If you followed this story* throughout the day you may have noticed slight discrepancies between the lead and the actual situation. Nothing feel off the ten-floor building at Cathcart and University, a window-washer noticed some of the slabs were loose. That’s pretty much it.
Now, that said no one’s quite sure when the last time the building was inspected, and it got me wondering whether the City needs to go on an all-out inspection blitz, literally inspecting every single building, street, bridge, viaduct and tunnel larger than a bus shelter in the entire metropolitan region. One shot, it would probably take an entire year to complete with a massive team of ‘deputized’ building inspectors. I can imagine a six-week intensive training course and a source of part-time employment for every university student in the city. The following year would be spent analyzing the data and getting those responsible to make the necessary repairs.
Honestly, how else are we going to get our confidence back? Such a study may just be the ticket to, at the very least, have a thorough understanding of the shape we’re in. I would hazard to guess such a report would indicate the majority of structures are sound and in no danger of having pieces fall off, but that said, a thorough city-wide inspection of everything would doubtless net a long list of repairs. It would be a massive wake-up call and may be enough to get the citizens to realize more is needed to keep our infrastructure safe and secure.
What do you think?
Is the media over-doing it? Is this to be expected in any urban environment? Or does the City of Montreal need to take dramatic action to counter years of inaction, as some suggest?
I guess I’m first to catch the glaring flaw here. Yay for history majors!
To begin, I watched the interview and I agree in principle that men can sometimes get the shit end of the legal stick when it comes to custody issues following a divorce. This is partially a reaction to having a justice system which at one point in the past uniquely served the interests of caucasian heterosexual adult males. Times have changed and we’re better off for it.
But theres a huge problem here.
Ms. Titus’ argument is in part based on the idea that the media doesn’t report the male victims of crimes or injustices of a psycho-sexual nature, that the victims, from a mainstream media perspective, seem to tend towards almost exclusively being women. As for the aggressors, they almost always seem to be men. Ms. Titus, in an effort to bring her point home refers to the four un-named male victims of the Montreal Massacre (aka Polytechnique Shooting) on Dec. 6th 1989. Her credibility then nose-dives because…
It never happened.
There were no men killed at the Polytechnique, save for the lone gunman. The four men she refers to were killed, wait for it:
a) three years later
b) at a different university
c) with a different weapon
d) for a fundamentally different reason
e) from a different person (also a man, now in jail, likely not to be paroled)
Ms. Titus used a tactic which has been well-used by Sun TV, Sun News, CNN, Fox News etc etc etc for years. It’s called ‘conflation’. Since most people can’t remember what happened last week, most people simply smush events together for their own convenience. Ask a history prof how maddening this is.
There’s absolutely no debate when it comes to the victims list from the Polytech Shooting – they were all women killed for being women by a man who claimed feminists had ruined his life. He stated as such in his suicide note. He only shot at women, he only killed women.
I cannot stress this enough. But because the Polytechnique Massacre and Concordia Massacre happened relatively close together, Ms. Titus has decided to apply four senseless male deaths at Concordia University to a crime committed three years earlier in hopes of bolstering her weak position and lack of credible evidence.
*** Author’s Note – October 10th 2011***
I’ve been corresponding with Ms. Titus and she alleges that she had received the incorrect information from students she interviewed. There was a linguistic barrier, as Ms. Titus cannot speak French, and she further alleges that the students led her to believe several men had been killed in the incident, though they could not pinpoint precisely where they had heard this. Ms. Titus insists that she corrected these statements, though I’ve yet to ascertain where such a retraction would have been posted.
