Montreal Traffic Snarls Could be the Things of Legend

If you have been in Montreal recently or have read this blog post, you are no doubt aware that the city is in the midst of a huge infrastructure replacement project. This is the sort of thing that many cities have to undergo as roads and highways age and crumble. Inconvenient for sure, but necessary to ensure public safety and improve transit.

… owing to the infrastructure work BOTH entrances to the highway are closed. For two weeks? Two months? Nope, two years.

Poor road conditions and the Montreal Canadiens are the things of legend around here. Tonight the Canadiens host the New Jersey Devils at the BELL Centre. When the team moved from its beloved Montreal Forum, recognizing the need for a significantly larger building, they took up residence in a brand new arena that was then called the Molson Centre. I assume that prior to putting a shovel in the ground, many factors were taken into consideration by planning commissions and various government agencies, including easy access to highways without having to drive across town.

Upon leaving the indoor parking at the BELL Centre, and paying the king’s ransom they charge, motorists are a mere block from an entrance to a major west-bound highway. Should you be fortunate enough to have found a parking spot downtown, a drive of four or five blocks will get you to another entrance to the highway. Well planned indeed.

Except for one thing; owing to the infrastructure work BOTH entrances to the highway are closed. For two weeks? Two months? Nope, two years. For the next 24 months both entrances will be closed to traffic. A single temporary point of access to an interim highway is located a few kilometres from the arena.

…but a whole whack of them will attempt to gain access to the west-bound highway amidst snow removal operations and major road re-construction. The mayhem could be epic in proportion. Stay tuned!

On Tuesday the city was blanketed with the first significant snowfall. Some 20 centimeters (about 8 inches) of snow fell over a 24-hour period; then today the temperature has plummeted to – 25 degrees turning the fluffy snow rock-hard and making driving tricky.

So sometime around 10:15 tonight, 23,000 fans – hopefully very happy, celebrating a home team victory – will emerge from the BELL Centre. Many will hop on the Metro or take a bus. Some will make their way to a bar or restaurant, but a whole whack of them will attempt to gain access to the west-bound highway amidst snow removal operations and major road re-construction. The mayhem could be epic in proportion. Stay tuned!

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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Season’s Greetings Bonjour-Hi

Weil

It’s the funny season again. As in the Season’s Greetings debate. As fellow blogger Marilyn Armstrong at Serendipity has pointed out, it was never illegal to say Merry Christmas. Some folks, myself among them, find the all-inclusive Season’s Greetings or Happy Holidays phrases work well when addressing a group of people comprised of a variety of religious backgrounds. But saying Merry Christmas really can’t be construed as negative; I don’t celebrate either holiday, but if someone wishes me Happy Hanukkah or Happy Diwali, I certainly am not offended.

They felt that by allowing this bilingual greeting some may sense that Montreal is a bilingual city, (shhh, don’t tell anyone, but it is) not a solely French one.

Here in Québec, we have our own silly debate taking place in the form of Bonjour Hi. In the city of Montreal, it has become something of a tradition for store employees to address customers by saying Bonjour Hi as a means of determining in which language the conversion should proceed. Couldn’t be simpler, could it? What could possibly go wrong?

Well, the pro-sovereignty Parti Québécois (PQ) opposition party got its hackles up over the use of the English word Hi. They felt that by allowing this bilingual greeting some may sense that Montreal is a bilingual city, (shhh, don’t tell anyone, but it is) not a solely French one. Perish the thought that a storekeeper should want to provide good customer service.

The PQ went so far as to introduce a motion, not a law, to encourage the use of the single French Bonjour greeting. The motion passed unanimously, including those members who represent primarily English-speaking constituents. Many of those constituents were less than pleased that their elected officials voted for a motion that evidently pointedly omitted their language.

One such representative, Kathleen Weil, who was recently named Ministre responsible des Relations avec les Québécois de langue anglaise – the minister responsible for relations with English-speaking Quebecers – said we had all misunderstood the vote. Given the backlash on social media, I suspect it may be more accurate to suggest the elected officials did not understand their constituents.

Evidently, the gorge between linguistic groups is narrower than the one between the English-speaking community and its elected representatives.

Regardless of motion, legislation or advertising slogan, why would those elected to represent large numbers of English-speakers think that voting in favour of something focused on the eradication of their language would be met with anything but piles of scorn, calls for resignation, and disgust?

Fortunately the store employees in Montreal, and I bet a few in Quebec City, stores are still using Bonjour Hi. Evidently, the gorge between linguistic groups is narrower than the one between the English-speaking community and its elected representatives.

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Poppy Harlow Has Patience of a Saint

Poppy

Yesterday CNN’s Poppy Harlow had an interesting encounter with Roy Moore’s – spokeswoman Jane Porter. I use the word encounter instead of interview because Porter refused to actually be interviewed, preferring instead to ignore Harlow’s questions and say what she wanted. This is not a new tactic, but it has become overused to the point of being infantile.

