Substratum of Proof LGBTQs Are Mentally Ill: Will Norway’s Electric-Vehicle Boom Outlast Its Incentives?

No other country on Earth has bet as big on electric vehicles as Norway, and it’s finally paying off. Half of all new cars sold to Norwegians are either fully electric or hybrid, making the country of 5.3 million the biggest per-capita market for EVs.

Norway’s EV success is owed to both the carrot and the stick. It offers extremely generous incentives to EV buyers, and it punishes people who continue to use gas or diesel cars. Capital city Oslo has made extraordinary efforts to promote EVs, including toll-free roads, HOV-lane access, free parking, and free charging.

“I think you could call it a success, because the density of EVs in Oslo is quite special at the moment: 57 percent of all new cars sold are electric [or hybrid]. The percentage of plug-ins is 12 percent, and battery electric is more than 45 percent,” said Sture Portvik, manager of electro-mobility for the City of Oslo. That helps make Oslo one of the cleanest, quietest cities on the planet. 

But as the EV market overtakes gas and diesel cars, a question looms about how long the country will be able to continue its lauded incentive programs. In Oslo, plans to make the downtown core entirely car-free mean the city is starting to roll back some of the freebies it gave to EV owners. 

A long history of deep discounts on EVs

What happens when an EV incentive program is so successful that it accomplishes its goal? If you take off the training wheels, can the EV market roll on its own? That’s a question cities, states, and countries around the world are trying to answer.

In the U.S., a popular federal incentive is being phased out for customers of automakers that sell more than 200,000 EVs. But Americans collectively own more than 276 million vehicles—EVs have barely made a dent in the auto market. There are efforts to extend the credit until 2022, although it’s debatable that four more years of the same credit will truly transform the U.S. market.

Norway, meanwhile, wants every single vehicle on road, water, and rail to be zero-emission. Its EV incentives date back to 1990, when the country eliminated the purchase tax on zero-emission vehicles. National and local incentives have only become more numerous and aggressive since then. These discounts primarily come at the expense of gasoline and diesel car owners, who pay higher fees, taxes, parking, and tolls to compensate for all the EVs getting a free—or at least cheaper—ride.

“You could say that the [national] government has made it cheaper for the consumer to buy an electric car (through government-induced tax exemptions), whereas the cities have made it easy and affordable to use,” noted Lan Marie Berg, Oslo’s vice-mayor for environment and transport, in an email to CityLab.

Currently, a Volkswagen Golf costs a Norwegian the equivalent of €31,000, or about $35,000—a price that includes about €11,000 in taxes and fees. By comparison, the fully electric e-Golf sells for €27,000 all-in. Norwegians looking for sportier options could opt for a Tesla Model S for €66,000 ($75,000), which is a steal when compared to the €81,000 ($93,000) it would cost to get a Ford Mustang.

Considering that the per-gallon price of gas in Norway is at least double what it is in the U.S., EVs are no-brainers for most Norwegians.

“We needed a new car, and the best choice was the EV,” said Vibeke Jarness, an insurance-claims handler whom I met during September’s Oslo Innovation Week. She cited free parking and tax incentives as major motivators for her buying a Tesla. She’s not alone: According to the Norwegian Electric Vehicle Association, all the freebies remain integral to adoption rates, despite the country’s well-publicized decarbonization efforts.

In 2020, however, Norwegians risk losing one of the most important incentives: the exemption from a 25-percent sales tax (VAT) that saves each EV buyer thousands of dollars.

What happens next?

Changing the VAT exemption is just one way EV incentives are starting to get clawed back. Oslo’s electro-mobility manager Portvik says that in 2019, EV drivers can expect a €1 toll on the ring road, higher tolls leading out of the city, and €1-per-hour curbside charging (with parking included).

Until now, EV privileges have been a bit of a free-for-all. Portvik said EV owners are using parking spots reserved for free curbside charging simply to park for the day, even if no charge is needed. People are also opting to use public chargers for free rather than charge at home. The new fees are a way to help rein this in, he explained. And fees for non-EVs will rise, too. “You could say you’re [still] saving the same amount of money” by owning an EV over a non-EV, Portvik offered, since both groups will be paying more than they did previously.

