Partial closure of Camillien-Houde kicks off Saturday

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WATCH: A portion of Camillien-Houde Way on Mount Royal will be closed off to traffic starting this weekend. As Global's Phil Carpenter reports, the pilot project is a source of both criticism and praise – Jun 1, 2018

As of Saturday, a section of Remembrance Road between Beaver Lake and Smith House will be closed, making it impossible for drivers to cross Mount Royal.

It’s a pilot project that will go until Oct. 31.

“What the city wants is to stop the people using Camillien-Houde only to transit from the east to the west part of Montreal,” explained Suzanne Lareau, Vélo Quebec CEO.

Only public transit and emergency vehicles will be allowed.

The closure comes after months of debate prompted by the death of 18-year-old cyclist Clément Ouimet, who was killed last fall by a car making an illegal U-turn on Camilien-Houde Way. The accident sparked numerous calls to close the street to traffic.

READ MORE: No charges to be laid in collision causing death of Mount Royal cyclist

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“The more traffic you have on the road, the more accidents you can have,” Lareau said.

So the city acted, arguing that doing so would make the stretch safer by reducing cars in the area by more than half.

“You have to know there are 300 cars per hour during rush hour,” said city spokesperson Philippe Sabourin. “And 90 per cent of [them] during the week use it as transit from east to west and west to east.”
A map showing the area that will be restricted to traffic as of June 2. Global News

Besides the safety aspect, the city says the restriction will encourage more visitors. At a press conference last April to announce the pilot project, Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante said it’s an amazing opportunity.

“I cannot wait for people to go on the mountain and see spots and places that they’ve never seen before because it was dangerous for them to go across the road,” she said.

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“So I’m really excited by this project and all the potential that comes with it.”

But driver Ellana Kent doesn’t share the mayor’s enthusiasm. On her way back from dropping her kids off at school, she stopped to talk with a city worker handing out pamphlets that explain the upcoming restrictions.

“I’m so upset because it’s really going to change things.”

A photo of 18-year-old Clément Ouimet at a makeshift memorial on Camillien-Houde. Phil Carpenter/Global News

She says it’s not fair for those like her who need to use the route because of where they live.

“It’s really, really, really bad for my life personally,” she told Global News. “Because I live on the Westmount side (on the west) and I drop my kids off at the bottom in Outremont (on the east) to go to school.”

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She also argues that closing off Camillien-Houde will only make things worse on surrounding streets.

“Every other route is under construction, so I’m just nervous that we’re going to get stuck in really bad traffic jams.”

But proponents of the pilot project, like Lareau, say, give it a chance.

“You might be pleasantly surprised,” she said.

READ MORE: Pilot project closing portion of Camillien-Houde kicks off June 1

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