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Why we should skip public consultations


MTLskyline
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Idiots too have the right to an opinion and we have the right not to listen to them. I agree that too many people like that use public consultations for crazy purposes but that doesnt mean that we should abolish all public consultations, or that they are all useless. If we should abolish everything that idiots use, then there wouldnt be anything left (except mtlurb.com of course)!

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I posted this in another forum, and I've been told to re-post it here. So, if you've read this already, that's why:

 

I went to a NIMBY-type meeting here in Toronto a couple weeks ago. It was organized by People Plan Toronto, a group which seeks to put the citizens of the city back in the planning process. In Toronto, developers are so strong, they are able to build almost at will, with very little public consultation. The forum I went to wasn't about any particular project, but it was about putting the citizen back into planning. They had the chief planner for the City of Toronto, Toronto architect Graeme Stewart, and a couple other Torontonians you might not be familiar with. It was a good forum, because people actually got to ask the chief planner questions, and hard ones too. There was some tension, but in general it was a healthy debate, at least to me.

 

In Montreal, things are very different. Developers aren't as powerful in terms of economic clout, so NIMBY's and NOTE's(Not Over There Either) have been successful in destroying projects. Even though I'm in Toronto, I keep an eye on what's happening in Montreal. I'm angered by the level of anti-development in the Montreal metropolitan area.

 

1) a group of municipalities who are passing resolutions to get ADM to reduce the number of flights at Trudeau Airport. Some even want the airport moved back to Mirabel. WHAT ARE THESE PEOPLE THINKING!!! Do they have any idea how much that harmed the metropolitan region in the first place having an airport so far from the city centre. I've been reading that reconstruction of the Dorval circle will begin soon and that there will be a light rail train linking the airport to Griffintown and downtown. That rail link and the improved infrastructure will be good for the metropolitan region. When I passed by in the train last month, I noticed 3 cranes at Trudeau Airport. From what I read, one is a hotel, one is a new baggage terminal and the other I'm not sure what it is. So, those people should just accept Trudeau Airport is staying put.

 

2)There's a group of citizens in St.Henri and Verdun who are in oppostion to the Turcot interchange reconstruction. They say it will harm their quality of life. No offence to anyone in that area, but their poor, what quality of life could they possibly have? They say rebuilding the highway goes against the city's green initiatives. Even if that's the case, that highway still needs to be reconstructed. Those people live next to it, can't they see? Again, good infrastructure is good for the economy of the metropolitan region. They can't just scrap ALL our road projects to bike and bus everywhere just because we want to reach 'green' initiatives and gas is too expensive. That's not practical!! People are thinking with their backyards, and not on a metropolitan scale.

 

3)Notre-Dame boulevard in the East End --residents are trying to squash this project for the same reasons as the people in St.Henri are doing with the Turcot.

Simple equations people, and you don't even need a CEGEP degree:

Better infrastructure = Better economy

Wider, straighter roads = facilitate transport of goods, services & people = better economy

Better economy = better quality of life

Simple equations people. Just shut up and let it be built. --The project has reserved bus lanes, bike paths and walkways right next to the boulevard, so I'm not sure what the big fuss is.

 

4) GRIFFINTOWN...the big one...the one that matters the most....I hear the opposition to that project has mounted to such a point that a whole bunch of planners, urbanists, architects, including people like Phyllis Lambert, signed a letter denouncing the project. Basically, those professionals are on the side of the NIMBY's. Plus, there's the merchants on Ste.Catherine who are worried about competition. Then there's journalists like Henry Aubin of the Gazette who seem obsessed with stopping this project and any development project in Montreal simply because the city or province can't afford it and because Quebec is stagnating in term of growth so they shouldn't build anything at all. All of these people are crazy!!! That sort of narrow-minded, 'let's be small, we don't have to be big' thinking is why Montreal started losing it's dominance on the Canadian urban system back in the early 1900's. Griffintown is an industrial wasteland. There's nothing there. There should be. When you come in by train from Toronto or Ottawa, the train passes right next to that area and it doesn't look impressive. In fact, it looks depressing and war torn. Now, I don't mind people complaining about how the buildings look architecturallly, because I have my views on that as well, but to try to stop the project all together is a lack of understanding how cities work. I hope that other developer is right and that Griffintown becomes the 'new downtown'. I hope they build wider roads , straight roads, on larger blocks and wide sidewalks(20feet). I know that's not very 'Montreal' and straight streets are boring to drive & walk down, but their better for moving goods, services and people, which is a part of what makes the economy work. The tram in that project is crucial, as we want an economic interplay between Griffintown and Ste. Catherine. As Alan DaSouza said in response to one of the Ste.Catherine merchants saying Griffintown will suck the life out of Ste.Catherine - "a tram goes both ways". Excellent rebuttal!

 

It's sort of depressing thinking about the anti-development atmosphere in Montreal, because it shows me how far the city has fallen off and how much catching up it has to do. Montreal is a tier 4 world city in terms of economic significance in the global market . If your wondering, Toronto is a tier 3 world city, right there with Madrid, Sydney and Vancouver. Tier 3 is the best most cities can hope to become, it's where Montreal should be. Tier 2 is Los Angeles, Paris, Chicago. Tier 1 is the big 3 - New York, London, Tokyo. These have the most significance on the global market. They hold most of the multinational headquarters, the largest banks, the largest securities exchanges, their the centres of communication and innovation. They influence the world like no places can. They work in sync with each other - 3 large mega-regions, 3 different times zone spaced out enough to ensure 3 different 8 hour shifts of business enabling trading & business 24 hours a day during the week. At any given time in a 24 hour work week at least one of those cities is in business. Montreal needs to get it's act together. Political instability is no longer an excuse, other cities around the world have their own crap to deal with, some have it worse. The language barrier is not an excuse, other cities like Madrid(tier 3) and Paris(tier 2) operate in languages other than English. Some cities operate in 2 or 3 languages, which is where Montreal should be - multilingual(thanks for Bouchard-Taylor report for making the need for multilingualism, instead of mere billingualism know).

 

Who cares about the 'hands off my city" crap, Brossard, Westmount and Dorval aren't world cities, Montreal region is. Cities are where it's at. Regions, mega-regions - I'm sounding like Richard Florida and I haven't even started reading his latest book yet!

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What does this have to do with public consultations concerning development projects? The guy is obviously a LaRouche-type conspiracy theorist, as opposed to a NIMBY or NOTE (I like that one! :P).

 

Maisonneuve, Montreal may have its share anti-development crusaders, but it is a far cry away from saying we have an anti-development atmosphere. It really takes a Torontonian to say something like that.

 

So what if people have a qualm about a certain project? They're entitled to their opinion. At least it prevents entire neighbourhoods from being wiped off the map like they were in the 60s.

 

You may not see it from your bubble in Toronto, but Montreal is still and will always be a dynamic and vibrant city. It's seen tough times, but you can bet your ass that in the future, we'll be giving you Torontonians a run for your money (no matter how much you may have!)

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Maisonneuve,

 

You bring some very good points, but I get the impression that you are an ex-Montrealer who moved to Toronto a long time ago. I'm not saying this in a negative way. Everyone has the right to do as he/she pleases.

 

But Montreal has really been on the rebound these past 5 years. The Economy is doing well, and there are a few cranes in and around downtown. Obviously there are nowhere near as many cranes as in toronto! Québeckers just don't have the mentality of living in condos. Also, single family homes that are located less than 30 minutes away from the downtown core are still very affordable(under 225,000$).

 

I have to say that I agree with about 80% of what you said. The only thing I kinda disagree with is "straighter roads" argument. I'm not saying that you aren't right. I'm just saying that I like the fact that Montreal doesn'T have a square grid pattern like other cities in Canada. It's one of the reasons that makes Montreal different!

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