When you have the kind of low-rise density that Montreal does, where it packs in a lot of people but not in towers, that means wall to wall housing. Between the endless rows of brick and stone houses, the paved streets and the concrete sidewalks, I sometimes feel as though I’m living in a cement box when I’m there. It’s like taking Gastown and spreading it out over 10 square miles. It’s so hard. (And, adding to that, so dirty — cigarette butts and litter everywhere.)

Okay, it was early spring and the trees were still bare, but I know I’ve felt the same way even in summer. In my one and only interview ever with Richard Florida, he said Vancouver surprised him because he had always supposed that urbanity couldn’t be combined with green. But he appeared to be entranced with the way this city could be both dense but filled with landscaping. We shouldn’t forget how precious that is.

Frances Bula