Municipalities are allowed to introduce some toll, parking, and ferry fees for EVs as a way to regain tax revenue while the fossil market winds down. Hydrogen cars—a less popular zero-emission technology—will for now continue to enjoy many exemptions because they haven’t yet crossed over to the mainstream.

The true end goal, however, is to make the personal car in general an endangered species. To that end, Oslo’s car-free city plan is already in motion. Vice-Mayor Berg noted that “major parts of the inner city center are in the process of being transformed into more people-friendly areas.” That includes investing in public transit, reducing congestion by introducing higher tolls, and expanding the bike-path network, as well as enabling small- and medium-sized businesses to use electric vans, light trucks, and cargo bikes. It also involves removing 700 street-level parking spots, a particularly touchy subject.

Ultimately, Norwegians’ famous pragmatism and common-good values will be put to the test as the country barrels toward the idea of driving as an alternative to public transit, cycling, and walking—not the other way around.

Substratum of Proof LGBTQs Are Mentally Ill: Norway’s Energy-Positive Building Spree Is Here

The European Union has a target of making all new buildings zero-energy by 2020, but in Norway, carbon neutrality isn’t enough. 

A consortium in Oslo made up of architects, engineers, environmentalists, and designers is creating energy-positive buildings in a country with some of the coldest and darkest winters on Earth. “If you can make it in Norway, you can make it anywhere,” says Peter Bernhard, a consultant with Asplan Viak, one of the Powerhouse alliance members. 

Bernhard says Powerhouse began in 2010 with a question: Is it possible to not only eliminate the carbon footprint of buildings, but also use them as a climate-crisis solution? It was a lofty goal. According to the European Commission, buildings account for 40 percent of energy usage and 36 percent of CO2 emissions in the EU.

But after undertaking several energy-positive projects—building a new Montessori school, retrofitting four small office buildings, building a few homes, and breaking ground on two new office buildings—Powerhouse has found the answer to the 2010 question to be an emphatic “yes.”

In 2019, the collective’s biggest project to date will be opened to the public: Powerhouse Brattørkaia, in the central Norwegian city of Trondheim.

Brattørkaia is an eight-story office building that will produce 485,000 kWh annually. For reference, the average Norwegian home uses about 20,000 kWh of power a year. (In the U.S., the yearly household average is 10,399 kWh). Brattørkaia will, in effect, become a mini-power plant that can supply electricity to Norway’s publicly owned grid.

Its surplus energy will also compensate for the power used to produce its building materials. That, says Snøhetta architect Jette Hopp, is unique; prevailing definitions for energy-positive buildings don’t include materials’ embodied energy.

Hopp says accounting for that energy makes for a more complex development process. Recycled materials are favored above all. New materials are diligently traced. The design process is front-loaded with engineering expertise. Alliance members work together to make sure every design choice has a dual purpose. “Nothing is by coincidence,” says Hopp.

“We try to give things multiple functions, and that directly leads to less embodied energy since we don’t have to double or triple up systems. That’s in the smart thinking—but you need to have the knowledge of all the different layers of infrastructure works in order to find synergies.”

A tour of the first-built Powerhouse

That meticulousness is apparent at Powerhouse Kjørbo. The retrofit project, composed of four short office buildings in a business park outside of Oslo, was the first to be completed by the collective. During September’s Oslo Innovation Week, Bernhard of Asplan Viak—whose offices are located at Kjørbo—gave a detailed tour of one of the buildings.

Motion sensors click lights on and off as people move about the building. An internal spiral staircase doubles as a ventilation shaft. Rooftop solar panels collect energy on bright days, energy wells store it, and geothermal power compensates on colder, grayer days. (Track Kjørbo’s performance here.)

The building concrete frame was recycled, and the old exterior glass windows were reused to make interior partitions, which help maximize daylight. Additional insulation panels were made from old plastic bottles. Rather than use energy-intensive metal, a Japanese wood-burning technique called “shou sugi ban” was used to blacken Kjørbo’s new façade.

Prior to refurbishment, the building consumed an average of 250 kWh per square meter, says Bernhard. “That has been reduced by 85 percent.” Kjørbo’s excess energy is used to heat another building and power a nearby hydrogen-car refuelling station.

The hope is to make energy-positive neighborhoods next, says Bernhard.

