Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Une Brigade Trottoir

Wow. I can't believe what I just read. I'm stunned. It's like I just transported over to reasonable world. The new governments in charge of the Plateau (where I live) and Ahuntsic are installing new snow-clearing plans that prioritize sidewalk clearing for pedestrians over road clearing for cars. They are going to stop snow-clearing during the weekends! It's incredible. Here's what Richard Bergeron said in response to the question "if there is a big storm on Saturday, what will the thousands of motorists who use Saint-Denis, Papineau or Park avenue do on Monday morning?"

«L'administration disait toujours, ces dernières années, que le déneigement était la priorité no 1. C'est une véritable hystérie, a dit Richard Bergeron. Cette hystérie du déneigement découle de la dépendance à l'automobile. L'esprit de notre initiative, c'est qu'on va marquer une pause par rapport à cette évolution. Est-il si urgent que ça de faire travailler des employés à taux double la fin de semaine pour que ça circule bien le lundi matin?»

"The previous administration was always saying these last years that snow-clearing was priority number one. It's a veritable hysteria," said Richard Bergeron. "This snow-clearing hysteria is a result of our dependance on the automobile. The spirit of our initiative is that we are going to make a break from this evolution [I think, I'm having trouble translating that sentence]. Is it so urgent that we have to pay workers double time in order that traffic flows well Monday morning?"

How awesome is that. A lot of the rhetoric behind is justified by trying to cut down costs. Helen Fotopolous the last borough mayor (and good riddance, she was a pro-development scumbag), incurred a $4 million debt mainly in snow-removal overtime. Budget constraints certainly help the new administration with these arguments, as there is going to be pressure against them for sure.

But the reality is that there are very few people who need to be driving in and out of the Plateau during the week. I know for a fact several people on my block who drive to and from work but live within Metro (and thus bike) range. I have absolutely no sympathy for them and I hope several snowed-over Monday mornings will convince them to think seriously about using more sustainable modes of transportation.

As for the sidewalks:
Le déneigement des trottoirs est la priorité de Richard Bergeron. «Il faut penser aux aînés. Les jambes cassées, ce n'est pas dans la rue qu'il y en a, c'est sur les trottoirs. On va donc demander une brigade trottoir pour le prochain budget de la Ville de Montréal, car pour la majorité des Montréalais, c'est l'état des trottoirs durant l'hiver qui les préoccupe, pas que la neige des rues ne soit pas chargée pendant deux jours.»

The clearing of the sidewalks is the priority for Richard Bergeron. "We must think of the elderly. People aren't breaking their legs in the roads, it's on the sidewalks. We are therefore going to ask for a sidewalk brigade for the next budget from the City of Montreal, because for the majority of Montrealers, it's the state of the sidewalks during the winter that concerns them, not the snow in the roads that may not be cleared for two days."

I can tell you right now that there is not going to be any need for a sidewalk brigade in front of our condo, but if the borough mayor needs some volunteers to help keep the rest of the sidewalk cleared and save some budget, I'm going to be in the front of that line.

Bravo Projet Montréal! This is exactly why I voted for you. I hope you can make it work.

Here is a link to the original article in the CyberPresse.


boulet said...

Si seulement j'étais un dessinateur j'aurais quelques idées de caricatures pour cette info :)

Christian Jarry said...

Such a shame Richard didn't get the whole city. Can you imagine the difference?

Caroline L said...

Hi WalkerP

I'm happy you understand the issue and decided to write about it so eloquently!

On a different note, if you want to stay in touch with our activities and discover ways to volunteer, the best way is to become a member and let us know what type of stuff you like to do: http://www.projetmontreal.org/join/

Cheers, and hope to get to meet you! (and good luck with the language battle - I know it's not always easy)

Community Manager at Projet Montréal
www.twitter.com/projetmontreal - official
www.twitter.com/lapinsec - personal

Jason L said...

Looks like Vancouver is joining the trend:

"The City of Vancouver is considering a proposal to force all homeowners in the city to remove snow from their sidewalks.

Already, owners of properties in the downtown core and multi-unit residential properties outside the downtown — such as condominium and apartment buildings — are required to keep their sidewalks snow-free.

"What we're proposing is that council consider expanding that bylaw to include all properties," said assistant city engineer Neal Carley. "So even single-family residences and duplexes would then be required to shovel their sidewalks."


Anonymous said...

I guess the people who need meals on wheels or have heart attacks in their homes early sunday morning are out of luck if the drivers can't get through. Yeah - count one victory for the pedestrian - woo hoo!

A lot of people forget that the roads are used by more than just rich commuters, and while the desire to get casual drivers off the road and into subways is laudable, keeping the roads clogged with snow doesn't seem like the best way to go about it. Sure, maybe most people don't NEED to be driving, but some of those that do need to drive REALLY NEED to get through in a hurry.

Not clearing snow from the streets on the weekend seem very ill-considered.

OlmanFeelyus said...

Ah yes, the classic "emergency" argument. Shit happens. People die. You can't protect against every eventuality. There are so many factors in an emergency situation, that you can never rule out all of them. So an ambulance has to park on the end of the block and the EMT's have to run to the house in the middle of the block. They lose 5 minutes. Maybe they lose 5 minutes if the front door is locked. We should now force everyone to keep their doors unlocked?

And can't the Meals on Wheels people walk the meals to their clients houses?

Anonymous, your entire argument is based on the assumption that human beings are not capable of transporting themselves without cars. It is a mode of thinking that we need to get ourselves out of and this brave move by the new mayor of the Plateau is a small step in that direction.

Anonymous said...

Not at all. My argument is based on the realisation that there is a trade-off to be had. Sure, the EMT crew can run up the street to the house with their stretcher and defibrelator, and then trundle the victim back down the street into the ambulance. More people will die (but not from smog).

The meals on wheels people can surely walk. Many more of them will be needed, of course, to cover the routes, but volunteers are a dime a dozen, so why not.

And so what if the fire engine can't reach the duplex with its hoses. It's not like fires spread from one building to another, so the who cares if a building burns down. Fires aren't all that frequent, so I'm sure there would only be a few additional deaths and the insurance rates wouldn't go up much. Probably there will be less air polution caused by burning buidings than by the cars that were once on the road.

My argument is not at all based on the assumption that people can't transport THEMSELVES. It's based on the assumption that emergency services, contractors, and delivery people can't transport their tools and goods in a timely fashion (or ven at all in the case of heavy items) without a road network. We can restict or deny these people access to the roads, but there will be a trade-off and it isn't one that I think most people will want to make.

Maybe in an emergency you can't protect against every eventuality, but you can certainly protect against this one.

Wouldn't it just be way easier to charge people for driving their cars in the city, like they do in London?

BTW I liked your piece on the food at the airport. Montreal is a culinary destination and should put its best foot forward in this regard. Maybe next time, though, you could do a piece about the food at the train station.

Red Devil said...

I was under the impression that the plan was to scale back 'snow removal' on weekends and all the overtime that entails - but not 'plowing the streets' which in my mind would mean that the streets would be passable as usual and therefore the 'emergency argument' doesn't really come into play.