/File Kevin Winter


       
      PARIS (AFP) - Led by trailblazers Arcade Fire, guitar-wielding groups have been touring overseas, winning fans and have everyone wondering about the secret of the city’s sudden success.
       
      Alongside the rock scene, electronic acts such as DJ Champion, Kid Koala and Tiga have made "based in Montreal" a fashionable stamp of quality.
      In the process, the image of Canadian music, once dominated by pop crooners Bryan Adams and Celine Dion, has been redefined.
       
      "Montreal is an extremely cosmopolitan and open city," said homegrown singer Pierre Lapointe, giving his reasons for the new vibrancy.
       
      "We couldn’t care less about origins. What we look for is good music and interesting ways of doing things," he added during a stop in Paris.
       
      Montreal is home to about two million people, making it the biggest city in the French-speaking eastern province of Quebec.
       
      Music journalist and commentator for Canadian cable channel MusiquePlus, Nicolas Tittley, puts the vitality of the guitar scene down to North American influences.
      The Montreal band "Arcade Fire" during a performance
      © AFP/GettyImages/File Kevin Winter


       
      "Rock, country, blues, folk. Basically, all the music movements linked to North America are not foreign for 'les Montrealais'," he said in an interview.
       
      Indie rockers Arcade Fire have sold a million albums worldwide, according to their record label, and fellow groups Wolf Parade, The Bell Orchestre, Patrick Watson, Stars, The Besnard Lakes or The Dears are following in their footsteps.
       
      The francophone movement includes Ariane Moffatt, Karkwa, Ghislain Poirier, Les Trois Accords and Malajube.
       
      Malajube is threatening to cross the language divide and break into English-speaking markets after the group’s new album "Trompe-l'oeil" won plaudits from US reviewers.
       
      Although Montreal is a majority francophone city, most people can speak (and sing in) both languages and the city is also home to a large, well-integrated ethnic population.
       
      "The openness that we have in Montreal is quite unique," said Laurent Saulnier, programmer for the Montreal International Jazz Festival and Francofolies de Montreal event.
       
      "Few cities in the world have access to so many sorts of music from everywhere: France, USA, Europe, South America, or Africa."
       
      The cross-over of influences and culture is also seen in the music collaborations.
       
      Pierre Lapointe, The Dears, Les Trois Accords and Loco Locass, a rap group similar to the Beastie Boys, make guest appearances on the Malajube’s album.
       
      Critics snipe that the hype will not last, but for the moment at least, a new, fresh face has been put on Canadian music overseas. ©AFP
    • By WestAust
      DURING the 2000 presidential campaign, the candidate from Texas fielded a question from Canada: “Prime Minister Jean Poutine said you look like the man who should lead the free world into the 21st century. What do you think about that?”
       
      When George W. Bush pledged to “work closely together” with Mr. Poutine, Montrealers fell off their chairs laughing. It wasn’t so much that the Canadian leader was, in fact, Jean Chrétien, but that the “reporter” — Rick Mercer, a television comedian — had invoked the city’s emblematic, problematic, comedic junk food dish: poutine.
       
      A gloppy, caloric layering of French fries, fresh cheese curds (a byproduct of Cheddar making) and gravy, poutine goes deep into the Quebequois psyche. Somehow, Quebec’s rural roots, its split identity (Acadian farmers or Gallic gourmets?) and its earthy sense of humor are all embodied by its unofficial dish.
       
      This may be one reason that until now poutine has not traveled well. True, it was on the menu for years at Shopsin’s, the quirky West Village restaurant that closed this year, but so was nearly every other known foodstuff. But recently, it has materialized in a handful of cities across the United States. In New York City, it is on the menu at three highly divergent establishments, and this time it shows signs of taking hold.
       
      Andy Bennett, the chef at the Inn LW12 in the meatpacking district, recalled his reaction on being told (by the Canadian faction of the inn’s owners) that poutine must be served. “I said, you’ve got to be kidding me. Then I realized I wasn’t going to be able to get away from it.”
       
