Why can’t Montreal clear the snow?

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Van Horne congestion due to snowbanks and illegally parked car, on Feb. 12, 2018

Traffic continues to be snarled on Van Horne, west of Decarie, for more than two weeks.  The Borough of Cote des Neiges – NDG’s inability to clear the snowbank is baffling. No less than three types of ‘No Parking’ signs have come and gone yet the snow remains. The afternoon/evening rush hour on this route routinely sees a single lineup of vehicles backing up for blocks, into Decarie, sometimes all the way to Westbury. Is this because of incompetence or lack of resources?

Just a few blocks further the Town of Hampstead does a reasonable job of clearing nearly two full lanes, doubling the flow rate. And beyond that Cote Saint-Luc practically melts the snow from curb to curb.

The police routinely fail to enforce the No Parking restrictions on Van Horne (which I lobbied for several years ago). So even if the snowbank would be cleared illegally parked cars often obstruct the right lane (as photographed above at 5:20PM).

So what’s the problem in Montreal? We should be world leaders at clearing snow. Instead, we’re caught off guard by snow storms, can’t clear ice from sidewalks, our streets are riddled with potholes, and we needlessly waste time in traffic jams. Let’s hope the new administration figures this out quickly and get’s it right for next season. And ticket that car!

A tough commute in Montreal may eventually be a thing of the past

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On a morning where my  12 minute commute took over an hour I’m inspired to share this lecture from the Consumer Electronics Show going on in Las Vegas about Smart Cities. It speaks to the democratization of transportation whereby all vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians are linked to one another.

Congestion can be mitigated by connectivity and data sharing. The whole system needs to be made more intelligent. Cities need to get connected to new technology and use data to manage traffic flow and to improve citizens’ quality of life, local business, the environment and even public safety.
In this conference, Ford Motor Company’s President and CEO Jim Hackett focuses on mobility solutions as the world progresses toward smarter cities. Ford’s vision is to become the world’s most trusted mobility company, designing smart vehicles for a smart world.
I hope our friends and neighbours from the Cote des Neiges – NDG Borough Hall also take note about smarter cities and avoid blocking Van Horne for snow clearing during rush hour, resulting today in gridlock across Snowdon West, Hampstead and Cote Saint-Luc.
Speaking of Hampstead, please clear BOTH lanes on Fleet. 1.5 lanes of snow clearing doesn’t really help the flow.
And kudos to the CSL Public Works Department under the leadership of Director Bebe Newman. Bebe’s crews practically catch the snow before it hits the ground. You’d never know that 36 centimetres fell in CSL driving down its main streets today.

Fleet to flow at 40 km/h



Cote Saint-Luc and Hampstead have agreed to harmonize the speed along Fleet in both towns to 40 km/h and to enhance the signage and street line marking at crosswalks. This cooperative project is aimed at ensuring greater safety of pedestrians.

Currently, the speed varies between 50 km/h in CSL to 50 km/h and 30 km/h in Hampstead.

Hampstead and CSL will install 40 km/h speed limit signs on Fleet between Cavendish and Dufferin Road on their respective territories. The cities will also collaborate to do their utmost to ensure that the traffic lights on Fleet Road, on their respective territories, are synchronized.

No_left_Fleet_Hampstead_2013a    No_left_Fleet_Hampstead_2013b

They will also work together to create a simplified plan as related to the wording on the signs for the no left turn policy on the streets running perpendicular to Fleet Road, namely, Netherwood, Finchley, Dufferin Road. This has been a serious source of frustration for motorists from both cities, many of whom have been ticketed for turning left off of Fleet, unable to decipher the confusing signage. The confusing road signs were also cited by a Montreal Court judge in dismissing a ticket to a Hampstead motorist (posted elsewhere on this blog).

Free Press, May 23. 2012

Free Press, May 23. 2012

Hampstead has also agreed to provide greater visibility for the unprotected cross walk between Queen Mary Road and Netherwood.

This synchronization plan is good news for West End motorists, cyclists and pedestrians alike. While Fleet is not wide enough for a dedicated bike lane the slower traffic will improve the safety of those on bikes and walking across the street. It is intended that crosswalks will be even more visible by better street line markings and signage will be installed in high visibility colours.