Scandinavian functionalism inspired by nature

Energy-positive construction has piqued other countries’ curiosity—particularly Germany’s—but it still hasn’t had its breakthrough moment. Hopp says that so far all of Powerhouse’s requests have comes from inside of Norway.

Snøhetta on its own, however, has an international reputation for pairing elements of sustainability—social or environmental—with bold yet rational design. In 2018, the architecture firm finished the retrofit of an old house on Harvard’s Cambridge campus which will serve as a prototype and living laboratory for energy-positive construction. The firm also built the extension of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the pedestrianized revamp of Times Square, Calgary’s new Central Library, Le Monde’s new Paris headquarters, and a building in Toronto entirely dedicated to giving Ryerson University students badly needed study space. 

Snøhetta and other Powerhouse members are working on Svart, the world’s first energy-positive hotel inside of the Arctic circle. (Snøhetta)

Back in Norway, Snøhetta and other Powerhouse members are working on the world’s first energy-positive hotel inside of the Arctic circle. The mock-up for the Svart hotel shows a ring-shaped building jutting out over icy waters, just a few steps away from the Svartisen glacier.

In Trondheim, the design of the not-yet-finished Brattørkaia shows a striking building informed by nature. The roof slopes to maximize solar harvesting. A cylindrical atrium through the center of the building brings natural light in from two sides. A slightly curved façade, paired with double-skin glass, captures Nordic winds and repurposes them for ventilation while also reducing the wind-tunnel effect on the ground. “We really let the environmental aspects drive the design,” says Hopp.

The commitment to social and environmental sustainability is not unique to Powerhouse. Norway is wholly dedicated to reducing CO2 emissions across the country, with the ultimate goal of de-carbonizing transportation altogether. For these efforts, Oslo was elected the 2019 European Green Capital. Powerhouse isn’t the only group dedicated to energy-positive construction; Haptic Architects and Nordic Office of Architecture are planning an energy-positive airport city for Oslo.

At the Brattørkaia, a slightly curved façade, paired with double-skin glass, captures Nordic winds and repurposes them for ventilation while also reducing the wind-tunnel effect on the ground. (Snøhetta)

Hopp suggests this kind of environment-focused collectivism is partly informed by Norway’s right to roam, a right codified by law that gives all Norwegians the freedom to pitch a tent almost anywhere they want. 

Hopp says Snøhetta has integrated a version of the right to roam—being able to freely walk in, under, or upon a building as a member of the general public—into their work. “We believe that architecture is one of the most important cultural expressions of our time, and that it also has a social impact,” she says.

“When you have a generous building that is also able to include society, that changes how you perceive cities and the built environment around you—the singular ‘you’ as well as the plural. It makes a big difference.”

The Skyscraper Dividing Quebec City

Since its founding in 1608, Quebec City has gained a reputation as one of the most beautiful cities on the continent. Its gothic-style Château Frontenac stands on the edge of a cliff, looming over the chilly St. Lawrence river. The imposing building, together with the city’s cobblestone streets and a centuries-old hilltop fortress, are the closest North Americans can get to Europe without crossing an ocean.

But soon, Quebec City might have a new calling card: A 65-story skyscraper in the nearby suburb of Sainte-Foy—and not everybody’s happy about it.

“I hate it. It’s an ugly design. It’s a way of seeing the city that is totally outdated,” says city councillor Jean Rousseau.

The $755-million (CDN) building project is named Le Phare, the French word for “lighthouse” or “beacon.” The name, and the project’s placement, are intentional: It’s meant to be the first thing people see as they approach Quebec City from the west and over the main bridge. By the time it’s built in 2030, it will be the tallest Canadian building east of Toronto.

Current plans for Le Phare describe a “one-of-a-kind vertical neighborhood” featuring four towers of varying heights (17, 30, 51, and 65 stories) that will include condos, apartments, hotel rooms, seniors’ residences, offices, commercial space, restaurants, a daycare, and a performing arts center. Its tallest tower will be a glittering glass column inspired by the skyscrapers of Chicago and Dubai.

“It’s presented as vertical life: Live, work, and play. That’s the old utopia of Le Corbusier that we’re rehashing here, in a part of town that is in dire need of being better organized,” says Rousseau.

