Summer and Out-of-Town Drivers

OntPlate

After a long hot summer with very few posts, I figure it’s time I got back to the keyboard. I’ll start with an observation that I made numerous times over the last few months.

This year with the Canadian dollar measuring up so poorly with the US greenback many Canadians opted to vacation north of the border; moving east and west instead of north and south. With Montreal’s busy festival season that runs from the Formula 1 Grand Prix in early June, through the Jazz Festival and Just For Laughs, I sensed an even greater number of tourists this year. Judging by accents and license plates, I suspect the statistics will show a pretty good year for tourism.

RightRedSpeaking of license plates, my non-scientific observation leads me to believe that cars with Ontario plates seem to carry the worst drivers. They stop anywhere anytime for absolutely no apparent reason, they seem to take little naps at red lights necessitating a polite toot on the horn, and they insist on turning right on red. There are two places in North America where you cannot legally turn right on red: Montreal and Manhattan. Even with several signs indicating that right on red is illegal, Ontario drivers still cause havoc by going through red lights.

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Yet another irksome driving habit. My wife and I went away for a weekend in Quebec’s Eastern Townships. On an average day, our destination would take about 90 minutes to reach. It took us the better part of three hours due to a major accident that closed the highway completely. As the photo above shows, no one was going anywhere fast. 

I understand that covering those ten feet is not going to really affect one’s arrival time, but it is psychologically essential to me that I feel I’m moving.

I’m not a good person in traffic. There comes a point when after inching forward only to stop again causes me to become enraged. My dear wife is quick to pick up on this, perhaps it’s me screaming MOOOVE that tips her off, so she soon slips on some Joe Cocker in an attempt to keep me from blowing a head pipe.

The car that we trailed for what felt like days (I must admit it was a local plate) was driven by a person who, when there was a gap between her car and the one in front, was in no hurry to move up. I understand that covering those ten feet is not going to really affect one’s arrival time, but it is psychologically essential to me that I feel I’m moving.

DRIVE THE CAR FOR CHRISSAKE!!!!

Nope. She’d coast along when she was good and ready. The rest of the weekend was very restful, once I got my blood pressure back to normal.

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

War On Montreal Parking Spots

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If you have tried to find a parking spot in downtown Montreal lately you will understand my angst. So many places have been turned into Bixi bicycle stands or marked reserved due to evidently non-existent construction that driving around and around has become the norm.

During one such episode a few days ago, having spent forty-five minutes looking for a spot that was available, and finding three that looked fine, but were not accepting payment, I couldn’t help but imagine our anti-car Mayor Valerie Plante sporting one of the now ubiquitous red bags that cover far too many parking meters.

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

 

Montreal’s Construction Cone Inuksuk

Inuksuk

According to the Canadian Encyclopedia: Inuksuk (also spelled inukshuk, plural inuksuit) is a figure made of piled stones or boulders constructed to communicate with humans throughout the Arctic. Traditionally constructed by the Inuit, inuksuit are integral to Inuit culture and are often intertwined with representations of Canada and the North.

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Clearly, some Montrealers were moved by the concept as evident from the construction cone Inuksuk in a lane off boul. St. Laurent!

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

 

Craft Beer Is Everywhere

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The current trend in bars is the microbrewery. These places are all over Montreal serving beers other than those made by the big breweries. Craft beers have carved out a significant niche in the local pub business.

At one time the only beers available in most bars were those from Molson or Labatt. But more and more brewpubs, where they actually make their own beers, and craft beer bars are popping up.

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Brutopia Montreal

The first place I ever went to that brewed its own beer was a Trois Brasseurs in Montreal. Not your typical brewpub given there are stores around the world, but they do brew their own on the premises. The most recent place I dropped into is called Restaurant L’Artisanale just up the street from Trois Brasseurs. (The fact that the sign says ArtIsAnAle appealed greatly to both the beer and word lover in me.)

In all honesty, I’m probably not going to be a big customer at any of these pubs. I find that for the most part, the craft beers tend to be too heavy and high in alcohol content for my liking. Until someone brews a light lager with about 4% alcohol content I’ll just have to stick with my Coors Light. This no doubt makes me somewhat of a beer heathen, but I’ll just have to live with that. Except of course for the occasional Guinness.

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

 

Hot Enough For Ya?

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Last weekend we in Quebec celebrated Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day or la Fête nationale du Québec.  This coming weekend is Canada Day on Sunday then the city will be swamped with US tourists for July 4th. 

This concentration of holidays marks the true arrival of Summer. Mind you the weather does not always cooperate. But it appears this year will be different. Environment Canada is calling for record-breaking temperatures in eastern Canada. 

Heat

As the above weather statement indicates temperatures could hit 35ºC or about 95ºF. When the humidity is taken into consideration the effect could feel like 40ºC or 104ºF. Another source has forecast a possible Humidex of 47ºC or a sweltering 116ºF!!