As the one who called for the initial meeting to discuss this project with Hampstead Mayor Steinberg I am very pleased with the cooperation between our two municipalities. Councillor Dida Berku and I along with CSL Urban Development Director Charles Senekal met with Mayor Steinberg and members of his administration last winter to discuss common concerns and ideas to reduce risk.

Two weeks ago I met again with Mayor Steinberg, CSL Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and members of council along with CDN-NDG Mayor Russell Copeman and Councillor Marvin Rotrand at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities in Winnipeg. We had a productive working meeting where we touched upon the Fleet –  Van Horne corridor among other subjects. Copeman and Rotrand are also open to the idea of synchronizing Van Horne between Hampstead and Decarie to 40 km/h as well.

Safer at 40 km/h speed sign

In addition I’ve asked Councillor Rotrand to have his staff repair the significant depressions in the roadway on Van Horne to ensure a steady flow of two lanes of traffic during rush hour and to have police enforce the no stopping regulation which often causes a bottleneck, blocking the flow of traffic and the 161 bus.

Thank you to the three municipal administraions and especially mayors Steinberg, Copeman and Brownstein for demonstrating a genuine interest in cooperation and collaboration.

Do you have ideas to improve this thoroughfare? Please share your ideas here.

Letter to Gazette: Bus lanes on Cavendish Blvd. and Côte-St-Luc Rd. will slow traffic


Cote Saint-Luc resident Nathan Elberg writes this Letter: Bus lanes on Cavendish Blvd. and Côte-St-Luc Rd. will slow traffic in yesterday’s Gazette. He is correct in stating that the recent announcement by the Montreal Transit Corporation (STM) may improve the situation on some stretches of road however many more motorists will suffer traffic congestion as they make their way to and from work in their cars.

Personally, I am in favour of these improvements to mass transit. Bus service, once you leave Cote Saint-Luc is far too slow. It takes too long to get to the metro stations.  Van Horne is impossible during rush hour and that artery is not even part of this reserved bus lane plan. Cote Saint-Luc Road at Decarie is dreadfully slow.

Moreover, reserving bus lanes on Cote Saint-Luc territory is just not needed at this time. The two stretches in question in last week’s MTC announcement are Cote Saint-Luc Road and Cavendish Blvd. Both roads already have major portions in the City of Cote Saint-Luc where no parking is allowed and therefore there is no traffic congestion. It is once you leave Cote Saint-Luc territory that traffic gets snarled. So let’s not fix a problem that doesn’t yet exist.

What is really needed, and has been discussed publicly, is a rapid shuttle service from Cote Saint-Luc to the hospital sector along Cote des Neiges. Such a service would be extremely beneficial to the many hundreds of residents that go to medical appointments at hospitals, clinics, offices and labs every day as well as the hundreds of health care sector workers who live here and work there. That would get many cars off the road, reduce traffic along Van Horne, serve the needs of our older population and improve parking and congestion in Cote des Neiges.


Fire safety at home

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Smoke detector

Smoke detectors can be purchased for under $10 and can save your life

Yesterday’s news of a tragic fire on Van Horne Ave in Cote des Neiges should serve as a strong reminder that everyone is responsible to ensure that they have working smoke detectors in operation in their homes. 

In Cote Saint-Luc bylaws require smoke alarms to be installed on every level of the house, located in the common area (corridor) serving each floor.

If your house has been constructed after September 1987, then you must have inter-connected smoke alarms, meaning that when the corridor mounted smoke alarm sounds on the bedroom level for example, all of the smoke alarms will sound throughout the house.

We strongly recommend the installation of additional smoke alarms within each bedroom, as well as the installation of carbon monoxide detectors. In rental housing, it is the responsibility of the landlord to supply the smoke alarm and the tenant is responsible for the annual maintenance (changing the battery).

Deadly consequences need not happen in so many cases like yesterday.  Such horrible outcomes can be avoided by simply following basic fire prevention rules. Be sure to check your smoke detectors monthly and change your batteries when the clocks are adjusted in the spring and fall.

Read more safety tips from my blog or from Cote Saint-Luc’s website.

Welcome to Chelmstead

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It’s quite easy to poke a little fun at the situation next door.  Emails have been coming in fast and furious with barbs and quips at the antics of our neighbours.  Yes, I’m talking about the traffic situation in Hampstead.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I mean this in all good jest as the situation is rather laughable.

