A very disturbing announcement in LePlateau from Friday, concerning the borough's new resolution to close the terrasses at 1:00 am instead of 3:00 am (via the always helpful Montreal City Weblog)
Is Projet Montreal starting to reveal its true colours as a party that is more concerned about promoting gentrification than the environment? I voted for them in the Plateau and have been generally quite pleased with the work Luc Ferrandez and his team have done since they took office. Just their transparency and communication alone has been a huge improvement over Helen "help developers build condos" Fotopolous. They have put forth some aggressive (though not yet realized) traffic-calming projects and made a big effort to improve the cleanliness. But little by little, they have also started to get into disturbing law and order and public behaviour legislation that is reminding me of the co-opting of Vancouver's Green Party by NIMBY yuppies who equated the environment with property values.
The thing that is setting off my alarm bells big time is the resolution to close the terrasses 2 hours early on the Main during the summer street festivals. Currently, the terrasses close at 3 am. This summer, they will now close at 1. The ostensible reason is that the police have an excessive amount of work and trouble with the late night crowds during these festivals.
There are so many things wrong with this legislation, I don't even know where to start. In general, it attacks the very heart of everything that makes this neighbourhood so awesome. This is a place of culture, of society, of people hanging out. Montreal has proven for decades that people can stay up late, drink and have fun and it makes the city a better place. Closing the terrasses at 1 gets us one step closer to the hell that is Vancouver nightlife (though hell is the wrong word, because hell is at least exciting.)
I do believe the police when they say they have more trouble during these street festivals late at night. However, all the trouble is localized along the strip between Prince Arthur and Sherbrooke, at the trendy clubs that all the out-of-towners and suburbanites go to. During the festival that's where all the packs of prowling men and gangs of cops are to be found. Above des Pins, it's always mellow. And there are many great terrasses there (Frappé, Cabana, Le Divan Orange, Laika to name a few). So now they all have to suffer because a bunch of losers from Longeuil can't get into a club on the other end of the street?
Also, the cops have had a giant hard-on for those clubs for years. They are always harrassing them, closing them down, citing them for code violations. I don't know the politics behind it all, I suspect the club owners are probably associated with organized crime, but this look suspicously like another attempt to harrass these clubs. That's great, I really couldn't give a shit about those over-priced, mediocre establishments that are designed purely for people to see themselves being seen. But don't kill the whole vibe of the street festival to attack a small group of establishments.
The other thing that really worries me as well is the "diminishing the quality of life of the residents". I am a resident here. I am a property owner. I am a taxpayer. Rowdiness on St-Laurent improves my quality of life. I am not kidding. If I wanted to live in a neighbourhood where having fun is suppressed, I would move back to the west coast. My neighbours feel this way. We live one block away from St-Laurent and Mont-Royal and in the summer we get a lot of fallout from the clubs up here. Cars going up and down the street, drunken groups of guidos, garbage in the mornings. Yeah, it can be annoying, but one the flip side, we can go out and walk to a cool restaurant or bar ourselves. We can come home drunk at 4 in the morning. We can go over to the park with a foam sword or a bongo drum. These things all go hand in hand. You start cracking down on the bars and soon you start getting aggressive by-laws about unleashed dogs or dangerous foam swords. There is a lobby out there just waiting in the shadows to jump in and stop you from having fun. They will latch on to anything they can and start screaming about safety and the children the moment they see an opening. These are the same losers who bought condos on St-Dominique and then complained about noise from the Fringe festival.
And these words are not coming from some wildman with a pick-up truck on blocks in his front yard. Au contraire, I am very uptight about cleanliness and the appearance of the neighbourhood, as anyone who has followed this blog will know. I take civic responsibility very seriously and I believe that suppressing other people's fun generally is not good for a community.
What is going on here, Monsieur Ferrandez? Monsieur Alex Norris? Where is the motivation for this law really coming from? Unless you can provide me with some other information that I may be missing, then I strongly encourage you to re-think this resolution and find a compromise that will make the job of the police a little easier on Friday and Saturday nights without killing the fun for everyone who does enjoy simply sitting out on a terrasse and people watching and jasing until 3 in the morning.