Montreal, Under Construction

2016-07-18 Downtown & The River

Boy did we experience the city and it's under construction.

Just driving downtown, even at 11pm, was a chaotic crawl. We went late to experience some night life. Construction rendered GPS directions useless but it was still indispensible by showing our location on the map--it's just not as easy as following route guidance. GPS reliability has improved so much that we get lulled into following it blindly when we do better by getting an idea of layout then follow the signs. We have better luck in complicated situations with that plan.

After enduring horrendous traffic we landed a parking spot downtown for our visit. After a late night and too little sleep, we moved to a nearby paid space for the morning walk.

First stop of the morning was what became "our corner," a McDonalds at the center of thriving homeless population and dealers of little pills. Lots of people must have headaches here. It was a fascinating microcosm of life and we bantered about what was going on in those many exchanges.


This fellow was working the crowds hard asking for money, periodically taking breaks or walking around to parts unseen before returning here.


Later we saw him with a cell phone. Free internet means he could likely enjoy some internet entertainment through its severely cracked screen.


Walking around we came upon Molson. Tim's hopes for free samples did not materialize.


This fellow was washing car windows at stop lights, whether requested or not, then hoping for money. At least he's offering a service.


There are a lot of historic, mostly Catholic, churches although many have become unused as Canada becomes less and less religious. Those with no religious affiliation are now the 2nd largest group of religious identification here.


They close off the streets in some areas during summer.


Restaurants build out temporary outside seating areas for the week long summer season.


Later on we drive to the riverfront, passing through a historic section on narrow streets reminiscent of Europe.

Remember these? We found quite a few in Canada, a remarkably well connected country with better internet in more places than in the states.
So what's with all the payphones?

Political Sidebar

There's some segment of the homeless population that chooses the life. Probably most have some amount of mental issues and some have arrived there through addictions. It was sad but interesting to see. Mind you, they didn't seem sad, but where can that lead in 10, 20, 40 years time. It won't end well. And given the larger social safety net Canada offers, it suggests this problem will be with us for a long, long time.

I'm a fan of reasonable attempts to help people. I WANT to see us build the best possible society, including help for those struggling at society's bottom rungs. But it must be balanced. Lets favor providing opportunities rather than welfare. Lets avoid incentivizing people having babies that will likely grow up in a home where nobody works. Lets be compassionate without allowing people to become so dependent on handouts it eliminates their desire to work. Balance. Incentivize businesses to hire humans and pay them a decent minimum wage but bring it up gradually and nationally so as to avoid hurting businesses excessively. Balance.

OK, enough of that.

© 2016 Jeff Goin & Tim Kaiser   Remember: If there's air there, it should be flown in!