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1)   Dear Jeremy Searle,

I appreciate the flyers you have sent regarding specific issues, such as the Cavendish Boulevard Highway. It really gives the impression that you want to hear our thoughts. I have been meaning to contact you about several concerns, namely:

1- I share your view regarding the plan to turn Cavendish into a highway. I think it would be a disaster to make that road into a secondary highway. We risk turning it into St-Jacques, which is totally inhospitable to pedestrians. We are already experiencing increased traffic circulation due to the new hospital. A major artery that bissects neighbourhoods is an inevitable ruin of the quality of life for people who live there.

2)  Hi Jeremy,

I am writing you to tell you I oppose the extension of Cavendish to Highway 40 in order to keep our streets as peaceful as possible.
It takes me time to read your information pamphlets but I do get to them albeit it takes me time. I am a single parent and very busy but
appreciate the work you do on our behalf.

3) This is in response to an official riding brochure titled “Research Document” distributed by city councillor Jeremy Searle a few months ago and concerning a proposed project to extend Cavendish boulevard into Ville St. Laurent.

As a citizen of N.D.G., I have to take very strong exception to the tone, the content and Mr Searle’s clear bias on this issue – a bias he has assumed before hearing from his own constituency.

The tone of this brochure, produced with public funds, is alarmist, bordering on the hysterical. Searle repeats over and again, that the proposal to open Cavendish boulevard in Cote-St-Luc and connect it to the Ville St- Laurent part of it will result in, “… commuter and heavy truck traffic throughout all of our NDG residential streets,” (italics added). Searle repeats this phrase in the first, second and third paragraphs as though it is a given, an absolute truth and self-evident – all of which are gross exaggerations if not entirely untrue.

Let’s unpack what Searle writes and see if it makes sense. Searle writes, true enough, that traffic is like water that flows with equalizing pressure and that where it is blocked or slowed in one stream, it will flow with greater pressure and volume in another connected stream. Those of us currently suffering through the road work on Dearie and Cote St-Luc and the closure of the St-Jacques access to the Ville Marie auto route will know exactly how terrible, wasteful and frustrating this phenomenon is.

The creeping, biased, falsehood lays in the term, “…all of our NDG residential streets.” Searle knows this is untrue. No truck driver, looking to drive south and hook up with St-Jacques and thereafter the 20 or the 15 will ever think about taking Mayfair or Randall or even West Broadway for that matter as these streets are too small, too difficult to navigate and deviate from the most direct route possible. Ask any multi-axle truck driver and the very notion of leaving a broad boulevard such as Cavendish for small, one-way streets, in an effort to get to a proper truck route is laughable. Truck drivers have a simple goal; get from “A” to “B” by the most direct and efficient route. If a truck is headed to the Canadian Tire on St. Jacques well, he might take a newly opened Cavendish boulevard as the most efficient, direct route. If a driver is on the 40 and needs to get to the 30, Cavendish is not an alternate route for him. Traffic logic suggest that the increased truck traffic would be from those trucks coming to this part of the city in any case – and instead of blocking up the Decarie Expressway, they might find a more direct route through Cavendish – but it would still be our truck traffic, not truck traffic headed for Laval or the South Shore.

Searle goes on to write that opening Cavendish to Ville St-Laurent offers, “…no discernable benefit to us.” We don’t like ad hominem attacks but in this we really have to question Searle’s claims to represent anyone in NDG who owns a car and has lived with this annoying obstruction for decades. Just take a look at the city map – because of Blue Bonnets and the train yards, citizens of NDG, Cote St-Luc and Hampstead have been obliged to take a rather large, time-consuming, energy-wasting circle route in order to go from their neighbourhoods to Ville St-Laurent, Dorval, the West Island, the north end of the city and the Laurentians.  It is we who are partially choking the one rapid, north/south route (the Decarie expressway) with our cars and SUVs. Of course, there is a great amount of truck traffic – for better or for worse, trucks are going to be part of the traffic scene for a long time to come. However, one exacerbates the worse side of the equation by pretending, as does Searle, that we can continue to shuttle all traffic away from Cavendish and the west end and live in a pristine environment that does not include some truck traffic.