So I’ll share some of the comments I’ve received (I didn’t write any of them – I received them all) and please feel free to post your own here as well.

  • The award-winning comment goes to…. “Chelmstead”…. in reference to the Yiddish folkloric town of Chelm. One popular humorous tradition from Eastern Europe involved tales of the people of Chełm, a town reputed in these jokes to be inhabited by fools. The jokes were almost always centred on silly solutions to problems. Some of these solutions display “foolish wisdom” (reaching the correct answer by the wrong train of reasoning), while others are simply wrong.
    • In Chelmstead it’s not about who is right but when to turn left.
    • In Chelmstead one bad turn deserves another.
  • I was wondering if you would be able to find out what kind of drugs that your friends, in Hampstead, are taking. It seems to be forcing them to make some weird decisions that indicate that they are on a constant high and this sounds like it might be fun to be acting stupid all the time.
  • I’m a 30 y.o and the posted time-slots on those signs are TOO SMALL!!! How is one suppose to read those signs when one is driving 30-40 even 50km/h. Best of all, poor visibility (heavy rain/snow) will make it virtually impossible to read. Did the monkeys on council forget our winter climate. Snow occasionally sticks to signs, i.e. covering the allowed time slots. I predict many fender benders and some serious accidents. Monkeys!!!  (CTVMontreal.ca)
  • Must be april fool’s day!!! gosh 15mins? ahahahaha what is your counselor/mayor thinking?? oh wait, he must be thinking left! hahah (CTVMontreal.ca)
  • Two wrongs don’t make a right, but three lefts do…. (CTVMontreal.ca)
  • I think it must be April 1st there on a regular basis! (CTVMontreal.ca)
  • I pray that the traffic flow and light synchronization will be worked out by Hampstead for the benefit of all, including CSL residents. Let’s build friendships and not fences.
  • How is Hampstead going to enforce the turns? 4 police officers, one at each street?
  • One solution might be to have Bialik relocate. This would solve a problem at Cavendish and Kildare, and along Fleet. 
  • Sure looks like a council that is struggling to do what’s right, and is getting stuck implementing illogical band-aid solutions – frankly, they sound like (and look like if you’ve seen the ever changing signs) ridiculous. Has anyone on that counsel thought about the residents trying to decode the complicated signage? I hope there aren’t too many accidents from drivers looking at their watches while driving!
  • Why is the Hampstead council being so illogical? Isn’t it beneficial to all, to go with the most logical flow? Yes it does generate traffic on residential streets but it would be more effective if traffic was spread evenly over all streets instead of funneling everyone off at Dufferin and Decarie.
  • I certainly think the benefits that Hampstead have in a neighbour like CSL should be put in question by maybe increasing user fees.
  • Morning traffic to take my kids to school on Van Horne is ridiculous!
  • My travel time during morning rush hour from CSL to Decarie via Van Horne has doubled. It’s very frustrating.
  • I hate to say this but the Town of Hampstead, past and present administrations have come up with other traffic measures to impede a logical flow of traffic through their territory. Montreal has also instituted draconian traffic control measures. They (Hampstead) have not kept up their part of the “synchronized traffic light” system that was planned approximately 10 years ago for Van Horne Avenue/Fleet Road from Decarie Boulevard to Cavendish Boulevard.
  • Cote St Luc needs to give Hampstead a taste of their own medicine and let them live by their own rules. If residential streets are for residents then it should also be enforced by CSL.
  • Hampstead City Council is acting like a bunch of spoiled school children who won’t share their toys!
  • I have met Hampstead mayor Steinberg socially and found his views on traffic quite surprising. He told me how he “retaliated” for CSL creating the double left turn lane (on Cavendish and Fleet). This of course caused great inconvenience to all including the Hampstead residents who drop their kids off in CSL schools. He seems to think that the slower the traffic the better while I feel that the slower the traffic the more pollution his residents will breath.



Hampstead no-left rule ridiculed by Hampsteaders

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CTV News reports that even Hampstead drivers find the new left-turn restrictions ridiculous.

Comments on th CTV News website ask if it’s April Fools in Hampstead.  What do you think? Post your comments here.

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