Quebec to bring in lane-change law to shield emergency crews

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Quebec to bring in lane-change law to shield emergency crews. (Montreal Gazette)

MONTREAL – This summer, Quebec will join the vast majority of North American jurisdictions, compelling motorists to slow down and change lanes when they come upon emergency vehicles.

That includes police cars, fire trucks, ambulances and tow trucks with flashing lights, as well as Transport Quebec trucks carrying illuminated directional arrows. The penalty for violators: a fine of $200 to $300, plus four demerit points.

Since 2008, four Sûrété de Québec officers have been killed by passing motorists and 214 SQ cars stopped on highways have been rammed by other vehicles, according to Quebec Transport Minister Pierre Moreau.

The change in the law, adopted by the National Assembly Thursday and expected to take effect in late July or August, was welcome news to Urgences Santé paramedic Patrick Dufresne, who has campaigned for a so-called “move- over” law here.

He started researching such laws in 2005 after treating a Sûreté du Québec officer hit by a passing vehicle while standing on a highway shoulder. The officer survived.

Dufresne learned most jurisdictions had or were about to introduce laws compelling drivers to change lanes when emergency vehicles or tow trucks were stopped on highways.

Today, eight Canadian provinces have such laws, according to the Canadian Automobile Association. Forty-nine U.S. states also have move-over laws, says Move Over, America, a coalition promoting such laws.

In the U.S., since 1999, more than 150 law-enforcement officers have died after being struck by passing vehicles while standing on highway shoulders, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

When SQ officer Vincent Roy was hit and killed by a passing truck while giving a ticket to a motorist on a highway in Bromont in December, Dufresne was haunted by memories of the SQ officer he had treated years earlier.

“I didn’t understand why Quebec still didn’t have a move-over law,” Dufresne said in an interview.

“I’ve seen it myself on highways – people have driven too close to me. They’re curious and want to see what’s happening and don’t realize that when you’re looking somewhere you can veer in that direction” inadvertently.

Dufresne decided to do something about it, starting a campaign to alert the public to the dangers of driving near emergency vehicles.

He also launched a petition – by this week, it had 8,700 names on it – to convince Quebec to adopt a move-over law.

The new section of Quebec’s Highway Safety Code explains what motorists must do when approaching emergency vehicles that are on or are by the side of the road.

A motorist must:

Slow down in a safe manner.

Change lanes if one is available in the same direction to ensure a lane remains clear between his or her vehicle and the emergency vehicle, but only if the driver is able to switch lanes safely. If a lane change is not possible, a motorist must move as far as possible from emergency vehicles while in the lane.

In Ontario, penalties are stiffer for violators of that province’s move-over law.

For a first offence, the fine is $400 to $2,000, plus three demerit points.

For a second offence, fines can reach $4,000, with the possibility of jail time of up to six months and a driver’s licence suspension of up to two years.

In addition to adding move-over provisions, Quebec is also changing the wording of a section of the Highway Safety Code related to emergency vehicles that are travelling with their lights or sirens in operation.

The code now says motorists must “make way” for such vehicles.

It will be changed to make clear that a motorist must yield to such vehicles. The penalty for those who break the rule: a fine of $200 to $300, plus four demerit points.

ariga@montrealgazette.com

Twitter: @andyriga

Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/Quebec+bring+lane+change+shield+emergency+crews/6711183/story.html#ixzz1wsYVMziY

In my opinion:  This is good news for public safety professionals and volunteers who are often in harms way when they are stopped at the side of the road to provide assistance or enforcement.  I blogged about the need for this just last month having learned about this law in Vermont and New York.  Days later I learned that there was a movement to bring in such legislation in Quebec.  Bravo to the Quebec Minister of Transport and especially to Paramedic Patrick Dufresne for bringing this to light in Quebec.