      Mr. Bennett, however, was converted. “You have to embrace these things,” he said. “Now it’s our biggest selling item by a long stretch.”
       
      “I think it’s going to be across the city soon,” he said. “It’s going to stick without a doubt.”
       
      Mr. Bennett’s choice of words was apt. Poutine is an extreme stick-to-your-ribs concoction, whose name is said to derive from Quebequois slang. According to the dominant creation myth, in 1957 a restaurateur named Fernand Lachance, when asked by a customer to combine fries and cheese curds, said it would make “une maudite poutine” — an unholy mess. (And this was pre-gravy. Another restaurateur, Jean-Paul Roy of Le Roy Jucep, claims to have first served fries with gravy and curds in 1964.)
       
      Since Mr. Lachance’s death three years ago, poutine’s de facto spokesman has been Bob Rutledge, creator of the Web site MontrealPoutine.com. Mr. Rutledge, a professor of astrophysics at McGill University specializing in neutron stars, black holes and gamma ray bursts, first heard of poutine on moving to Montreal in 2004. He was instantly smitten.
       
      “When I started asking about it, I got one of two responses,” he said. “It was either: ‘Oh here’s my favorite poutine place; you must go...’, or else it was: ‘Oh my God, why do you want to eat that stuff?’ It’s a veritable food phenomenon; half the people are embarrassed it exists.”
       
      Siobhan O’Connor, a journalist who moved to New York from Montreal five years ago, has a different view. “The only people who don’t like poutine are people on a diet,” she said. “It’s the first thing you want when you go back, a real late-night post-drinking thing.”
       
      Ms. O’Connor recently sampled the new batch of New York poutines. The classic version at Sheep Station, an Australian gastropub on the western edge of Park Slope, initially struck her as too dry. But, on discovering that the Quebequois chef, Martine Lafond, had secreted further curds and gravy under crisp, hot fries, she warmed to it, declaring the gravy authentically peppery, salty and meaty, and the curds as fresh as could be expected so far from home.
       
      At Pommes Frites, an East Village storefront that traffics in Belgian fries but now has a sideline in their Canadian cousins, neither the rubbery, yellowish curds nor the lukewarm, flavorless sauce met with Ms. O’Connor’s approval. But Mr. Bennett’s four varieties at the Inn LW12 did, despite distinctly unorthodox stylings.
       
      “I’d come back here just for this,” she declared of the plate with five-spice gravy and chewy strips of pork belly, though she found the Stilton cheese in the rich, toothsome braised beef with red wine version to be overload and the herby marinara sauce on the tomato version — called Italienne back home — disappointing. Though somewhat overshadowed by its glitzy sisters, the classic, too, more than passed muster.
       
      Ms. O’Connor explained that poutine really belonged to the French speakers — her Irish-Montrealer mother, for instance, had never tried it — until “around 2000, when people started messing with it: green peppercorns, Gruyère, truffle oil...”
       
      According to Professor Rutledge, variations on the theme are fine. “They strike me as creative and interesting so I give bonus points,” he said. He is, however, from Southern California. The average Montrealer seems to be more of a purist.
       
      The chef Martin Picard, one of Montreal’s most high-profile culinary figures, embraces poutine at his restaurant Au Pied de Cochon. “That dish becomes an international passport,” he declared. “It’s not haute gastronomie, but it permits Quebec to get more interest from the rest of the world.”
       
      Mr. Picard said he occasionally offers classic poutine as a “clin d’oeil” — a wink — to Quebequois cuisine, but his version with foie gras is what everyone remembers. For this, the regular poutine sauce — a thick, highly seasoned chicken velouté, which Mr. Picard enhances with pork stock — is enriched by foie gras and egg yolks. The dish is crowned with a four-ounce slab of seared goose liver.
       