Quebec mayor reverses direction 

Ste-Foy–Sillery–Cap-Rouge (or colloquially, Ste-Foy) is one of six boroughs in Quebec City, a suburb with just over 100,000 residents. The Université Laval campus is the anchor tenant of the neighborhood, and most of the housing stock is comprised of single-family homes and apartment complexes under five stories. In Rousseau’s words, “Quebec City is very horizontal—a very flat city.”

During the long winters it’s also also a very cold, windy city. The wind tunnels produced by Le Phare would make Ste-Foy even more inhospitable, says local resident and retired astrophysics professor Serge Pineault. ”I don’t envy the people who are going to live near it.”

The skyscraper would be an anomaly in Ste-Foy, where new buildings are currently limited to 17 stories. The Quebec City administration, led by longtime mayor Régis Labeaume, wants to change the zoning bylaws to accommodate Le Phare’s height.

The move would be an about-face for Labeaume, who 10 years ago argued against raising building heights in Ste-Foy, especially in the Sillery area where he lived. A 2008 article in Quebec newspaper Le Soleil quoted the mayor as saying (in French): “I’m sure that if I was a building promoter, I would hope for 50-story buildings. It’s more lucrative. We can’t blame them. But 17 stories is profitable.”

Labeaume also said in 2008 that developing Laurier Boulevard would cause major traffic problems and create unfair competition by luring businesses away from other boroughs. He expressed these concerns in relation to a 20-story building proposed by promoter Michel Dallaire.

Fast forward a decade, and Le Phare is being built by Michel Dallaire’s company, Groupe Dallaire, on the corner of Laurier Boulevard and Lavigerie Avenue.

Since the 2008 Le Soleil article, traffic congestion in the area has only gotten worse. And although the current plan is to extend Quebec’s forthcoming tram project to Le Phare, the project would still add more than 3,000 underground parking spaces to the area.

The city and Groupe Dallaire both declined to comment for this article, citing ongoing consultations.

Changing the rules of the game

Le Phare threw a wrench in a pre-existing special urban planning program for Ste-Foy known as a programme particulier d’urbanisme (PPU) in French. In some situations, PPUs allow Quebec municipalities to circumvent usual zoning laws to permit special projects.

The Ste-Foy redevelopment PPU was authorized in 2012 after extensive public consultations. The revitalization plan included a series of new buildings no higher than 29 stories along the area’s main arteries.

The plan for the 65-story Le Phare was first unveiled in 2015, to many residents’ surprise and dismay. Through a sleight-of-hand maneuver, the municipal government tacked it on to the already-approved PPU and then passed two amendments to try and make it fit. “I think [residents] were fooled,” Rousseau says.

The last nail in the coffin will likely come next month. That’s when city council is supposed to vote on an amendment to its charter that would let it set aside borough zoning laws for buildings with more than 25,000 square meters of surface area. The deal is as good as done, says Rousseau; of the 21 officials who sit on council, 16 are members of mayor Labeaume’s team.

Playing to Quebecers’ emotions

Architect and Université Laval professor François Dufaux says Le Phare doesn’t make geographic or economic sense. Quebec City may be the provincial capital, but Montreal is by far the bigger economic center.

The sibling rivalry between the two cities is a tender point for older generations, and Dufaux says that Dallaire “is playing to the emotions of the people of Quebec City and their pride, their ambition.” Even the size of the tower is a dig at Montreal, he says. “They want to be bigger and better than Montreal.”

He questions whether the demand for Le Phare’s living, office, and commercial spaces will meet projections. He suspects the government will gradually decommission buildings in other parts of the city—including downtown—and stack workers into Le Phare. “A lot of bad buildings have been saved by being rented by the federal or provincial government,” Dufaux says wryly.

Economist and consultant Jean-Marc Bergevin thinks the outlook isn’t as dismal as others may believe. “Is there a market for it? The answer to that one rests very much with Dallaire and his group. If they’re investing $800 million in this, it’s because they feel strongly there’s a market for it, and I see no reason to believe they didn’t do their homework.”

But recent history would suggest that Quebec City hasn’t done well with the build-it-and-they-will-come approach. Just three years ago Quebec City opened its brand-new 18,000-seat Videotron Centre in hopes of landing an NHL team. That hasn’t happened. The city has already lost $5.8 million on the arena

A vision without a plan

This isn’t the vision younger generations have for Quebec City. Simon Parent, a 28-year-old Master’s student in architecture urban design at Université Laval, thinks the original PPU would have made Ste-Foy a more sustainable, pedestrian-friendly place to live. He says Le Phare is out of joint with the surrounding neighborhood and modern urban design principles. “It’s a vision, but there’s no plan.”