That said, I don’t have much too say, I think she’s already done a number on her own credibility by admitting to using less than satisfactory research methods. While I can understand there is a pressure of sorts while appearing on unscripted live television, there is no excuse to use such flawed ‘information’ to form a core component of your argument. Frankly, if more people working in the 24-hr cable news industry made more of an effort to censor themselves and try, sincerely, to only speak the truth, or, to ensure that points are based on demonstrable facts, our society would be considerably less polarized. Instead, such infotainment organizations (like Sun News Network) are driven by spurious scandals and invented controversies. Facts take a back seat because pundits have no interest in finding the truth. This is a distinction between ‘media personality’ and ‘journalist/reporter’ our society must recognize, but unfortunately we are still functionally illiterate when it comes to most media and communications issues. Too many of us still only trust the town crier, and we need to evolve past this. Ms. Titus should have refrained from using this example to build her argument, but ultimately my objection lies not chiefly with her, but rather with Sun News for their selective omission, selective fact-checking, and custom-fit misinformation they traffic in.
But to ensure the record is clear, she does acknowledge the mistake and has apologized for making the assertion, incorrect as it is.
It’s not like Fox News North is going to do a god damn thing to help her get her facts straight and this in turn weakens us. We can’t have random, opportunistic people like this being supported by equally opportunistic assholes like Michael Coren, Sun News, Quebecor etc.
This is hardly great stuff, but I suppose I wouldn’t nearly be as disappointed if it weren’t for the fact that men’s rights forums and other commentators are falling-in step behind this, calling it good stuff, a decent argument etc. No one has noticed this crucial fabrication.
As a proud man, I choose to honour my pride by ensuring I know the facts before I open my mouth, and certainly before I go on TV in front of the 20 or 30 people who may or may not be watching Sun News.
So a recent article on Coolopolis piqued my curiosity. It features an interview Kristian Gravenor did with a man by the name of Billy Georgette, who has been doggedly pursuing local officials, politicians and people of influence to do something about the former Victoria Rink.
So what? It’s an old rink, what’s so special? you might be asking. Well, it is at the Victoria Rink that the first organized game of modern ice hickey was played, in 1875.
That, and it set the dimensions for the modern ice-hockey surface – roughly the distance between Stanley and Drummond.
Oh, and it was also the location of the first Stanley Cup game (which we won).
And it was the first building in Canada to be electrified.
Then Edison and Tesla showed up.
Not to mention Lord Stanley, who took in his first hockey game (which we won) at the rink, and was reported to have been thoroughly delighted with the spirited game.
And it sucks that it has survived for no other reason than the fact that people need a place to park. Oh well, at least its still with us. And it deserves better. This building ought to be a shrine, and there’s a movement afoot to do just that. The word is that certain people may be interested in seeing this building converted into a new facility, though the question remains as to what exactly it ought to be.
In addition to recreating the ice surface, a portion of the building, or perhaps an adjoining structure (there’s a big empty lot immediately to the North), could feature a ‘Montreal Hockey Museum’, though I can imagine the main draw would be simply to skate around a beautifully restored antique skating rink. A similar idea has been applied to the design of modern baseball stadiums in the States, and there are specially designed ballparks for the modern deadball leagues becoming popular down South (in essence, its baseball played the way it was when originally created, in the Antebellum Period). I have a feeling it wouldn’t be long before ‘old-time-hockey’ leagues were formed here – what a draw that would be!
A friend of mine recently asked me what I’d like to see happen to Griffintown.
I said: the Plateau.
How’s that saying go, brevity is the soul of wit?
But seriously now. We were talking about looking for apartments and she was wondering what I thought about the area currently being marketed as ‘Griffintown’ along Notre Dame West. Admittedly, this would have been the northernmost extensions of Griffintown, and would likely have been considered a part of Little Burgundy that last time there was a stable local population. Keep in mind, a good stretch of this area around the new ETS building was once a CN stockyard; this is why the buildings on the northern side of Notre Dame are all new construction, whereas those on the southern side tend to be renovated industrial buildings. I’ve had the chance to pass through the area a few times recently, and will be going back soon to document the street-side ballet of this new urban neighbourhood. It strikes me that this area may one day soon become a vibrant community, but as it stands right now, there is something palpably missing. There are people here, it is defining itself, but it has yet to acquire all that is needed to be considered an actual community, a neighbourhood.