      Whether Montreal’s embarrassing but adored junk food does take root in New York, it may never attain the status it achieved earlier this year when the CBC revealed the results of a viewer poll on the greatest Canadian inventions of all time. Granted, poutine came in only at No. 10. But it beat, among other things, the electron microscope, the BlackBerry, the paint roller and the caulking gun, lacrosse, plexiglass, radio voice transmission and basketball.
    • By begratto
      World vibe at Montreal jazz fest
      David Rubien, Chronicle Staff Writer
       
      Thursday, June 21, 2007
       
       
      "Jazz is a tree that has many leaves," says André Ménard, artistic director of the Montreal Jazz Festival -- a terse and apt summation of not only jazz but also his festival and the city of Montreal itself.
       
      The festival -- beginning its 28th annual edition June 28 and running through July 8 -- is the biggest of its kind in the world, an event that features more than 350 free outdoor concerts and 150 paid indoor shows. It is expected to draw more than 200,000 attendees, yet it manages to feel intimate. It's hard to imagine how a music festival that traffics in such numbers could be as sophisticated, smooth running, user friendly -- and inexpensive -- as Montreal's, but it is.
       
      Purists may raise eyebrows over the fact that two of the festival's headliners are Bob Dylan and Van Morrison (both shows are sold out), but this festival long ago got past distinctions of genre. In fact, in booking nonjazz acts, which Montreal started doing about 20 years ago, it pointed the way to survival for every major jazz festival, including San Francisco, whose fall lineup includes nonjazz acts Caetano Veloso and Ravi Shankar, and Monterey, where Los Lobos and DJ Logic will perform.
       
      "In 1986, when we last programmed Van Morrison, people questioned it, but he was on the cover of (jazz magazine) Down Beat three months later," Ménard says. "I wish every jazz album was as spiritually strong as Van Morrison's music. ... And as for Dylan, the way he redoes his songs -- that's a jazz attitude."
       
      Attitude is the right word. It's the thread that connects jazz acts the festival is producing this year, like Keith Jarrett, Jack DeJohnette, Dave Holland, Wayne Shorter and Bill Frisell, with world music acts like Angélique Kidjo, Femi Kuti and Richard Bona, with rock acts like Garth Hudson, Rickie Lee Jones and the Cowboy Junkies. It's not a punk or grunge attitude, obviously, but a dedication to musicianship and exploration -- a willingness to stretch and take chances. A jazz attitude.
       
      The strong world music presence at the festival -- 30 countries are represented, from a Chinese jazz singer covering Patsy Cline, to French new-wave pop, to Italian barrel percussionists, to Malian kora, to Australian didgeridoo, to Garifuna singers -- is appropriate, given the diverse ethnic mix of Montreal, which, as home to 80 nationalities, is considered North America's gateway to Europe and beyond. That is true even though almost everyone younger than 60 speaks English fluently.
       
      Centrally located downtown at the complex of theaters, museums and hotels called Place des Arts, the Montreal Jazz Festival packs all the action into a relatively compact space. Free outdoor shows are on nine small -- and one whopper -- stages, and 12 indoor venues feature the paid nighttime shows. The festival doesn't only stick the little-knowns on the outdoor stages, either. This year, a Brazilian carnival bash with Carlinhos Brown gets things going June 28; last year, it was the Neville Brothers.
       
      With more than 50 performances a day, it's clearly too much to take in, so it's a good thing adventure beckons outside the Place des Arts from any direction you choose. Heading south toward the St. Lawrence River, you'll hit Old Montreal, where you can easily spend an afternoon investigating the cobblestone streets, some with buildings dating to the 17th and 18th centuries. Stop at any of the many bistros offering mussels and pomme frites, usually with a good selection of French and Belgian beers and, of course, wine.
       
      Continue south to the river and at 27 De La Commune, you'll find Boutique Ça Roule, where you can rent bicycles -- a great way to see the city. But if dodging traffic sounds daunting, there's a leisurely ride to be had along the tree-lined Canal de Lachine, where heading west you can stop at the Marché Express, Montreal's equivalent of the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, only it's open every day.
       
      Less than a mile northeast of the festival grounds are enticing residential neighborhoods of many ethnic flavors along Boulevard St.-Laurent and Rue St.-Denis -- including the Latin Quarter, where last summer a spontaneous parade broke out, clogging streets, when Portugal defeated England in the World Cup soccer quarterfinals.
       
