Sunday, October 19, 2014

How a street argument in St. Laurent snowballed into tragedy

 What started out - and should have ended - as an innocuous street bravado conflict on a summer night in St. Laurent ended up leading to two deaths and much more collateral damage.
Wendell Small, 21, killed
 The story begins when Philip Bird, a 22-year-old from Pierrefonds, met a woman named Heidi Koula at a park and offered to drive her back to her home in St. Laurent at about midnight on August 12, 1985.
Du College metro
    Not far from their destination, Bird stopped his 1976 Pontiac Parisienne at a red light outside of the metro station at Decarie and Du College.
   Many people were outside at the corner that night, including a bunch waiting for the 118 bus.
   Carl White, a former boxer, stepped to the car to chat with Koula, who he knew.
   Their little chat left Bird - who had consumed six beers and smoked hashish - irritated and he got out of his car to confront Wright and a crowd of mostly young black males.
  "I can take that girl away from you," Wright told Bird.
   "Fuck you boy," replied Bird, a phrase which carried a racist overtone.
   Shawn Rogers intervened to advise Bird to get back in his car.
   But then White tossed a plank from a nearby construction area at Bird's car.
   Rocks and a steel bar were also apparently tossed at his car.
   Humans, as we know, don't much enjoy having their car attacked and Bird was no exception.
   He drove off but veered around to take a U-turn to return to the scene.
Magalie Joachim, 18, killed
    Koula, still in the car, asked to get out but Bird ignored the request, so she helpless covered her eyes as he accelerated towards the crowd.
   Bird's idea was to scare the people who had taunted him and attacked his car by slamming on his brakes just in time to avoid calamity.
   As we have seen elsewhere in this city, speeding towards somebody and stopping just before impact is a lousy idea idea that can easily lead to tragedy.
   Before he came close, one man entered the road wielding a sign he had picked up and was ready to toss, as if expecting Bird to come around. The man dashed out of the car's path when he saw it speeding towards him.
   Bird's lawyer later claimed that the car failed to stop because it skidded over the assorted debris that the young men had tossed at his car.
   Bird drove straight into the crowd, killing Magalie Joachim, 18, and Wendell Small, 21.
  Sophia Brown, 7, and Mandy Menshick, 14, were seriously injured as well.
Philip Bird
   Joachim was not at all involved in the dispute and was only there because she had driven to the metro to drop friends off after watching a fireworks display.
   Small had been at a nearby restaurant with his younger brother and he left to go out side in order to talk to a girl.
   Bird came out and expressed shock at the result of his recklessness.
    Witnesses Christine Vibert, Alphonsus Linthorne, Gisele Gagne and Shawn Rogers were among the many people who saw the awful event up close.
   The two bodies remained pinned under the vehicles for three hours after the incident.
   Bird was brought to prison and was originally to be charged with first degree murder but a jury reduced that to manslaughter and criminal negligence. He was sentenced to 7 1/2 years but even that was further reduced.
   The story does not end there, however. 
   Sean Small, 19, was also on the scene and saw his brother killed.
  He was so shocked that he was unable to speak to utter a word to his mother Margery Marshall to recount that his brother had been killed.
   Sean's life did not go well after that incident.
   Justice Dionysia Zerbisias later called Small a hardened unrepentant and violent criminal.
      Almost exactly 13 years after his brother was killed, Sean Small was walking in NDG with his new girlfriend Tina Diaz on August 22, 1998.
Koulas, seen in a recent photo, was trapped in the car 
   They had been arguing loudly inside the Stripes bar on St. James St. W and continued their bickering in the street walking home.
   Police asked them about their dispute but then allowed them to continue to their home on Beaconsfield.
   Once inside Sean Small, by now 32, jabbed Diaz, 18, in the chest with a sharp object.
   He brought her to St. Mary's Hospital in a taxi at 4:30 a.m. and left.
   She died 10 hours later, as surgery to repair the perforation in her heart failed.
   She refused, or was unable, to report what had happened.
   On January 3, 1999 Sean Small was sentenced to life in prison for murder with a minimum jail time of no less than 10 years in prison, so there's a good chance that he is out of prison now.
    The only glimpse of goodness that came out of this series of disasters? A charitable foundation to help Haiti was later launched in the memory of Magalie Joachim

