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Montreal’s REM is a financial – not a transport – vehicle (or: how not to plan a light rail system)

On 19th October 2021 the CDPQ-Infra, a para-public organisation set up by Qu├ębec’s state pension fund, published its initial terms of reference for the construction of a light-rail system extending through densely built-up neighbourhoods towards the East of Montreal. Nobody doubts that Montreal needs an improved regional-level public transport system, especially in the eastern partContinue reading “Montreal’s REM is a financial – not a transport – vehicle (or: how not to plan a light rail system)”

Does PwC’s announcement signal the death of the office?

As the COVID pandemic drags on, there is debate over whether – and, if so, how – workers will return to the office. PwC’s announcement this week that its 40 000 employees can henceforth work remotely has brought this question to the fore. Many commentators – as well as some prominent firms – suggest thatContinue reading “Does PwC’s announcement signal the death of the office?”

Philokukly: why single-gear?

From time to time I discuss the theory of knowledge with my students: this is a branch of philosophy. Philosophers love (philo) knowledge (sophos). By extension, Philoduokuklers love (philo) bicycles (duo-kuklos1). It is the theory of bicycles that concerns me today. I am sure that Duokuklophiles also love bicycles, but Philoduokuklers – which can beContinue reading “Philokukly: why single-gear?”

Human capital, individual wealth and economic development: a second-hand idea?

It’s summer, so I have more time to read books. Amongst others, I am reading Second-Hand Time by the Nobel prize winning author Svetlana Alexievich. It is a phenomenal book : poignant, depressing, capturing the complexities of post-Soviet Russia (and, indeed, of the Soviet Union) through a collage of first-person interviews. Alexievich is an outstandingContinue reading “Human capital, individual wealth and economic development: a second-hand idea?”

The right to (escape) the city: why affordable rural mobility is important for cities.

It is summer. I regularly take my bike out of the city for long rides, and enjoy spending time walking in forests and swimming in rivers. I’ll soon be heading up the Saint-Lawrence to Charlevoix for a few days. Many other Quebecers are also enjoying the summer months to get out of town… All thisContinue reading “The right to (escape) the city: why affordable rural mobility is important for cities.”

Land-use planning in Canada: whose land is it anyway?

Urban planning: pragmatic and necessary Urban planning plays an important social role in Canada, despite being perceived by many as an irritant (why can’t I do what I want with my property?). Real-estate and land are immovable, so there can be no straightforward market; it is impossible to privatise all land (unless we accept thatContinue reading “Land-use planning in Canada: whose land is it anyway?”

The sidewalk is dying: long live the sidewalk!

Sidewalks underpin the right to the city Sidewalks are basic urban infrastructure. They have a variety of prosaic yet critical functions. If well maintained and designed, they provide space for pedestrians to walk that is protected from traffic (because slightly elevated with a curb), that is dry (the curb canalises run-off water), and can encourageContinue reading “The sidewalk is dying: long live the sidewalk!”

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