What are you doing driving on my street?

Another day, another group of angry rich homeowners who want nobody to use their streets but them.

James Shaw Street in Beaconsfield, the Cavendish extension, and now residents of Montreal West are upset because one of their roads is being used by people who are not them. And their arguments just don’t hold water.

Here’s the story: Montreal West put up concrete barriers at Broughton Rd. and Easton Ave. to prevent traffic from crossing their border with Ville St. Pierre. According to the MtlWesters, it’s because people are using Devil’s Hill (Broughton/rue des Erables, depending on what city you’re in) as a shortcut to Highway 20. According to the VSPers, it’s nothing but class warfare, separating the less affluent Lachine residents from the rich homes that are literally at the top of the hill.

A quick look at the area and it’s hard not to take Ville St. Pierre’s side on this. First of all, while going through this area does indeed lead to Highway 20 via Norman street, I’d hardly call it a shortcut. First you have to get to Broughton, which is difficult because the intersection of Broughton and Westminster is now a raised sidewalk (the red mark in the map below). Then you have to navigate the forced turns and one-way streets designed to make driving through these parts as difficult as possible.

Montreal West traffic barrier

Finally, even if you make it through to VSP, you immediately hit another forced turn (on weekdays) from which there is no escape but back where you came from.

The only solution is to take Avon Rd. (which everyone else calls St. Jacques) down to Milton and then through to Norman St. This route isn’t blocked by MtlWest’s plan, because it doesn’t go through their residential streets. It’s also silly, since just continuing down Avon/St. Jacques leads you straight to the highway through the other part of VSP.

Today, with the barrier out of the way, I passed by that area to see what the traffic was like during the afternoon rush-hour. It was non-existent. Anyone who knows the area knows you can’t get to the highway for the reasons listed above, and anyone who doesn’t isn’t going to bother wasting their time trying to find a shortcut.

So giving them the benefit of the doubt and assuming they’re not hallucinating anything, how is it that cars are taking this route? I have a few suggestions:

  1. Bad signage. Coming down Westminster or through other streets in that area, you see a sign that reads “Aucun acces autoroute 20 / No access highway 20 / via Ainslie ou/or Easton”. To someone not intimately familiar with Montreal West’s geography, the sign is meaningless. Wouldn’t it be simpler just to tell people where the highway is? If they don’t follow that instruction, it’s their own fault for getting lost.
  2. Bad intersection. The corner of Avon (St. Jacques) and Westminster is a 5-way intersection. Someone heading west on St. Jacques sees signs for “Westminster S”, “Avon”, “Brynmor”, “Easton” and “Recreation” (not a street name, but it looks like one). Easton, the bad street that leads into this secluded paradise, sits right next to Avon, the good street that leads into Highway 20. Because the two are parallel and right next to each other, drivers are easily confused about which leads to the highway. Especially coming down Westminster, you’re told to turn right, but there are two rights and despite their best attempts at signage, it’s not intuitive which is the correct one.

5-way intersection

But hey, I’m not a civil planner, what do I know? Keep using our roads and not allowing us to use yours. Keep driving by my apartment at all hours of the night and then yelling at me when I so much as sneeze in your neighbourhood.

Montreal West is already surrounded on three sides by railway tracks. Aren’t they gated enough?

P.S. To Lachine mayor Claude Dauphin, who asked: “Where else in Canada have you heard of a municipality that erects barricades to cut itself off from its neighbours?” — have you never driven down Acadie Blvd.?

19 thoughts on “What are you doing driving on my street?

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  5. Martha Harvey

    My son and his family live on Hillcrest. My husband and I are often there: babysitting, having family dinners and celebrations, etc. When the barrier was put some months ago we were forced to spend an inordinate amount of time and fuel on a detour. To say the least, we were furious! Fortunately MWest had to remove the barrier a few days later. If the barrier is out back, I worry about the time it would take emergency services to reach those streets which are affected. I also have noticed that there is very little traffic on the nearby MWest streets, and certainly no speeding cars. The Lachine (formerly V.St.Pierre) homes on the bluff will be devalued as a result of the barrier. The people living on those streets are not wealthy but have invested in improvements and take pride in their homes and gardens. Many will no longer invest in improvements and may sell, turning the area into a slum. The consequences of the MWest actions are far-reaching and will affect a number of families.
    My son is David Finch and his wife is Maureen Marovitch.

  6. Lisa Kalin

    My name is Lisa Kalin, my husband’s,Philip Kalin and our son Oliver.
    Having had our Oli, our condo getting too small, we purchased our first home, happy with its Montreal west feel, on Hillcrest.
    Having such trouble finding a home in our price range, me being a nurse and my husband a film maker, we are modest people. We saw over 80 homes in the west island but then fell in love with what we found on Hillcrest, only a couple of blocks away from my in laws on Strathearn, we were thrilled.
    Of course, it is convenient to have them close, but as well, our son spends his days there while I am at work.
    Recentely, the bill was passed for a barricade to be put up between Montreal west and Lachine. Having battled for 14 years, Montreal west has won. I have never been more saddened by the world in all my life. 14 years spent fighting over such stupidity, do people have nothing else to do? We are fighting wars in the rest of the world, trying hard to discourage differences among people, but in Montreal West we need a barricade? As much as I try not to take it personally, and understand I cannot. Every time I venture in to Montreal west now I feel second class and am angered by every home I pass wondering if they were involved. I have been stopped several times by the police trying simply to get home, not knowing where to go. I have never been issued a ticket, and even the police have had sympathy for me. With the barricade, it will now take me much more time to take Oliver to his grandparents for the day, perhaps more time for me to drive than to walk. We recentely had some friends by a home on Ballyntine and said we’d be neighbours, are we? Will they need to take St Jaques to get to Hillcrest from Ballyntine? How will I explain the barricade? Every time I explain it, will I feel second class? It is not my fault that my home is on Hillcrest. I am closer to the heart of Montreal West than to Lachine’s. It is logical for me to do my shopping and dry cleaning on Westminster and perhaps stop by one of my favorite restaurants for Sunday dinner with the family at Westminster Bistro, a tradition of ours. I am a constant client to the westminster strip of life needs. Milk at 9pm from mini cout, or ice cream for a party we are having for friends last minute. Wood for the fireplace when it is cold, or a random hot dog dinner? These are all the little joys we get out of our home on Hillcrest. Once the barricade is up will I be forced to drive to the heart of Lachine to get Milk? Will I have to hop on the 20 because the town next door has booted me out? I ask: have Montreal Westers ever done their groceries at IGA in cote St Luc? What if there were a barricade? What if we kept everyone in their burrough with walls? How would you feel? No matter the reason?
    To all Montreal Westers actively involved: You should be ashamed of your petty actions taken. The consequences of your barricade extend to state a message I am not sure you think you want or mean to send. Hillcrest is a unique street with a very big sense of community. In essence, I am not sure if we are Montreal west or lachine at all. We are Hillcrest simply put. A community where when you move in you are welcomed with cookies on your door step, and everyone takes an interest in getting to know you. Street festivals and dinner parties. This is what life should be about. People coming together, not barricading themselves out with borders.
    I urge you to put yourself in our shoes, and think before he barricade goes up, what your message really is and just how personally we are all taking it here. Is this the type of attitude you want to show our children? What will I answer when Oliver asks me why we cannot drive there?
    I have spent some time working from my home here and have never noticed any traffic. Hillcrest is a street full of young families and children. Ona snow day kids sled through the street. Our homes have been here for almost 100 years! In fact there was one lady who has recentely passed at age 105 years and her home was her wedding gift! Who is causing the traffic and who are you booting out?
    So, I urge you to think about the lives your actions are affecting. Not just for the time it may take me now to get my son to daycare, but the attitude I am raising him in. I am proud of my home, and my community on Hillcrest, and want my son to grow up in an environment that welcomes him from all sides of his home not just his front porch vs his backyard.
    Lisa Kalin RN 30 years old, just married, first kid, first house, a simple person.

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  8. Douglas

    I am sure there is common ground on both sides
    When it comes to speeders on quiet streets
    The question is: where is this reasoning comming from?

    Is it really about speeding, semi’s, trucks, & cars.
    Or is it more about getting in the way of the street basketball / hockey game.
    Possibly the knee jerk reaction of punishing everybody because of the few.

    To solve this so called delicate situation, maybee easier to all, than they think.
    If Montreal west realy want’s to stop this speeding “epidemic”
    Maybee One or both of the bouroghs should simply and effectivley place cameras where the aledged problem is.
    Punishing the culprates and letting the law abiding citizens on both sides live in piece.

    Or is there another agenda, as suspected by the Hillcrest residence

    I think both sides have somthing to gain, when people try to solve the actual problem mutually.

    Verus this us aginst them attitude.

    After all, I bet the price of the camera’s would be far less expensive than the lawer’s are costing the Boroughs

    I know that the law is the law.
    But most of the time the law is definatley blind to one group or the other groups needs.

    Clearly if speeding is the problem, then there are laws against speeding, simply invoke the law
    on the culprates and not the law abioding citizens.

  9. Helene


    Le pire dans cette histoire c’est la signalistation sur Lachine en plus de la barriere. Il faut tourner obligatoirement a droite sur Mount Vernon. Ce qui nous ramene sur Hillcrest qui est barree et le retour pareil il faut touner a gauche vers Pominville. Donc en resume on est emprisone. J’ai ete voir le maire de lachine pour ca car j’ai recu une amende de 151$ le matin en m’en allant travailler. Et la lettre que j’ai recu du maire car je lui demandait une libre circulation local: Votre demande est dicriminatoire.

