Montreal Needs Projet Montreal

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.


4 responses to “Montreal Needs Projet Montreal

  1. Exactly…………

    (and this is going on in Toronto-also…( we DO live in STRANGE times!)
    presently-overall-we have 3 levels of the most incompetent INEPT politicians in either Montreal or Toronto(and in Ottawa-also)…

    (To quote the old Pogo comic(which ran in the Montreal Star-remember?)one of the characters said”we have met the enemy-and he is US?)

    Whats happened to us?(we cannot build condos fast enough(in either city(on seemingly EVERY inch of land we can find…..)(we demolish everything-in order to build them…..(we seem condo obsessed……( getting rid of history we can never replace….(in both cities)…..

    I have been over this bridge-lots of times(I know this place extremely well…..)(it would be great to see the Wellington Tower as a cultural centre(in Toronto the St Clair Wychwood streetcar buildings were turned into an art center(and it dates from 1913(I used to live right around the corner from it(it is as big as the old Glen Rd buildings were…..(in Montreal)….

    I remember when the huge lift bridge was here(up intil 1967)I used to come down here-(back until 1972( when I moved to Toronto(for school and work reasons)…(and when the canal was still busy(shipping traffic)…

    Both the canal and the Wellington Tower have been abandoned in their lifetimes(nice to see both of them have new lives…)

    But our rail history(Montreals) is something you CANNOT DISMISS or FORGET( either the railways or the tramways(streetcars…)…
    (LRTs are NOT streetcars!either)

    I speak as someone whose family worked for the railways(for many many years(CN and VIA(in fact in Toronto I live 300 feet from the main Montreal Toronto rail line(the other end of it-is in Central Station).

    here-we have the whole LRTS vs subways debate (and trainwise-the Union Station -Pearson Airport debate(whether it be diesel-or an electrified line…)..(when I moved here-in 1972- west of Union Station- was mostly
    railway tracks and railway sidings(the area called Liberty(next to where I live(Parkdale)(was an industrial area(much like Griffintown)…(you can still see remains of railway sidings and rail spur lines(that used to hold lines of freight cars(that area is now much like Griffintown is(and I can photograph that area-as a comparision to Griffintown)(pretty similar environment(but the urban explorer in me also photographed signs of this areas past(its industrial past

  2. Theres also a place in Toronto (In Scarborough(east end of Toronto) called the Guild Inn(its at Kingston Road(and Guildwood Parkway)….(Kingston Road leads to the 401( and to and from Montreal)(from Hwy 2(and Port Union Rd)
    On the grounds of the Guild Inn-you’ll see remains of old buildings that were demolished in Toronto(mostly in the 1960s and 1970s)…..

    A lot of Torontos railway history has vanished also( especially railway stations-and some rail lines(I live 2 blocks from what is now an abandoned railway station(built before 1920(my street also had a railway station(South Parkdale(but it was demolished( and our main railway stations demolished in 1971(Sunnyside)
    and Parkdale(in 1977(located at Queen-Dufferin)…..

    (in 1973 Union Station was supposed to be demolished and replaced by the Metro Centre(which fortunately did not happen(the ONLY part of the Metro Centre ever built needs NO introduction-the CN Tower…)

  3. We have politicians now-to whom(unfortunately) history and culture”get in the way” (of condo developers…..)(how many condo buildings are built-purely on speculation?)
    where our skylines are starting to look more and more like places like Hong Kong……..(becoming totally faceless(and without their own special identities of Montreal (and Toronto…)…

    (how ironic-that we marvel at cities like Chicago( with the Wrigley Building etc( where they PRESERVED their history and architecture( while WE- can’t demolish OURS-fast enough(to build yet ANOTHER non descript faceless condo building…)(that looks like ALl the OTHER faceless non descript condo buildings(where we indiscriminately chop down HEALTHY beautiful trees HUNDREDS of YEARS old ONLY because “they block the VIEW from our breakfast nooks(of our condos)..

    we REALLY live in strange times…..(we chop down the very trees (and the very history we once fought and marched and demonstrated and protested to SAVE…….(where the view from the breakfast nook-is more important than the history..we DENY OURSELVES(and future generations our heritages…..(and for WHAT?…so we can see all the OTHER non descript condos?)

    What is WRONG with our PRIORITIES?( when the ‘view from the breakfast nook’-takes prescedence-over our history and heritage(for all time( and never to be replaced)

    (in either Montreal or Toronto…..)..(we have condemned a history- we once fought to save..)

    what happened to all thee people who so passionately cared about our cities?9and their history and heritages?)

    Railway travel used to be affordable for everyone(now it is mostly geared to buisnesspeople travelling between Montreal and Toronto)…

    Its totally disgusting-the rails that used to unite this country- are now mostly only for business travellers…….for MONEY(just like condos are)…

    Strange times-inexcusable times

  4. two really good AMERICAN examples of this- Detroit MI.(downtown Detroit)..( and parts of Buffalo NY(its Central Station)(mass abandonment)

    This photo is really poignant….(a man jogging beside several now silent places in this photo(the railway bridges) (the Lachine Canal…..(and underneath itthe (now abandoned) Wellington Tunnel(another place i knew really well…)….(the Wellington Tower)……

    How many people-in the train-are aware of all of this?(or remember it?)(or is it -just another view-(on the way-to and from work?)(especially in the wintertime?)
    How VERY MUCH THIS place- played such an IMPORTANT role-in Canada s history? How THIS area- has made it possible for these people to come and go from work(on this or any other day..)

    Once upon a time-this man would not be permitted to jog here-a Canadian soldier would have stopped him(the point of a bayonet affixed to a loaded rifle)

    Other times(in history) it would be too noisy-or grimy-to want to jog here…(or even consider it)

    Those times are NOT SO LONG ago-either(this canal flowed into a drainpipe when I last visited it)and Montreal could not’modernize’ fast enough….(Montreal could not make its past- disappear permanantly FAST enough)

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