Global warming, climate change, call it what you want. I prefer to think of it as a plot to increase beer consumption.

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

 

Now That’s a Pot-Hole

A man in Brussels, Belgium decided to go about town filling in potholes with flowers to bring attention to the problem. I figured with Canada on the verge of legalizing marijuana and Montreal drivers no strangers to potholes, there was a match made in heaven.

Montreal pot-hole!

Pothole

A slight variation on a theme!

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

 

Is It Safe To Come Out Now?

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Is it safe now? Can I come out from under the bed and get back to doing my usual things? Can I stop playing invisible?Is the mayhem that is St. Patrick’s Day weekend in Montreal finally over? It’s been a few days, but I want to be certain. There are two days a year that I would just as soon hide from than join in, they are New Year’s Eve and St. Patrick’s Day.

If you read this blog with any regularity you know that I am fond of bars. Except when they are chock-full of amateur drinkers hell-bent on ingesting as much alcohol as possible in the name of an Irish saint. The saying that everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day sure does apply when it comes to imbibing.

Except when they are chock-full of amateur drinkers hell-bent on ingesting as much alcohol as possible in the name of an Irish saint.

Most days I drop by a particular bar late in the afternoon for a few cold beers, a chuckle or two and a bit of conversation. On her way from work my wife picks me up and we go home for dinner. The bar is an Irish themed place that, as you can imagine, draws an exceptional number of people come St. Patrick’s Day.

The good folks at Guinness provide bars that sell their beers with a wide variety of decorations; banners, posters, plastic glasses, coasters and even T-shirts. So every March my usual watering hole undergoes a physical transformation. That’s not a big deal. Even the constant Irish music during the lead up to parade I can take for a week or so. The increased prices are all just common business practice as anyone who has ever bought an airline ticket during high-season understands. It’s all about supply and demand.

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No, the problem as is so often the case is the people. On the Sunday of the parade arrive in droves. Some before the parade, some after. A line soon forms outside, regardless of weather conditions. Should they be lucky enough to get in, they belly-up to the bar – all bar stools have long since been removed to allow more traffic – and order drinks that are served in plastic cups. For these drinks, they pay an inflated price in cash – no credit or debit cards on this day. No running of tabs either; payment is due upon receipt of drink.

It’s crowded, dancing is not a good idea, but tell that to the 250-pound guy wearing a long green wig and Guinness T-shirt over green jeans.

Ditties that are commonly called Irish drinking songs are played by various bands throughout the day often invoking those well into their cups to dance. It’s crowded, dancing is not a good idea, but tell that to the 250-pound guy wearing a long green wig and Guinness T-shirt over green jeans.

Many folks traditionally take off the Monday after the parade, so even though it’s a Sunday, the day and night are long allowing for maximal revelry. I feel sorry for these people who will pay the real price in the morning. I feel even sorrier for the staff who have to wade through this green sea of humanity with drinks and food. 

But now most of the decorations are gone, the bar stools are back, glass has replaced plastic for holding drinks while plastic has replaced cash when paying. Phew … only another 363 days to go until St. Patrick’s Day 2019!

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Valérie Plante: Not Your Typical Mayor

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When Montrealers elected Valérie Plante as our first female mayor last November there was much excitement. Not just because of her gender, but because she was a new voice. Her predecessor, Denis Coderre, had ruled in a very heavy-handed manner. Making many decisions that would come back to sting him and ultimately lead to his downfall, including the FormulaE race debacle.

Unfortunately for Mayor Coderre the race proved to be a flop and the city took a bath. Even with the fee, Plante was lauded for scrapping the project as promised.

Life was good for Ms. Plante in the immediate aftermath of the election. She canceled the remaining FormulaE races that Coderre had agreed to, which was a campaign promise she made. Of course, there will be a cancellation fee that some estimates put it in the millions of dollars, but Mayor Plante is not worried: “What we know is that whatever the cost to cancel the race, I believe it’s worth it, because at this point, it doesn’t pay off.”

This event was intended to bring spectators to the city, something along the lines of the annual Formula1 race that pumps millions of dollars into the city’s economy each June. Unfortunately for Mayor Coderre the race proved to be a flop and the city took a bath. Even with the fee, Plante was lauded for scrapping the project as promised.

She did not fare quite as well however when she increased taxes beyond the cost of living, which she promised not to do. But she is hardly the first and will no doubt not be the last politician to fiddle and fudge when it comes to taxes.

If she gets her way one of four main east-west conduits in the downtown core will be reduced to one (yep one) lane for traffic while the sidewalks will be doubled in width. 

But an odd notion has started to cross the minds of many Montrealers: based on some recent ideas and proposals, Mayor Valérie Plante seems to have something against downtown Montreal. A bit of an axe to grind for some reason. Not a typical position for a mayor.

