Monday, April 02, 2012

What Projet Montréal does on a beautiful Saturday spring morning

Raking in the votes
I live on Clark street, a great street except for due to its location (in the angle of the X that Mont-Royal and St-Laurent make) and a minority but conglomerated group of lazy neighbours, it is really dirty.  As everywhere else in Montréal, this is particularly bad after the spring thaw, when all the dogshit, gravel and garbage is revealed.  But our street is so bad, they wrote an article about it on the CBC local news site.

I've been quite vigilant about keeping the sidewalk clean in front of our place and 2 or 3 houses up and down either side.  I'd do the whole block, but I feel too self-conscious.  Some of the other neighbours are good about it, but a lot aren't and you have these long sections with strips of gravel and garbage.  It really does look bad and encourages people to leave more garbage and not pick up their dog's remains.

On Saturday morning, I was coming home from dropping off some books at Chainon when I noticed some people up the street that looked like they were cleaning up the sidewalk.  There were a few of them and it didn't appear to be just one neighbour cleaning out in front of his place.  As I continued to look, I could swear that one of the people shovelling up garbage into a bag was Luc Ferrandez.  I went up and discovered that it was indeed him, plus councilman Alex Norris and a handful of volunteers.  They had started on St-Dominique, come across on Villeneuve and were now making their way down Rue Clark, filling heavy-duty garbage bags along the way.

Well I was quite impressed, I have to admit.  I voted for these guys, but did not actually expect them to come out and clean up my block themselves!

Karma earned.
I asked around and it turns out that one of my neighbours, who lives farther up the street, had been bugging the city and the borough for weeks about the garbage.  The thaw came early and according to m. Ferrandez they couldn't get the cols bleus to do it because clearing the street of cars would have been a big surprise and there would have been a ton of tickets.  I don't know why the cols bleus couldn't come and do the clean-up without all their equipment, though.  They only had two snow clearings to do this year.  I can't blame the borough administration for that, though, as I'm sure the union would resist any suggestion like that to the death.

I guess they felt the best way to deal with it was to just come out themselves, unannounced, and clean it up.  There was no media or fanfare or anything. I get the sense that they are just as bothered about the garbage as I am.

I had a nice chat with Alex Norris (who commented on this blog last year). Turns out he is originally from the west coast himself.  Thanked them for coming out and cleaning up and the work they are doing but said I would still be holding their feet to the fire if the need arose.

End result is that our street looks way, way better.  Sadly, already someone let their dog shit on the tree square right in front of my house this morning.  Looks like I'm going to have to bring out the big guns again. Must be a new person who doesn't realize they just put themselves on a list they really, really don't want to be on. 

It's frustrating how so few of my neighbours are unlike the guy who got this little event to happen.  You've got 6 units in most of the condos here.  One person can't go out for an hour and clean up in front of their place?  I can't just blame renters or students either, as there is a house of McGill students who when they saw me sweeping up a few weeks ago came out and cleaned up in front of their place.  We pay a lot of taxes and the city has its responsibility that it doesn't always live up to, but it's really on you to maintain a certain amount of order in the area around where you live.  Do we really have to wait for the mayor and his team to come and clean up in front of our houses?


James Louder said...

How very sweet of Fernandez and Norris. Next winter, when it snows, can we expect them to come cart away the snow in wheelbarrows, seeing as how they're too cheap to spend the taxes we paid to have professionals do it?

OlmanFeelyus said...

Thanks for commenting, Philo. I don't think that "too cheap" is a fair criticism here. They inherited a big deficit and are working hard to cut it down. They are locked into inflexible contracts with the cols bleus that Tremblay's administration signed them up for. Finally, they did pay this year to have the snow cleared, they just didn't clear it the moment it touched down and it was a good decision, because it all melted three days later. So it would have been a big waste of money and tons of pollution that wasn't even necessary.

I have my complaints with this administration, but their policy on snowclearing has been excellent, as far as I'm concerned, especially given the tough context they are working in.

M Schrey said...

I have been hoping to meet Luc Ferrandez for some time now, since I follow all this municipal politics stuff a lot more in recent years -- since PM was elected in fact -- and had my chance to do so, just like you, on Saturday afternoon when he and his crew were cleaning up on the corner of Laval and Duluth. So, props to the Mighty Mayor! Happy to see so many changes and so many things actually getting DONE around the Plateau, such as that old building being fixed up on the corner of St. Laurent and Pine. (Remember M. Falafel??). It stood in ruin for more than 40 years, and you can be sure that if left to the folks who back M. Tremblay, it would stay like that, at least until the bricks started falling down and hitting passers-by...!
Thanks for the post Olman! Peace.

OlmanFeelyus said...

Wow, so they got around! Nice.

Yes, I'm glad you brought up the restoration of that building on Pine and St-Laurent. It is a minor miracle that it is getting restored and as it appears from the outside by people who actually know what they are doing, using quality miracles.

Though even to call something like that a "minor miracle" shows how backwards Montreal is that a piece of architectural heritage in one of the busiest corners of the city could be allowed to deteriorate like that in the first place.

Don't get me started on the cheap, corrupt, short-sighted developers and their collusion with the cheap, corrupt, short-sighted city administration. Yargh it almost makes me as angry as people who don't clean up after their dog. Almost.

M Schrey said...

Been reading through your blog which I discovered this evening. Well, you can keep ranting about people who don't clean up etc., which is kind of fun. But that would lead me to a discussion of Montreal and Quebec culture in general, which is kind of dangerous territory for a couple of anglos now don't you think? Let's hope it stays fun, but that the PM folks, and other civic-minded people like you obviously are, inject a new way of doing things -- perhaps it's just an old way that went away? Anyway... I'll keep reading. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

You're right M. Schrey, its kind of dangerous on the Plateau for a couple of anglos. Last night, I hunted down two of them and eat them. Tasted weird, something like mint sauce.

OlmanFeelyus said...

Thanks for your comments, M Schrey. I hit a bit of a "plateau" with this blog, but am now feeling motivated again, what with all these "controversies" going on. So I hope I can find more interesting stuff to read.

My cultural bias about cleanliness is more of an east coast west coast thing, as I found the people in New York to be shockingly dirty when I first moved east. Though there may well be an anglo franco divide along these lines. It's hard to generalize, I find, though. I think some people are lazy or ignorant or not well brought up and sadly that kind of lack of civic responsibility seems to be getting worse not better, at least when it comes to cleanliness. I think rampant over-consumption and the culture of individualism is the real problem here.

meezly said...

our garbage-filled street being one of, if not the worst, in the hood is also due to the wind tunnel effect from Clark & Mont-Royal. every month, when tenants move they dump all their old furniture & junk on the sidewalk and the wind blows all the lighter stuff all down the street.

but it is most awesome to know we have politicians we've elected who actually care about the neighbourhood and are actually doing things to improve quality of life.

OldFart said...

Ohhhh I see this is why there are so many elected peoples in Montreal now, it is them who clean the streets by hands !!!
Too bad they are not actually working all year round, they could of cleaned the snow too off the sidewalk this winter. we didn't had not to many snow this winter but some how the sidewalk stayed unpractical for almost a Week from the snow storm and after from the water during the hot days...
Ho well... I guess all those young elected persons do not give a hoot about the elderly these day.
Or may be They just fired too many city workers to have more money and they suddently realised that now they have to do the hard job themselve... Hope they will finish cleaning before the next snow fall.