Tag Archives: urban planning

The barrier stays

The barrier segregating Montreal West from the Ville Saint Pierre district of Lachine is here to stay. The Quebec Court of Appeal this week upheld a lower court ruling that Montreal West was within its rights to setup a barrier to car traffic between the two towns. Though Montreal (which the Lachine borough is part of now) may appeal, I’d wager their chances of getting heard at the Supreme Court level are slim. If the barrier comes down, it’ll be because of a deal among neighbours, not because a hand was forced by the courts.

Montreal West argues this isn’t about building a wall between rich and poor (there’s no restriction on pedestrian travel), but the only issue is safety. I couldn’t find any evidence of a problem when I checked it out two years ago. But it seems to be enough to convince people that it’s necessary. And that’s why it’s the same argument used by other cities who erect barriers between neighbours.

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Traffic problem: solved.

Matt Forsythe points out this video from the NFB’s archives, talking to Mayor Jean Drapeau about plans to improve traffic in the city, which has by now grown so much it’s on the other side of the mountain.

Among the plans discussed are, of course, the widening of thoroughfares like Dorchester Blvd. and Henri-Bourassa Blvd. (but don’t worry, they’ll still have sidewalks) and the creation of a new elevated expressway on the north side of the island, which will be totally awesome and maintain our status as Canada’s largest city.

Oh 1955…

(That sound you’re hearing right now is Richard Bergeron having a stroke.)

The Toupin Blvd. plan

It’s about to get just a bit easier, and yet more difficult, to drive through Cartierville and Ville-Saint Laurent.

The city has presented its plan for making sure the residents on or near Toupin Blvd. don’t get overwhelmed with through traffic when Cavendish Blvd. is extended north to Henri-Bourassa.

The main focus is to get people coming to and from Laval to use the arteries: Highway 13 and Marcel-Laurin/Laurentien.

For the full details, you can see the slideshow (PDF), which has crazy details like counting the number of cars through each intersection and including the width of lanes and stuff.

But here’s the skinny for drivers:

  1. Vehicles will not be allowed straight through from Toupin onto Cavendish and vice-versa. Period.
  2. A dedicated bike lane will be installed on the Cavendish extension, and one of those middle-of-the-road bike lanes on Toupin Blvd. in both directions.
  3. A concrete median will be installed on Henri-Bourassa preventing traffic from turning left onto side streets to get around the restriction.
  4. Two streets east of Toupin will be made one-way (the directions above are random; it’s unclear which road is in which direction)
  5. A second left turning lane will be installed on Henri-Bourassa at Marcel-Laurin to accommodate an increase in traffic. Marcel-Laurin will be modified to better accommodate the traffic as well, including synchronized lights.
  6. Public transit on Henri-Bourassa will be modified in some mysterious way, also to coincide with a new train station at Highway 13 on the Montreal-Deux-Montagnes line.
  7. A troll will be stationed during rush hours on Toupin Blvd. and will spit at your car if it thinks you’re trying to find a shortcut to Laval.

OK, I made that last one up.

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?

Montreal West wins this round

Montreal West has won a judgment in its favour concerning the whole Broughton Rd. Montreal West/Ville Saint-Pierre saga. Already Montreal West is being cheered by its residents and Lachine is vowing to appeal.

The dispute is over concrete barriers Montreal West put up at the border between the two towns in March. MoWest said it was to curb dangerous traffic that speeds through town as a shortcut to Highway 20 West. Lachine/VSP said it was class warfare, designed to separate the rich residents of Montreal West from the poor working class down the hill.

Of course, they’re both right.

The barrier will stay down until the appeal is decided.

The Toupin Blvd. “solution”

Faced with growing opposition from local residents, the city has come up with a solution to the northern Cavendish extension to Henri-Bourassa Blvd.: Fudge it.

Toupin “solution”

The solution to the problem of traffic barrelling down Toupin Blvd. toward a non-existent bridge to Laval would be to simply disallow it. Traffic heading north on Cavendish would be forced to turn left (toward Highway 13) or right (toward Marcel-Laurin Blvd., Route 117), the nearest roads with bridges to Laval. Traffic heading south would be unrestricted.

