Last weekend, the mayors of Lachine and Verdun tested new ways to determine how neighbourhoods get created. Each consulted local experts and residents prior to creating plans for new development.
Their methods differed, but if either or both methods work to make residents comfortable and attached to new projects, municipal land use planning in Montreal could change forever.
Either way, residents appreciated efforts to bring them into the fold early in the planning. Both consultations attracted hundreds of participants. Covering them for my local paper marked a pleasant change.
I’ve followed municipal land use development in the city for years. Most of the time, residents have little or no influence about what happens in their neighbourhoods.
The usual land use planning routine features city officials privately meeting with developers to negotiate a new project.
Their plan then goes through an internal planning committee of residents and local municipal planning experts.
The committee makes changes.
Developers pay architects for more concept plans.
By the time the development gets approved, both the city and the developer are wed to a project. Only then do local residents get a say.
From the developer and city official perspective, residents who notice problems are trouble-makers.
Traditionally, politicians deal with the potential conflict by attempting to hide legally-required consultations from residents.
Journalists and citizens with an interest in land use planning pay careful attention to official consultations set for December, January, July, August, and holidays. Consultations set for those times are likely to represent very unpopular developments. The consultation for one particularly touchy development took place on the night of the Stanley Cup Playoff! Only four people attended.
Too often, major changes are made to neighbourhoods without property owners being informed at all.
I know of one case where residents in fancy skyscrapers didn’t discover that future developments would eliminate their precious views of the mountain, the river or both until shovels went into the ground.
Usually, public consultations pit residents against developers. If possible, politicians try to divide critics. Advocates for projects with condos and townhouses work hard to set people with environmental concerns against social housing activists.
From the resident perspective, city officials and developers care little about neighbourhoods.
Residents who notice problems must work hard to prevent developments from occurring as planned. I’ve seen local residents prevent a former school from becoming a senior’s home shortly after a baby boom because they knew that more schools would be needed in the neighbourhood a few years later. They stopped grocery store owners from expanding because they knew that the resulting traffic would create safety hazards for children attending the school across the street. Schools haven’t opened for years because neighbours use every avenue open to them to stop projects.
Local residents prevented one major development near the highway three different times. In that case, it was hard to believe that the city and the developer kept bringing back the same unpopular project.
In contrast, the presentations in Lachine and Verdun during the weekend felt lively and fun.
The Lachine event featured an open house with developers, local activists and business groups staffing tables to share their visions with residents. A video camera taped attendee visions for the future neighbourhood. It felt so positive and inviting, a few people wondered if it were some kind of trick.
The Verdun event felt equally positive. Set up like a competition, the presentation featured volunteer teams of architects, interns and citizens presenting extraordinarily-well-thought-out plans for the new development. After each team presented, attendees could ask questions or make comments. It was not only informative as a process, but kind of fun too.
I hope these two events usher in new practices in municipal land use planning.
The gardening season for 2019 officially begins this week. Have you got your pots clean yet? (I recommend spraying them with a solution of water and peroxide bleach to disinfect.)
Starting next week, you can begin seeding peppers (2nd week of Feb), eggplant (3rd week of Feb), cabbage (4th week of Feb) and then tomatoes (1st week of March).
Pick up your seeds this weekend at the Great Gardening Weekend! Traditionally held at the Botanic Gardens, the awesome event takes place at the planetarium this year.
Seedy Saturdays also take place across Montreal beginning next weekend.
Get ready to plant!
Planétarium Rio Tinto Alcan, 4801 Pierre de Coubertin Ave.
February 16 and 17 from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.
The 19th edition of the Great Gardening Weekend takes place this coming weekend. Organized by Espace pour la vie, in collaboration with Cultiver Montréal.
More than 20 different Québécois seed producers will be on hand. There will also be seed exchanges and workshops about urban agriculture.
This is the first time the activity takes place at the Planetarium so there will be more space for everyone.