      Keep heading north along St. Laurent and you'll hit the Jewish neighborhood that gave the world, believe it or not, William Shatner. Now we can settle for old-school deli sandwiches and soda-fountain drinks at Wilensky's Light Lunch, or superb bagels at La Maison du Bagel or St. Viateur Bagel.
       
      Heading back south to the festival, consider having dinner at what many call the most authentic French bistro in the city, L'Express. There's nothing pretentious about this spot. It's all business, packed with locals who seem ecstatic to be there, digging into bowls of bouillabaisse or scarfing pate foie gras or bone marrow, and tossing back wine that practically dances in the glass.
       
      There's so much more to do: great museums, galleries, beautiful parks, a 20-mile underground city where people spend much of their time in the frigid winter, day trips to the Laurentian mountains.
       
      Once you've spent a day exploring the city, the music back at the festival -- be it danceable, cerebral or both -- offers a way to relax and synthesize your experiences, processing them through the sensual to the aesthetic to the spiritual and back. That's jazz, and that's Montreal.
       
       
       
      --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
      If you go
      All locations are in Montreal. Prices are in Canadian dollars.
       
      Getting there
       
      From San Francisco, Air Canada flies nonstop to Montreal. A number of airlines offer one-stop connecting flights.
       
      Where to stay
       
      Hyatt Regency Montreal: Online rates for doubles from $244 (about $229 U.S.). 605 modern rooms and suites across from the Place des Arts. 1255 Jeanne-Mance. (514) 982-1234, montreal.hyatt.com.
       
      Hotel Place des Arts: Eight air-conditioned rooms, studios and suites in a renovated Victorian building downtown. $40-$80 ($37.55-$75.10 U.S.). 270 Rue Sherbrooke W. (514) 995-7515, http://www.hotelplacedesarts.com.
       
      Where to eat
       
      L'Express: Bustling traditional French bistro. Entrees $12-$22 ($11.27-$20.65 U.S.). 3927 Rue St.-Denis. (514) 845-5333.
       
      Wilensky's Light Lunch: Tiny shop serving classic deli fare 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. Entrees less than $10 ($9.39 U.S.). 34 Fairmount St. W. (514) 271-0247.
       
      What to do
      Montreal Jazz Festival: June 28-July 8. Various venues across the city. $12.50-$87.50 ($11.73-$82.14 U.S.); many free performances. (888) 515-0515, http://www.montrealjazzfest.com.
       
      For more information
       
      Tourisme Montréal: (877) 266-5687, http://www.tourisme-montreal.org.
       
      E-mail David Rubien at [email protected]
       
      http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/06/21/DDG4MQI4M71.DTL
       
      This article appeared on page E - 3 of the San Francisco Chronicle
    • By jesseps
      (Courtesy of Budget Travel Online)
       
      That was a little taste of the article. For more click on Budget Travel Online
    • By mtlurb
      Halifax could learn a lot from Montreal

      VICTOR SYPEREK
      The Daily News
      You know, as you travel through this wonderful country, you realize just how lucky we are to be Canadians. From the majestic Rocky Mountains to the restless Atlantic Ocean. And what diverse populations. Bringing the best from all of our homelands.
       
      Leaving Toronto and heading East quickened my heart, as heading home always does. This is probably what is so compelling about travel. All we see and eat and do can be brought home to add a little diversity to our verdant region.
       
      I stopped in Kingston, Ont., which was celebrating the last day of its Busker Festival. It's hard to say how big theirs is, as on the last day, everyone joins together in the main area to watch the best of the week. They had closed a large portion of the downtown and besides the theatrical antics, parking lots were 1/2lled with 3/4ea markets, antique sales, baking and general city groups adding to the fun.
       
      After a Guinness, a bite and a leisurely chat with some locals, on I pushed to Montreal.
       