Part of the problem lies in what kind of living arrangements are currently available here. Its almost exclusively condos, and these tend to be rented almost exclusively by students, young couples etc. There seem to be very few families around here, and scarcely any family-oriented services, such as schools, libraries, cultural centres, clinics etc. While a stretch of Notre Dame West in Little Burgundy has enjoyed recent success developing into a chic strip for night owls and the socially-inclined, other parts of the new Griffintown are eerily quiet and devoid of life between certain hours on most nights. Public transit doesn’t seem to have kept pace with developments here, and at times it seems to suffer from the same fundamental deficiencies as the Quartier des Multimedias further East.
The plan for Griffintown seems to be more of the same – large condo buildings and renovated former industrial sites. It’s market-driven development with only the bare minimum of municipal involvement. So the question I asked my friend, as I would ask anyone thinking of moving into Griffintown and potentially considering purchasing a condo, is whether or not they think someone else is going to want to live there at some point in the future, in short, what is the re-sale potential of the unit?
Now, the Berri Square area suffers from other problems as well, but the Ilot Voyageur isn’t helping. Griffintown has a stalled project along Peel with the plan to redevelop the old Dow Brewery – the area can’t afford to let this continue, as it places an unfortunate obstacle for further development – consider the negative effects the abandoned art store across from the former abandoned hulk of the Seville Theatre on Ste-Catherine’s near the old Forum. One abandoned building can have a detrimental effect on the land-value of adjacent buildings. A good portion of Griffintown remains abandoned or underused, and unless the city plans on moving in and directing urban residential redevelopment, the market may not be stable enough to guarantee long-term investment. Ergo, the city needs to stimulate investment by demonstrating to developers their intention to craft a viable urban community.
In order to accomplish this, the City’s going to have to take a good look at what makes our best urban communities work so well. What makes the Plateau what it is, what makes it so desirable, and can knowledge of these key characteristics be successfully applied to a new cooperative development scheme, where the City leads developers into a sustainable development model? The City should use its resources and contacts to develop the services that will stimulate the creation and growth of society, and not just a collection of places where people eat, sleep (and maybe build little forts!) The question I’ve been asked is why use the Plateau design model? In sum, residential housing design in Montreal from the Victorian and Edwardian eras, though by no means perfect, has some particularly interesting advantages, namely: the orientation of homes onto shared spaces (streets, alleys and parks), medium-sized housing density which allows for enough sunlight to penetrate shared spaces and stimulate local flora, and the availability of rental units for small-scale businesses, which are in turn oriented towards the needs of local residents. Moreover, areas of neighbourhood designed based on these concepts have proven themselves to be popular and developmentally malleable throughout the generations. It’s tried, tested and true and leaves enough breathing room to be highly adaptable. I can imagine an ideally designed Griffintown which blends this model with the industrial lofts and new condominiums.
I’ve identified an area roughly bounded by Sherbrooke, St-Antoine, Mountain and Bleury wherein we find almost all new high-capacity residential development. Its this same area that happens to have a large quantity of open spaces for development, most of which are surface parking lots. This same area has no public schools, no libraries, no grocery stores as far as I’ve seen, and pathetically few options when it comes to affordable fine dining, especially after regular business hours. What’s especially maddening is that this same area is the very core of our city. It is a societal wasteland, and I would know – I’ve been told for some time I come from one.
Dr. David Bernans is an unassuming man with more than a decadeâ€™s worth of involvement in student activism and student politics in general. A few years back he wrote a book, North of 9/11, a piece of historical fiction recounting some of his personal experiences dealing with Concordia University security practices in the wake of the September 11th terrorist attacks, and all the irrationality, absurdity and insanity that has manifested itself in countless ways over the past decade.
