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  #41  
Old Posted Jul 29, 2018, 11:33 AM
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Originally Posted by kool maudit View Post
There are a lot of good things afoot in Montreal but they have not fully materialized as of yet; the impression I was left with was of just how scarred the city's admittedly vast central area is... the 20 tunnel, the suburbanization of Burgundy, the inner south-east... it's like Berlin.

.
I don't actually think Berlin is bad company to be in. Like Montreal it suffered relative to its peers from "lost decades". Many more than Montreal in fact.

It's certainly a more apt comparison than Belgrade.
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  #42  
Old Posted Jul 29, 2018, 11:40 AM
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Yes, there is obviously more of this "national metropolis" stuff going on in Toronto than in Montreal. Montreal can still play the game to some degree due its status as the metropolis of Quebec-French Canada which is a relatively cohesive entity, but only to a point.

Most of the stuff that is only going to be in one city in Canada is going to be in Toronto. Or at least in Toronto first. Though due to a number of factors there are quite a few exceptions (F1 Grand Prix, Tesla, etc.) that allow Montreal to continue pretending.
Quoting myself I know, but on the "only one city" front, an interesting read is a little-known book by well-known urbanist Jane Jacobs.

https://www.amazon.ca/Question-Separ.../dp/1926824067

She argued that Quebec independence would actually benefit Montreal from a city-building perspective. For many of the reasons that Toronto is outgunning Montreal on several fronts today.
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  #43  
Old Posted Jul 29, 2018, 11:52 AM
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Originally Posted by kool maudit View Post
In spite of my disappointment this summer, I do think Montreal is doing all the right things. I think I may have been premature in some of my expectations; much of what I had been curious to see is still in the creation stage.
.
I think your expectations may have been unrealistically high, and based on what you were reading and hearing without much of a hands-on experience of what the true impact was on the ground. When you're in the city or close to it like me you have a better idea of the evolution.

Construction projects on main streets as others have said have had a big impact on Montreal. Rue St-Denis was severely impacted and I was almost in tears a year or two ago at the sight of it as it's one of my favourite streets. I noticed this summer it was rebounding though.

Montreal had a lot of faded and even desecrated beauty in the 80s and 90s and a lot of it has been or is in the process of being rehabilitated. I do think that the turrets and other fineries on older Montreal buildings when all gussied up outgun the bay and gable features of Toronto (that never declined it is true) in terms of uniquness and charm.

But perhaps there is still a lot more work to be done than I thought in restoring the fineries that adorn Montreal's streets. Again, this could just be me looking at things incrementally, and seeing how far things have come there since... I dunno, 1998.
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  #44  
Old Posted Jul 29, 2018, 12:10 PM
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I won't be as blunt as others but it is true that Toronto feels more corporatist and chain-oriented than Montreal. That's always been part of the ethos of Toronto: all growth is good, no matter its nature or its origin.

I guess an argument can be made that unbridled growth is what makes the world's great and most interesting cities these days but I think "your mileage may vary" on that.

A lot of the dynamism in Toronto is of the Wahlburgers (and soon Chick-Fil-A) variety.

Perhaps the sheer amount of economic activity that is generated by all of this leads to the emergence of tons of cool mom and pop stuff as well next door... I dunno.

And in the latter case due to the frequent slags on Toronto for being generic, a lot of people don't expect it to have much that's unique to itself. And when it does they're a bit surprised - which is silly when you consider the size of the city.

I am kind of in the middle on this one. I would never say there is nothing unique and special about Toronto but OTOH don't find it's exactly oozing the stuff either. Especially not for its size and role within Canada.

I know this comment still won't please the city's biggest fans on here, but there you have it.
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  #45  
Old Posted Jul 29, 2018, 12:18 PM
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A few more observations:

Yonge Street has improved and continues to improve greatly but I still find it pales in comparison to Ste-Catherine in terms of a all-things-to-all-people big city main street.

I know the usual argument is that Yonge lacks panache because it has more competition from the Eaton Centre, Yorkville, etc. but Ste-Catherine has lots of competition as well from Sherbrooke St which has upscale stuff as do areas to the south towards the old town. As do the side streets right off Ste-Catherine (which arguably have more shopping than most of the side streets just off Yonge).

As has been stated on here the urban realm with some exceptions needs to be spiffied up in most of Toronto. Even on the main streets in nicer neighbourhoods sidewalks, benches, lights and poles are usually pretty crappy looking.

