Sunday, June 19, 2011

My experience with the new street fair closing time

So I was out on both Thursday and Friday nights of the Frénésie de la Main until the new closing time. On Thursday, I was at Laika with a couple of old high school friends. On Friday, I was at Frappé with a larger and constantly evolving groups. In both cases, the group I was with and everyone around us was sitting around, drinking beer, people watching and socializing. In both cases, the cops coming seemed utterly abrupt and unnecessary. It just made no sense. Everybody complied and the merchants were well on board, getting us prepared mentally for the early closing ahead of time.

I didn't hear anything about Saturday night, but based on the other two, I bet the cops were quite happy with the way it worked. I'm glad for them as individuals with jobs that their jobs were easier and that they didn't have to put up with too much trouble (though I don't know what happened farther down the Main). What was quite amazing was that as we were walking up the street to home, it started to drizzle. When we finally did get in the house, at around 1:30, the heavens opened up and it rained about as hard as I've seen it rain here. It's almost like God is also in agreement with this new council decision! I'm sure the cops were particularly happy about that. Too bad they didn't have a similar downpour in Vancouver.

The sense that I get is that a majority of responsible Montrealers is paying for the bad behaviour for a few, which is often one of the symptoms of overzealous authoritarianism. The group I was with on Friday was made up of many people who grew up in Montreal and are now in their 30s and 40s, responsible, employed citizens. Many of them were not aware of the new law and they were quite shocked and upset. I directed them to Alex Norris' facebook page.

My personal theory about this new law is that the counsellors did it to make a deal with the police. Either the police just have a great deal of sway with the borough council or they offered something the council wanted. My (completely unsubstantiated theory) is that the police new the new road closures were going to demand some serious police oversight and involvement and they told the counsellors that if they wanted to get solid help with that (which they have gotten), they wanted support on the early closure. Total conjecture, but it does paint Projet Montreal in a more positive light.

Because the negative light is that they are promoting a yuppie agenda, one that encourages increased property values and a culturally safe lifestyle for upper middle class property owners. One of the bartenders at Laika told me that they also made all the terrasses take away the ashtrays and that now smoking will no longer be allowed on the terrasses, because of the mess they made. I find this worrying. The Plateau is attractive because of its diversity and rich cultural life. Noise and mess and late nights come with that. If you move here and start complaining about the noise, you are an asshole. You want your cake and eat it too. Go get your quiet out in the suburbs, please. Message to Projet Montreal, yes I want a clean Plateau, but not at the expense of the social culture that makes this place what it is.

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