The rallying cry of â€œ9/11 Changed Everythingâ€, typical of the Tea Party penchant for minimalist deepities (thanks to Daniel Dennett for nailing that idea) is unfortunately not so merely a befuddled expression, but also a kind of sick state-of-mind. Perennial fear, and every John Q middle-manager and white-collar schlock finding a newfound purpose in life by making security and anti-terrorism their personal affair. Perhaps we were spared the brunt of the 9/11 tidal wave, but at the very least on campuses here at home and across the nation, a new mood was established, and Concordia would become a Made-in-Canada example-sans-pareil of the new corporate universityâ€™s response to student politics and activism in the post-9/11 world. I can imagine another expression, â€œthe gloves are coming offâ€ repeated with renewed vigour in university boardrooms. One of the pillars of our liberal democracy, a â€˜freeâ€™ and public post-secondary education, renown as bastions of free thought and expression, would become a new ground-zero for illegal, unethical and ultimately state-sponsored political terrorism and suppression. The new corporate university, at armâ€™s length of the titans of industry, finance and government, would do its part in stamping out internal dissent and anyone, though students in particular, who threatened the corporate image of the institution. All of a sudden Mr. Bernans found himself persona non-grata in the institution he worked so hard to improve. Thereâ€™s nothing like altruism and the open-support of potentially unpopular causes to get the attention of corporate PR hacks and university lawyers.
I had the chance to speak with the now Dr. Bernans at the book-launch of the new electronic (e-book) version of North of 9/11, originally published in 2006. The reading to a small group was held at Concordiaâ€™s cooperative bookstore, an initiative of progressive students that goes back quite a ways. Though Iâ€™ve now graduated from the institution, I can remember the Co-op, as its commonly known, was typically the host of anti-frosh activities designed to get the focus back on learning and away from mind-crushing alcohol-fueled hangovers. So I was surprised to see Dr. Bernansâ€™ book reading was part of the regular Concordia Student Union frosh-week roster. Inside, I met up with the new CSU President Lex Gill and then put two-and-two together. I had forgotten about the progressive victory on campus from earlier this year, when the students finally de-throned the university-approved political dynasty they had created in the wake of the Netanyahu Riots of 2002. Thus, the reading made a lot more sense, though its venue â€“ the Co-op â€“ is apparently still considered to be â€˜outsideâ€™ Concordia territory, and this in turn is a residual effect of the universityâ€™s attempt to â€˜accommodate student activistsâ€™ in the same way â€˜free-speech cagesâ€™ accommodated dissenters at any political gathering in the United States over the last decade.
North of 9/11 was to be read publically for the first time in 2006. The book does not portray Concordia University in a positive light â€“ and for good reason. The Netanyahu Riot was entirely preventable, and instead of making an example of it to act as a catalyst for better relations and a renewed effort at political dialogue on campus, it was instead â€˜utilizedâ€™ by the university administration as a casus belli to instigate an unwinnable low-intensity conflict against student activists. Bernans was spied on by goons hired by university administrator Michael di Grappa, and elements of the administration conspired to buy themselves an election and a means to direct control of student activities through the CSU. I would know, I saw it happen in the Spring of 2005, 2006 etc. As Bernans puts it, the administration found â€˜ass-kissing CV-paddersâ€™ to become the new face of the student body, and then systematically went after every potential threat.
The book documents the expulsions and suspensions of students for illegitimate reasons, the overt corruption of university administrators and security personnel, and the actions of secret committees with odd-sounding names. Itâ€™s the story of deep personal bonds forged during these exceptionally hard times, and the fundamental insecurity of the modern corporate university, which seems to be thoroughly incapable of dealing with a politically active student body. Maybe things are going to change this year with the â€˜leftâ€™ side of Concordia student politics back in the saddle, holding the reigns of power, or whatever powerâ€™s left. Weâ€™ll have to wait and see about that one.
In the meantime Iâ€™d highly recommend checking out the book if youâ€™re not familiar with Concordia history post-9/11. Itâ€™s a fascinating subject, and Dr. Bernans has been able to weave a good story together with scenes inspired by his own experiences, into a solid representation of that troublesome time. Unfortunately, as Dr. Bernans was quick to point out, in many ways the student body of today is still dealing with the shadow of 9/11 and the Netanyahu Riots, the implications of which have manifested themselves with heightened campus (in)security, interference in student governance and an aggressive administration. The victory for campus progressives and activists a few months ago was a major upset, but this doubtless means the university administration will take an overtly hostile tone with the students.
Why does it always feel like weâ€™re taking one step forward and two steps back?