And I won't even get into what it must be like to be an urban cyclist in Toronto...
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  #46  
Old Posted Jul 29, 2018, 12:37 PM
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Originally Posted by kool maudit View Post
In order to regain its rightful stature, enormous structural shifts have to occur, including an overall closing of the gap between French and English Canada in household income terms.

.
It's actually been closed already. Household incomes in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver are basically identical at this point.

The main difference that disadvantages Montreal is the relative absence of old money, at least compared to the other two cities. Most of the old money that Montreal had at one time was anglo controlled and decamped post-1976, and there is little francophone old money to begin with.
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  #47  
Old Posted Jul 29, 2018, 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by kool maudit View Post
I just spent the month of July touring the three cities that make up my autobiography in Canada. This is the longest time I have spent in the country since 2011.

It was a real eye-opener and it didn't go as I thought it would.

Montreal

I lived in Montreal for 17 years and will always have a special place in my heart for the city. It is Canada's oldest and first metropolis, it is the single nail holding the federation together, and it is a strange and mythic place.

My visit to Montreal was enormously disappointing.

I had expected to visit my city in a boom period; I had thought the new building projects and urban initiatives would see the city in finer form that I had ever experienced it. Maybe this is true, or maybe it will be true very soon when a few of the major ones are complete. At present, the place is a big construction site.

Unfortunately, it is also running very visibly at something like 70% capacity.

The only major thoroughfares running in anything like top gear are Sainte-Catherine and Mont-Royal, and the former is not active or central-feeling enough to contend with other, similar streets. Saint-Laurent is dreary and sleepy; Saint-Denis is full of holes. Notre-Dame has its pockets, but it lacks any continuity.

The city is visibly poorer and smaller than the cities I have traditionally considered its peers and rivals. Copenhagen and Stockholm exceed its vitality at half its size. In North American terms, it can't really be ranked alongside places like Boston at the moment, but instead exists somewhere between that and maybe St. Louis. I have always been proud of Montreal and I don't like saying this.

I didn't like feeling it either.

The Old Port is impressively vital, and busier than I have ever seen it. Unfortunately, the urban connective tissue joining it to the greater central area is very poor with the area between Beaver Hall and Bleury as the only real strip of living tissue. There are a lot of good things afoot in Montreal but they have not fully materialized as of yet; the impression I was left with was of just how scarred the city's admittedly vast central area is... the 20 tunnel, the suburbanization of Burgundy, the inner south-east... it's like Berlin.

Montreal is doing all the right things but it started so late. The continent's 21st century is only starting to arrive. In order to regain its rightful stature, enormous structural shifts have to occur, including an overall closing of the gap between French and English Canada in household income terms.

Although I had allowed for 10 days in Montreal, we left after five.
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This almost sounds like Paris Depression Syndrome suffered by Japanese tourists.
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  #48  
Old Posted Jul 29, 2018, 12:49 PM
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I don't actually think Berlin is bad company to be in. Like Montreal it suffered relative to its peers from "lost decades". Many more than Montreal in fact.

It's certainly a more apt comparison than Belgrade.
It's not really an insult. The Balkan capitals are generally very active, often primarily with locals. Take Sarajevo - 275,000 in the City, 395,000 in the Urban Area. It's easily as busy as cities of many millions:

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I don't think Montreal is as far gone as Berlin is - though, perhaps it is for Anglo-Montrealers. From an outside perspective, though, Montreal still seems to be more or less the same city. It's not a completely different beast, like Berlin of the 1920s versus Berlin today.
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  #49  
Old Posted Jul 29, 2018, 1:40 PM
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Posts like this do the exact opposite of what you are trying to achieve.

It comes off as petty and like you're trying too hard, very insecure. This thread was nothing more than an opinion piece but here you are trying to defend Montreal's honour like there is no tomorrow. Just aligns with what kool was trying to say to be honest.

Obviously it's fine to have counterpoint opinions but at the same time you gotta take this thread with a grain of salt rather than taking needless insecure shots at Toronto.
I agree, this was a piece of opinion coming from someone who lived in Montreal for many years and who made some legit observations. The intent was certainly not to start a pissing contest. There is near-general consensus that, for various reasons, the level of urbanity in the city has suffered in the last few years. Look at St-Denis and Prince Arthur. Seeing them today is a shock compared to 7-10 years ago. It was a eye-opener for me and I found kool’s piece of opinion interesting since I almost felt like I was one of the rare persons who noticed the relative decline in urbanity the city had experienced in the last 5-10 years.

