Many moons ago we used to lug our stuff up & down those winding staircases,usually with round corner fridges that were not exactly light,,,,,,hahahaha These two guys in the photo are on Joseph St in Verdun A sign on the corner of Milton St. and Lorne Ave. says no parking except for residents but the space is occupied by scraps of wood, a dresser and four stained mattresses. Half a block away, a worn green hide-a-bed lies flat on its back, pushed up against a brick building. It's Moving Day in Montreal, and the McGill ghetto has turned into a furniture graveyard.
Jean-Pierre Le Blanc, spokesperson for the Régie du Logement, estimated 91,000 people in Quebec took part in the tradition this year. And it shows.
The province used to mandate fixed leases, from May 1 to April 30, to ensure renters were not evicted during the cold, winter months. It's summer now, but that's little consolation for the 140 families who found themselves newly homeless across the province yesterday.
In 1974, Moving Day was changed to July 1. While fixed terms for leases are no longer required to be from July 1 to June 30, it's a tradition that lives on.
"It's not the law anymore but people continue to do it because it's more practical," Le Blanc said.
But anyone who's walked by a pile of abandoned junk on a Montreal street corner this week might wonder if "practical" is the right word.
Having so many people lug their belongings from one place to another on one day puts a lot of pressure on the city, said Michael Applebaum, vice-chair of the city's executive committee for housing.
"When people are moving, they're going to discard a lot of furniture, clothing, clean out their apartment, and there's going to be renovations on certain properties, so there's a great impact on the cleanliness of the city," Applebaum said.
He encouraged residents to drop off unwanted items at one of the city's six eco-centres or to donate to charity. As a last resort, he said residents can call 3-1-1 to find out the days of large item pickup in their neighbourhood.
Wayne Taillon, president of the Mission of the Great Shepherd, said the mission will pick up donations, too. But he added the organization is not a dumping ground.
"We get so many calls so we have to be selective to get top quality furniture and items. Sometimes people will call and they think we're 1-800-JUNK," Taillon said.
Mattresses infested with bed bugs? No thanks.
The mess is only one downside of the tradition. Most moving companies and rental trucks in Montreal have been booked for weeks - if not months - for July 1, forcing those in need of a truck and a helping hand to get creative. Some try to shove all their belongings in a taxi to move from one place to another and discard whatever items they don't need on the side of the road.
Several drivers idling at the taxi stand on Prince Arthur St. and Ave. du Parc said they would take passengers that are moving as long as there's not too much stuff, and that the items can fit inside the vehicle. Strapping a fridge to the roof is out of the question.
Arnold Yetman, spokesperson for the Société de l'assurance automobile, said a taxi can legally charge a passenger more as long as they make a written contract before the ride.
"It can be on a piece of paper or on a napkin, that way all parties are protected, but it has to be written down," Yetman said. "Then they don't turn on the taxi meter and they go by the written contract - how much they've agreed upon for the service."
Taxi Champlain operator John Michopulos said drivers are not allowed to charge extra if their passengers are moving but said some might refuse to take those clients.
"They put the meter on and go by time but most of the time they don't want to do it," Michopulos said.
Online ads also offer relatively cheap alternatives to moving companies, but hiring a freelance mover is technically illegal, according to Yetman, unless the vehicle they are using has been inspected and registered under the transport commission. He warned movers who advertise online might "just be there to make a quick buck."
"The fly-by-nights that you see on Kijiji or Craigslist are very risky. You don't know who you're dealing with," he said. "They might ask for a deposit and on the day they're supposed to show up they don't show up. Or, they might help you move but they're checking out what you have, who you are and the security of your place."
So even though that "Are you stuck without a truck?" ad is tempting, you might be better off hitching a trailer to your rented BIXI bike and letting your legs do the work.