Aside from acting in a Coderre-like manner by deciding unilaterally, i.e. without any public consultation, to stop through traffic over Mont-Royal, traffic that may well be on the way to downtown restaurants and bars, she now wants to revamp St. Catherine Street, one of the main commercial roads in the city, turning downtown into a mall.

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If she gets her way one of four main east-west conduits in the downtown core will be reduced to one (yep one) lane for traffic while the sidewalks will be doubled in width. The mayor has floated this trial balloon in the latest salvo against downtown. St. Catherine Street is already suffering, evident by the many empty storefronts that seem to appear every day. How can making it more difficult to get to these businesses possibly do anything but hurt them?

… that people who are paying for a vehicle are loath to pay again for public transit. If you make public transit free, then you may be talking.

The mayor claims public transit is the key. Get more folks on the buses and Metros. I agree that Montreal has a pretty good transit system, but I think I speak for many with whom I have brought up the topic when I say that people who are paying for a vehicle are loath to pay again for public transit. If you make public transit free, then you may be talking.

I use public transit because my wife takes the car to work. She could use the bus and subway, but it would take over 90 minutes each way. Not a feasible option. When we travel downtown we use the car; rather than paying for the numerous expenses and then leave it sitting at home only to pay bus fare, we drive.

Many frustrated potential patrons are forced to take their business out of the downtown area to the parking-friendly suburbs. 

I would humbly suggest to the mayor that an increased number of parking spots, even if metered, is the realistic way to go. Trying to find a spot on a Saturday evening so we can spend our hard-earned cash in a downtown restaurant has proven difficult, although several streets are for reasons not apparent deemed no parking while other have meters that are covered in red bags denoting no service. Many frustrated potential patrons are forced to take their business out of the downtown area to the parking-friendly suburbs. The pipe dream of public transit will only face the possibility of becoming real once the fare has been eradicated. No one wants to double dip – paying car fees and transit fares.

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Green Line Before Pink Line

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Dear Mayor Plante,

In the months since your election last fall I think it fair to say things have been a bit rough for you. Not because you canceled the Formula E race and not because you axed a few big projects that would have cost millions (frankly the way climate change is affecting our city heated sidewalks seem outdated anyway). No, you took a lot of heat – citizen, not sidewalk generated – for increasing taxes after saying you would not. I’ve got a hunch you are not the first nor will you be the last elected official to do this.

No, not the existing Metro Green Line, but the green line that is usually painted down Ste-Catherine Street marking the route of the St. Patrick’s Day parade.

But in light of your rocky start, I thought I would try to give you a heads-up regarding another issue. During your campaign, you mentioned that you would like to extend the Metro system by adding a pink line. Before we embark on that pricey undertaking, my concern is a much cheaper line: the green line. No, not the existing Metro Green Line, but the green line that is usually painted down Ste-Catherine Street marking the route of the St. Patrick’s Day parade.

This year because of a multi-year major project on Ste-Catherine the parade has been moved one street north. And just to further confuse both parade goers and marchers, the direction has also been changed. After many years of moving from west to east on Ste-Catherine this year the parade will travel east to west on de Maisonneuve.

This is not only a long-held tradition but a harbinger of spring for thousands of Montrealers as well.

I understand that you have many things on your plate, and I realize that small details sometimes fall through the cracks. I am not suspicious about the line being omitted to cut costs, so with over a month to parade day on March 18th I am calling upon you to take this issue to heart and see to it that the green line is duly painted on de Maisonneuve. This is not only a long-held tradition but a harbinger of spring for thousands of Montrealers as well.

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

How Public Officials Should Handle Mistakes

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The excerpt below from the Montreal Gazette illustrates the proper way for public officials to handle making a mistake – admit it, adapt and move on.

The city of Montreal, which intended to let the past week’s snowfall melt, has now reversed it’s (sic) decision and will start clearing streets Sunday evening. 

The head of snow removal, Jean-François Parenteau announced the reversal on Saturday.

Parenteau explained the change because of cooler temperatures. The decision not to clear the snow was a bad choice on his part and he apologized.

A snow removal operation costs an average of $1 million per borough. The City of Montreal has carried out four clearing operations since the beginning of winter.

The snow budget of $160 million makes it possible to make five per winter.

However, the decision not to clear the snow but let it melt is one with which I, as a 90% pedestrian, abhor. The snow melts under the wheels of vehicles no doubt. The resulting slushy swamps and pools of filthy water end up being splattered hither and yon, making sidewalk navigation a royal pain.

I understand the savings, but there has to be a way to convince drivers that it is not acceptable to ignore pedestrians on sidewalks as they plow through the slop, drenching folks as they walk. There was a time when drivers, those with an inkling of common decency,  took this into consideration and would slow down, to a crawl if necessary. But I fear those days are long gone.

So thank you M Parenteau for doing the right thing!

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+