Saw this article earlier and it just brought up a whole slew of issues as to the wrong directions Montreal has been going in for a few generations. There you have a very interesting building right on the Lachine Canal that no one has been interested in for decades. While being well known amongst urban explorers, this former CN building once played a very important role in organizing train traffic for downtown and the South West. It’s part of what should be a very well known local narrative, the history of railroads in Montreal, which itself is a substantial portion of the history of Canada . But with the egregious condo tower development of Griffintown ( a district that should be renamed Tremblayville) it appears that there is now energy to add some “culture” to this structure and the area.
There is very little evidence of that railroad history in the city today with perhaps the most telling item being the monumentally obnoxious gesture of building the city’s principle hockey arena (Bell Centre) in front of one of the most important railway buildings in the country, Windsor Station. The city needs to be more rail friendly for the future and the decision to build on that spot was horribly shortsighted. Heritage has not been high on the list of priorities in the “Paris of North America” for a long time with a fair amount of “Paris” getting torn down and replaced by much lesser than projects. In the 1980′s the tracks that ran between Saint Antoine and Notre Dame were dug up, the viaducts at Guy and Mountain streets torn down and some of the most boring neighborhoods in the city were created, no man’s lands that are not well served at all by public transportation, nor offer much in the way of arts or commercial attractions. One could have hoped that for all the corruption involved Montreal could have at least got a bit of a bang for it’s inflated dollars. Didn’t happen.
And now we have another municipal election, one that should be closing the door on the Tremblay Era, a time in the city post-merger that has been dominated by corruption and really, really bad decisions in development, though it needs to be said that the two, more or less, walked hand in hand.
I first met Richard Bergeron around 2008 when the Turcot movement was picking up some momentum. This man was attending public consultations, community meetings and other events around the city mainly concerned with transportation and infrastructure issues in Montreal and how they would impact residents. And this was when he was the only elected official from Projet Montreal. I was very impressed with his whole approach towards those issues and especially how he not only seemed very concerned about citizen’s ideas, but was willing to rub elbows with anyone who had something to say. You could see that he was very passionate about the city. This is not what the usual politicians do, often showing up only when they want something from you. I spoke with him again this year at a Verdun Projet Montreal event and I could clearly see again his enthusiasm and determination to see Montreal return as a great world class city. During my Turcot activist period I spoke with a number of incredible people around the city including architects, engineers, urban planners and the like, and not one of them had a greater grasp of the whole picture in Montreal than Richard Bergeron. He would make an excellent Mayor!
I ran for Borough Councillor with Projet Montreal in Verdun in 2009. I learned a lot about what the job is really all about doing door to door campaigning. While many of us would like to change the world; there is a man who is angry about not being able to build a fence 10 inches higher than the bylaws permit; someone else who feels the city should focus on wild animals; others who want more municipal parking lots; people with every imaginable concept hoping to get these projects “grandfathered”; and the list just keeps on going. It is not an easy job, especially if you plan on doing it well. If the 2013 team in Verdun is any indication, then I would have to say that the Projet Montreal candidates across the city are well prepared to serve the citizens of Montreal in the best manner possible.
We need honest people in charge of the city, it’s really as simple as that. And Projet Montreal’s books are open to anyone who wants to see how the money is acquired and spent.
We live in strange times. Every day more and more people are accepting the overwhelming scientific fact that man made climate change is real and is coming to shake our world upside down. There is no running away from this realty as we now frequently see extreme weather events around the globe shattering previous records and the damage that can displace thousands. That The Arctic is melting should be all the information we need. North America itself is only one severe drought across the breadbasket from chaos. While politicians in Ottawa ( Harper fires scientists rather than face the truth) and Quebec City (the Ministry of Transportation believes more roads and greater capacity are the answer to everything) try to carry on as normal, that very normal 20th century approach that is no longer relevant, there are cities around the world that have decided to take matters into their own hands and begin programs based on principles of sustainability in the face of oncoming catastrophic global climate change. It’s about survival and being ready to fight, being prepared, and facing the future head on. Montreal needs to get going in a new direction!
Some people have called Richard Bergeron a dreamer, especially in regard to public transportation and Light Rapid Transit (LRT). I challenge anyone to find a city where the locals are saying, “Oh My God, why did we ever build an LRT system?” A program to reduce the burning of fossil fuels is going to be a success anywhere, one that will be greatly appreciated as time goes on. And I say we need more dreamers, dreamers with the courage to move forward, because there is a difficult road ahead and sitting put hoping for everything to just stay nice and comfy is suicide. We need leaders who are more dreamers than slaves to ideologies that serve only the wealthy corporations who have worked very hard to create the mess the world is in. There is going to be new problems and we need to get in on the game in order to have a decent shot at survival. Future generations will judge us by how we act now, and I mean right now.
You can vote for the old guard that cheated, lied, and misspent your tax dollars, or you can vote for change, essential change, change that embraces the 21st century as the most challenging period in the history of humanity.
I humbly suggest that you vote for Projet Montreal.