Meanwhile, a couple of “environmentally friendly” additions to the plan include reducing the width from three lanes to two in each direction (Toupin is two lanes, Cavendish is three), and adding bicycle paths in both directions (which is great and all, but they don’t go anywhere on either side).

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.

Making the case for a quieter Toupin Blvd.

This week I spoke with Nicolas Stone, a resident of Cartierville three houses away from Toupin Blvd., who is one of many in that area opposed to a northern extension of Cavendish Blvd. The plan would connect Cavendish, through a new development in Bois Franc, to Henri-Bourassa Blvd. at Toupin Blvd.

Toupin Blvd. … not so whiny

The residents (whom I dubbed “concerned citizens” as you see above) oppose it for the obvious reason that it would turn Toupin Blvd. into a throughway (even though there’s nothing beyond the neighbourhood — the closest bridges to Laval are at Marcel-Laurin to the east and Highway 13 to the west).

Stone (a husband with three hyperactive toddlers I found after he made a comment on this blog) makes a compelling case. His concerns mainly revolve around philosophical objections to creating more roads and encouraging single-passenger traffic. He takes public transit to work and used to bike everywhere.

He was a good sport about the interview, even when I flat-out accused him of being part of the problem by contributing to urban sprawl.

Turcot project should please everyone, but doesn’t

This week in St. Henri there was a public consultation meeting for the Ministry of Transport’s Turcot project, which will see the Turcot Interchange (Highways 15, 20 and 720) reconstructed primarily at ground-level (saving money for maintenance, clearing some views and helping easing tensions of driving through an intersection built on decaying stilts).

The project would also see reconstruction of Highway 15/20 through Ville Emard (which would be lowered significantly now that giant ships aren’t passing through the Lachine Canal anymore), and more interestingly Highway 20 through Turcot Yards, which would be moved next to the Falaise St-Jacques along with new train tracks:

Turcot Yards redevelopment

This would free up a giant lot to be developed (though nobody’s come up with a good idea of what to do on it).

Though the MTQ has been holding consultation meetings, there are organized protests against the project, most notably from the Village des Tanneries, a small neighbourhood in western St. Henri whose residents are afraid their homes will be expropriated by the government and they’ll be stuck without fair value for them.

Other concerns include:

  • That the Falaise St-Jacques, a protected eco-territory, will be made inaccessible by putting a highway and railway next to it. (Of course, it’s already inaccessible, mostly because it sits on a cliff.)
  • That residents in neighbouring cities and boroughs (Westmount, NDG, Montreal West, Lachine, Sud-Ouest, Ville-Marie, Verdun, etc.) are not being sufficiently consulted by their municipal and borough governments.
  • That not enough is being done to ease traffic on local streets, especially in Montreal West (where a new highway access from Brock Ave. is being planned), Ville Emard’s Cabot neighbourhood (where accesses are being reworked to the 15/20 at de la Verendrye to simplify access to industrial areas for trucks), and NDG (where the MUHC is being built at the old Glen yard with no apparent direct access to the highway, and where the St-Jacques onramp to Highway 720 East is being made more complicated).

But when it comes down to it, the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. A giant space will be made available and nobody will have to cross a highway to get there. The highway will have a natural barrier on one side, eliminating the need to make those ugly artificial sound walls on that side. And it’ll be much cheaper and easier to maintain the highest-trafficked highway interchange in Quebec.

It should be an extremely popular project. Unfortunately, citizens are getting short-changed at public meetings. This is entirely the boroughs’ faults. They’re saying it’s the MTQ’s problem and cutting off debate at council meetings, without mentioning that the MTQ is coming to the boroughs to take the pulse of citizens’ issues.

Let’s not let bureaucracy get in the way of progress, shall we? Let’s work together to make this work and see the creation of a new neighbourhood when this is all done… in 2015. Maybe.

A bicycle path isn’t the end of the world

Store owners are greedy. It’s hard to blame them, since the business they do is directly proportional to the money they get. A few slow weeks could put them out of business.

