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SSLL
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From: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20060503.RYAKA03/TPStory/Business/columnists
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QUEBEC VIEW: CITIES
Jacobs was avant-garde in seeing Montreal's future is in innovation

KONRAD YAKABUSKI

MONTREAL -- Twenty-six years ago, in a now almost forgotten essay espousing Quebec sovereignty, Jane Jacobs explained why Toronto had overtaken Montreal as Canada's metropolitan mover-and-shaker. Hint: It had nothing to do with the rise of indépendantiste sentiment that culminated -- the same year Ms. Jacobs's The Question of Separatism was published -- in the province's first referendum on sovereignty-association.

Few thinkers outside Quebec have ever considered the question of sovereignty as deeply, or as free of ideological and patriotic bias, as Ms. Jacobs did. In later work, such as Cities and the Wealth of Nations, she would show how urban agglomerations are the natural engines of national growth, a theory that turned the history of Canada's economic development -- one in which cities supposedly emerged to service a resource-based economy -- on its head. Her earlier argument in favour of Quebec sovereignty was similarly rooted in this idea and she believed, in 1980, that only separation could stanch Montreal's decline.

It was surprising, then, that Ms. Jacobs' death last week went virtually unremarked upon in Quebec. La Presse and Le Devoir mentioned it in passing, but without any reference to her pro-sovereigntist leanings. Surprising, too, because the theories Ms. Jacobs invented remain as relevant as ever for Montreal as it grapples with the challenges that accompany second-city status.

Contrary to the conventional wisdom, Ms. Jacobs believed that Montreal did not lose its dominant position as Canada's financial centre as French-speaking Quebeckers began to challenge the English minority's control over the provincial economy in the 1960s. Nor was the anglo exodus that followed the Parti Québécois' first election victory in 1976, and subsequent adoption of Bill 101, at the root of it.

"It was the decline [of Montreal] that led to the exodus, and not the other way around," Ms. Jacobs told L'actualité magazine in 1992. "People go or stay where the jobs are. Look at the exodus of francophones to New England at the end of the nineteenth century. They didn't leave because of language laws, but to find work."

Instead, Ms. Jacobs concluded that Montreal declined because the Anglo-Scottish bankers who ran the Quebec economy during the first half of the 20th century were too cautious. From their Westmount perches, where they lived comfortably on the dividends earned from a handful of big resource companies, they saw no need for change. Their Toronto counterparts, on the other hand, were go-getters and risk takers.

Long before most others, Ms. Jacobs recognized that innovation was the first ingredient of economic growth and that cities, where individuals and ideas collide, are where most innovation occurs.

Ms. Jacobs' message has never been as relevant: "You have to act as if your principal product is about to disappear. The high-tech products of today are the has-beens of tomorrow. Radically new products emerge where no one expects. [Today's] pen makers did not invent the ball-point pen . . . These kind of discoveries are usually ridiculed at first by industry and bureaucrats."

Whether sovereignty is the answer to Montreal's relative decline vis-à-vis Toronto is a subject for fascinating debate. But second-city status has not stopped Montreal from becoming one of the most innovative and diverse economic centres in the country. Indeed, it may just be the root cause of it.

Filling the void left by the old anglo bankers, native francophones and immigrants -- and a large number of young anglos attracted here by Montreal's alternative bent -- have taken advantage of the city's low cost of living to set up innovation-oriented businesses. A study produced last year for the Montreal Board of Trade by Richard Florida, the U.S. urban development guru and author of The Rise of the Creative Class, concluded the city was second in North America when it comes to employment in the "super-creative" sectors of the economy -- computer sciences, architecture, engineering, education, design, culture.

Unfortunately, according to the same study, Toronto is No. 1. And for all the dynamism of Montreal's creative classes, the city's economy is failing many of its citizens. Montreal's unemployment rate stands at an abysmal 11.6 per cent, compared with 8.4 per cent for all of Quebec and 6.3 per cent nationally. A study released on Monday showed that 40 per cent of those who do have jobs in Montreal earn less than $20,000 a year. In a few east-end neighbourhoods, welfare recipients account for as much as a third of all residents.

Although policy makers should know better -- after the Olympic Stadium and Mirabel experiences -- megaprojects are still promoted as economic cure-alls. The latest idea, a $1.2-billion casino that Loto-Québec touted as a tourist magnet, was thankfully torpedoed by public protests led by social activists who decried its proximity to a poor neighbourhood.