Further, Searle blithely and in the manner of a spoiled citizen, seeks to excuse the citizenry of NDG from a collective responsibility we all share on this island. Let’s be open and frank – if you own a car in NDG you have probably driven on streets all over the island. True, certain extremely selfish, elitist and anti-social towns such as Montreal West and Hampstead have seen fit to limit and even block access to some of their streets in an effort to keep out the rabble from neighbouring arrondisements but people of NDG are not like that, are we?

We understand that the free-flow of traffic means that within the organic traffic structure, one does not block or limit access without reason. And let’s be even more frank – there are citizens in NDG who own companies which have trucks on the road – some small trucks, some multi-axle trucks. Those who do own trucks of this type enjoy access through almost all streets on or off the island – I say “almost” because, in the normal order of things, cities do have the obligation to limit truck access when it collides with public interest. We have all seen “No Trucks” traffic signs which restrict access by trucks or the hours in the day when trucks are permitted. If Searle is so concerned about eighteen wheelers cruising down Coronation or Hingston, he can propose restricting truck traffic on a case-by-case basis. Cavendish, on the other hand, is not by nature nor design, a street that requires this blanket protection.

Cavendish is by city designation a boulevard, a wide street that, by classic definition, is typically lined with trees. In the modern sense of the word, it is a thoroughfare, a main route through a town or city. Of course, people live on Cavendish boulevard but no one who lives on it could confuse it for the more sedate NDG streets such as Draper or King Edward. People who live on Cavendish are to be respected as citizens but they cannot have an expectation that their day-to-day lives will be as quiet or as free from traffic noise and bother as someone living on Rosedale – logic dictates this as a given. For Searle to make a plea for Cavendish as a purely, “residential,” street is disingenuous, obfuscating and falsely naïve as he knows this is not the case. If Searle wants an informed discourse on this issue he needs to remove the borderline hysteria and alarmist rhetoric and breathe through his nose.

Finally, there are legions of citizens whom, like me, have been waiting for decades for this obvious plan to go through – and not simply as an easy route to get to IKEA – we have wanted this route long before IKEA was even known. To boil it down simply:

·      It will take some congestion off of the Decarie Expressway and  Decarie boulevard itself making both more efficient.

·      It will supply a quick, convenient, ecologically appropriate alternate route to Trudeau airport, the 15, the 40, 13 and all points beyond and take some congestion off all of those routes.

·      It will add to truck traffic on Cavendish boulevard, a road that was designed as a thoroughfare (despite what Cote St-Luc has attempted to do at the corner of Fleet and Cavendish) but not so substantially as to render Cavendish  intolerable.

·      Access by trucks on smaller streets in NDG can be limited as they already are by posting signage.

·      It will spread the collective pressure and responsibility more equally among the city stakeholders and citizens – no arrondisement is an island as Ferrandez is now finding out.

Searle has already received and compiled NDG citizen’s reactions to his brochure and has gone on to propose new strategies for dealing with situations when cars and bicycles share the same roads. I took a brief look at one of his proposals which calls for painting the intersections in a manner which reserves space for bicycles in front of cars with the logic that since they are smaller and lighter, they can move quicker at light changes and would therefore not be an obstacle for the cars behind them.

Once again, we don’t like to attack the man, rather than his argument but when the bias is so blatant the logic so ungainly and perverse and the proposal so ridiculous, we have no choice but to examine the man who is making them and wonder about his intellectual capacity. It would be so much more honest and respectful towards the citizens if Searle would simply state what he is all about: he hates cars, loves bicycles and will make being a car driver in NDG a living hell if he can.

We all are looking forward to the day when cars are small, electric, self-driven and available to all when needed, without the problems of ownership. We all want clean, efficient and timely mass transit that is heated in winter, air-conditioned in summer with plentiful seating for all, scheduled by brilliant computers which never leave your eight-four-year-old mother standing for 20 minutes with her groceries in the rain waiting … and we all want the Montreal metro to be extended deep into NDG, another project for which some of us have been waiting all our lives. If Searle is really serious about improving the quality of life of the citizens of NDG this citizen’s strong suggestion is that he back the Cavendish boulevard opening and then scream and yell and lobby for metro stops in NDG and beyond.
4) Just a quick note of thanks, most  items below that I sent last year got addressed ! – speed bump in properly, de maisonneuve fixed, marymount track with small lights that seem to follow me around , yes!

ndg is better and better.

item 3, the library, is coming along nicely – if they ever need a nice multimedia display in there of life in the 60’s and 70’s I ‘think’ there is an ndg resident i sometimes run into with a huge personal photo collection going to waste, then again just getting those big airy natrural views onto monkland with solid tables, chairs, and plugs will be great !

