Catch up on all the big stories that happened this week in Montreal.
The latest measure of the differences between Quebec’s new Two Solitudes — Montreal and the rest of the region — can be read on a car’s odometer. People who live on the island of Montreal drive an average of 19 kilometres each weekday, compared with 34 kilometres for off-island dwellers, according to a new study from the McGill School of Urban Planning and consulting group Green Resilience Strategies. That means residents of communities like Brossard, Laval or Repentigny typically drive 75 per cent farther than Montrealers do. It shouldn’t come as a shock that Montrealers log fewer kilometres. Living in a dense, central neighbourhood near a métro station or a bike path obviously offers more plentiful options for heading to work, dropping the kids off at school or shopping. In contrast, a vehicle is often the only way to get around in the fast-growing exurbs in the far corners of the Montreal region.
Montreal opposition councillors are calling for the heads of the managers of the city’s transit agency, saying they have proved their incompetence during the current bus crisis. The Société de transport de Montréal is in the midst of a severe maintenance backlog. The transit agency has more than 1,800 buses in its fleet and needs 1,425 on the road to guarantee its posted schedules. However, it has fallen well short of that number since the beginning of October, resulting in hundreds of hours of bus service cut every day. The shortage has become so dire, the STM has resorted to renting coach-style buses to meet its service commitments. On Tuesday, the STM posted on its website it only had 1,292 buses on the road during peak periods.
Alice will soon be making her way to Dorval. Alice is the name given to the Réseau express métropolitain‘s giant tunnel boring machine (TBM), which will bore a 3.5-kilometre underground passage from the Technoparc to the REM station beneath Montreal-Trudeau International Airport. The REM named the machine after Alice Evelyn Wilson (1881-1964), a scientist and the first female geologist with Geological Survey of Canada. With Alice the TBM soon to be in place, Dorval Mayor Edgar Rouleau said it is imperative for the federal and provincial governments to approve a much-discussed extension to the Dorval train station.
In a divided decision issued Thursday, Quebec’s Court of Appeal decided not to suspend sections of the province’s secularism law. Though the three judges of the panel agreed the law is causing certain people irreparable harm, two of the judges ruled their hands are tied by the government’s use of the notwithstanding clause in the matter. Chief Justice Nicole Duval Hesler, who is facing complaints over previous comments she made about the law, was the sole dissenting judge, ruling in favour of suspending the section of the law that prohibits people from wearing religious symbols at work. But the government’s use of the notwithstanding clause, which prevents citizens from challenging a law for violating parts of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, was a deciding factor for the other two judges.
Three years ago, Jonathan Defoy had a crazy idea: what if he could keep truckloads of food from being dumped in landfills, help people save on groceries, increase grocers’ bottom line and maybe save the world in the process? It may sound like the kind of pie-in-the-sky thinking that makes people in the tech industry impossible to talk to at parties, but Defoy’s plan just might work. In May, after years of developing the technology, Defoy launched FoodHero, a mobile app that allows users to buy grocers’ aging food at a discounted rate instead of seeing it tossed in a dumpster. So far, more than 200,000 people have downloaded the app, saved hundreds of thousands of dollars, kept about 75,000 kilos of food from being thrown out and taken the equivalent of seven tonnes of greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere.