No animal is quite as synonymous with the fun, friendliness, and overall adorability in Montreal as the beloved squirrel. Found in parks and trees across the island, squirrels are pretty much an icon of Montreal, and their return always heralds the coming of sun and good times.
Cute and rambunctious beyond description, a moment shared between a Montreal squirrels is always precious. That's pretty much why anyone is always keen on sharing whatever morsel of food they may have on them with a super kawaii squirrel. You just want them close enough to take in all the cute.
But while the people of Montreal have a love affair with squirrels, the city has an antithetical perspective on our beloved furry friends and how they should be treated.
Whereas any Montrealer with a heart would gladly give up a crust of bread to a needy (or already well-fed) squirrel, certain administrative sections of Montreal deem the act an offence and worthy of a fine. That's right, in some boroughs, it is pretty much illegal to feed squirrels.
Global News's Billy Shields first shed light on this rather startling fact, documenting how citizens in Montreal West are receiving fines for sharing some food-based love with squirrels. In the borough, it is illegal to do so, just as it in Westmount, Cote-St-Luc, and Kirkland.
Other boroughs take a similar stance on squirrel-feeding. In the Plateau, extending a warm invitation of food to a needy squirrel can get you a fine of $60, administrative costs not included. The "devastation" that can be left by squirrels (and also pigeon-poop) in gardens is cited as a reason for the fine.
LaSalle feels the same way, with the feeding of squirrels and other like wild animals strictly forbidden in the borough. Fortunately, the price for a first offence is set at a reasonable $20.
Ville-Marie takes things even further. Looking at the borough's Animal Control Regulation, Article 17.11 states that it is strictly forbidden to feed wild animals such as squirrels (along with pigeons, gulls, raccoons, and more), and anyone caught doing so can receive a fine of $300 for a first offence.
Anjou seems to be one of the only boroughs that has some love for the city's squirrels. While the borough does say it is illegal to feed pigeons and gulls, squirrels are "are not considered a nuisance in the borough.” You go Anjou, keeping the squirrel love alive.
Of course, none of this means that much unless time is actually taken to enforce these bylaws against acts of squirrel-love (that sounds way creepier than I wanted to, but I'm going with it). For the most part, that doesn't seem to be the case, but there are exceptions, as the recent doling out of fines has showcased.
Still, the fact that we have to even be slightly worried about extending a edible gift of friendship to the bushy-tailed critters that make Montreal even more magical is something of a problem in our books. No one should be reprimanded for helping a squirrel out.
Unfortunately, Squirrel Girl was not available to comment on this straining of squirrel-human relations, but no doubt she would be displeased.
Boucherie Slovenia, a boulevard Saint-Laurent institution for 50 years, will soon serve its last spicy sausage.
The iconic home of enormous Eastern European-style sandwiches — Slovenian sausage and towering cold-cuts were staples — will close its doors forever on January 29, said the owners, Lourdes Rodrigues and Jean Teixeira, in a Facebook post.
"Thank you to all our loyal customers, for the wonderful years," they said.
With a menu overflowing with huge, yet affordable, meat and mustard sandwiches — sauerkraut, pickles and Cherry Cokes were also standard — Boucherie Slovenia is the latest of the Main's iconic old-school institutions to close.
The beloved Moishes steakhouse announced its closure under the strain of the pandemic in the summer of 2020.
The Boucherie Slovenia Facebook post asks readers to share their memories of the restaurant and butcher shop, with many offering childhood stories of visiting for a pepperette sandwich or their "underrated" smoked meat, which is "the best in the city," according to one commenter.
Many apparent long-time customers said they wouldn't know where to go to find dishes comparable to Boucherie Slovenia's treasured menu items.
Others remarked on how yet another classic Montreal restaurant is closing its doors. "Nothing replaces these fantastic old shops," said one person. "It's a loss. The rich character of the boulevard is disappearing."
Montreal is certainly no stranger to a traffic jam, which makes taking public transit a more viable option to not only get around faster but do more good for the environment.