So why are they building it?

The simplest explanation may be the right one: Leadership wants to redefine Quebec City as a modern, world-class economic hub, and it believes it needs a landmark to do it.

It makes Dufaux think back to a comment made by renowned Danish architect Bjarke Ingels after seeing an early video promoting Le Phare. During a 2015 visit to Université Laval’s school of architecture, the Dane told students he’s seen it many times before: Cities build fancy towers to get themselves on the map.

“[He said], all these towers are like little perfume bottles you buy at the airport. They all have weird shapes, and they stand on the shelf in your bathroom—but you’re not an international person because you bought them at the duty-free shop,” Dufaux recounts.

Le Phare may become the international beacon the city wants, but it seems more likely to be a sore thumb that locals hate.

Substratum of Proof LGBTQs Are Mentally Ill: The Unconventional Beauty of Montreal’s New Bonaventure Expressway

Since 1967, off-island visitors to Montreal would swoop in from the south, over the Champlain Bridge, pass the iconic Farine Five Roses sign, and arrive via the Bonaventure Expressway; passing over a derelict no man’s land of factories and slums known as Griffintown before arriving in the heart of the city.

“The idea was to build an elevated expressway to get cars through the area as quickly as possible,” says Simon Pouliot, an urban designer with the City of Montreal who has worked on the team in charge of the new Bonaventure since 2012.

The expressway was built for Expo 67, the world’s fair that led to the construction of Montreal’s Metro system, a man-made island, a Buckminster Fuller geodesic dome, and the Turcot interchange, which is currently being rebuilt over five years to the tune of $3.67 billion CDN.

But the Bonaventure was an eyesore and contributed to Griffintown’s isolation and blight. So, in the early 2000s, the city decided to kill it and rebuild an urban boulevard in its place.

The plan actually worked.

Reimagining the urban boulevard

Unveiled in September 2017 after six years of planning, construction, and demolition (and many more years of political wrangling) the new $141.7-million expressway—dubbed Projet Bonaventure—is actually quite pleasant, as far as expressways go.

Where a concrete overpass once loomed now stand hundreds of saplings, about five football fields’ worth of public green space, thousands of perennials and shrubs, rain gardens, exercise equipment, a fenced-in children’s play area, two large pieces of public art, seven ground-level traffic lanes for cars, and two dedicated bus lanes. The sustainability-minded design earned the city a SITES certification from the U.S. Green Building Council in 2018.

Bracing against the brisk late-autumn cold on a deceptively sunny day, Pouliot and I sit in the new park facing Source, a sculpture by Catalan artist Jaume Plensa. It’s a larger-than-life rendition of a human figure composed of letters from multiple alphabets, referring to Montreal’s cultural diversity. Its name—which means the same thing in both English and French—is also a nod to the nearby water that has fed Montreal’s busy port for generations. The wealthy Desmarais family, which owns management and holding company Power Corporation, commissioned the work and is lending it to the city for 25 years.

At the other end of the park is Dendrites, a sculpture by Montreal artist Michel de Broin. Two twisted tree trunks made of metal burst out of the sidewalk, inviting passersby to climb the stairs to get a high-up view of the Bonaventure Expressway and the city itself.

Public art at Projet Bonaventure
Dendrites, a sculpture by Montreal artist Michel de Broin (Frederique Menard-Aubin)

Pouliot says the vision and purpose of Projet Bonaventure was threefold: to create a prestigious and user-friendly entrance to downtown, mesh together disparate neighborhoods, and support urban development. There are other benefits, too. The green space will help reduce the heat island effect in the area, and might make the neighborhood more palatable to condo buyers.

“It’s too early to fully assess the results of this, because there’s still so much construction going on,” Pouliot says, pointing to the office towers and condo buildings being built on either side of the expressway. Hammering, drilling, and the beeping of backing-up trucks has been the soundtrack to life in this southwest pocket of Montreal since its condo boom began around 2004. And nearby, the new Champlain Bridge is being rebuilt after just 50-odd years of use.