Incessant construction on the major arterials, issues with the urban fabric that have been problematic for decades such as the Old Port being almost disconnected from the rest of the city, nightlife and “trendy” areas being displaced from the heart of the island to some distant or unfinished neighbourhoods (Griffintown is very bleak and will most likely be for a decade or two). That’s an interesting discussion, and discussing the improvement of Toronto over the same period is equally interesting.
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  #50  
Old Posted Jul 29, 2018, 2:05 PM
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Toronto is confidence, boldness, diversity, freedom and possibilities!

The city gets better and better every year, all varieties of lifestyles exist here in abundance, you just have to search for that niche as the city is large enough to be oblivious of major goings-on.

The Toronto Indy, Taste of the Danforth, street festivals, Caribana, TIFF, events at the Brickworks, daily events at the convention center, major ethnic events (with 10's of thousands of people in venues such as the Rogers Center), concerts at the Scotiabank Center, festivals at Dundas Square, nightclubs, bars, CNE events, sports games (other than TFC), etc., etc. I for the life of me have no idea when these events occur, I just know, on any given day, at any given time, I'll find something, big or small somewhere! All major arteries are filled with people and the energy is alive with commerce and sex!

The crazy part is, there are so many commercial, residential, public infrastructure and public realm improvements under construction that this city will keep growing and improving for years to come even if there's a crash and recession tomorrow! Never seen so many Pennsylvania, Arizona, New York, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Florida and California plates on the streets, seems like 10% of the cars on the road downtown are from out of province.

Rob Ford couldn't slow us down, SARS is barely remembered, even little mom and pop stores which were so broke and run down you'd think they'd fold are now upping their game and thriving due to the increased population downtown and on the arteries. The city of now and the city of the future, all cylinders baby!!


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  #51  
Old Posted Jul 29, 2018, 2:15 PM
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there's something about a 60 floor tower next to a street of single family homes that I just don't care for.
This was also always a turn off for me. You just can’t recreate a dense, pre-war neighbourhood.
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  #52  
Old Posted Jul 29, 2018, 2:48 PM
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I am not going to argue or contend. I came to Canada and had my impressions of the cities I care about. In an overall sense, I found Toronto much more competitive with the places I frequent here in Northern Europe, and a more promising venue for life and career.
.
While people often point to stuff like cycling, cheap university and daycare as examples of Northern European character present in Montreal, I don't think that the comparison was ever apt, even in the city's heyday when it was firing on all cylinders.

Montreal was and is too disorderly, disorganized, irresponsible and capricieuse to be effectively compared to Northern European cities.

I'd say Toronto has always had as much if not more of the classic Northern European traits, and most importantly more of those characteristics that are especially valued by the globalist anglosphere or at least anglophilic moneyed classes that read The Economist, for example. And who drag along a lot of aspirational people in their wake.

The fact that Toronto pushes more buttons on that dashboard plays no small role in its dynamism.
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  #53  
Old Posted Jul 29, 2018, 3:05 PM
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I agree, this was a piece of opinion coming from someone who lived in Montreal for many years and who made some legit observations. The intent was certainly not to start a pissing contest. There is near-general consensus that, for various reasons, the level of urbanity in the city has suffered in the last few years. Look at St-Denis and Prince Arthur. Seeing them today is a shock compared to 7-10 years ago. It was a eye-opener for me and I found kool’s piece of opinion interesting since I almost felt like I was one of the rare persons who noticed the relative decline in urbanity the city had experienced in the last 5-10 years.

Incessant construction on the major arterials, issues with the urban fabric that have been problematic for decades such as the Old Port being almost disconnected from the rest of the city, nightlife and “trendy” areas being displaced from the heart of the island to some distant or unfinished neighbourhoods (Griffintown is very bleak and will most likely be for a decade or two). That’s an interesting discussion, and discussing the improvement of Toronto over the same period is equally interesting.
It's true there might a bit of a slowdown (essoufflement) but I am not sure if you are old enough to remember the 90s. This is when I began going to Montreal and while the city still had its charms it was more like a sexy old lady with a few big moles on its face. Even Ste-Catherine was pretty shabby and both ends, and when I mean both ends I mean in the vicinity of the Forum in the west and around Complexe Desjardins in the east. Lots of abandoned and run down buildings in both of these areas, with only the middle parts near McGill College, Peel and De La Montagne holding up reasonably well. St-Laurent was pretty dead back then and also had a lot of abandonment. It was very gap-toothed in terms of urban activity. The old town was only partly "alive" as well.

