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Shabby Public Realm

Thanos

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how is it that a city like Montreal (with arguably far less resources than a city like Toronto) manage to maintain a better public realm?

Well part of the answer is that Montreal does not have far less resources than Toronto. I pay 40% more in property taxes for my Montreal condo then I do for my Toronto condo despite my Toronto condo having a 33% higher market value.
Toronto needs to take a good look at Montreal on lighting. Whether it's street lighting or lighting prominent buildings, Montreal does it far better then Toronto.

If there's a worse place than Toronto for potholes, asphalt-patched roads and pavement, gum-stained sidewalks, broken infrastructure and scrubby parks (outside of the the third world, and even then...) I certainly don't know it. Montreal is definitely better than Toronto, to my eyes at least.

I go back and forth to both cities so I think I know what I'm talking about when I say Montreal has the worst roads on the planet. We have potholes where you can hide dead bodies and no one will notice. In the past 3 years there's been 4 huge portions of roads that have caved in. The most famous obviously on Ste-Catherine and Guy.
 
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nfitz

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Well part of the answer is that Montreal does not have far less resources than Toronto. I pay 40% more in property taxes for my Montreal condo then I do for my Toronto condo despite my Toronto condo having a 33% higher market value.
Toronto needs to take a good look at Montreal on lighting. Whether it's street lighting or lighting prominent buildings, Montreal does it far better then Toronto.
This is part of the problem. We've been convinced by some unreliable politicians that Toronto's property taxes are very high. But they are low compared to many other cities in the GTA - let alone other cities!
 

Thanos

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This is part of the problem. We've been convinced by some unreliable politicians that Toronto's property taxes are very high. But they are low compared to many other cities in the GTA - let alone other cities!

We've also been convinced that we are drowning in debt however, Vancouver, Calgary and Montreal all have a higher debt.
 

taal

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Take Queen Street, the overheard wires are the least problem by far, the state of over 90% of the buildings is the real issue ..

The point above is valid, property takes in Montreal are in general higher !
 

expat

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taxes everywhere are higher. i have no idea why toronto refuses to come to terms with the fact that it's a metropolis: things cost money! people living in small towns with virtually no public transit are paying more in tax on suburban lots as downtowners here pay on condos. in the north, people in places like parry sound are paying way more.

we've been convinced that all tax is bad, that a city of 4 million should run on a shoestring, and that what little amount of infrastructure we do get shouldn't cost anything. i just don't understand. living in this city brings tonnes of benefits - we should pay for them!
 

lead82

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taxes everywhere are higher. i have no idea why toronto refuses to come to terms with the fact that it's a metropolis: things cost money! people living in small towns with virtually no public transit are paying more in tax on suburban lots as downtowners here pay on condos. in the north, people in places like parry sound are paying way more.

we've been convinced that all tax is bad, that a city of 4 million should run on a shoestring, and that what little amount of infrastructure we do get shouldn't cost anything. i just don't understand. living in this city brings tonnes of benefits - we should pay for them!

I think it's a cultural phenomenon here. The low tax is an ethos promoted by politicians to gain votes. The general population doesn't understand basic math so they can't understand that if they want better roads, transit and parks they must pay. Instead, Toronto always has to go begging other levels of government for funding. While some of it is appropriate, Toronto needs skin in the game. Another major issue here is the unfairness of property tax. Toronto heavily subsidizes single-family homes at the expense of multi-family units. Condos are a lot more efficient to service than houses, yet a condo unit property tax is a lot more expensive per square foot, especially given that the condo unit doesn't take up much land.

I always hear politicians talk about keeping taxes low for seniors who say they use most of their CPP/Pensions on property tax. Well, you know what, I'm sorry but the city should not keep taxes low for this reason. If a resident can't afford it, then they should sell and move to somewhere they can. I understand the argument that seniors don't want to move. Well, the counter is that the city does not owe residents the privilege to stay in their homes at the expense of ignoring urgent priorities such as transit that hasn't expanded to meet demand since the 1970's.

The city needs to invest in infrastructure and services, not subsidize low-income seniors living in $1M bungalows but can't afford to pay for their taxes.
 

MisterF

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Are they ugly to look at? I love to see the huge old wooden poles and wires.
Well, most people would disagree. The rest of the developed world doesn't seem to like the frontier town look, and I don't blame them. Yes, the poles and wires are ugly. Hideous.

- Tourist areas overlap with many of our central public spaces (thoroughfares, civic squares, parks, waterfront etc), so although these locations welcome visitors to our city they are also the shared spaces where we indeed we 'live and work'. In this sense, improvements here are improvements for all.
Just what I was thinking, Toronto doesn't really have any purely tourist areas. Most of the areas frequented by tourists are just as busy with locals as they are with visitors. Even the area around the CN Tower and Roundhouse Park is full of people who live and work nearby.

Take Queen Street, the overheard wires are the least problem by far, the state of over 90% of the buildings is the real issue ..
Maybe if the unnecessary overhead wires weren't cluttering up the streetscape, owners would care more about how their buildings look. I'm completely serious - when the city has such a low aesthetic standard, property owners will too. Conversely, when governments invest in making an area look nice, property owners are more likely to do the same.
 

Admiral Beez

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I always hear politicians talk about keeping taxes low for seniors who say they use most of their CPP/Pensions on property tax. Well, you know what, I'm sorry but the city should not keep taxes low for this reason. If a resident can't afford it, then they should sell and move to somewhere they can. I understand the argument that seniors don't want to move. Well, the counter is that the city does not owe residents the privilege to stay in their homes at the expense of ignoring urgent priorities such as transit that hasn't expanded to meet demand since the 1970's.