Grand Potager at the Verdun Municipal Greenhouses, 7000 boul LaSalle, Verdun
March 9 from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.
The 3rd edition of Verdun’s Seedy Saturday takes place the second weekend of March.
There will be five Québecois seed producers, a seed exchange table plus kiosks from members of Grand Potager.
Learn about African heritage plants, fruit trees, aquaponics, backyard gardening in Montreal, edible flowers and a multitude of other urban agriculture skills.
Be sure to pick up compost, gloves, pruners and seeds from the Coopérative de solidarité Abondance Urban Solidaire. Membership in the coop costs only $10, which gets you a 10% rebate on courses and products.
Trottier’s childhood passion for electro-magnetic technology has him to create:
The Montreal native holds unfailing love for his city. He was appointed a member of the Order of Canada in 2006. His nomination as an officer took place in 2017.
When I met him, he spoke honestly about the ups and downs of entrepreneurship, the brilliant researchers he supports and the issues on which he’s changed his mind.
“When we started, there was no venture capital,” he says about Matrox, the 600-employee company he co-founded with partner Branko Matic in 1976. “What helped us is that we picked a product to develop that we were able to sell within six months. We kind of bootstrapped and grew slowly in the beginning, not necessarily by choice.”
Matrox peaked in the late 1990s and 2000s with its graphics cards. Trottier says the company couldn’t sustain that level of leadership over time and “kind of flamed out.” Still, he’s proud that the company has not only stayed in business through forty years of high technological change but remains flexible enough to continually develop new products that put the latest research into practical use.
“Today, we have three basic areas of strength,” he says. “With computer graphics, we’re strong in display walls and public information displays. With television production, when you watch any sports on the nightly news, sports or election results, our cards are in the bowels of what you see. We’re also strong in machine vision. The latest flavour there is deep learning and we’re getting into that via the algorithms we’re developing.”
Trottier says that he likes meeting the Matrox senior researchers to make sure that the company continues to benefit from significant technological breakthroughs.
That drive to keep current in basic science also has him funding researchers like René Doyon. Doyon runs the Director of the Institute for Research on exoplanets at the Université de Montréal.
“René Doyon is among the world’s top research in exoplanets,” says Trottier. “He’s developed a sensitive spectrometer to be able to read the biomarkers of atmospheres around planets, including water vapor, carbon dioxide and perhaps methane or oxygen. It’s one of the instruments on the $8 billion telescope called the James Webb Telescope that will launch in the fall of 2018. They want to find earth 2.0.”
When asked about vulnerabilities, Trottier says that he’s “more of a geek and not very people-oriented.” He’s also “very stubborn and dogmatic.” He says his attitude sometimes prevents him from appreciating public trends.
When his youngest daughter was studying environmental studies, for example, he was less than enthusiastic about the issue of climate change.
“I probably said some things about those protesters that I would be ashamed of now,” he says. “Skeptic is too strong a word, but I was not convinced that there was anything beyond showmanship.”
After his daughters convinced him to take a closer look at the science behind climate change, he brought eminent scientists from around the world for a public symposium on the issue in the autumn of 2005.
What he learned turned him into one of the top funders in the field with a $15 million grant to McGill in 2011 to create two climate change research institutes. The Trottier Institute for Sustainability in Engineering and Design promotes engineering, architecture and urban planning research. The Trottier Institute for Science and Public Policy, which is run by soil-expert Tim Moore, was set up to expand the contribution of science to human welfare.
“If it hadn’t been for my daughters, I might still be on the sidelines with the climate change issue,” says Trottier. “If you have an open mind, you can change it about anything.”
The experience also wanted him to help change other peoples’ minds about science. Since 2007, Trottier has funded annual public symposiums at McGill. Many are webcast and permanently available at https://www.mcgill.ca/science/outreach/webcasts/trottier-symposium.
Trottier likes Canada’s modern attitude and its cultural duality.
“Canada is a modern country,” he says. “I like the fact that we have two basic cultures here.”
In his private life, Trottier says he’s still the same boy who began exploring technology through a ham radio set with a buddy. Only today, he’s fooling around with radio-controlled airplanes instead.
Please note that this conversation took place in 2017.
This episode of Unapologetically Canadian is brought to you by Thrive Themes.
The annual family ski event at Angrignon Park takes place on Saturday, February 9, 2019, from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.
Roughly 200 skiers and snowshoers will explore about 10km of trails through Angrignon Park. If conditions are good, additional trails lead through the Douglas Research Centre, along the Aqueduct, and south to the St. Lawrence River waterfront.
Up to 30 sets of equipment in various adult and child sizes will be available. If you haven’t tried cross-country skiing before, plan to do so on that day. For more information about ski conditions and a trail map, refer to the ski in the great southwest website (which is in French).
Beverages and snacks will be on hand along with music, probably in Douglas Hall.
This latest version closely resembles the family event connecting Angrignon Park, the Douglas Hospital and the St. Lawrence Rapids that’s occurred annually since 2012 when the Friends of Angrignon Park began. The Friends used to organize the event in conjunction with the Douglas Research Institute and the Club Aquatique du Sud-Ouest (CASO).
Since then, Verdun, Lachine, LaSalle and the Southwest Borough partnered with Parks Canada and SOGEP to create similar events in all southwest Montreal parks.
This year, there will be animation ski introduction events in:
The activity is free.
Everyone should bring warm clothes, a bottle of water and a lunch to enjoy.
See you there!
As Breast Cancer month began, I spoke with MUHC Foundation President Julie Quenneville for my podcast. Our discussion can be heard here.
Most of our conversation covers the needs met by the annual Enchantée fundraiser for the MUHC Breast Clinic wellness program. This year’s event takes place next Thursday, October 18th, 2018 at the Le Mount Stephen from 6:00-8:00 p.m.
Tickets cost $200 each and can be purchased online.
The event is important enough for Montreal that I also prepared a story for the Suburban.
Julie and I are friends and members of the same club, so you’ll probably notice that some of my questions reflect a deep admiration of her work. Yet I’ve never before heard her talk about her Canadian identity and her work with the Banff Forum trying to figure out why kind of country we want to live in. Just goes to show you that podcasts can reveal fascinating facets of people.
Here’s the transcript of our conversation.
Julie Quenneville: [00:01:09] So we do a lot of fundraising that is globally for the priority needs of the MUHC. And we also do some very targeted fundraising that is for certain diseases departments and linked to of course the priority needs of those areas. So this event is particular to support the breast center and its own priorities. It’s a great opportunity to engage not only the staff, the physicians but also the patients and their families in a fundraising initiative. So when you’re very targeted, it allows them to feel like they’re giving back and really working towards a common goal. It can be quite empowering for the patients.
How did it start?[00:02:01] Well it was the committee that the three co-chairs actually sitting down with physicians and it started off with very specific needs. So not people in general but a need that is not being met in the community and that’s lymphedema. Have you ever heard of that? [00:02:20] No.
And so we actually have the Canadian lead physician who has been really leading the battle to get lymphedema care covered across the country. Her name is Dr. Anna Tower. And so it was in meetings obviously with Doctor Tower throughout the last couple of years, our foundation has always covered those services. I would say probably for the last decade. And in the breast center, we cover the services for our patients as well. And so anyone who is afflicted with this is at least will have access to care.
Now that’s not good enough. I think everyone else in the province should have access, but at least we’re doing our part in making sure that our patients are taken care of.
So the conversation started with lymphedema and saying to ourselves well with the patients how do we make sure that these services continue because they’re not covered by government and what else can we do to not only improve the survival rate but also improve their quality of life post-surgery and treatment?[00:04:30] So I just looked at a picture of what lymphedema is. This is extreme. The picture I’m looking at looks extreme in various ways. One just makes it look kind of blotty and then right up to legs that are clearly five times bigger than what they were prior to the disease. [00:04:59] For breast cancer patients, it would be mostly the arms, because it’s in the areas that you remove the lymph nodes, and in breast cancer that would be the arms. But it’s a high number 25 percent. In all the cancers, ovarian cancer and breast cancer, patients are the most affected by this. [00:08:32] I can see why they don’t want to leave home. They’ve become a whole different person and they’ve already just gone through a very traumatic situation anyway because they’ve just survived breast cancer. [00:08:40] Their quality of life is affected.
So we have three co-chairs. So Cynthia Price and Jo Anne Rudy have been heavily involved in the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation throughout probably the last 20 years and Anna is a breast cancer survivor. So you know they were personally touched by these issues.
So, on top of the lymphedema services, the funds raised from this event—this is the second annual event—are going to the wellness program.
So that includes lymphedema but it also goes above and beyond. It includes:
Now I noticed last year you raised 120,000 dollars.
Exactly. That was our first event.
Yeah and how many patients would that cover
I don’t know off the top of my head but we can certainly pull that number and get back to you.
Okay perfect. And I noticed that this particular event is taking place at the Mount Stephen on October 18, which is a pretty good location. Was it there last year as well?[00:10:31]It was there last year as well. They’ve been a very good partner. It’s a very nice place and as you know it’s important in these fundraising events to find something that is central and is a bit different from other events. [00:10:39] So you had 200 guests last year. Do you know how many people are reserved so far this year? [00:10:43] We’re still in the middle of the sale. So we’re still confident to be able to surpass last year.
So this year we’ve added a partner foundation. We’re always striving to collaborate with others because that’s the best way to help our patients. So the Cedar’s Cancer Foundation, which is a foundation of the MUHC, has joined forces with us to make this event even more successful. The Cedar Cancer Foundation is heavily involved with the Rossy Cancer Network, which you know if you look back in past announcements, is funded obviously by the Rossy family and is a way to break down the silos between the MUHC, McGill, JJH and St. Mary’s for Cancer Care and all of the foundations related also contribute to the pot. Any time there is a funded project everyone is engaged and everyone contributes financially, including the Rossy Network.[00:11:35] OK. So then you have a network of people who are already behind your project when it gets launched.
In all of cancer, because the patients flow through these various areas, you know we have incredible complementarity where we don’t duplicate the services. There are certain cancers which we are specialized in. Certain cancers will go to the Jewish. And of course, there are some cancers that go to St. Mary’s. So this way we make sure that the patients are always in the best place and are being treated by the best team possible for their cancer.[00:11:59] Did you find last year that there were new partners this year because of the event last year? [00:12:06] Well it allowed us to start a conversation. And that’s that’s the key right? Even though we’re not raising millions through a fund-raising event, it allows us to meet patients who are interested in giving back and interested in getting involved. Absolutely there were many conversations that went in other directions and many many of the attendees became important donors as well to the program. [00:12:27] Well and then what happens in your job I think we have got a higher level in your job you actually handle a heck of a lot of events. How do you handle it? I mean just give me a sort of an overview of a day in your life it can’t be easy because everything is so emotional. I mean you’re dealing with life and death.
So a day in my life is every day I meet physicians, nurses or patients who are looking to work together to find solutions. But it’s also empowering Tracey.
There’s always no one of the things I learned in being in health care for this long is that there’s always a way to make it work. If you get everybody around the table engaged in finding a solution, you do find a solution, and that’s empowering.[00:13:43] Can you give me an example of something like that? Perhaps something not connected to this event. But in terms of something that looks like a very difficult situation that you were able to find a solution?
So he had a patient at one point and there were quite a few publications around this case, who came from one of the regions of Quebec so out of the McGill Territory who was 32 years and who was in palliative care at the time and no physician he had seen was able to identify the source so they had to put him into palliative care. For a father, that’s difficult to swallow at 32 years old. It turns out what he had was basically thrush in his brain. It’s really hard to get rid of thrush. It turns out that through the work that our physician did, he mixed medication and eventually he found that a mixture of two medications for other diseases actually worked for this patient and he was sent home to be with his family. And this is a physician that we fund heavily because of course, this kind of research is so ultra=specialized that it takes a lot of tender loving care but it’s very encouraging because it reminds us that we are able to pull off miracles when we have dedicated people.