Like Ms. Jacobs, they knew that really great cities put their own people first.
 

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I migrated from toronto 2 yrs ago. I couldnt agree more with Janes thoughts on Montreal. I've had fun here, met some great peeps, but the state of the city, roads, public transit, litter, shitty graffittt and obnoxious drivers, bikers and pedestrians is driving me back to TO later this year.

One thing to add and I don't mean to pick on Montreal because its most likely better than most cities (but not Toronto, Vancouver...) is that it's own citizenry is to blame. As an outsider I feel I have tried to do my part to correct some of the issues here (speaking out, telling the numerous slobs to pick up after themselves, written letters to city representatives).

The majority in MTL seem content with the state of the town. Which is cool I guess, but thats why it no longer ranks near the top with other great canadian cities.

Just my opinion....
 

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"The latest idea, a $1.2-billion casino that Loto-Québec touted as a tourist magnet, was thankfully torpedoed by public protests led by social activists who decried its proximity to a poor neighbourhood. "

errr ... what a shame.

This article makes Montreal sound like its Canada's fifth largest city!!

Our public transit ROCKS!! Our roads need major improvements, the there is way too much parking lot, graffiti, and ugly brutalist condos but we also got diverse architecture, great night life .. ect. Generally I am very proud of Montreal, and I would say that its ranks pretty high among other Canadien cities.
 

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SSLL
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I agree, Montreal's as unique and special as any of Canada's other cities. I think it's interesting how Montreal has kind of stemmed what was ailing it (slow growth, graffiti, etc.) in the last decade or so, when this was released. I think it's interesting that she blames separatism on the people resting on their laurels, which is something I've not read about before.
 

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but the state of the city, roads, public transit, litter, shitty graffittt and obnoxious drivers, bikers and pedestrians is driving me back to TO later this year.
What's wrong with the State of the city? With the exception of NYC, no other city in N-A has a higher ridership % in public transit. PLus with bus passes at about 70$, it'S way cheaper then in many other cities! And the services is decent! Shitty graffitti? All major cities have graffiti, and if you look carefully, some of the Graffitti is pretty amazing. It adds life to the city!

I'll agree that our roads and the litter problem are getting out of hand, but thats nothing that cant be repaired.

You are entitled to your opinions, but i guess you're just not the Montreal type! You're more of the conservative toronto type, and that is fine. At least you had some fun while you were here!
 

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moonage daydream
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11x said:
I migrated from toronto 2 yrs ago. I couldnt agree more with Janes thoughts on Montreal. I've had fun here, met some great peeps, but the state of the city, roads, public transit, litter, shitty graffittt and obnoxious drivers, bikers and pedestrians is driving me back to TO later this year.

One thing to add and I don't mean to pick on Montreal because its most likely better than most cities (but not Toronto, Vancouver...) is that it's own citizenry is to blame. As an outsider I feel I have tried to do my part to correct some of the issues here (speaking out, telling the numerous slobs to pick up after themselves, written letters to city representatives).

The majority in MTL seem content with the state of the town. Which is cool I guess, but thats why it no longer ranks near the top with other great canadian cities.

Just my opinion....
I agree 11x, Montreal frustrates the hell out of me, so much potential...

<Flame suit on>
I think the problem lies in that as most resident are French, they have not traveled extensively to other cities in NA and don't realise how run down this place is. On the same train of thought, the fact that most residents are uni-lingual French, there is no where else for them to migrate to, so you could say Quebec has a captive population that can not leave no matter how run down the city becomes. There for there is little incentive to improve the place.
 

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habsfan said:
Shitty graffitti?
I agree with the migrant -- far too much scrawl, plus very little artitistic thought (if any) goes into the grafitti found all around town here -- altogether strikes me as one of this city's uncool sides, while the rest of this continent's cities show some lively graffitti -- I lump the scrawl here into the same category as billboards, being simply pure trash.

Cheers,
Chris
 

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habsfan said:
What's wrong with the State of the city? With the exception of NYC, no other city in N-A has a higher ridership % in public transit. PLus with bus passes at about 70$, it'S way cheaper then in many other cities!
Yep, 63$ is a great bargain but hanlf the trains and busses are sprawled with taggings, etchings, and litter. One thing MTL has reinforced is me is that you get what you pay for.
The city just finished paying off the olympics and I heard some story about redoing a 2 year old stretch of highway because its too loud. The construction industry, Quebec City, and the mob have have run this town into the ground.

