Tactical urbanism

“Temporary/tactical urbanism grants designers the freedom to fail. Urban design is not a science and the city does not have the controlled conditions of a laboratory; yet our cities are littered with the permanent remains of failed urban design experiments based on flawed thinking. A temporary framework enables us to increase the range of experimentation and speed up the learning process. The city is simply too complex and unpredictable to enable the approval of every smart idea that comes along. Temporary/tactical urbanism is a means of breaking down urban design to an incremental scale that enables us to bypass the status quo…”   (Kim Dovey, Urban Design Thinking, 2016, page 241)


Congrats, Melanie Joly!

Mélanie Joly’s team argued for 130 kilometers of Bus Rapid Transit lines, or surface metros, to be built by 2020. This clear, clean idea needs to be kept in the public eye, and expanded.

Marc Garneau is Transport Minister. Two key Montrealers in important seats. Let’s go!

Melanie Joly’s plan:

“Première phase du réseau de SRB :

  • Newman / Victoria (9 km) (du métro Angrignon à Lachine)
  • Pie -IX et Notre-Dame (17 km) (d’Henri-Bourassa à la Place des Arts)
  • Henri-Bourassa (12,4 km) (du métro Henri-Bourassa au Pôle Anjou)
  • Du Parc (9,5 km) (de Chabanel à la Place des Arts)
  • Côte-des-Neiges (9,3 km) (de l’Hippodrome au métro Bonaventure)
  • Centre-ville (5,3 km) (boucle entre Griffintown et l’Université McGill)

Deuxième phase du réseau de SRB :

  • Sherbrooke Ouest (3,8 km) (du métro Vendôme au terminus de Montréal-Ouest)
  • Sauvé / Côte-Vertu (17,2 km) (de Technoparc au métro Henri-Bourassa)
  • Marcel-Laurin / Laurentien (5 km) (du métro Côte-Vertu à Cartierville)
  • Jean-Talon / Maurice-Duplessis (15,9 km) (du métro Pie-IX au terminus de Rivière-des-Prairies)
  • Sherbrooke Est (11,6 km) (du Pôle Anjou au terminus de Pointe-aux-Trembles)
  • Pierrefonds (9,7 km) (de Pierrefonds-Ouest à la gare Roxboro-Pierrefonds)
  • Côte-Saint-Luc (4,6 km) (de Cavendish au métro Villa-Maria)”

54 billion in gross revenues for Quebec mines?

A staggering number, really.  54 billion dollars, over just six years.  Le Devoir report here and follow up here.

100 lobbyists working it hard, in Quebec City, to make sure they pay as little as possible in taxes. And get expensive infrastructure paid for by the government: railways, roads, ports.

These are the kinds of deals mining companies get in Honduras or Guatemala, or Brazil, under corrupt dictatorships.

“Au moment d’annoncer la relance du Plan Nord, en avril, le premier ministre avait insisté sur la nécessité de maintenir un « régime compétitif ». Il avait alors souligné que l’investissement, dans le secteur minier, « est très mobile ». En ce sens, le Québec est selon lui en compétition avec d’autres régions du monde, notamment l’Afrique. Dans ce contexte, avait souligné M. Couillard, « il faut que notre régime offre un équilibre entre la compétitivité et les bénéfices pour la communauté ».”



Diamond Mine in Ontario… pays record royalties

Mines in other provinces pay their fair share of taxes to support public services, like education and healthcare, compared to Quebec.

But exactly how much is also a tightly guarded secret, there. Until today.

The De Beers Diamond Mine in Ontario paid a whopping 226$ in 2013/2014, an investigation by a courageous journalist revealed.

The government makes choices on how to spend those important revenues. 226$ can cover the costs of replacing a few lightbulbs in one university classroom, for instance. Or perhaps it could be devoted to fixing 1/20th of a pothole. Or a stop sign, maybe.

I am so glad that corporations are paying their fair share in taxes.

Here is a list of mines in Quebec.

It seems there might be veins of gold in Abitibi, a new study suggests, comparing bits of Quebec to the planet Venus in a new theory of continental shift. Get your spades out!



The Periodic Table and Quebec’s mines

I spent a couple of hours exploring this new website that explains the various elements in the periodic table, in a compelling and sometimes hilarious way.

In Quebec, we have about 20 active mines in Quebec, paying about 200M$ in “redevances” annually, of which one, an iron mine, pays about 100$M (or half our total public tax from the entire mining industry). The mining industry extracted about 7B$ in minerals from Quebec soil, in 2011.

Meanwhile, Quebec’s heavily subsidized lithium mine went belly up.

We can learn all about these elements at this wonderful new website!


Worker takeovers of large corporations: an idea whose time has come?

What if the Occupy Movement and the 2008 financial crisis had peaked at the same time, Noam Chomsky mused when speaking to a packed crowd at Concordia University, last autumn.

Perhaps the popular movement could have pressured President Obama to give General Motors (effectively nationalized by the US government at that time, you may recall) to its workers, along with a mandate to make mass transit solutions for US cities.

This idea is repeated in a nice article on Mondragon, by Hanna and Alperovitz.

What industries in Montreal would work best under worker control? Is the social economy up for a move to the next level? Under what conditions? Playful thoughts.

A new kind of café?

Quick sketch of a model café, as it comes to mind.

Location: heart of Plateau? close to metro?

Name: Carré rouge: université de la cité

Purpose: become the hive of political thought on cities. Extend horizontal governance to economic model. Open source financials. Objective is to own the property and become growth model for decommodified business (and eventually housing).

Critics: not radical enough? Also, property prices have skyrocketed…. is this the time to buy?

Activities: political fight club? a kind of Casa del popolo for ideas, with regular events every night? social cultural political…