Coming to Ste. Catherine St. under construction: giant inflated tunnels[CTV]

But actually Montreal ARE YOU OKAY?

The contest to determine the best idea cost $170,000, and Kanva will get $800,000 for its concept. [Cool contest budget, where’d it come from? Also, actual image from the judging.]

The inflatable structures, and the cost to move them, is estimated at $2.8 million – for a total cost of $3.8 million. [Cute estimate.]

City officials say the inflatables will be used to cover Ste. Catherine St. – which will be off limits to vehicles– starting in late 2017. [Cars will have to take the streets that are open to traffic like… we’ll get back to you.]

The last estimate, in 2015, called for construction to finish by 2019 and cost $95 million as decrepit sewers and water mains are replaced, and other problems under the commercial artery are repaired. [Merely prioties.]

Montreal wants to embed tubes with liquid anti-freeze below the sidewalks, which will be heated electrically. [We can’t push some gravel in a hole but anti-freeze, yes, pourquoi pas? Why not put some anti-freeze dans le vin while you’re at it?]

Montreal is examining the possibility of having crews work 24 hours per day, 7 days a week on the project. [Construction holiday still on..?]

But really just go read it all and just remind yourself today is the Autumn Equinox and not, in fact, April 1, and also welcome our new city mascot. #staypuft

Opinion: Police treatment of black cyclist on Ste-Catherine St. E. left a disturbing impression
Maybe the police genuinely had more information than it appeared. But, for several reasons, the optics of the situation were not good.

Walking along the pedestrian-only area of Ste-Catherine St. E. this past Saturday afternoon, I see a Nigerian-Canadian man — let’s call him Stephen — get stopped by the police for riding his bike.

Riding a bike in this area comes with a posted minimum fine of $100 (which is about as well-signed as anything else in Montreal).

Stephen points out to the officers that they haven’t pulled over any of the three or four other (white) people within view doing the exact same thing. In fact, a woman and a man ride up behind me and watch this situation unfold.

When Stephen starts to get upset, the police make him park his bike and stand on the curb. He goes to sit in the shade of a storefront after five minutes of waiting. The police continue to keep him waiting — for half an hour — while they ask him questions and appear to be consulting colleagues by radio.

A small crowd looks on. In light of recent race-related violence in the United States, everybody is clearly uneasy. I stand removed from the situation, but close enough so the officers can see my camera. Stephen is clearly tired. He is clearly humiliated.

At one point, Stephen asks the police if he is being charged or written up and if not, whether he could please leave. The officer just shrugs. Stephen gets even more upset. He says he had been stopped the day before because he matched the description of a drug dealer in the area, which he was not, and that he had been stopped the previous week for questioning, as well. This is not the first time this has happened to Stephen, and it might not be the last.

Three police cars and at one point, a total of six officers, show up to deal with this “emergency.” Surely, they must have something more important to do.

I don’t know whether Stephen had actually done anything else wrong. Maybe the police genuinely had more information than it appeared they did. But the optics of the situation were not good.

I have ridden my bike along the same section of street and was politely asked to dismount, by police cadets, I think, and wished a good day. This man behaved no differently than I did, and we received dramatically different treatment.

I moved to this neighbourhood from Vancouver two weeks ago. Vancouver is also a diverse city, albeit in a different way. Vancouver police are not without their bad apples, but they are generally perceived well. Up until now, I had assumed one reason we as Canadians find the police violence in the United States so appalling is that most of us can’t imagine our police forces treating citizens that way.

I’ll state my social position for the record: I am the poster child of privilege. I am a straight, white male. My last name really is Whiteman, for crying out loud; this is not a pseudonym. I was raised to believe that I can trust the police.

If all the people in this city, regardless of their race, orientation, gender or ability cannot trust the police, we have a problem.

In the end, there was no physical violence. Just a ticket. Relieved, the crowd dispersed.

After the incident was over, one of the police officers pulled up to me, and, in a condescending tone, asked whether I had got any good footage for my huge scoop. I told him I was just acting as a witness. Stephen also approached me, and thanked me for sticking around. He told me that when people like me don’t stay to watch, people like him don’t get treated so nicely.

I guess I will have to get off my high horse and stop mocking the United States for being so terrible, if what appears to be racial profiling is going on in my own neighbourhood.

Matt Whiteman has an MA in International Development Ethics from the University of British Columbia, and is a new resident of Montreal.


Complainte pour Ste. Catherine (Kate & Anna McGarrigle)

Montrealers asked to donate winter clothes for Syrian refugees

With refugees from Syria expected to start arriving in Canada by the planeload shortly, there is a need to make sure they have proper clothing to handle our frigid winters.

To that end, several organizations in Montreal are teaming up to collect donations of winter gear.

The Regional Program for the Settlement and Integration of Asylum Seekers (PRAIDA) — part of the west-central Montreal health and social services agency — and the YMCA Residence will be collecting donations during the next two weeks.

There is a need for coats, sweaters, pants, boots, toques and gloves for adults and children.

Donations can be made on Wednesday, Nov. 25, between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. at the main entrance of the Jewish General Hospital (3755 Côte-Ste-Catherine St.), and on Wednesday, Dec. 2, between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. at the main entrance of the CLSC Côte-des-Neiges (5700 Côte-des-Neiges St.).

Other ways to help:

Provide a home: Syrian refugees will need temporary housing — and then permanent homes. Lida Aghasi, the director of the Centre social d’aide aux immigrants (CSAI), is compiling a list of potential housing, which now includes a convent in Pointe-Claire, a CEGEP in Rosemont and a growing number of landlords with vacant apartments. Anyone with a room or an apartment can email CSAI at or call 514 932-2953.

Volunteer: Organizations in Montreal are already putting together lists of volunteers, especially those who speak Arabic and have experience working with refugees (or are going through the integration process themselves). Email

The UNHCR suggests people who want to help should volunteer their skills: Can you teach French or English? In Hungary, a hairdresser offered free haircuts to refugee kids at the main train station, while a football coach in Italy started a team for refugees and migrants.

Aghasi says they will also need people, as well as vans or trucks, to help move families of refugees, once they find permanent homes.

Sponsor: Over and above the 25,000 refugees the federal government has promised to bring to Canada, Canadians are privately sponsoring refugees, and so can you. Groups of two to five people can ask to collectively sponsor a refugee, which would entail paying for their expenses over a year, for housing, clothing, food and furniture, for a sum of about $12,00o for an adult and $21,000 for a family of four.

Individuals can also partner with religious institutions — the neighbourhood church, synagogue or mosque — who, like some NGOs, may have pre-existing arrangements with the federal government that make it easier to sponsor refugees.

For more information on sponsorship and a list of religious and other organizations that can help, including by matching you to Syrian refugees awaiting sponsors, go to the Immigration Québec website.

The Table de concertation des organismes au service des personnes réfugiées et immigrantes (TCRI), an umbrella group for 140 community organizations, is compiling a central list of available housing, people who want to volunteer or sponsor, and donations in kind. Email them at

Donate money: The Red Cross, Oxfam Quebec, Care and other organizations have launched an appeal for donations to help Syrian refugees in the Middle East and Europe. Until Dec. 31, the Canadian government will match donations by individuals, up to $100 million.

The United Nations World Food Programme also launched an app last week — “ShareTheMeal” — to pay for meals for Syrian children living in refugee camps in Jordan. From your mobile phone, you can donate for one meal ($0.50) or to feed a child for a week or more. So far, some 1.7 million meals have been provided through the app.

By Catherine Solyom of the Montreal Gazette

There are tons of ways to help so please do what you can, and don’t forget to BOOST! 💞