As I look at Montreal from the time I was a young man until this day I see a city sitting in ruins, because of what I call facetiously, Mayors with a vision. I am not saying that what they did for this city, or perhaps to realize a personal dream had no value at all, but I am saying that the things that have been left undone like modernizing our sewer systems and fixing the roads, have put us in the situation we find ourselves in today, trying to fix things like a whole sewer system and most of the major streets, that have had very little to no maintenance over the past 30 to 40 years.
I can admit that I loved, Expo 67, visited all of the islands and as a child loved to go to La Ronde and ride all of the rides. I went as often as I could, but no one except the politicians of the time could have guessed the real price that Montrealers would have to pay. Then we had the Montreal Olympics and no one can say that they did not put Montreal out there on the world stage as a great place to host an international event. Montreal was being seen as a modern, clean, city to visit with lots to do and see and perhaps conference in as well. Montreal and Montrealers were being seen in a positive light and that we can all be proud as Montrealers, but was the price too high, for these 2 dreams of one, Mayor Jean Drapeau?
Was neglecting the infrastructure of an entire city worth the immediate praises and benefits attained by Montreal hosting these 2 events? I do not think so and I believe that many Montrealers are tired of our Mayors using their office to live out their dreams and leaving their mark in history at the expense of the city and its population. We are tired of the Mayors of our city making hosting events more of a priority then making things like the streets usable, drinking water safe and our city up to date, be it piping for drainage, or sewage, or fixing the streets properly so that every trip to work does not involve being swallowed up by potholes, or feeding the city’s poor and offering them some shelter at an affordable price.
How is it that a man, or a woman elected to public office gets to feel that they have the right to take the hard-earned money of the tax payer, entrusted to them, taken from their pays by means of taxes and pension dues and spend it to fulfill a dream of theirs, like the Botanical Garden upgrades. They are so pretty and I love going there and walking through the exhibitions and green houses. I have spent hours there. I am about to do a post on its beauty and what a wonderful day it is for the whole family to partake in together. It is a joy to walk through the Botanical Gardens and it is educational at the same time. The Botanical Gardens is a great way to walk and exercise, learn about plants and nature and people and get a breath of fresh air all at the same time. All of that I admit freely, but who gave the Mayor of Montreal at the time, Pierre Bourque, the right to do it at the exclusion of everything else the city needed year after year. So now it has been two different Mayors back to back who have neglected the city’s needs to fulfill a dream and leave behind a legacy, something that they could feel proud of accomplishing during their time in office, making their legacy the top priority for the city at the expense of everything else that by now was desperately in need of attention. As I have said before in this post I do not think that Montrealers’ would have supported Mayor Bourque’s legacy dreams, if they would have known what price they would have to pay today.
All of this leads to the present mayor of Montreal, the worst Mayor to date, bar none in my opinion, Mayor Tremblay. Montreal has had several deaths due to collapsing highway ramps, debris falling from a building on a celebrating couple, killing the wife while they ate outside on a terrace. Children and old people are being killed by speeding snow removal trucks because the mayor thinks that we should respect that the faster the trucks move and get from place to place keeps the snow removal budget down and pedestrians should stay vigilant and out-of-the-way. Everywhere there are homeless people begging and sleeping on the streets in record numbers and he pours money into biking. Traffic is crazy, roads are bad and the smell along his scenic route and over 60 miles of bike paths is enough to make ones stomach turn and eyes water and yet our Mayor Tremblay does nothing to fix the problem in any real way. I would not bike along the scenic route, because it is bad enough to drive slowly through it in a car and if I will not then others are probably having the same problem and not using it, which is a blow to his vision of everyone doing the healthy thing and the green thing and taking up biking instead of driving ones car to do everything.
Mayor Tremblay’s, dream to make Montreal like Paris with all of the cycling is perhaps healthier for Montrealers, but I do not see enough people switching from driving their cars everywhere to riding their bikes say even to work, to justify making all of the bike lanes we see on all of the main thorough fares, worth it. Mayor Tremblay’s Bixi Bikes stands have taken up every available parking spot downtown. The Mayors bike paths have narrowed streets and he has poured the tax payers money into keeping his dream afloat, even while claiming that the city can not afford its workers pension plans. The Mayor, is now bailing Bixi Bike out to the tune of a whopping 108 million dollars. I can only conclude that other than having an ego the size of all out doors, that Mayor Tremblay truly thinks that what he is doing is good for the environment and our health, but I do not believe that the numbers justify what he is doing. One only has to look at the highway traffic jams and the volume of cars still on the roads to see that people are still opting for the unhealthy, comfortable drive to work and home instead of the healthy, sweaty bike ride.
The parking lot is a great business to get into, except that the city took over the parking lot business in Montreal and now with their street parking the city of Montreal has a virtual monopoly on parking in the city. They simply took back the leases of legitimate parking lot owners away from them claiming that they were going to turn those lots into green spaces. The city forced them out of business and then reopened the lots as city owned, after promising to make green spaces which by virtue of what they did a bold face lie to Montrealers . If I was a more cynical type of guy I could be made to think that it was all part and parcel of some grandiose conspiracy (smile), but even if so that would be a story for another time. That being said I would defy anyone to tell me of one free parking spot left in the downtown core of Montreal and why in heaven’s name would you put Bixi Bike stands in place of parking spots in a hospital zone? This is the type of stupidity that reminds me that this Mayor could careless about Montrealers and with his time running out politically, Mayor Tremblay is pushing hard and at all costs to secure his place in history as the, Bixi Bike King.
They all knew the consequences of their actions, but they selfishly pushed their agendas through and we the tax payers are left footing the bill, for Jean Drapeau, Pierre Bourque and Gerald Tremblay, who despite what they knew would be the cost to Montrealers, in terms of a bad water system, improper road repair; knowing that they were jeopardizing its worker’s pensions, continued on their paths to instant gratification at any cost. I think that they should get a legacy all right, but it should be, “The Mayors who followed their dreams while Montreal crumbled to dust and ground to a halt in reality.” Their legacy should be that of Nero as he played his harp while Rome burned to the ground. For too long our civic leaders have thought to be seen as great, instead of being seen as doing great things for their people.
In my humble opinion, I think that our politicians pensions should be tied to their dreams and should reflect the same insecurity, or the same security as that of their constituents, so that when the rest of us lose everything that we have worked so hard for all of our lives, by their bad decisions, so should they lose their future. I think the time of rewarding these guys for screwing up should be over. I wonder how many budgets would be balanced over night if it was part of the way our politicians retirements were secured ?
- City of Montreal Stops Action After Condemning A Building (archemdis.wordpress.com)
- Montreal mayor fires comptroller in spying scheme (cbc.ca)
- Quebec sics its anti-corruption squad on Montreal (thestar.com)