As Canadian cities take the initiative to improve their transit systems and reduce their carbon footprints, Montreal has become one of the country's greenest metropolitan areas when it comes to transport, according to one ranking.
A December report from Kijiji Autos analyzed green transport options in Canada's most populated cities, evaluating their use of electric cars, bikes, scooters, and the number of electric charging stations.
With its metro and bus systems, BIXI rentals, bike lanes, and availability of electric cars, Montreal found itself in third place among Canadian cities that offer the greenest transport with a score of 5.5/10.
Although Vancouver and Ottawa/Gatineau snagged the top two spots, Montreal takes the lead as the most bicycle-friendly city in all of North America, with a total of 2,163 bicycle paths, says the Copenhagenize Index.
Montreal's third-place ranking is encouraging news, said McGill University Assistant Professor of Geography, Grant McKenzie, who specifically boasted about Montreal's metro system, "especially compared to other Canadian cities," as well as its "substantial investment towards electric buses."
While McKenzie said "we can always do better" and bemoaned the city's ban on e-scooters, he called the popularity of the BIXI and the inclusion of electric bikes in its fleet an "excellent move in the right direction."
As for electric cars, Kijiji Autos looked at new registrations of electric vehicles in the first quarter of 2021, as well as total charging stations. Montreal landed second to Toronto with a total of 3,633 new registered electric cars, and 1,258 electric charging stations throughout the city.
Kijiji Autos also looked at the number of hybrids and electric vehicles for sale on their platform. Montreal led the way with 1,063 hybrid vehicles and 375 electric vehicles, states the report.
With the province of Quebec offering residents a rebate for the purchase or lease of electric cars, Quebec estimates that there will be 1.5 million electric vehicles on the road by 2030.
It's official — 2021 was the hottest year on record for Montreal, according to Environment Canada. It beat out the previous hottest years, 1998 and 2012, by a mean few hundredths of a degree.
This rise in temperature in Montreal is attributed to new weather patterns, causing scorching temperatures in June, August, September and October. "August and October were record-breaking months," said Environment Canada spokesperson Simon Legault.
"We were lucky that July was below normal because if it hadn't happened that way, [...] we would have shattered the record instead of just breaking it," he added.
A few hundredths of a degree may not sound like such a big problem, but temperatures in Montreal (and around the world) have been steadily rising.
The average annual temperature in Montreal from 1951 to 1980 was 6.5ºC, according to ClimateData.ca. Last year's mean temperature came in at a whopping 8.6ºC. This drastic increase in fortyish years has already begun to show its effects — not just on our electrical bills in the summer, but also the health of the population, the Climate Action Network says.
Whether or not 2022 will be even hotter remains anyone's guess. Projections for an area as small as Southern Quebec can only be made a few weeks in advance.
What we do know is that February and March should be significantly warmer than January.
"A few short intense waves of cold are coming in," Legault said of January, adding that February and March are expected to be "close to or above normal temperatures."
Women will lead five of Quebec's eight largest cities following the 2021 municipal elections.
The biggest headline of the night may have been Valérie Plante's triumph over old foe Denis Coderre in Montreal, but across the province, the faces of municipal politics have become more gender-balanced.
According to the latest counts and projections, France Bélisle (Gatineau), Catherine Fournier (Longueuil), Évelyne Beaudin (Sherbrooke) and Julie Dufour (Saguenay) are all also on their way to their respective (and figurative) city hall corner offices.
In Quebec City, it seemed for a while like Marie-Josée Savard would join them. Multiple outlets had even called the election for her until the vote count for her opponent surged into the evening. Bruno Marchand ultimately claimed victory.
Mayor Plante commented on the historic nature of her second mandate in her victory speech Sunday night.
"Four years ago, Montrealers elected the first woman mayor in the history of the City of Montreal," she said.
"Tonight, they told us again, 'yes, this mayor, we're going to continue to work with her, we trust her!'"
This year, for the first time, Montrealers will have two women leading the city, as Projet Montréal's Dominique Ollivier is set to take over as president of the Executive Committee.