CSL calls on Quebec, Montreal to prioritize Cavendish link

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CSL calls on Quebec, Montreal to prioritize Cavendish link

Joel Goldenberg, The Suburban

March 21, 2012

Côte St. Luc council unanimously passed a resolution last week calling on the Quebec government and the City of Montreal to prioritize a link between Cavendish Boulevard in Côte St. Luc and St. Laurent, via Royalmount in Town of Mount Royal.

Côte des Neiges-NDG council recently passed a resolution asking Quebec to make the link a priority. Town of Mount Royal also passed a resolution. The link has been discussed for more than 40 years. During the merger years, a project bureau was set up specifically for the link, but while it came up with a design for the route, the project has remained on the shelf.

Councillor Dida Berku introduced Côte St. Luc’s resolution, which said that city reaffirms its support for the Cavendish-Royalmount-Cavendish link and that it considers the project “a key element to improving traffic flow in the central portion of the island of Montreal. “The project should be included and designated as a priority in the next agreement between the Quebec Ministry of Transport and the City of Montreal,” the resolution adds.

Copies of Côte St. Luc’s resolution are being sent to Quebec Transport Minister Pierre Moreau, D’Arcy McGee MNA Lawrence Bergman, Montreal’s executive committee, and all mayors and councils in the islandwide Montreal agglomeration. A copy will also be deposited at the next Montreal agglomeration meeting. The resolution was seconded by Councillor Glenn Nashen.

Berku said the concept and the plan for the link exist, and even went to the Quebec environment ministry. “And then the plug was pulled by the city of Montreal at the time of demerger,” she added. “We want to put it back on track, and now that the city of Montreal is negotiating an agreement with the Quebec transport ministry, we want them to put it back as a priority, and we’re very happy Côte des Neiges-NDG has adopted the same resolution. TMR has done the same. We hope our MNA and the transport minister will listen to our mayor and proceed to add this to their entente.”

Earlier at Monday’s council meeting, Mayor Anthony Housefather told council regular Bernard Tonchin that at a recent agglomeration meeting, he was told Montreal considered other projects higher priorities. “I stated this was unacceptable to Côte St. Luc, that there was money in the agglomeration budget for the extension of Cavendish that we pushed to have in when the transport plan was adopted at the last round, and the only impediment was that they didn’t know what the railways were going to do,” Housefather explained, adding that he was also told the railways are staying. “That fulfilled the criteria for Cavendish going ahead, because that’s what was stated in the transport plan.”

The mayor also said he asked for, and got, support from the Association of Suburban Mayors for the link, and that he and TMR’s mayor have written to Moreau, “asking for a meeting to once again discuss Cavendish and ask Quebec to make it a priority in the entente being worked out between the Quebec government and City of Montreal on funding for transport projects. We have continued to lobby our MNAs, and our MNAs advised me they continue to lobby the minister.”

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CSL asks province, agglo, Montreal to support Cavendish extension

Isaac Olson, The Free Press

March 27, 2012

Right on the heels of a neighbouring Montreal borough’s pro-Cavendish-extension motion, Côte St. Luc also voted to demand Quebec’s support in what would, proponents say, finally give the West End a reliable alternative to the seemingly permanent congestion found on Decarie Blvd. and the expressway.

“Be it resolved that the city of Côte St. Luc reaffirms its support in favour of the Cavendish-Royalmount-Cavendish extension project,” said councillor Dida Berku reading from the motion’s conclusion. The city, she continued, considers “the Cavendish-Royalmount-Cavendish extension project a key element to improving traffic flow for public, private and active transit for the central portion of the island of Montreal.” Berku said a copy of the motion will be sent to provincial officials, all mayors/ councils within the agglomeration and deposited at the next agglomeration meeting.

The resolution states Montreal, by unanimous resolution of the city council, established a project bureau with a budget of $5 million with “a precise mandate to manage the Cavendish extension project, including the adoption of the final route proposal by 2006 and the design and completion of the work between 2007 and 2012.” However, Berku noted, “We are now in 2012 and what we know is, the only thing that has happened is the [project bureau] did do its work and they did conceive of a very good design.”