5) Hi

I just received your document and want to advise that I am FOR the Cavendish extension opening.

6) Hello Mr. Searle,

My name is ******** ***** and I live on Cavendish Blvd, near Fielding.

I bought my small house 2 years ago and love living in NDG and in this house with my 5 year old daughter.

Cavendish Blvd is already one of the busiest streets in NDG, acting as a throughway for Police cars and fire trucks, among other traffic. It is in part for this reason that my home was listed at a reasonable price, I’m sure, and why I can afford to live here. And I purchased the house with full knowledge that I would hear traffic on the street. As of today, though, that traffic dies down at about 10PM, and it is pretty quiet until the morning.

I can’t express how negative an effect opening up Cavendish would have on my life. There is the noise and the fact that my daughter’s and my sleep would be disrupted every night. There is the fact that living close to a highway (or a very busy street) has been known to reduce life expectancy by YEARS because of the air pollution. And of course, there is the fact that property value along this corridor would plummet. This house is an investment I have made for myself and for my daughter. Losing the value of my biggest asset would be financially devastating.

I can only imagine that there are many other people living on this street who are in a similar situation as me. The houses on Cavendish are modest and more accessible (financially) than most of the rest of NDG.

I hope that you are fighting this proposal with everything that you’ve got.

The city certainly has traffic issues, but opening up a residential area to unclog a highway should not be an option. Another solution must be found, for the happiness and health of everyone living on or around Cavendish.

You have my full support in opposing this proposal.

7) Dear Mr. Searle

I am definitely not in favour of connecting Cavendish directly to the 40. Cavendish is already a fairly busy street, and opening it up to even more heavy truck and car traffic would only increase noise levels at night and decrease the air quality. None of this balances out easier access to Ikea. This whole idea is great for trucking companies and bad for the residents.  I am fundamentally opposed.

8) Dear Mr. Searle,

Thank you for both research documents that came in the mail today. I agree with your position on both matters.

1.       I do think that we live a wealthy, safe and free existence in this city/country and that we should be paying it forward. I would be happy if our borough took the lead and dedicated a portion of the operating budget to help communities in need. I am not familiar with the situation in Eritrea but it sounds like they need help. I guess council will have to set up some basic criteria to decide where the aid should go. Should human rights violations trump natural disasters such as the ones facing the people of Nepal? Would make a good debate and I am sure that the good people of NDG / Cote des Neiges could come up with a good measuring stick.
2.       I am dead against the Cavendish extension and have said so at a town meeting with a previous mayor and have had my letter to the editor published in the March 5th issue of the Gazette. Mr. Gerard Tremblay told me it was my civic responsibility to put the needs of other citizens before my own. The response to the letter to the editor came from suburbanites who said that if I couldn’t take the noise and pollution from a highway going through my front yard, then I should move to the country.

Needless to say that I am hopping mad about the possibility of the Cavendish extension, and I would gladly volunteer my time to work with any group that was determined to fight the Cavendish extension.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on two important matters and I really appreciate the outreach from an elected official (I did vote for you by the way).

9) Dear Jeremy,

I am not in favour of the Cavendish link; I think we need to be investing in better public transit for NDG to reduce congestion on the 40.

Regarding monthly declarations at city council that deal with condemnations, motions of support, etc., for communities in distress and so on, this is how large organizations work. Every union or board meeting I’ve ever attended has involved these types of motions. Not all motions of support or solidarity can be backed up with financial support. If you think a particular issue requires monetary support, you should bring that issue to the community.

I think your office should think about following the example of Isobel Morin’s NDP office: flyers should be black and white and printed on recycled paper. Why do you waste resources on coloured, glossy flyers?