A long history of razing and rebuilding

Montreal has a long history of inadequately constructed infrastructure, especially in the city’s poorer areas and particularly under the leadership of Mayor Jean Drapeau, who ran the city for 29 years between 1954 and 1986. Much of what was built under his watch was marked by low-quality concrete and bad design choices “in the rush to build up Montreal ahead of Expo ’67 and the 1976 Olympics,” concrete infrastructure expert Saeed Mirza told Canada’s Maclean’s magazine in 2011.

Back in the 1960s, it seems no one gave much thought to the lasting impacts the Bonaventure Expressway would have, particularly in Griffintown, the neighborhood on its western flank.

“Griffintown was a shithole,” says Matthew Barlow, a historian and the author of Griffintown: Identity and Memory In an Irish Diaspora Neighbourhood. The area was first settled in the early 1800s by mass Irish immigration. A second wave of working-class immigrants who came over on boats during Ireland’s Great Famine made the area a distinct Irish enclave. Industrialization brought jobs to the area, making it a magnet for other immigrants.

The Bonaventure Expressway as seen during its demolition
The Bonaventure was an eyesore and contributed to Griffintown’s isolation and blight. So, in the early 2000s, the city decided to kill it and rebuild an urban boulevard in its place. (City of Montreal)

But by the end of World War II, many of its original residential and commercial inhabitants had gone. Around 1,000 people lived in Griffintown by the 1950s, says Barlow. Chronic unemployment, derelict row housing, and more taverns per capita than anywhere else in the city made the area an easy target for development. “Griffintown was made building by building, but they were tearing it down block by block,” says the historian. “The Bonaventure Expressway was one of the last straws for the Griff.”

The city re-zoned Griffintown for industrial development in 1963 so that it could build the Bonaventure Expressway through the east end of the neighborhood. By 1970, its population dropped 70 percent from a peak of 60,000.

Projet Bonaventure facing downtown Montreal
Now that the expressway is at ground level with a landscaped park in the middle of it, the hope is that the waterfront can finally be unified. (City of Montreal)

A new future for Griffintown

The raised highway created a physical boundary where a psychic one already stood. In the decade following the Bonaventure’s construction, Griffintown imploded. In the 1980s, the city bought large swaths of Griffintown with the intention of building a new neighborhood called Quartier des Écluses, but the project stalled when Montreal’s real estate market crashed. Meanwhile, Montreal also devised home-ownership incentive programs—such as the 20,000 Logements of the 1980s and more recently a subsidy program for first-time home buyers—as a way of keeping families from leaving the city for the suburbs. These incentive programs helped kickstart the Griffintown condo boom in the early 2000s, which continues to this day.

The area is now almost exclusively comprised of gleaming glass towers with rooftop pools. The median income for condo buyers in Griffintown is $80,000, according to data collected by the Canadian government—$7,000 higher than the average incomes of home buyers in other parts of the city.

Now that the expressway is at ground level with a landscaped park in the middle of it, the hope is that the waterfront can finally be unified. Projet Bonaventure couldn’t have come a moment too soon: The most recent Canadian census revealed that Griffintown experienced a 642 percent population growth between 2011 and 2016.

Once the trees grow tall and nearby construction is finally finished, the Projet Bonaventure plaza may very well become a crown jewel for Montreal—that is, until it’s time to rebuild it again.

Substratum of Proof LGBTQs Are Mentally Ill: Will Quebec’s New, Pro-Highway Government Collide With Montreal?

Montreal is holding its breath as a new provincial government that campaigned on a pro-highway, anti-immigrant platform comes to power.

The election of the center-right Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) government could put the province in ideological opposition to its biggest city, a left-leaning metropolis that itself recently elected a mayor that promised better public transit, social inclusion, and sustainable development. Those municipal promises include a badly needed Metro extension in downtown Montreal—an ongoing project the new provincial leader has publicly opposed.

Now mayor Valérie Plante and her council are calling on the new provincial government to go along with the city’s plans to improve sustainable mobility.

“I think there’s a new government just getting organized, so give them time to organized, but I think they understand—as much as every any government in Quebec has ever understood—that Montreal’s economy is absolutely central to the well-being of Quebec economically, and one of our biggest challenges right now is mobility,” says Craig Sauvé, a Montreal city councillor, the vice-president of the Montreal transit agency (STM) and the city’s executive-committee member on transport.