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Montreal teacher fired for 70s Euro softcore past

  Jacqueline Laurent-Auger, now 73, has been fired from teaching at posh Brebeuf School where she taught theatre for 15 years because she appeared nude in a few risque European films in the 70s, although never - from what we can see - doing anything particularly graphic on camera.
   Judging from her IMDB page, Laurent  - who is from Quebec - first appeared in TV movies at around age 27, in 1969, transitioning to more risque films three years later with Dany La Ravageuse where - in this bits we saw - she appears fully-frontally naked and smooches.
   She's naked (although always wearing a thick swathe of lower-body fur) in Journal Intime d'un nyphomane (Diary of a Nymphomaniac 1973) but only a few minutes of that film are easily found so we can't evaluate her entire body of work.
  Perhaps her best-known work was shot when she was aged 33 to 38, notably in a pair of Swedish films and one made in France: Ta Mej i Dalen (Country Life 1977) Nathalie Escape from Hell (1978) and Swedish Sex Games (1975).
  Laurent had large roles, suggesting that she was near the top of her Euro-pulp film hierarchy.
   As you can see in the collage of images from her Swedish farm drama, Laurent was called on to show some acting chops while lesser actors were designated for the graphic sex scenes involving penetration and oral sex.
   In the climactic scene (see collage) Laurent changes her mind about killing her cheating boyfriend in an epiphany expressed through extensive facial contortions.
   Naughty boyfriend then comes down, runs his fingers over furry lower mane and they hump.
   The dirty bits aren't shown up close so the penetrative plausible deniability remains intact.
   In Swedish Sex Games she is similarly emotionally abused and even begs on her knees naked for her loutish drunken wide-lapelled curly-haired Swedish hunk to keep her. Concealed humping and subsequent rejection ensues.
   But once again, her scenes are far from graphic.
   There's plenty of real genuine dramatic fully-clothed acting scenes to round the business out, so let's say it's at least 50 percent acting and 50 percent sex-related titillation.
  A 36-year-old Laurent doesn't strip down a whole lot from what I can see in her prominent but relatively-tame role as a Nazi dominatrix in Nathalie Fugitive from Hell (1978) except for a scene where a prisoner touches her boobs and Laurent slaps her. Laurent stands around brandishing a whip and sporting the standard-issue sexy S and M kit (pts.  1,and 2)
    She told the journal de Montreal that she did the films because she the money at the time.
    But she offered a more spirited defence to Radio Canada. 
   "I contributed to moral emancipation and the fact that young people enjoy so much freedom of expression these days is partly because of the path that men and women like myself opened."
   Another arts prof made the point in the same article that it's difficult for an actor to become a teacher because the two worlds have different ethical codes. "In art anything goes," said Lucie Villeneuve of UQAM.
   Someone get a film-festival going in her honour please.  Impresarios, get on it! 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Montreal's radiation-blasting shoe store X-Ray fitting machines

How are your toes feeling?
   If you're old and once went to Jerry's shoe store on Queen Mary, they might be falling off.    That store was one of those shops that favoured an awesome X-Ray technology that allowed you to see the bones in your feet below the shoes you were trying on.
    It's a rare case of a cool technology actually disappearing.
    Solid confirmation that blasting one's toesies with radiation might not be a great idea only came about in 1960 or so.
  The fear of course, was that people would get various types of cancers or genetic mutations through exposure to radiation but according to Wikipedia the longstanding gimmick never led to any complaints or lawsuits.
    So yours will be the first. Tracking down Jerry might be troublesome as the store has not existed since at least 1970. (Thx to Bill Conrod's Memories of Snowdon in the 50s for the tip).
   Eaton's had one too (1931, 1938) and surely other shoes shops in Montreal did as well.  