So is that patient is still alive. Has he become one of your donors?
I can’t tell you that, because obviously, that information is confidential.[00:15:23] But he is certainly unbelievably grateful and I’m sure every time he tells his story about what happened to him and his family it is important for the hospital and also important for Montreal.
It is a very very very powerful story and it shows that if you keep working hard, there are miracles. Not very many people think about a fundraiser as a miracle worker.
Well, we make the difference as a foundation we make the difference between quality and excellence. We fund innovation.[00:16:04] There is no government budget to fund innovation. That is really the drive that the community has. There’s also no budget in the government for development of new equipment. So when there’s a piece of equipment a new piece of technology on the market, the foundations support that. The existing budget is really just for the replacement of the existing platform. So what we do is we make the difference between quality care and excellent care which is what we all want and what we should all demand. [00:16:37] And well how much do you have specific about how much your foundation supports above and beyond the budget of the MUHC. [00:16:50It’s important to note that we don’t fund items that are covered in the operating budget. We always cover what’s above and beyond. So just to make sure that we don’t confuse that. We raised last year 24 billion in revenue plus our investments. So that was a record-breaking year for us. That’s a 25 percent increase in revenue. [00:17:17] Congratulations.
How long have you been there?[00:17:24] It’ll be three years in October.
So that result is really in part due to your leadership. You can take credit for a lot of that.
It’s thanks to the entire team, the staff, the board and the physicians who are working with us that we were able to have that kind of success.[00:18:29] Now donors are all patients.
Do you have a relationship with any of the francophone funders or foundations? Do you do any joint projects?[00:18:50] So we’ve had a very long joint corporate campaign with the CHUM Foundation and this was to build the two new hospitals. It was a great success. We had a wonderful collaboration between the two foundations and the two institutions and we have you know we are preparing now for our next big fund-raising initiatives and some of them will be in collaboration not only with them but we hope with other hospitals across the province. The funding agents across the country for research are asking for it and the donors are asking for it as well that we work more and more together. So we plan to do that.
I also sit on the board of directors with a really important group called the Banff Forum where we strive to find solutions to break down those barriers across the country from east to west. We’re meeting next week and this is part of on my personal time one of the areas that I find most important and I hope to be able to contribute.
We should be defining what kind of country we want to live in in the next 20, 30 years. So it’s a group of very very passionate young Canadians.
Although I’m not so young, they are very young and very engaged. We meet officially for a conference once a year, but we have many chapter provincial meetings as well and seminars. We talk about the environment and indigenous issues. We talk about politics. Many politicians from every party come and speak with us as well to be able to have that diversity of conversation. We talk about culture. And it’s really about building that curiosity and seeking solutions and all of the members who—we are very careful to welcome the members that represent different diversity of different age groups and different cultural backgrounds and make sure that these are all individuals that are also incredibly engaged in their communities and so they bring back this information and knowledge to their own work into their networks.
And so the meeting next week is actually in Yellowknife. We’re going to Inuvik first and then in Yellowknife. We’ll be visiting from villages communities and we’ll be hearing from them are their challenges and seeing it for ourselves. I’m hoping to have some time to go visit some of the clinics that are there as well. And somehow, of course, it’s impossible not to have an impact on perception.[00:26:40] We’re all very anxious to hear from them Yeah exactly. Well, will you have any presentations about your experience in the future?
None are planned.[00:26:53] This is a closed group because we want to make sure that everyone can speak very openly. But of course, you know you cannot leave such an event without changing as a person in your own perception changes. So I’d be happy to speak with you afterwards if you’d like. [00:27:14] That would be wonderful thank you very much.