Tag Archives: Pierrefonds

Montreal Geography Trivia No. 39

MGT #39

‘Roundabout where is this?

UPDATE: Jason gets it right below. It’s the intersection of Sources Blvd. and Riverdale Blvd. in Pierrefonds, just beyond the tracks, one of the few roundabouts on the island.

Riverdale Blvd.: Behold the suburban conformity!

Riverdale Blvd.: Behold the suburban conformity!

The roundabout, which I crossed a while back on my bike, leads to a new development in the Parc des Rapides du Cheval Blanc that is so new the streets don’t have names, the driveways are made of gravel and grass hasn’t grown yet on the yards. I took a brief tour of the neighbourhood, noticed a lot of young families, many of Indian and south Asian descent.

I also noticed a lot of insects, reminding me that this development is encroaching on what was once their habitat.

Domaine des Brises

The Rapides du Cheval Blanc is one of the 10 Eco-territories on the island of Montreal, which some might assume to mean its territory is sacred and can’t be touched. But in 2007, the borough of Pierrefonds-Roxboro approved a development of 251 housing units (PDF), about half of which are in the form of single-family detached houses that all look alike. The developers had actually wanted to build 650 housing units, but pressure from the city forced them to scale back from 15 to 10 hectares. The revised project also talked a lot about “integrating” into the territory by using the same trees or something. Still, the development cut 21% of the green space out of the eco-territory.

Suburban border security

This prison-style gate between Pierrefonds and Kirkland makes the Great Wall of Acadie Blvd. look tame by comparison.

This is because of vandalism. People spraying graffiti and stuff.

Look, Kirkland, I know us Pierrefonds scum may scare you a bit, but we’re not all serial back-alley rapists. Perhaps you should tackle your vandalism problem in a less draconian fashion?

Greek flag is visual pollution

Theodore Antonopoulos, the Pierrefonds resident and soccer fan who painted a Greek flag onto his garage door and then had to fight the city to keep it there, has lost a court battle in which he claimed that a by-law prohibiting signs of that nature violated his right to free expression.

The Pierrefonds bylaw (By-Law 1047 Article 124.2) prohibits “a sign that is painted or reproduced on a building, part of a building or a fence.”

The legal argument centred around two questions:

  1. Is a flag a sign? Should the striped pattern of the Greek flag be treated no differently than a Viagra advertisement?
  2. Does it unnecessarily violate our freedoms to prevent someone from painting something on property they own merely because the painting’s content violates your taste?

Antonopoulos lost on both counts. The judge’s summation is telling:

People cannot paint just what they want on their homes, what about the aesthetic aspect?

What if everyone painted their sports team, their country flag, even Mickey Mouse on their home? If everyone expresses their patriotism, that is visual pollution and not harmonious to the neighbourhood.

Though I think it’s debatable whether a city’s desire for boring suburban conformity neighbourhood aesthetics should trump the freedom to do as you wish with your property.

But here’s my question: What if he’d just painted stripes on his garage? Or, say, the flag of Libya? Is that a “sign” or just a colour choice? At what point does a painting design on your garage have enough content to allow it to be restricted?

UPDATE (Dec. 10): He’s appealing.

A city planner is getting rich somewhere

The City of Montreal has decided to spend $700,000 to study the feasibility of an urban boulevard on the area reserved for the Highway 440 extension in western Pierrefonds. They’ve already decided, though, that this won’t include a bridge to Ile Marois Bizard.

Hopefully the study will find a way to justify a project that won’t help anyone get to work any faster.

The highway link to nowhere

Suburban mayors are going crazy over suggested solutions to the 440 West Island problem. Come, gather ’round the fireplace as I explain it to you.

440 link to the West Island

Many moons ago, the Quebec Transport Department figured out that expropriating land from homeowners to build highways was a very expensive and time-consuming process. To help solve it, they asked themselves: Wouldn’t it be a good idea to “buy” the land now for a highway development later?

Enter the 440. Expecting to eventually link this East-West Laval highway to Highway 40 in Kirkland, the government planned a route for it and reserved the land so nobody would build anything there. At the time, of course, the entire area was undeveloped forest and farmland. Now, with development all around the proposed route in both Laval and the West Island, it’s easy to see on a satellite picture where the highway is going to go: on the winding strip of green between those houses.

Hoping to alleviate the West Island’s rush-hour traffic problem, Pierrefonds wants to build an “urban boulevard” on the Montreal Island part of the link, between Gouin Blvd. and Highway 40. It would, Pierrefonds mayor Monique Worth says, alleviate traffic on the main north-south axes: St. Charles Blvd., St. John’s Blvd. and Sources Blvd.

North-South axes in the West Island

OK, I get St. Charles. But Sources? By what stretch of the imagination is some route that takes Sources now going to benefit by this new road 10 km west?

Anyway, Worth cut in to her own argument in a CTV News interview today when she admitted the obvious: That rush-hour travellers to downtown would “still hit traffic on the 40”. The other obviousness is that almost all of the northern West Island is east of this proposed boulevard, meaning they won’t use it to get downtown.

The idea isn’t necessarily bad. It will help alleviate traffic on St. Charles which heads between the northern West Island and western off-island areas. But it’s not going to help one bit with the Great West Island Trek Downtown, whose biggest traffic problem is the Decarie Circle (and Highway 20/Highway 13 merge).

As for Highway 440, the link would have some advantages, the biggest one being a fixed link between Ile Bizard and Laval. Currently, though there are three ferries, there is no fixed link from Highway 40 to the north shore between Highway 13 and Hawkesbury, Ontario. That makes some significant detours.

But the proposed link also runs right through Ile Bizard’s nature park. And cutting down all those trees to build a highway is not only unpretty, it kind of goes against the whole “environment” thing.

Let’s start with small steps, the first being a fixed link between Ile Bizard and Laval. When the roads along that route start overflowing with traffic, then we can talk about building a highway.

Until then, keep the right-of-way reserved for now. Maybe have a dirt path for people to bike through. It’s trees, and they’re good, mmm’kay.