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Five reasons why we need to stop funding classical music and start funding pop music

Five reasons arts funding should be shifted from classical music to pop music

1-Unlike classical music, people listen to, purchase and pay attention to pop music Some claim to like classical music because they think it makes them look intelligent but do you see them sleeping out for chamber music tickets? Classical music only gets played on radio to help quell road rage. Nobody wants to hear that harpsichord.
2-Pop music puts a city on the tourist map What Nirvana did for Seattle. What Prince did for Minneapolis. What Gamble and Huff did for Philly. That.
3-Classical music has no more cultural value than pop music Desperate cummerbund-wearing classical music types once convinced parents that babies became more intelligent when exposed to Brahms music. It doesn't work.
4- Wealthy people can pay for their own live music like the rest of us Boston's symphony has an endowment fund of over $140 million, Chicago's is over $100 million. If the rich want their culture paid for, let them pay for it.
5-More bang for the buck with pop musicians. Orchestras pay hefty full-time salaries to a few classically-trained virtuosos. With the same cash we could fund countless more pop musicians by offering free jam space and studio time. Let 'em keep their day jobs. Hell, amateur hockey, soccer, cultural centres all get funded by government but long-haired guitar soloists don't get a nickel, even though they might actually create some financial and cultural value. 

Roslyn teacher awarded over $1 million in legal dispute with couple

    A legal battle that escalated when parents violated a deal not to comment on an out-of-court-settlement has led to more pain as Justice Francois Duprat has ordered Hagop Artinian and Kathryn Rosenstein to pay $1.012,327, plus an additional $13,000 in legal fees to former Roslyn School teacher Mary Kanavaros.
   The conflict began when the parents Artinian and Rosenstein sued teacher Mary Kanavaros for what they said was beahviour that humiliated and intimidated their child in 2005.
   Both sides settled in 2008.
   Part of the deal was that neither side would comment on the issue but the parents made the mistake of telling a journalist that they felt vindicated by the decision.
    The teacher suffered major stress and stopped working and sued the couple - represented by Julius Grey - for slander in 2010.
   Kanavaros was awarded $234,000, partly due to lost wages.
   The parents attempted to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.
    In January 2013 Kanavaros sued for almost $1 million more.
    And yesterday she was awarded $912,327 for lost wages and a $100,000 for damages.
   I don't know if that amount is on top of the $234,000 ruling previously decided, but either way it's a pretty solid pile of cash. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Judge rules on alleged racist Sears tractor riding ban

Photo re-enactment (not the actual people involved)
  Veteran judge Michelle Pauze recently presided over a contentious case of alleged racism at a Sears outlet at the Galeries Joliette.
   Two Muslim Algerian immigrants, Ratiba Boudebouz and Hamida Khammar sued Sears at the Human Rights Tribunal for $40,000 and $35,000 respectively after being tossed from the store by security guards on June 13, 2010.
  Boudebouz, who moved to Canada in 2006, was wearing a Muslim veil, but Khammar was not.
  Khammar was pregnant and had some health issues, which led the two to take a rest, sitting on a furniture display at the store while their sons, 6 and 2, climbed onto tractors nearby.
   A store attendant asked them to get their kids off the tractors. Boudebouz noted that she didn't understand why the kids couldn't do what they were doing and noted that there was no sign forbidding it.
   According to store employees, Boudebouz asked if she was being targeted because they were Muslim.
  Boudebouz said that the employees told her to return to her country if she didn't like the rules. They denied ever saying such a thing.
  The argument escalated and a security guard escorted the two mothers and their two sons out.
   Boudebouz returned and demanded the names of the employees.
   She called her husband (a pediatrician at the local hospital), called 911, called a store manager and later filed a complaint with the help of CRARR at the Tribunal.
   The story made headlines in various news outlets when the two filed a suit against Sears in 2013.
   The court noted a few inconsistencies with the complaint, noting that Boudebouz wrote at one time that the employee told three of them to go back to their country but elsewhere she reported that he said it separately.
   The judge also noted that Boudebouz used terms such as  “savage act of aggression” and “barbaric attack” that they were “pushed violently” “several times,”  in her complaint but the video imagery didn't support those descriptions, according to Pauze.
   One employee, who is gay, seemed to think that Boudebouz might have made a limp-wrist gesture, mocking his homosexuality.
   The employees admitted that they weren't very polite and might have spoken disrespectfully, frankness which the judge appreciated.
    After hearing the case through four days last December and another day in January, issued a judgment on May 26 dismissing the case.
   (In an unrelated recent decision that might interest consumers, a judge awarded around $1,600 to a consumer who bought an $800 air conditioner from Sears, who invoked an anti-lemon clause after the machine required more than three repairs). 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Madeline Saucier's mysterious bust