… journalists are going to have to start informing interviewees that if they continue to evade and ignore the questions asked the interview will be terminated

Sooner or later, and I hope it is sooner, journalists are going to have to start informing interviewees that if they continue to evade and ignore the questions asked the interview will be terminated. It is a journalist’s job to ask tough questions. If the person being interviewed does not like a question they can tell the asker that they will not answer it, but to have them ignore the question and drone on about a different topic should not be tolerated.

Responses to questions that begin with:

What I think you should be asking
The real issue here
What’s more important

Should be cut-off immediately as they are clear indicators that the interviewee is not going to answer the posed question, but is going to go off on a different tangent entirely.

In yesterday’s encounter Harlow, who evidently has the patience of a saint, spent most of the time asking Porter if she was going to answer a specific question, but she never got a simple yes or no.

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

God Have Mercy on Montreal Drivers

Turcot

Recently Quebec Transport Minister André Fortin was interviewed on television regarding the massive Turcot interchange work being carried out in western Montreal. He mentioned that work was, for the most part, on schedule. He understood that the last two years have been very hard on motorists with numerous detours and closures, and was honest when he pointed out that there is still much to be done.

It was then explained to viewers that once the project is completed there will be no additional lanes, in fact in some areas there will be fewer.

It was then explained to viewers that once the project is completed there will be no additional lanes, in fact in some areas there will be fewer. This had me totally flummoxed. Have we endured this construction nightmare only to arrive back at the same place or less?

Boston undertook a massive project that lasted 20 years. The Big Dig as it came to be called was fraught with cost overruns and problems as is almost always the case with huge infrastructure updates. But at least when Boston buried its roads it increased the number of lanes from six to eight or, in some cases, ten.

BigDig

A ten-lane – five in each direction – segment of I93

Prior to the start of work in Montreal the number of cars and trucks had already exceeded the standard three-lane Turcot configuration; the city had grown, the roads had not. The concrete was in need of repair which afforded an ideal opportunity to not only replace the aging structures but at the same time add a lane or two to ease traffic. With time the number of vehicles using the interchange is only going to increase, why not be ahead of the curve and provide adequate lanes. To replace an inadequate stretch of highway with the same configuration strikes me as wasteful if not absurd.

… more and more electric cars are going to be on the roads in the decades to come. They will need adequate roads to ease traffic, but it will be too late then.

The minister stated that the way to reduce congestion is not to accommodate more vehicles, but to improve and encourage public transit use. To believe that is pure folly, but even if an environmental approach is taken, more and more electric cars are going to be on the roads in the decades to come. They will need adequate roads to ease traffic, but it will be too late then.

So in about ten years people will still be sitting in clogged traffic on the Turcot albeit in electric cars on nice shiny new roads. This is a solution how? Isn’t the idea to ease the flow of traffic? God have mercy on Montreal drivers!

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Charles Manson Like a Stopped Clock

Manson

There’s an old saying that even a stopped clock is right twice a day (once if it’s digital and in the 24-hour mode). In the wake of Charles Manson’s death his more popular sayings are popping up all over the place. His statement above was made to Diane Sawyer in 1994. Given our current world, and in particular several world-leaders, it looks like Charlie knew what was in store for us.

 

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Leonard Cohen Tributes on Anniversary of His Passing

On the first anniversary of his passing, Montreal is making good on promises to fete and remember Leonard Cohen. Last night’s star-studded tribute concert titled Tower of Song was, by all accounts, a great success.

From Sting to k.d.lang and Elvis Costello the program was fast paced and well produced; enough to make a Cohen fanatic faint with delight. The concert will be broadcast tonight on CBC Radio 2 at 8 p.m.

Montreal will remember Cohen all through the month of November with various events. As the photo above shows, people arriving at Trudeau International Airport are reminded that Cohen was a true son of Montreal by the inclusion of his Fedora hat perched appropriately at a rakish angle atop the letter O.

 

Leonard Cohen mural on Crescent Street by El Mac & Gene Pendon. Photo  by Maria Merlos

Several other tributes have been placed around the city including at least two murals. The one above has Cohen looking down at one of Montrealer’s busier restaurant and bar streets, Crescent. While the one below by artist Kevin Ledo is located in Cohen’s neighbourhood.

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

For God’s Sake Stop Texting and MOVE!

Recently the Québec highway safety code was tweaked to make it an offence to text while driving. I wouldn’t have thought that would be necessary, considering the level of stupidity required to attempt to look at and type on a mobile device instead of concentrating on driving. But the new law makes it an offence not only to text while the vehicle is moving but also when stopped at a red light. This should cut down on drivers who do not pay attention to the traffic light and therefore do not move once the light turns green. They seem to rely on the horn-tooting of those behind them to put down (hopefully) the phone and start driving.