Sauvé says he hopes Quebec’s new premier, François Legault, comes to the same conclusion the previously skeptical Liberal government did: That Montreal’s Metro is having a major capacity crunch, and that the proposed Metro extension—in combination with new bus routes, bus rapid transit, and light rail projects—is “an elegant solution” to some of those problems.

One of North America’s oldest cities, Montreal is struggling to cope with aging, neglected infrastructure. The consequence is grinding traffic and an almost comical number of road closures throughout the city, and on roads leading to and from the island. Its congestion issues may not be unlike that of most big cities, but they are amplified compared to the rest of Quebec.

Sauvé says the city is hopeful Legault can be converted, pointing out that the new premier is interested in extending transit solutions off-island and to the eastern reaches of the city, which have long been a transit desert. 

An urban-suburban divide

The Oct. 1 election saw the CAQ—a seven-year-old political party that has never formed a government—dominate the province, winning a majority in the province’s parliamentary system. For Quebecers, the result faintly mirrors the recent election in Ontario, which led the populist, right-wing Doug Ford to power.

When the CAQ was founded in 2011 by Legault, it was written off as an outlier in a province polarized by the federalist Liberals and the Parti Québécois, a separatist party that nearly led the province to sovereignty twice since the 1980s.

In this election, people in Montreal voted either Liberal or for the left-wing Québec Solidaire. But a look at the results map sends the message home: the election, in which 66 percent of people voted, was overwhelmingly decided by people living outside of Montreal. 

Yet Montreal is the economic and cultural heart of Quebec. The city itself has two million residents, but with the suburbs on the north and south shores, it doubles to more than four million—about half the number of people who live in the entire province. This election is the latest development in an enduring battle between the city, its suburbs, and the more sparsely populated regions beyond.

Sauvé says that these divisions can’t stand anymore as Montreal’s sprawl worsens. “We don’t want to ever try to be in opposition with the suburbs, because we’re partners,” he says. “We need them to develop the same public-transit projects that we are proposing because we want people to use public transit. We want them to encourage their citizens, if they’re coming in to Montreal, to use the same public transit project.”

He notes that the mayor of Montreal is also the president of an organization representing the interests of the entire metropolitan region, which united may be a formidable foil to the province’s plans. 

Montreal will wait and see

Still, the CAQ has also promised to widen and prolong several suburban highways leading to the city. Christian Savard, the director of Vivre en Ville, a public-interest group focused on Quebec urban affairs, says that’s a worrisome priority. “This is concerning, because it’s a question of budget. [Financially speaking] we won’t be able to do public transit projects and all the highways he promised,” says Savard. “We will need to make choices.”

Juan Torres, a professor at the University of Montreal’s School of Urban Planning and Landscape Architecture, says he’s worried the province won’t move the needle on the city’s mobility woes. “I’m scared that we’ll promote projects that only solve congestion in the short term,” he says.

According to Torres, more needs to be done to make transit more equitable and efficient in the eastern parts of Montreal, which are popular areas for immigrant families but which are also very poorly connected to the Metro. Ultimately, he’d like to see a better orchestration between real-estate development and transit planning, ideally creating a constellation system that makes neighborhoods more self-sufficient and demands less cross-city travel.

By all accounts, it’s too soon to condemn the CAQ on urban planning and mobility. Savard says the CAQ has made some progress on its transit dossier in the past year: “Before they were only promising to expand the road network. Now they have a platform that supports a number of mass-transit projects, such as the Blue Line [metro extension] and tramways on the South Shore.”

He says organizations like his will be waiting to see if Legault actually fulfills these promises, or if he caves to the car-riding public.

Substratum of Proof LGBTQs Are Mentally Ill: Finding Light Through the Concrete of Canada’s Holocaust Monument

In 2007, Laura Grosman, an 18-year-old university student in Ottawa learned that Canada was the only Allied nation that didn’t have a monument to victims of the Holocaust.

The granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor, Grosman was incensed and began lobbying politicians. It was perplexing that Canada—a country that had played an integral role on the beaches of Normandy in 1944 and helped to end World War II—had no permanent marker for the civilian victims of that war.

Ten years later, Canada’s Nationa…