    Quite unexpectedly Madeline Saucier became an internationally-acclaimed artist when she was stricken with illness at this home on De Maisonneuve  at age 22.
  Saucier was born in 1925 and attended Villa Maria where she studied art. One day, aged 22, she was confined to bed in a lengthy battle against illness at 4212 De Maisonneuve in Westmount, so she started fashioning a little piece of artwork to pass the time.
   Grape woman, a bronze of a girl with grapes in her hair, was showcased at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City where it drew praise from syndicated columnist L.L. Stevenson.
   The bust was later displayed at a jewelry store in New York where it received more praise.
Who owns it now or what it even looks like remain a mystery
   Saucier went on to a high-profile career as a dollmaker and in the 60s her historical dolls were exposed at Stewart Hall, Disneyland and Expo 67.
   Apparently the market for her goods are not all that great, as one of her pieces has attracted only one bid since being listed on Ebay for $10.
   She'd be in her late 80s if still alive. She married war veteran and financier Andre Morin, who died in 1961 and mothered Andre Morin Jr. born in 1953. 

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Developer forced to demolish top floor fails to win compensation in lawsuit

    Developer Mario Di Palma's epic lawsuit against the city is finally done with after seven years.
   Di Palma sued the city for forcing him to demolish a fourth-storey addition to a condo project downtown.
   The marathon trial required 27 days before a judge who eventually issued a 47,000 word verdict shooting down Di Palma's claim for compensation.
   The epic saga began in October 2005 when Di Palma purchased a former shoe factory at Viger and Amherst. He paid $650,000 cash for the three storey industrial structure – without any inspection -  and got a balance of sale of $1.3 million at a steep 15 percent interest rate, which meant he was hard-pressed to make some money on this deal. He submitted a quickie architectural plan to the city, with a plan to add an extra floor.
   Thus began a long-term back-and-forth between Di Palma and bureaucrats and politicians who noted that the fourth floor didn't conform with zoning rules and that if he wanted to try to change it he'd have to apply to certain local decision-making bodies.
   In short, Di Palma had to navigate a complicated bureaucratic landscape and wagered that he'd eventually get the go-ahead to proceed.
   So he went ahead and built the fourth floor and the city declared it illegal.
   The construction site was shut down. He went to court for an injunction.
   Di Palma met with a city official to try to settle the issue but that meeting was a disaster.
   The employee said that he felt threatened during the encounter because Di Palma said that he might not be as calm if he stops taking his medications.
   The city worker complained to the police and a cop met Di Palma who did not open a file because he said Di Palma didn't seem to be intimidating at all and that Di Palma was literally on medication for Crohn's.
  Di Palma then accused the city of giving him the wrong information about an upcoming council meeting as an intentional method of keeping him out.
   He was forced to demolish the fourth floor in early 2007.
   In September 2007 Di Palma launched his $7.5 million lawsuit against the city, a bureaucrat and Borough Mayor Benoit Labonte saying that he unfairly influenced borough council against his project.
   Countless other incidents and characters were involved in the lengthy case that would simply take too long to analyze and repeat but the upshot is that the condo building is now only a three-storey affair.
   The story showcases the disaster that sometimes results from the clash of cultures between business folk and bureaucrats.
   Surely there are lessons to be derived from what ultimately turned out to be a massive waste of time and court proceedings sparked by the city's nitpicky insistence at keeping an extra floor of a building that probably would not have harmed anybody. 