The concept and plan is there, she said, but things fell apart with the demerger and “we want to put it back on track.”

CSL’s measure goes beyond CDN-NDG’s by also demanding Montreal’s support. It’s Montreal that now needs to get behind the fight, said Mayor Anthony Housefather, as CDN-NDG does not represent the entire city.

When asked to confirm where Montreal stands on the issue, city spokesperson Darren Becker said the extension has been listed on the urban transportation plan’s to-do list since 2008 and the plan outlines a need to connect CSL’s Cavendish Blvd. with St. Laurent’s Cavendish Blvd. and Royalmount.

There is $45 million set aside in the budget for the some $150 million project, he continued, but it is up to the Quebec government to back the rest. While a few projects involving Metro and East End road renovations are topping the priority list, the Cavendish extension is still very much part of the transport plan, according to Becker, but Quebec needs to finance the project.

This is not the first time CSL’s council has voiced strong support for the extension nor is it a new issue. The borough of St. Laurent first passed a similar measure back in 1981 and, more recently, TMR hopped into the fray with a motion of its own.

“Remember, we are having more homes built behind the Cavendish Mall,” Bernard Tonchin told the council at the start of the March 12 meeting. “There are only two exits to get in and out of Côte St. Luc, and Decarie is impassable with all the construction going on now.

We desperately need Cavendish.” Housefather said, since 1998, CSL has been at the forefront of efforts to realize the extension. Housefather reported that he has been in touch with Montreal officials, like CDN-NDG mayor and executive committee chair Michael Applebaum. Applebaum said Montreal’s priorities were elsewhere, said Housefather.

The association of suburban mayors is supporting the extension, he said, and a joint letter has been sent to the Quebec government asking for support. The mayor pledged to continue bringing the issue up during agglomeration council meetings as, he said, there is money in the agglomeration budget to realize the project.

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Extract from: Quebec to cede Hippodrome land to Montreal for ‘city within a city’

Bachand commits to Cavendish link

Joel Goldenberg, The Suburban

March 28, 2012

••• Bachand also said constituents of the Outremont (Côte des Neiges} and D’Arcy McGee ridings should also be pleased, as part of the announcement reiterates Quebec’s commitment to the Cavendish-Cavendish link. As part of the Quebec-Montreal agreement, part of the funds gathered from land sales could be reinvested towards the extension project between St. Laurent, Town of Mount Royal and Côte St. Luc.

“There are reserves of $45 million that the city has already put in, in capital investments, and that is protected,” the minister said. “The city will make studies, in terms of updates on the cost of the project and then we’ll take it from there in future years.”

Bachand told The Suburban that recent resolutions from Côte des Neiges-NDG, Côte St. Luc and TMR played an important role in the link resurfacing again. The resolutions asked Quebec to prioritize the link. “For us and our MNAs, Cavendish is very important,” Bachand told The Suburban.  “The resolution passed in Côte des Neiges-NDG is very, very important, because it shows that a consensus exists now. Now, it’s time to update the studies on the cost of the project, for engineering. As part of the agreement, the city undertakes to update the studies to see what the project should look like at the end of the day.”

Bergman, the D’Arcy McGee MNA, was pleased with the Hippodrome and Cavendish announcements. “The Hippodrome will be good for ecology and modernize the west end of the city, and attract to the west end some wonderful housing, properly planned, with parks, playgrounds, schools and commerces to serve families,” he said. “This will help our family policy. “We’re also in a step in the right direction for Cavendish- Cavendish,” Bergman added. “The studies will be updated, looked at and certainly be part of the mix of this development. With the increase of housing in the Namur triangle and now with the development of the Hippodrome section, certainly north-south arteries will have to be further developed and this brings Cavendish into the mix. I’m delighted.”