Finally, you might like to know that my ten-year-old son, who reads the newspaper avidly, read the recent article in the Suburban that alleged you smelled of alcohol and acted irresponsibly at a recent council meeting. I’m disappointed to read these reports; you can imagine that a boy who imagines that governments can change things was even more so.

10) Bonjour M. Searle,

À votre invitation je vous fais part de mes préoccupations concernant le raccordement de Cavendish. Je demeure sur la rue Cumberland, entre Fielding et Chester, depuis bientôt cinq ans. De ma fenêtre de cuisine je vois le trafic sur la rue Cavendish, et l’été j’ai le bruit engendré par la circulation automobile et d’autobus comme musique de fond dans ma cour. Il s’agit principalement de trafic de résidents de Côte-Saint-Luc et NDG qui se déplacent pour le travail car dès 19 h la situation s’améliore. Toutefois, jamais je ne considérerais habiter directement sur Cavendish, qui bien qu’étant une rue principalement résidentielle, n’en a pas les attributs. La rue est très large et donc propice à une vitesse excessive. C’est une artère importante et bruyante. Et tout ça avant même la raccordement possible avec l’autoroute 40.

Depuis que ce projet de raccordement est revenu d’actualité, je me demande si je ne devrais pas vendre ma maison avant que trop de gens en aient écho, car je crains une perte de la valeur foncière de ma propriété. Décarie a déjà défiguré NGD il y a 50 ans. Ne faisons pas la même erreur du tout à l’auto. Nous ne pouvons pas indéfiniment faire passer le désir de fluidité automobile des résistants aux alternatives que sont le vélo, le transport collectif ou le covoiturage au détriment de la quiétude de nos quartiers.

Bien sûr j’aimerais ne pas avoir à faire le tour de la ville pour me rendre chez IKEA. Mais c’est un bien petit inconvénient. Après tout nous sommes en 2015, pas en 1955! Soyons modernes et construisons une passerelle pour piétons et cyclistes entre les deux sections de Cavendish.

11) Bonjour,

J’ai vu ce projet dans votre dépliant “Connaître votre opinion” que j’ai reçu à la maison et j’étais très surpris. La dernière fois que j’avais entendu parler de ce projet de tunnel était au début des années 90. Est-ce que le MTQ envisage vraiment ce projet de nouveau?

J’aimerais avoir plus d’information sur ce sujet, peut-être un lien sur le site du MTQ, savoir pourquoi ce projet refait surface dans votre dépliant. Je suis très intéressé et surtout, très en faveur!

12) Councillor Searle,

Please advocate for NOT connecting Cavendish Boulevard to highway 40. This will only re-route high volumes of car traffic through NDG, which will in turn spill onto adjacent residential streets, increasing noise, air pollution, and further endangering pedestrians and children living in the neighbourhood.

Why do folks living on the West Island think they should not have to pay the price for living in the environmentally-unfriendly urban sprawl of the suburbs (which do not have sufficient building and population density to support public transit)? If you live in subburbs designed around feeder roads and insist on driving single-occupancy vehicles you WILL be stuck in traffic, there is no way around it. NDGers should not be penalized by West Islanders’ unsustainable lifestyle choices.

13) I have been for linking Cavendish for almost 35 years, ever since I could drive.

Yes, there will be more traffic, but this islands needs more north/south routes to relieve congestion.

I think a good analogy for Cavendish might be Lucerne in TMR, which allows northbound traffic to avoid Decarie. Lucerne is not overly congested and even though southbound traffic on Cavendish would exceed that on Lucerne, Cavendish has more lanes.

It would not make much sense for through traffic that does not plan to stop in NDG/Montreal West/CSL/Hampstead to use Cavendish. With its lights, Cavendish will be slower than Autoroute 15. Linking Cavendish allows us to avoid Decarie more than it allows the Decarie traffic to come through us.

14) M Searle,

J’ai reçu votre pamphlet concernant une décision de notre administration qui pourrait transformer notre rue Cavendish en autoroute.

Est-ce qu’il existe une pétition pour signifier notre désaccord ? S’il n’en existe pas, pourriez-vous en initier une ?