So yes much progress has been made since then. The question is whether all of this has run out of gas? I don't think it has, and I hope not since they still have a lot of work to do.

I do have confidence that most of the work to be done, when it is done, will be done (reasonably) right.
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  #54  
Old Posted Jul 29, 2018, 3:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Acajack View Post
While people often point to stuff like cycling, cheap university and daycare as examples of Northern European character present in Montreal, I don't think that the comparison was ever apt, even in the city's heyday when it was firing on all cylinders.

Montreal was and is too disorderly, disorganized, irresponsible and capricieuse to be effectively compared to Northern European cities.

I'd say Toronto has always had as much if not more of the classic Northern European traits, and most importantly more of those characteristics that are especially valued by the globalist anglosphere or at least anglophilic moneyed classes that read The Economist, for example. And who drag along a lot of aspirational people in their wake.

The fact that Toronto pushes more buttons on that dashboard plays no small role in its dynamism.
Manchester or Birmingham, perhaps?
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  #55  
Old Posted Jul 29, 2018, 3:09 PM
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Manchester or Birmingham, perhaps?
Perhaps I should have said "prestige" Northern European cities, then.
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  #56  
Old Posted Jul 29, 2018, 3:13 PM
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I don't think you can provide an unbiased opinion in this regards. Everything you say has truth too it however, it's designed to fit your narrative rather than provide a complete picture. Please don't derail this thread with your spamming.
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  #57  
Old Posted Jul 29, 2018, 3:16 PM
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I don't think you can provide an unbiased opinion in this regards. .
Can anyone?
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  #58  
Old Posted Jul 29, 2018, 3:37 PM
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It's true there might a bit of a slowdown (essoufflement) but I am not sure if you are old enough to remember the 90s. This is when I began going to Montreal and while the city still had its charms it was more like a sexy old lady with a few big moles on its face. Even Ste-Catherine was pretty shabby and both ends, and when I mean both ends I mean in the vicinity of the Forum in the west and around Complexe Desjardins in the east. Lots of abandoned and run down buildings in both of these areas, with only the middle parts near McGill College, Peel and De La Montagne holding up reasonably well. St-Laurent was pretty dead back then and also had a lot of abandonment. It was very gap-toothed in terms of urban activity. The old town was only partly "alive" as well.
I have not “experienced” the city in the late 90’s, but I have seen pictures and heard about how bad it was. The city has sure come a long way in comparison. My experience is based on a few areas and a few arterial streets that have not improved and on the contrary that have been deteriorating in the last 10 years. That’s probably nothing compared to the late 90’s.
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  #59  
Old Posted Jul 29, 2018, 3:54 PM
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It's all very subjective. I personally feel that Montreal's urbanity is evolving and getting better and better every year. Yes, the city right now is one big construction zone, yes Saint-Denis is almost dead because it didn't adapt quickly enough to the new realities of retail (just like Soho or GV in New York, who are experiencing the same problem) and Griffintown is a work in progress that will take another ten years of work to feel complete.

But Kool, to say that Montreal now feels closer to St-Louis than Boston is just trolling, no matter how sincere and felt that observation was. Why do I have the feeling that you're like the guy who introduced his family to his girlfriend wanting her to like them, but knowing in advance that she would probably click more with the neighbors ? You said so yourself a while back that your girlfriend was excited about visiting Montreal but had no expectations about Toronto, but you suspected that she would prefer the later. It's as if you saw Montreal through her eyes and maybe you oversold Montreal to her in the first place ? Would all this have been different if you came back alone ? You sound so bitter about your stay in Montreal, so heartbroken, it's all a little over the top. I don't recognize the Montreal you are describing, like a city that lost his soul and pulse and became boring and flavorless.

I think and hope that one day you will fall all over again in love with Montreal. Cities do that sometimes (coming back from a trip in London I was once turn off by Paris, because that was my mood at the time - even though I absolutely love Paris, just as much as London).
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  #60  
Old Posted Jul 29, 2018, 3:56 PM
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Yup, the area around the forum used to be quite run down. I remember the abandoned Seville theatre with pigeons living in it. That area has improved for sure. I think a lot of it has to do with the growth of enrollment at Concordia, which has resulted in a lot more people living in the area.

Around Complexe Desjardins, it's hard to say how much of an improvement there was.. I remember there used to be a lot of big abandoned buildings in that area, not to mention a lot of what was there was quite run down. A lot of that has been cleaned up quite a bit. But then there's things like the demolition of the Spectrum about 10 years ago, which is still waiting for something to be built in its place.
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