According to the law:

No person may, while driving a road vehicle, use a hand-held device that includes a telephone function. […] [A] driver who is holding a hand-held device that includes a telephone function is presumed to be using the device.

Simply holding a cell phone in your hand, for any reason, while driving a road vehicle is illegal.

What does “while driving” mean?

  • If you are at the wheel of a road vehicle in a traffic lane, you are driving.
  • Even when you are stopped at a red light or stuck in traffic, you are driving!

If it is such a danger to text while driving; and I agree wholeheartedly that it is, what can we expect when all cars, not just fancy expensive ones, come equipped with wi-fi enabled dashboard screens?

Car_Google

I believe the time has come for a similar regulation for pedestrians. Montrealers tend to be scofflaws when it comes to crossing against a red light. When there is a group of people waiting for the light to change to green, it usually means a) there are too many passing cars to cross, b) it is the annual police cash-grab crackdown on jaywalking or c) those waiting are out-of-town tourists.

Harpo

Harpo Marx and his horn

While waiting for the green light many folks take advantage of the chance to check their mobile devices. I have noticed that the same phenomenon found while driving is now common at street corners. When the light does turn green, many people do not notice and therefore do not move. On several occasions I have bumped into a person who is standing and staring at their phone instead of walking, putting into possible peril my nose and front teeth. Some have the gall to imply that I have done something wrong!

I have considered carrying a Harpo Marx style horn to politely toot when those in front of me zone out and tie up pedestrian traffic. (To be honest, I wanted to get one of those aerosol can air horns, but feared the potential for cardiac arrest, leading charges of homicide.)

I am all in favour of pedestrians leaving their cars at home to go downtown, but for God’s sake walk when you’re supposed to or stay home!

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

 

Canadian Prime Minister Prefers a Pint

Trudeau

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau checks the quality of a selfie with an admirer.

From time to time I like to drop in for a pint or two at a downtown Iris pub here in Montreal. Rather than rotting my liver, I prefer to think of it as carrying out a civic duty since, as the photo above shows, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also likes to pop into the Irish Embassy Pub and Grill.

Although I was not present when the PM arrived unannounced, I have been told he stayed for a couple of pints, offered to pay but was told it was the pleasure of the house to have his company. He was approachable and open to a few selfies.

Had I been there I could have mentioned the time I was stuck in an elevator with his father, the late Pierre Elliott Trudeau. No doubt the former Prime Minister must have told that tale countless times at the dinner table as the kids were growing up. I like to think it makes up part of the Trudeau family lore. Mind you I also like to think there is an Easter Bunny. Oh well…

By the way, there was some very discreet security present, lest you think our PM sneaks out alone at night to quaff beer and chat up pretty women.

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Quebec Law Banning Face Covering Passed

Aislin62

Allow me to express my opinion now that the legislature of my province has passed a controversial law. Known as Bill 62, it bans the wearing of face covers when providing or receiving any public service. This means that here in Quebec, should you be on your way to a protest march you must remove that very popular Anonymous mask while on the bus or metro.

This means that here in Quebec, should you be on your way to a protest march you must remove that Anonymous mask while on the bus or metro.

That’s the simple part of the law. Where it becomes contentious is when niqab and burqa wearers enter the equation. Muslim women are required to wear some form head covering. The most common garment here is the hijab, a headscarf that does not cover the face. Niqabs and burqas cover the entire face of the wearer and then some.

While I disagree with the whole concept of making women cover their faces in principle, the enforcement of the law will make things worse. When I was young bus drivers not only drove the bus, they also sold tickets and made change. This not only interfered with their concentration while driving but made them easy targets for robbers.

Headware

Now it seems bus drivers will have to act as ‘scarf police’, telling niqab and burqa-wearing women that they cannot ride the bus unless they remove their face covering. I have not heard the drivers’ union reaction yet, but I can’t imagine they will be in favour of this new task.

… but I fear more for the Muslim women who may meet up with a driver who has no problem at all and takes advantage of the situation to enforce his or her bias.

Exam invigilators at colleges and universities, if public, will also be required to ask that face coverings be removed if the person is to be allowed to write the exam. I agree with this fully as it eliminates the possibility of having someone else write the exam, say someone who is much better at physics that the actual student.

It seems to me that the potential for conflict far outweighs the usefulness of this law. I feel for the bus drivers who may not be comfortable with their new role, but I fear more for the Muslim women who may meet up with a driver who has no problem at all and takes advantage of the situation to enforce his or her bias.

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Kung Fu Fraud: Justin Trudeau Visits Donald Trump

That’s not Master Kan … he’s a fraud!

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+