      I used to live there about 30 years ago. After the referendum, big business left in droves. Many Anglos followed. Toronto surpassed Montreal as Canada's No. 1 city. I think they went a little over board on their French-only bent, isolating them even further. But a funny thing happened. Rents stayed low. Houses remained affordable. It was the perfect environment for artists and artist expression. Montreal became an incubator and gave birth to the largest comedy festival and one of the largest jazz festivals and, of course, the world's most famous circus troupe, Cirque du Soleil.
       
      To some degree, this is all serendipity, the right place and the right time. But that isn't enough. You still need the people with the control and the money to pave the way or, at least, remove the road- blocks. And I chose this word for it's meaning. Obviously a city must function at many levels. Business must function, deliveries must be made, people must get to work and home again. But these days tourism is big business and as well talented people must be attracted to our fair cities. Besides just jobs, we have to address quality of life. Now this means many things. Besides a comfortable and safe place to live, we have to do things. We need theatre, 1/2lm, good food and entertainment. And entertainment can be so many things - from buskers to book fairs, car shows, huge 3/4ea markets, a literal day at the beach and sailing. If we have a happy population, it shows. The tourists 1/2nd out and they come to see why. And at the bottom of it all, you will 1/2nd a progressive administration.
       
      As in Montreal, where the arts had the perfect place to be. Flowers won't grow without the proper conditions, they must be encouraged. Montreal gets it.
       
      During the jazz festival, most of Montreal's streets are closed around the arts centre. During the Grand Prix the Main St. Laurent is closed and turned into a giant terrace; bars and restaurants spill out onto the street.
       
      The comedy fest, for two weeks, shuts down the blocks from St. Laurent past St. Dennis, south of Sherbrooke. The area is the size of downtown Halifax. There were hundreds of thousands of people on the streets. Roaming troupes of stilt walkers, parade 3/4oats, lights everywhere, sound and long lineups at all of the venues. It was a festival 20 years in the making.
       
      About 20 years ago, in Halifax, Dale Thompson started the Buskers' Festival and Mardi Gras, a Halloween night to remember.
       
      Buskers were a downtown-wide street show. They were everywhere. What could have grown into something approaching Montreal's festival was safely place in a sterile (read boring) package on the crowded waterfront.
       
      Same with Mardi Gras. It got out of control. Instead of managing it, it was cancelled, or at least the cost of police and 1/2re control became prohibitive. There is something wrong with our attitude.
       
      Mayor Peter Kelly and a few councillors should go on a paid junket to Montreal to 1/2nd out how it's done. There is no need to recreate the wheel. It's been done in Rio, New Orleans and in Montreal.
       
      I saw very few police, just on the gates to the streets. A couple of 1/2remen leaning on their 1/2re truck were there just in case. And there were hundreds of thousands of people of all ages with smiles on their faces.
       
      Heck, I'll even offer to go with them as translator, to translate into common sense.
       
      The film festival in Halifax is in its 21st year and yet the city is still dithering over permits to use Parade Square and surrounding streets.
       
      This festival has the potential to put us on the international 1/2lm map, but we need the nurturing and help of our city fathers.
       
      And speaking of 1/2lms, I wish our 1/2lm development board would get off their chairs and try to stem the 3/4ow of production from Nova Scotia to New Brunswick and the rest of the country.
       
      This was a $200- million-a-year business. Now I know there are circumstances, but let's start with local production.
       
      A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I hadn't seen many cops walking the beat late at night. Well just to prove me wrong, there they were Wednesday night, handing out parking tickets.
       
      C'mon. What gives? We have a world hockey tournament or curling or the Greek Festival or whatever - and the parking commission has a 1/2eld day.
       
      You know, if they are not blocking a hydrant or some emergency exit or driveway, do we have to be so fanatical? If it weren't about the revenue, you know you will be towed, if necessary. Let's give our visitors a break. But I guess we have to pay for the parking at Dartmouth Crossing somehow.
       
      Well, I'm off to enjoy our jazz festival. It's good here, but it could be better. Have a good one.
×
×
  • Create New...
adblock_message_value
adblock_accept_btn_value