But the store owners are very pro-car. They want parking spaces. And when those spaces are taken away for reserved bus lanes on Park Ave., expanded sidewalks on Decarie Blvd., or a bike path on de Maisonneuve Blvd., they start screaming bloody murder. No thought is given to the idea that increased public transit might compensate for the loss of parking spaces, or to the idea that beautification of the area might encourage pedestrian traffic.

Instead, we get sky-is-falling exaggerations like this one:

“It could turn downtown into a ghost town,” he warned.

Really? A ghost town? When has a bicycle path ever turned a metropolis’s downtown into a ghost town?

“It’s an open-air shopping mall and people, especially higher-end customers, want to get there by car.”

“Who wants to go to a high-end restaurant by bus or by métro?” Parasuco asked.

Oh. Think of the embarrassment that would ensue if a high-end customer had to take – gasp – public transit!

Or they could just take a cab.

The problem with downtown parking is already there. People with cars go to Wal-Mart and Loblaws where ample parking is available. They park at strip-malls and go into the stores there. A trip downtown means circling for half an hour looking for a space at a meter.

The solution to this problem isn’t to encourage more cars, which is an entirely unsustainable idea. It’s to encourage public transit, walking and cycling as alternative methods of getting around.

Turn downtown into a pedestrian haven, and suddenly people are walking around doing a lot of shopping.

UPDATE: The Gazette agrees with me. And so does letter-writer Kim Smart.

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.

The other Cavendish extension

We keep hearing about the Cavendish extension, a long-awaited road link between Ville-Saint-Laurent and Côte-Saint-Luc which will solve a lot of motorist (and public transit) headaches and get some traffic off the oversaturated top of the Decarie Expressway.

But at the other end is a similar connection waiting to happen. This one is much shorter and doesn’t cross any tracks, but residents are complaining of the same problems.

Cavendish extension onto Toupin Blvd.

The issue, as the Chronicle explains, is pure suburban greed. Residents in the northern part, a middle-class neighbourhood of western Cartierville with some very affluent areas, are panicking at the thought of cars taking their boulevard. I’m not quite sure where all this traffic is supposed to go. To the west is the Bois de Saraguay, followed by Highway 13, and to the east is Sacré Coeur Hospital followed by Laurentian Blvd. But hey, outrage doesn’t have to be logical, right? Maybe they just don’t like ambulances on their street.

We’ve seen all this before. James Shaw Street in Beaconsfield, where residents oppose a connection to Highway 40. Broughton Road in Montreal-West, where residents ludicrously complain of giant nonexistent trucks barrelling down the twists and turns of the residential streets to reach a far-off Highway 20. Not to mention at least some opponents of the other Cavendish extension.

Their logic is simple. They have no problem using the streets other people’s homes sit on to drive their SUVs to and from work. But if those other people want to use their streets, suddenly it becomes a child safety issue. Their street deserves protection. Their street must remain a dead-end. For the good of their children.

In case you couldn’t tell by my sarcasm, it’s hypocrisy pure and simple. Greedy suburbanites who want the government to legislate a de facto gated community and have the entire world built around them.

Fortunately, the borough sees right through their arguments. Next time you want to live on a street without traffic, make sure you choose one without “Boulevard” in its name.

UPDATE (Sept. 23): A follow-up story from the Courrier’s Catherine Leroux

UPDATE (Sept. 28): A video posted to YouTube shows traffic on the street, but except for some drivers failing to make complete stops at stop signs, nothing particularly incriminating.

It makes sense, so let’s not do it

The Cote-St-Luc folks are outraged (OUTRAGED!) that Montreal’s transportation plan pushes back the Cavendish Extension for another 10 years.

It’s hard to see why there isn’t more movement on this issue. It’s one of those rare ones that seems to unite everyone: Public transit users whose trips to western Ville-Saint-Laurent could be shortened by up to 45 minutes, car travellers who want to avoid the Decarie circle, local businesses and the Cavendish Mall who want the extra customers, and CSL residents who want a quick path to IKEA.

So what’s the hold-up?

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.

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