Quebec tourist in Miami tragedy: 'I hope to find a boy'

Recollection time for Francoise Guimond, 29, who was savagely murdered by a man she had just met in Miami in March 1968.
   Guimond was a waitress from Dolbeau Quebec who met a hippie named James Henninger.
    They went back to what she thought was his place at 3515 E Glencoe in Miami .
    After their intimate interlude he stabbed her to death, later claiming that he was disoriented when he saw her pick up a knife, thinking perhaps she was going to come at him.  
   In fact, his gruesome knifework left no doubt about his intentions.
   Henninger fled in a Cadillac but was caught after the guy watching the house told police that Henninger had previously assaulted him.
   Henninger, who was described as a shirtless long haired bearded hippie, was sentenced to death but that sentence was commuted to life. He died in prison in 2006.
   Among the items left in Guimond's purse was an unsent postcard back home that read:“Having a wonderful time on the beach here. Hope to find a boy."

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Shoplifting: thrill of theft makes good people do bad things

This lovely Eastern European woman living just north of Montreal got into a common problem recently.
   According to a recent court ruling, the woman, (whose name I won't mention because it would only further the misery in this world) was caught on video stuffing 21 items into her purse of a value of $475 from a Sears store on January 8, 2013. 
   She told a judge that she had two small children and another on the way while her husband was out of work.
   Prosecutors noted, however, that she lives in a $500,000 home and drives a Mercedes. 
  A store employee testified at her trial that he had seen her steal items a few weeks prior but she got away before he could find her. 
   The 31-year-old recently asked a judge for absolution in return for a $1,000 donation to charity because a criminal record would hamper her efforts to visit her husband's parents in the U.S.A. but a judge ruled that she'd have to go through probation and pay a fine. 
   Her story is remarkably common in Quebec and shows that otherwise good people can have their judgment clouded by the intoxicating rush of getting away with something illegal.
   Shoplifting has not been discussed much recently, perhaps because bricks and mortar retail outlets are too busy trying to figure out how to survive the onslaught of online shopping, so it's unclear what the most recent trends are. 
   But according to numbers from four years back thieves steal about $1.6 million from retail stores every day in Quebec, with about half of all thefts committed by employees. The 2011 statistic of $585 million was down from an estimated $800 million four years earlier.
  The downtown Simon's outlet reported in 2011 that it nabs five thieves a day, who justify their actions by assuming that stores are rich and can afford to take a loss, according to an employee. 
   Thieves often have psychological issues to deal with and many of those caught are brought for group discussion therapy at an establishment somewhere near Girouard and NDG Ave.  
   About one-in-three shoplifters is inspired to steal by depression, while many others have kleptomania
   Quebec supermarkets, convenience stores and pharmacies lost $418 million in 2010. Furniture, home furnishings, computers, software, appliance, hardware and department stores lost $166 million. Shoplifters consisted of 53 per cent men and 33 per cent women and 12 percent were teens.  It's the most common type of crime among minors

The Blue Bonnets racetrack-to-housing saga: a timeline

   The quest to transform the once-glorious Blue Bonnets west end racetrack into housing has moved forward at the speed of a dead nag in spite of years of planning and discussions. Here's a timeline:

