The Quebec provincial government uses the excuse that it has to do what is best for all of the cities in the province and not just cater the needs of one city. It also justifies the spending of money on things like hosting 1976 Olympic games by arguing that there is no price too high for putting Quebec on the international stage as a country in waiting…but this is the subject matter of a whole other post.
Mayors in my opinion are the worst betrayers of their citizens’ trust when it comes to politics, and I believe that Montreal’s mayors are among the worst of them. Municipal governments, led by Mayors are supposed to be on the front lines recognizing the problems, seeking out the solutions then following up with actions that would remedy the problem.
Mayors are elected to serve, but like most political party leaders mayors do not see governing as serving the people. They see winning an election as an opportunity to create their very own fantasy city, that in turn will become their legacy. To this end they concentrate their efforts and tax payer dollars on creating green spaces over highways, building bicycle paths and hosting events like the Olympic Games; allowing these glamour projects to take priority over the fixing of dangerous, failing infrastructure.
Mayors see the dangers posed to their citizens up close and personal, and quite frankly seem willing to ignore those dangers and let their citizens suffer and die.
Over the years Montreal mayors have known:
- that the city’s highway overpasses were in danger of collapsing, because (A)The engineers that designed the overpasses warned them of the possibility. (B)People living near de la Concorde and Highway 19 told The Gazette they had noticed the overpass had begun to crumble in recent months (C)Carole Hackenbeck, less than a month before the collapse, noticed that there were unusually large gaps and misaligned spacing in the deck-support structure underneath. (D)several motorists told the French-language all-news network Le Canal Nouvelles that they had called police up to an hour before the collapse to report seeing fissures appearing in the overpass roadbed and chunks of concrete falling to the road below. Only when the center section of the south lane of an overpass (65-foot or 19.8-metre section of a three-lane overpass) collapsed in Laval on September 30, 2006, killing five people and seriously injuring six others, did the city close the autoroute for about a month.
- the city’s sewer system had pipes which are over one hundred years old, and yet the city avoided replacing the old piping. Homes continue to be flooded, boiled water advisories are issued and sink holes swallow up cars and trucks and still replacement of the old pipes is not a priority;
- the city’s filtration system from its conception was inadequate to deal with;
- citizens are faced with the health hazard of having to frequently use public areas like bus shelters and, metro entrances that the homeless have urinated and defecated in, because twenty-four-seven bathroom facilities for them are nonexistent;
No matter the political stripe all municipal parties that get elected to power will:
- partner with the federal and provincial government on huge projects costing millions of dollars of tax payer dollars;
- spend millions of dollars propping up failing businesses like Bixi;
I live in the province of Quebec, in the city of Montreal. Both the province and the city have been plagued by premiers and mayors who have felt that their personal agenda/their legacy would be better served if they participated in joint projects like: bike paths across the city, or hosting the Olympic.
Montreal’s mayors have over the years claimed that there was no money available for things like:
- fixing water mains;
- updating the sewage system;
- doing road repairs;
- necessary amount safety inspectors to ensure that building pipes, streets and overpasses are being maintained properly and not endangering the safety and lives of their citizenry;
- shelters for the homeless;
- affordable housing.
If people hadn’t had to suffer or die, because of Montreal’s municipal governments’ non-action and ignoring of what needed to be fixed in this city what they did find money for might be laughable. The mayors of Montreal have always found it more important to partner with the provincial government spending of millions of tax payer dollars on things like:
- Mayor Jean Drapeau hosting the 1976 Olympics which put Quebec in debt for 1.5 billion dollars. Quebec, the host province did not pay off the $1.5 billion until December 2006. Montreal mayor Jean Drapeau had famously said: “The Olympics can no more lose money than a man can have a baby
- Montreal spending $15 million this year to add 57 kilometers of additional bike lanes to its 733-kilometre-long network and maintain what already exists;
- Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre’s plan to create a new urban space that would better connect the downtown core with Old Montreal, in time for Montreal’s 375th anniversary celebrations in 2017. Cost according to him two hundred million dollars.
How many people will have to:
- Die eating lunch on a terrace, because a piece of a building breaks off and kills them, before a Montreal Mayor makes funding for more safety inspectors a priority?
- Fall into a sink hole before a Montreal mayor decides that fixing the city`s failing old pipes takes priority over building green spaces over highways?
How many homeless people have to die in the cold of a Montreal winter, hungry and alone, before a Montreal mayor decides that it would be a great legacy if in their time in office if they actually took the initiative and took the lead to ending the tragedy of homelessness in Montreal?
What will it take for municipal governments to get their priorities straight?
I know all about jurisdictional issues, but to not:
- warn citizens of dangers;
- fight for the safety of their citizens;
- put all monies received toward fixing the things that are within their jurisdiction instead of partnering in glory seeking projects, is to me a betrayal of their citizens’ trust.
When you consider that Quebec was and continues to be plagued with mayors like those mentioned below is it any wonder that Montreal is falling apart and literally crumbling to dust?
Montreal Mayor Michael Applebaum was arrested at his home by members of the province’s anti-corruption unit. Ironically, Applebaum was named Montreal’s interim mayor last November — because the previous mayor, Gérald Tremblay, was forced to resign due to corruption allegations.
City of Laval asked to be placed under trusteeship, after gangsterism and fraud charges had been laid against its former mayor and 37 others.