|the prettified lachine canal, rising from its ruins|
of course, it helps when you're doing this during the summer, since showing people around montreal in january can be deeply unpleasant, but it was a good opportunity for me to ponder how much the urban core of the city has flourished since i first moved her fifteen years ago. although it's far from perfect, i'm quite proud of the work done to keep montreal's centre strong. yes, there are increasing numbers of people fleeing for the suburbs and there are social issues that accompanying gentrification of any neighbourhood, but downtown montreal [and the plateau and mile end and the old city] have blossomed from some roots that looked pretty dubious when i first laid eyes on them.
|reinvented offices in old montreal|
there are reasons for these urban declines: toronto's suburban population massively outnumbers those in the city and, in every electoral issue, their voices will dominate; halifax's awkward geography makes it difficult to get traffic into the city centre and years of socially suspect urban planning have created barriers to better city living.
i'm a fan of cities and of the diversity that urban culture tends to bring. nothing against the country, but for someone who's imaginative, liberal and easily bored, i've found the urban environment to be a healthy match. and i'm glad to know that montreal, despite its considerable shortcomings in other areas [*cough*] has done things like make the lachine canal into a walkable/ bike-able urban oasis. i'm always curious to hear what other cities are doing and what they're doing better. in canada, approximately 80% of the population lives in urban areas, which means that we'd all better start learning from the success stories as quickly as we can.