Monday, 1 August 2011

Montreal needs a facelift

I'm a proud native Montrealer and defend it and the province of Quebec against the inanities that sometimes spout out of the mouths of some unenlightened Canadians here out West. Having said that, the state of the roads and bridges and tunnels in Montreal is shocking. It really does look like the Third World, or a post-Apocalyptic movie set with all the graffiti. I can't help but notice the cracks and patches in the concrete, the rust stains, the visible re-bar where chunks have fallen off. Calling the surface itself a patchwork is a misnomer, it's more of an agglomeration of patches with the original matrix long gone. Oh, and a hell of a lot of patches are missing too.

Last time I was in town visiting my girlfriend who lived for a while on Berri above Sherbrooke. It was a great neighbourhood with a nice feel, except for a lot of buildings in the walking area that are really rundown. Not old, not heritage, just run down, needing a lot of maintenance instead of a sloppy coat of paint on top of the previous 16 coats of paint. Another thing was the graffiti, again it's everywhere, and my girlfriend was so inured to it that she didn't notice it anymore, whereas it jumped out at me. Some private residences had some on their walls, and it remained for the two weeks I was there. It seems like it's an accepted part of urban life, instead of a blight that needs to be stamped out.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not a hater, I meet a lot of visitors in Whistler and when I can I get in a plug about going to Montreal, mention all the great things you can do and see. On my last trip I took in the Jazz Festival's many outdoor concerts, saw Zachary Richard at Place des Arts (great show), took Bixis everywhere and loved them, had some smoked meat at Schwartz's, bagels at St-Viateur and Fairmount, took in a couple of fireworks shows, rode the Metro and marveled at how easy it was to get around compared to Vancouver...

I see unemployment in Quebec being perennially high, the economy being in need of stimulus, and an infrastructure that needs massive overhaul. I wonder why the province can't attack these three things at once, in a massive project way way bigger than Baie James was.

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