The city needs to invest in infrastructure and services, not subsidize low-income seniors living in $1M bungalows but can't afford to pay for their taxes.
Does that logic also apply to TCHC housing? If someone can't afford their housing, instead of sucking tax dollars, they should sell and move somewhere they can afford? If they're not working, but instead on benefits, disability, etc. the city does not owe them then priviledge to stay in the city?
 

Tewder

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Well part of the answer is that Montreal does not have far less resources than Toronto. I pay 40% more in property taxes for my Montreal condo then I do for my Toronto condo despite my Toronto condo having a 33% higher market value.

That's not quite what I meant though. By almost any metric Toronto is a more prosperous city and yet we are in worse shape. Property taxes may be comparatively higher in Montreal but I've got to believe that Toronto is generating more revenue in real dollars. So is Montreal's downtown core that much smaller that the real cost of maintenance and beautification would be so much more affordable than that of a comparable area in Toronto? The fact is, Toronto would likely still look the same even if it did take in higher property taxes, the revenue would just be directed to more politically charged portfolios.


I go back and forth to both cities so I think I know what I'm talking about when I say Montreal has the worst roads on the planet. We have potholes where you can hide dead bodies and no one will notice. In the past 3 years there's been 4 huge portions of roads that have caved in. The most famous obviously on Ste-Catherine and Guy.

They may have worse extremes but they do have some very nicely maintained areas, whereas most of Toronto looks like an unmade bed no matter where you are.
 

nfitz

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That's not quite what I meant though. By almost any metric Toronto is a more prosperous city and yet we are in worse shape. Property taxes may be comparatively higher in Montreal but I've got to believe that Toronto is generating more revenue in real dollars.
Does it though? Per capita? Don't forget Montreal get's some good funding from the province. I believe that the transit in Montreal is better funded by the province than Toronto. Also their downtown highways (Decarie, Ville Marie) are built and maintained by the province, as opposed to our equivalents (DVP and Gardiner) being city. There's other factors too ... there's been some huge federal infrastructure costs paid fully by the federal government - like the $5 billion for the Champlain Bridge replacement - which frees up the province to fund other projects. I can't see the feds dropping $5 billion on a Toronto project.

I don't know the answer, but I wouldn't assume that Montreal's funding from other sources - and reduced spending because of others paying instead - is lower than Toronto.
 

lead82

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Does that logic also apply to TCHC housing? If someone can't afford their housing, instead of sucking tax dollars, they should sell and move somewhere they can afford? If they're not working, but instead on benefits, disability, etc. the city does not owe them then priviledge to stay in the city?

TCHC is different. TCHC residents don't have real estate assets that they could sell. They are low income and low assets. I'm talking about land-owners who have not managed their finances correctly and require the city to subsidize them. They have the option to sell and yes move to a place they can afford.

Torontos property taxes are very low compared with the surrounding areas. We choose to starve the city and this is why we have such major problems that affect our quality of life.
 

Tewder

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Does it though? Per capita? Don't forget Montreal get's some good funding from the province. I believe that the transit in Montreal is better funded by the province than Toronto. Also their downtown highways (Decarie, Ville Marie) are built and maintained by the province, as opposed to our equivalents (DVP and Gardiner) being city. There's other factors too ... there's been some huge federal infrastructure costs paid fully by the federal government - like the $5 billion for the Champlain Bridge replacement - which frees up the province to fund other projects. I can't see the feds dropping $5 billion on a Toronto project.

I don't know the answer, but I wouldn't assume that Montreal's funding from other sources - and reduced spending because of others paying instead - is lower than Toronto.

Those are good points nfitz. Toronto does have a funding issue, no question... and Montreal has always received more federal largesse than Toronto, for political reasons. This is fine to a point but not when infrastructure in the nation's largest city is lagging. I just don't understand why this message isn't out there louder, especially during federal elections!
 

Thanos

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They may have worse extremes but they do have some very nicely maintained areas, whereas most of Toronto looks like an unmade bed no matter where you are.

Tewder, i completely agree with you on the sad state of Toronto's public squares however, when it comes to roads and sidewalks Montreal is far below Toronto. Even in Old Montreal, the roads that are not cobblestone are in really really bad shape as are the sidewalks. In downtown, Maissoneuve did go through a huge investment about a decade ago however it does not compare to Bloor Street.
And as nfitz said there are other revenues available to the city of Montreal such as an additional fee to your car registration that goes directly to the STM (the equivalent of the TTC).

It seems to me Montreal pays more attention to pedestrians and cyclists whereas Toronto pays more attention to drivers.
 

nstuch

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since my favourite thread got bumped I feel I have to chime in and bring up the example of the state of the landscaping in front of Old City Hall.. there isn't a public building in the world with more decrepit grounds, it's just a bunch of dirt paths and a crumbling asphalt driveway... there's a giant piece of concrete broken out of the curb along Queen street that's been like that for at least 5 years.

another headshaker is the proliferation of weeds in Toronto, (possibly due to the banning of pesticides a few years back?) most of which grow into the size of trees.. Admittedly a lot of them are on private property which makes me wonder why property owners can't have a little pride and get rid of them, but a good chunk are in sidewalk cracks, along curbs and around the bottom of trees. i've never seen it as bad in any other city
 
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