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.