A lot of that was based on geography and Montreal's advantage of having a huge park in the center of the city à la Central Park and it's proximity to cottage country, chock full of lakes and mountains. Another fact that influenced my piece was the cheaper price housing and the more 'progressive' thinking of Montreal, making it a more livable city.
But there's always the danger of too much of a good thing and sadly Montreal has clearly gone off the deep end in undertaking feel-good lifestyle projects that are ill-conceived and unaffordable.
So while Montreal is headed in a direction whereby it is orienting itself to serve one sector of it's population, the bicyclists, the granolas, the students and the poor, Toronto, through the election of its new mayor, is reasserting its policy of supporting wealth creation and it's related benefits.
While Montrealers crow about their bicycle lanes as the be-all and end-all, the inconvenience to drivers and the damage done to the economic well-being of the city is largely ignored.
The massive elimination of lanes and parking spots continues to have a large, yet unmeasured impact that few elected officials dare to acknowledge. The cost of the massive construction project that created these bike lanes is borne by motorists and homeowners as taxes spiral up, ending in an assault of the wallets of the minority that pays. Of course cyclists pay nothing, either for the maintenance or construction of these paths as if it is their God-given right to have others pay their freight.
And so Mayor Tremblay announced that come January, a new tax will be levied on every car registered in Montreal. He also advised homeowners that taxes would rise between 4% and 8%
In Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's first act as mayor was to announce that the city's car tax would be eliminated and that taxes would be frozen for the coming year.
If ever there were two cities going in opposite directions, it is Montreal and Toronto.
While Montreal extols the social benefits of bike lines and public transit, Toronto has decided to back the automobile and halt any thought of bike lanes on busy streets.
|Toronto's new populist mayor Rob Ford|
Like Montreal, Toronto has chosen to represent the interest of a sector of the population, this time the taxpayers, those who actually pay the bills.
These people have a different agenda, seeking lower taxes, efficient city management and a desire for Toronto to be a place where wealth creation remains a priority.
The Toronto mayor was unequivocal, cyclists and motorists will always be at war. Backing cyclists who return no money to the city, and tramways that choke the streets, means that the economic well-being will be adversely affected.
Here are some Rob Ford more interesting remarks; Link
"My campaign was based on a simple idea, that city hall should respect the taxpayer," Ford said
"...we're not going to take away parking spaces for bike lanes!" Link
"Cyclists are a pain in the ass to the motorists. Let's be quite frank.... There's this huge animosity between the motorists and the cyclists.... and it's never going to go away. Link
"Toronto taxpayers expect the wasteful spending and the annual tax increases to come to an end. Toronto taxpayers do not want a larger budget and more spending,"
"I'm going to put money back in the hands of taxpayers."
"Ladies and gentlemen, the war on the car stops today, we will not build any more rail tracks down the middle of our streets."
"Expect the wasteful spending and the annual tax increses to come to an end. There will be no tax increase next year and there will be no cut in service."If you are a Quebecker who finds these pronouncements frightening, consider that 30% of Montrealers live under the poverty line.
Since homeowner taxes or debt is what pays for grand projects, it's hard to understand how we can afford all these designer projects.
Currently Montreal's debt is almost 40% higher than that of Toronto and this not even considering that the latter is much bigger and richer. It remains to be seen, twenty years down the road, which city made the right decision.
I'm betting on Toronto.