This would be an issue for me to vote out the mayor in the next election. I would like to continue to support Mayor Valerie Plante because I truly believe that she is genuine in her efforts to do her finest work for Montrealers. But in the case of restricting, or limiting car access to the mountain roads on both sides of Mt. Royal, is another case of “selfish incumbent power” being blind and deaf to the diverse users of the mountain. (Remember the recent demise of former Mayor Denis Coderre when he became deaf to the voices of Montrealers? History tends to repeat itself.) I am so shocked that I have lost the mountain that I grew up on since the initial closing of it on June 2, and now I have forgotten that it is there for me again since it’s reopening (for a short period?)
This is a letter I had attempted to get published in the Gazette on this issue, it was not accepted for publication.
“We hold dearly the many early happy memories living and growing up at the foot of Mount Royal; the park providing the idyllic venue of many exuberant Sunday outings for our prospering family. Those early years provided the strong foundation that we sustain today.” (Excerpt: Gazette Obituary in honour of my parents)
Going through the black and white photos of my early childhood, there we would be: posing beside the lions and under the wings of the angel at the Sir George-Étienne Cartier Monument, sitting atop the barricade of the semi-circular plaza at Belvédère Kondiaronk, pulling on our ice skates at the outdoor rink at Fletcher’s Field, crouching down to feel the water at Beaver Lake. So much to look forward to for our Sunday outings on Mount Royal, after Mass and a roast chicken lunch; the six of us, my parents, my brother and I, and my father’s two unwed sisters.
Today, I haven’t visited the mountain since June 2, the day the through traffic over the mountain was banned as a pilot project by Ville de Montréal, as a measure to protect it.
Mayor Valérie Plante had said: “I want to tell them give it a try. Let’s give it a try, that’s what I’m asking for. … This is a pilot project. I get that some people are against it. I think working with the (public consultation bureau) we are sending a strong message that we are willing to hear what people have to say, not only about the pilot project itself but also about their vision for the mountain.”
And I have said the same thing to several of my friends, “let’s give it a try and see what happens”, in defence of our new mayor, who I know is giving it her best shot and I wholeheartedly want to support her. (And especially since I know that a female mayor is a more accessible target for criticism.) But I am now stunned that I have now ignored, unbelievably, my “goto” place; for inspiration, for solace, for just that spontaneous scenic drive that just seems to do the trick in giving simple pleasure. It’s just having a nice accessibility of a momentary escape, a momentary nature quest, a momentary feeling of thankfulness …but now I know that I can’t come out on the other side. So I don’t go. Driving up and turning around at the mid-point is not picturesque but feels very regimented. It is now an outing that requires planning and parking.
A cyclist has died, as he hit a car making an unlawful U-turn across a double yellow line, down this mountain road. But not by a Montrealer, by a California tourist whose driving negligence resulted in breaking 2 road laws: crossing over a double yellow line and making an illegal U-turn. Mayor Valérie Plante said “ …the fact remains that a cyclist died. That’s why we have a pilot project (on Camillien-Houde) and we are looking at other ways to prevent dangerous manoeuvres. We are looking at everything to ensure safety.”
Being an avid cyclist, (I have a bicycle rack on the hitch of my car from spring to fall), I know that I have to heed the same traffic laws as automobiles. I could cycle down this mountain road today, (with the pilot project in effect), effortlessly picking up speed beyond 40 km or 50 km an hour, the posted speed limit, and I don’t expect to get a traffic violation for exceeding the speed limit. But I don’t want to go that fast because I worry that something may go wrong at that speed, perhaps a hiker has thrown his walking stick across my path, or a California tourist has decided to break 2 traffic violations simultaneously in making an illegal U-turn over a double yellow line. And today I could die on my bike on this mountain road even within the pilot project.
So now I ask you, why are you narrow mindedly concentrating on the 1 death of a cyclist, who was not killed by any citizen of Montreal seeking the pleasures of Mt. Royal, but by one California tourist who did not abide by the international rules of the road, and who most probably will never use these mountain roads again? There have been other deaths on the mountain by hikers and walkers who have not heeded other guidelines around this diverse terrain. So why are you choosing to punish those Montrealers who do not have the youth and stamina to be exhilarated by cycling the full height of the mountain road? Everyone wants to be exhilarated by this beautiful treasure that we have: walkers, hikers, drivers, and cyclists.
Les Amis de la Montaigne is such a respectable organization whose primary modus operandi is to protect this mountain. They have laid out their 10 step proposal on their view of protecting this mountain. They have been around longer than any mayoral’s term in office.