  10. Alex

    Perhaps the main reason why middle to upper class areas resent such projects has to do with the fact that the property taxes paid are astronomical compared to other areas, mainly due to the lack of businesses; meaning residents must cover the entire costs as opposed to having it shared. Ironically citizens choose to oppose economic growth, which would alleviate the taxation while continuing to live grumpy as over taxed citizens. Wake up!

  11. Lisa Kalin

    There are a couple of things here that need to be pointed out to whoever reads these blogs.
    Firstly, there is certainly an amicable way to end this and to improve the lives of people on both sides.
    Montreal west says there is a traffic problem yet refuses to show any numbers or reports to prove this?
    Lachine did the study and showed no traffic problem whatsoever. Needing to have 1000 cars travel through a specified area to be tagged a traffic problem in a 24 hour period: on average, Lachine found 112 at an average speed of 30km/hr.
    Why has this not been enough to avoid placing a barrier?
    Mtl West also claims, they have tried everything and that the barrier is the only solution. Everything? What does that include? The only thing they continuously try is placing a barrier between the two boroughs. They are not interested in trying a traffic light, more speed bumps (of which there are already so many making it impossible to speed), better signalisation, cameras?. These are suggestions that have been made over a period of almost 20 years.
    So, why would Lachine residnets then feel like it is a class issue? Simply because there is nothing else to think at this point. They did no traffic study, they have tried nothing but barriers, and Mo west simply refuses to resolve this amicably. Should the reverse happen, should the two mayors sit down and find a logical solution, the attitude would be different. And, I may add, they would set a better example.

    I may also point out that it should not be my civil duty to fix traffic signalisation. Presentely, every morning that I leave my home I am doing so illegally and may get a ticket of 150$ to get to the back roads and out to go to work. Because Lachine has not changed the signalisation yet, as the lady above stated that she got a ticket…..but if she were to obey all signs she would go in circles around her house from Monday to Friday without being able to legally leave! THIS is discrimination. So, aside from the police car blocking the barricade every morning and afternoon, I am also waiting for another police car to catch me leaving my legal prison. Not such a great way to live peacefully.

  12. Lisa Kalin

    Furthermore, I must admit that to answe to the taxation comment:
    It must be a very smart move on behalf of Montreal west to make it that much more difficult for over 100+ consumers to the Mowest strip to shop in their town. As well, do they not realize that those who move into the new developments would also be potential consumers? I was unaware that steering people away from businesses was a good method of increasing economic growth?

  13. Jean Naimard

    Chemin Broughton in Montréal-Ouest is the seminal event that made me hate suburbs to guts by demonstrating their utter stupidity.

    The gall of a rich suburb to close-off an enclosed part of a different town by cutting one of the three accesses to it is a total display of assholiness.

    When the access was originally cut-off around 1985, I made a point of illegally going through there with my motorcycle, which could pass easily between the posts erected in the middle of the street, even if it meant a detour for me.

    To achieve that goal was made much more effectively several years later by simply closing-off the access to Westminster, near the train station.

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  15. J

    As someone who does not live in the area but graduated from RWA just up the road, I have spent many days passing through the area driving (at that time being driven) home via the 20. I’d disagree with you when you say it is not a shortcut.. it makes a damned fine shortcut because while it may be longer and slower, when there’s bumper to bumper traffic (espcially bad at rush hours along the Lachine areas of the 20), Norman is amazing in that it cuts straight through a chunk of it.
    That said, I never did see “much” traffic and certainly not along Broughton.. most people went along Avon to the best of my knowledge.
    One mighty stupid idea to bar it.. sigh.

    (for those of you who don’t know, you should look up the recent dealings between Kirkland and Pierrefonds on a similar and related issue, except that the moment it is just signs and police tickets; not quite at the permanent barriers yet!)

  16. Bonbie

    I’m a resident now of cote-st-luc (smart av. to be specific) am I allowed to pass the norman road of lachine at the end street of Westminster?( near the railways).My work is in Dorval and I think it’s faster if I will take that shortcut road to escape traffic in st-Jacques.,do I need to get a permit to use that road? Because I can see vehicles that are passing from Westminster road of cote-st-luc going to Norman road in lachine or vice-versa.

    1. Fagstein Post author

      You do not need a special permit to use Norman St. unless you’re going to the CN railyard, which is after the entrance to Highway 20 westbound. Just make sure you access it by Avon Rd (St-Jacques) and Milton Ave., and respect the traffic light that controls how traffic gets through the narrow railway underpass.

      1. Bonbie

        Ok.so I can take Norman road.i’ll take Westminster then enter to Norman road going to exit the highway 20 going to Dorval? Thank you..


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