Sunday, December 18, 2011


Gentrification is the key to understanding why cycling is booming in western cities, and even more so in Montreal. Volit nolit, like it or not.

I found this *WONDERFUL* documentary on youtube. It says and explains it all. 
"Montréal, tales of gentrification" in a bohemian city is about the effect of condo development and gentrification in Montréal. Many former working class and low-income communities across the city are being transformed by large-scale urban development, which affects many residents. Distinct neighbourhoods such as Shaughnessy Village, Saint-Henri, Griffintown, Pointe Saint-Charles, Parc-Extension and Hochelaga-Maisonneuve are being targeted to become more like Montreal's most well known district, Plateau Mont-Royal.
They forgot, Centre-Sud, my neighbourhood. Some of the infos are old news and things have gentrified even further, with the Main (Red light district) currently under attack.
The better part of our urban cycling network overlaps gentrified and gentrifying areas to the perfection. Those areas are where the cycling community lives and thrives. Most of the new urban cyclists are part of the ever growing crowd of white middle class bobos, bohos, chic hippies, yuppies, trustafarians, faux-punks, faux-grunges, high income humanitarians/NGO/fair-trade/organic business managers, hipsters, artist wannabes, academic guerilleros, all of which are mostly young professional urban dwellers, me included. Yep, I plead guilty!

Enjoy a good look at Montreal and notice how, every time they show a gentrified area, there is a bike somewhere, somehow on the image.

Caveat: it is not always true that people in gentrifying neighbourhoods are being displaced or pushed out. In some cases, the neighbourhoods had been abandoned by its previous inhabitants who moved to the suburbs, are in ruins, in complete decay, and new folks are moving in next to and not in the place of its remaining original inhabitants. Of course, the effect on rent is the same, granted. But this whole "old rental apartments buildings get torn down to give room to new condos" is overplayed. It is simply not true. Abandoned gas stations, old garages, falling warehouses and (thank God!) surface parking do get destroyed, that's true and it is a goddamn good thing!!!

What's even more funny, is that the ultimate gentrifiers are those very ones who complain about it.
The girl from the Touski café is the ultimate hipster even though she might not realise it! Her café is awesome, super "in", up and coming, full packed with other hipsters, bobos and yuppies. Up to last year, they were a drop point for Jardins de Tessa, an organic farm I am a member of as well, they hosted Projet Montréal meetings, all kinds of alt/underground art events and festivals... Come on already!

Same with the other girl from the Centre Social Autogéré in Pointe St Charles. That centre is a very cool place, full packed with artists, alternative lifestyles projects, among which guess what: a bike project (Duh, what else?). I am lucky enough to know some folks involved in and hanging around this: a circus artist and a fashion designer... Enough said.

They are totally part of those in the first wave of gentrification, turning around and criticizing those in the second wave!! Seriously, whatever...

So, in your own communities, are you part of the gentrifiers or are you being gentrified at? What is your take on the issue?


  1. The St. Pauli district of Hamburg (which is their red light district) is an example of where residents fought off gentrification as it would have pushed out it's current residents in favour of more "wealthier" residents.

    As for my city (St. Catharines), Port Dalhousie which is down the road from me is under going a complete transformation. From a seaside village feel with bars and shops, to a place with a large condo tower and 'different' kinds of shops (not sure what yet, but I suspect rent will keep away many hipster style cafés away).

    This transformation is only driving those who oppose a condo tower away as Port Dalhousie has always been a somewhat more "expensive place" within the city to live.

    I live about 1km outside from Port Dalhousie, though I don't suspect much will change here. We should see fewer drunk students staggering home at 3am however!
    Our real estate values aren't nearly as high as Port and I don't see them going any higher because of the changes.

    Our downtown is tough to make out. It has potential to be a nice downtown, however it's been like that since I was a kid.
    Efforts have been made from young hipster types to bring in more youthful cafés, but it hasn't really panned out.
    There will be a new hockey arena built there as well as a new arts centre for Brock University. **Hopefully** this is what our downtown needs to change.
    Of course St. Catharines suffers from an 'ageing' population who generally oppose (drastic) change, which is a prime reason most young people leave the city.

  2. I'm not opposed to places changing an getting hip or chic. I just wish that developers could see the positives and economic stability of a mixed neighbourhood. A "retirement" community is being attached to edge of my village and it will create a homogeneous blob in the middle of nowhere! Our teeny town was a destination for artists (always the beach head for gentrification) and now it has become pretty and the shops are mostly very tasteful and useless bric a brac boutiques in a town in the middle of nowhere! Can't people see that monocultures can produce pretty to look at but kind of stale and useless landscapes that will likely, in my community anyway, fail because people will drive (I am the only wackjob who rides anywhere) to the next community that has what they really need. I can see about 4 (read 50%!)stores in my town that are about 1 bad month from closing. I would think an ideal retirement community would be one that includes a variety of ages, cultures and income levels. If, as you age, your mobility is reduced then making where you live a little more exciting and lively would be a good thing. Maybe people would even bike (hell e-bike!)1 km into town if kids were on longboards and scooters on their street. I don't mind the influx of chic stores, and upscale this or that, I just don't want a town that is based on a single, aging the middle of nowhere.

  3. More on the issue of kicking people out of their neighbourhood and replacing rental (run-down and ruined) units with renovated (and hype) units beyond the means of former residants. From 300-ish $ to 800-ish $ is outragious!
    All of it in the downtown East side, the drug and junkies area...

    My understanding is this is what everybody is seeing behind the concept of gentrification. And I agree; this is a scandal!

  4. If there was no displacement issue, the project is a very good one.
    Most European appartments are like this. I have paid 650$ a month to sublet a *room* in an old lady's appartment. That was Madrid, 13 years ago (i.e. before the real estate boom!). My hubby's first appartment, my sister's new place etc... most people in the world live on a smaller footprint than North American standards.

    Just as cycling instead of driving will help improve things, living in smaller places should contribute to, at least, allowing a spot for everyone in the city. With rent control of course!

  5. I just wanted to add a comment here to mention thanks for you very nice ideas. Blogs are troublesome to run and time consuming thus I appreciate when I see well written material. Your time isn’t going to waste with your posts. Thanks so much and stick with it No doubt you will definitely reach your goals! have a great day!

  6. Wow, Fantastic Blog, it’s so helpful to me, and your blog is very good,
    I’ve learned a lot from your blog here, Keep on going, my friend, I will keep an eye on it,


Please keep discussion civil. Comments will be moderated to ensure the discussion remains on topic.