"but i guess you're just not the Montreal type! You're more of the conservative toronto type, and that is fine. At least you had some fun while you were here!"

Unfortunately, every city has you're type...
 

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TooFar said:
On the same train of thought, the fact that most residents are uni-lingual French, there is no where else for them to migrate to, so you could say Quebec has a captive population that can not leave no matter how run down the city becomes. There for there is little incentive to improve the place.

Good point.

MTL, just like TO gets screwed by its provincial government. The city having a strong anglo and immigrant population doesn't help it's cause in Qcity.
 

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The good old days are now
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For every bad thing about Montreal there is a good thing.
We have a lot of litter but few murders for instance.
Slow growth, but we have managed not to sprawl too much (yes a bit, but a lot less than many other major NA cities)

One thing I always thought some parts of Montreal needed was more trees. Some areas of the city really could use them.

When I was in England at the beginning of March, their streets were nearly spotless. People did litter, but a few minutes after they did a few city workers would usually clean it up (a little less lazy then our city workers :lol: ). I also saw very little graffiti over there. What solved the graffiti problem was the ton of cameras they have everywhere. Unfortunatley the cameras would cost a bundle.
 

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I think the problem lies in that as most resident are French, they have not traveled extensively to other cities in NA and don't realise how run down this place is. On the same train of thought, the fact that most residents are uni-lingual French, there is no where else for them to migrate to, so you could say Quebec has a captive population that can not leave no matter how run down the city becomes. There for there is little incentive to improve the place.
this is entirely inaccurate and borderline bigoted.

a MAJORITY of montreal residents speak both english and french. go to the city of montreal's demographic profiles and see for yourself. the argument that montrealers are untravelled is ridiculous in and of itself, but especially so when you add that they're untravelled because they're "french." as if that limits somebody's ability to travel somewhere!
 

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MTLskyline said:
One thing I always thought some parts of Montreal needed was more trees. Some areas of the city really could use them.
MTL does have it's fair share of parkettes, and public spaces. It has way more of them than TO does in the core. But once again their condition is anything but great.

I totally agree, every urban centre could use more trees.
 

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It's amazing how varied folks' opinions can be -- I love it.

I was incredulous to hear a local from Toronto when I lived there a while several years ago remark that Montreal's full of trees! But I now see that he had a point as far as our arteries go here. The city really ought to take care of them, coz the trees are looking excessively stressed and frail down our main streets here -- plenty to learn from Paris coz loads of trees lining their boulevards are clearly SO healthy.

BTW, the majority of residents here are bilingual, many of whom are at least trilingual. Plus folks here do travel (I've overheard French Cdns speaking French on Manhattan streets every day I've spent there my many times visiting NYC).

Cheers,
Chris
 

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Unfortunately, every city has you're type...
NO need to get pissy!!! Just pointing out that you are more conservative than most Montrealers!

BY the way, there is a reason why Montreal looks older than other North American cities! and that's because IT IS OLDER! The City is 265 years old, not 160 years old, or 100 years old. It makes a difference!
 

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kilgoretrout said:
this is entirely inaccurate and borderline bigoted.

a MAJORITY of montreal residents speak both english and french. go to the city of montreal's demographic profiles and see for yourself. the argument that montrealers are untravelled is ridiculous in and of itself, but especially so when you add that they're untravelled because they're "french." as if that limits somebody's ability to travel somewhere!
Once again we get to see TooFAr's ignorance...
 

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habsfan said:
Just pointing out that you are more conservative than most Montrealers!
WTF are you labeling as conservative? If you don't know about a place or it's peoples it's best you not make such wide brush strokes.

and.... Don't make me pull out my Brother PTouch and label you're ass to the ground lol.
 

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11x said:
WTF are you labeling as conservative? If you don't know about a place or it's peoples it's best you not make such wide brush strokes.

and.... Don't make me pull out my Brother PTouch and label you're ass to the ground lol.
Yeah, I thought I may have touched a nerve there! Don't worry, no need to pull a hissy fit.
 

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moonage daydream
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habsfan said:
Once again we get to see TooFAr's ignorance...
Bias - probably, Opinionated - definitely, Provocateur - generally, Ignorant - I don't think so.
I would bet good money that I know more about Quebec History and social issues than most Quebeckers.
 

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samsonyuen said:
I think it's interesting that she blames separatism on the people resting on their laurels, which is something I've not read about before.
Come again?
I read this article twice and can not come at all to this conclusion.
 
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