Blue Bonnets timeline:
June 4, 1907: Track opens on Decarie.
1943: Harness racing begins.
1988 Quebec provincial government with Agriculture Minister Michel Page guarantees $44 million loan to save the Blue Bonnets race track and its 700 jobs.
Feb. 20 1991: Under Mayor Jean Dore Montreal's housing agency buys the 146-acre (6 million square foot or 43.5 hectare) Blue Bonnets racetrack off of bankrupt Robert Campeau for $46 million. About two-thirds of the space is occupied by the racetrack. The city signs 10 year renewable lease for $3 million per annum with a group of local businessmen led by Andre Marier, called the Quebec Societe de Promotion des Industries de Courses. The province agrees to spend $14.8 to spruce up the track.
   The track had previously been evaluated at $80-$90 million and generated $275 million in annual revenues.
Dec. 1991: It was reported that the city lost $1 million due to the deal over the first few months but Robert Cohen, of the SHDM said that the first year loss in rent was only $400,000. Cohen noted that previous-owner Campeau only usually paid 30 percent of what was due in tax payments on the property. The SHDM was now paying $377,000 pear year in taxes to the city.
1991: Provincial police raid and launch an investigation that led to charges against four minor players who were fined $3,500. The track's reputation is tarnished by what some feel was a minor affair. Harness race drivers Rick Zeron, Mario Baillargeon and Richard Simard spend several years attempting to reverse their bans.
1992: Blue Bonnets reports a profit of $2.7 million on revenues of $209 million.
1993: Casino opens in July, threatening business and the 8,300 direct and indirect jobs supposedly fueled by Blue Bonnets. The track requests a big number of gaming machines but that it rejected by government and the casino. The losses lead to significant belt-tightening. Purses are halved and the third floor grandstand was closed, resulting in $350,000 in electricity and other costs. Staff was reduced by 25 percent. Free meals to workers were suspended. Revenues plummeted to $95 million for 1993 after the track was shut by work stoppages in July in a labour dispute.
1994 Jan 3: The 173-day labour dispute shut-down finally comes to an end.  A Quebec government corporation called SONACC (Societe national du cheval de course) takes over. Blue Bonnets president Andre Marier exits. He is paid $800,000 for his shares, which he acquired for $10 in 1991. He also received dividends of $320,000 before the sale and was given a severance of $483,000. The new corporation also paid off $1 million in unpaid back rent. The track had four vice presidents and a president, all were soon laid off.
    Crowds at the races dwindle. There's space for 15,000 in the crowd but only about 2,000 show up on a good day. Payoffs were down to 76.5 percent from 79.2 percent. The track was expected $185-$190 million in bets but only got to $117 million in 1994, far below its $200 million break-even point.  Its previous worst year was 1975 which saw $190 million. North American tracks saw an average of 20 percent drop but Montreal's decline was 50 percent. Some fans complained that there were too many Quebec-bred horses.  Plans were afoot to increase off-track-betting, include a 135 seat theatre in the Casino.
November 1993: Blue Bonnets sues province for $1.86 million in revenue guarantees made in 1988, a deal signed under then-owner Robert Campeau.
Oct. 1994: Mayoral Pierre Bourque urges part of the land be sold off for housing. The SHDM opposes the suggestion.
1995:  The SHDM renames Blue Bonnets to Hippodrome de Montreal.
July 1995: Longueuil businessman Lucien Remillard attempts to strike a deal with the province to build a new race track on the South Shore. No headway is made.
May 1998: City of Montreal, with the dossier handled by Saulie Zajdel sells the property to two provincial agencies for $35 million ($20 million from province under then-Premier Bouchard's minister Bernard Landry and $15 million from the SPICC provincial agency). Many councillors opposed the deal. Several Bourque councillors quit the party, costing him his majority in council.
  The track threatens to move ot the South Shore, Laval or Le Gardeur. SPICC, run by Landry's millionaire friend Gilles Blondeau, promises $25 million in renovations. Landry shifts horse-racing from Agriculture to his Industry ministry. Landry had previously shifted $13.5 million to the SPICC to cover debts one year earlier.
Jan. 2001: Snowdon City councillor Marvin Rotrand opposes plan to install 1,200 slot machines along with already-existing 200 VLTs in a plan that would give Blue Bonnets 20 percent of revenues.
October 2002: Province ends subsidies to race tracks after putting about $100 million in four tracks since 1995. A proposed massive infusion of gaming machines at Blue Bonnets falls through.
April 2001: Government report by Denis L'Homme claims that the province's race-track industry inflates its revenues and underestimates its costs.
2005: Quebec Finance Minister Michel Audet puts Blue Bonnets and all of the other province-owned courses up for sale. A city study says 2,500 housing units could be built on the site, which could bring in $50 million a year in tax revenues. Some believed that 6,000 units could be possible, if the CP were to sell its adjacent lands.
June 27: Blue Bonnets goes under bankruptcy protection and suspends operations. Track permanently closed October 13, 2009.
2009: Forty-five community groups oppose a plan to add 300 VLTs and televised races at the Blue Bonnets site as a private casino.
2010: Montreal begins kicking tires on an eventual repurchase of the land from Quebec.
July 2011: U2 performs two well-attended concerts at the site.
January 2012: Parking lot used for a shuttle bus services for local hospitals.
March 23, 2012: Quebec gives up Blue Bonnets to the city in a deal which would see half the profits derived from the subsequent sale to be shared between the two. Some decontamination was said to be required.  The deal was announced but never signed. The city put aside $2.6 million for design plans.
Oct. 2012: Mayor Gerald Tremblay announced a five year plan to turn the now-unused site into a new neighbourhood that could accommodate as many as 5,000 to 8,000 units with 20,000 residents. The clubhouse was to be demolished in 2014. A master plan was expected by 2016, land sales to developers were to begin in 2017. Anything left unsold by 2025 would revert to the province.
September 2014: CDN/NDG borough mayor Russell Copeman muses that 3,500 to 5,000 units could be built on the property.
October 2014: Revelations emerged that the city's purchase of the land from the province had never been finalized, so the city does not, in fact, own the property.
 My take: Subsidized housing advocates have pushed hard for the construction of a massive number of taxpayer-supported housing units on the site. They cite census numbers that 4,000 residents of Cote des Neiges spend 80 percent of their incomes or more on rent. Yet paying rent with a welfare cheque and doing odd cash jobs is a common practice. Plus, any construction helps the poor, as an influx of new units will pump up the vacancy rate, so the urgency of subsidized housing there (or anywhere else) escapes me. Hopefully something that makes money for the city will be built there.

Magnan's closing after 82 years

   Magnan's Tavern, an institution in
the Point since 1932, will close at the end of this year.
   The tavern had initially opened as a humble beer joint where laid-off Dominion Glass worker and father-of-seven Armand Magnan welcomed hard-working factory employees that were once abundant in the area. But in recent years had strayed from its simple roots, going noticeably upscale.
   Some noted that menu items were steeply priced and other pretentiousness had crept in, including the reverent texts about the tavern's long history and the renaming of a room named in honour of Marguerite Bourgeoys, as well as the creation of a little grocery store under the same brand.
   In 1957 Yves Magnant and Hubert Magnan took over and by 1976 had expanded from 60 to 250 seats.
  The tavern was described in a 1974 article as a place favoured by a lot of low-income pensioners but some anglo old time locals at the nearby Capri told me a few years back that they'd never set foot in the place again after they were told to stop singing their old Irish tunes.
  Point St. Charles resident and onetime Verdun mayoral candidate Roddy Diamond similarly complained that he was barred from the place after he made a five-minute speech bemoaning the repression of English in Quebec in March 1983. (Diamond moved on to a bar in LaSalle where he was soon after sought as an important witness in a bar killing).
  Eyebrows were raised  in 1984 when Yves Magnan, city councillor for the area who served four terms with Drapeau, supported a zoning rule that did not allow any other bars (taverns, brasseries pool rooms)  to open or expand anywhere around the joint.
   Women were only permitted inside after 1988.
  "I hate when someone tells me that they went drinking in the Point, and then they later say that they meant they had a beer at Magnan's," a friend used to tell me. He meant that the bar at Charlevoix and St. Patrick - at the gateway to the area - was a faux Point experience, a joint that sounded like an essential urban grit but was, in fact, safe from the knuckledraggers of other nearby institutions.
Roddy Diamond-barred in 83
  Gilles Proulx -a  hardcore sovereignist radio host - set up camp at the joint during the 1995 referendum - further solidifying its reputation as a place not necessarily friendly to anglos.
   The workers - they counted 80 nine years ago - were unionized and went on strike between May 10 and May 20, 2005, complete with pickets outside the place.
   The establishment suffered some additional bad publicity in September 2013 when they let go of waitress-manager Isabelle Chabot, who happened to be suffering from ovarian cancer at the time. Some vowed to boycott.
   Amateur reviewers on one tourism site have given the joint 3.5 stars out of 5, with a wide variety of assessments both positive and negative.
  In a goodbye letter (in French only) brass blame increased beef prices, high taxes and roadwork  - citing long delays in the drive from the South Shore - for the closure.
   The Point has also seen a steep decline in population since several industrial workplaces closed in the area in the 70s and beyond.