Safety

Pedestrian safety near a subway station – New light signalling installed (2016)

Arrondissement de Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce and Service des infrastructures, de la voirie et des transports

Charter file

Under the Montréal Charter of Rights and Responsibilities, the City is committed to “developing its territory in a safe manner”.

A citizen fears for pedestrians’ safety near the Snowdon subway station, and more specifically at the intersection of Queen-Mary and Westbury.

Our on-site visit reveals that the north and south pedestrian crossings of this intersection are not protected by crosswalks, as is the case for the east and west crossings.

According to Ville de Montréal’s standards, the proximity to a subway station would  justify the installation of pedestrian crosswalks at these locations as well. We intervene in this respect.

The Service des infrastructures, de la voirie et des transports installs pedestrian crosswalks at the North and West crossings of the intersection, as well as a prohibiting right-left turn arrow that forces drivers to proceed straight through. As a result, pedestrian safety is greatly improved.

Arrondissement d’Outremont – Streetlights defective for more than two years – Charter file (2015)

The Borough had repaired defective streetlights, but two of them kept on working intermittently only.  The situation had been going on for the last two years.

The plaintiff argues that this lack of lighting creates a sense of insecurity, namely, for citizens living in a nearby residence for the elderly.

The OdM contacts the Borough which immediately commits to repair quickly the two defective streetlights.  The citizen later confirms their good working order.

Road safety – Traffic and speeding (2014)

A citizen of Arrondissement Le Sud-Ouest is complaining that vehicles are frequently driving at high speeds in his area and that an intersection raises safety concerns, due to the lack of signs and to the presence of a nearby cycling path.  The Borough and the SPVM collaborated to improve the situation:  occasional patrols; improvement of signs at the relevant intersection; and extension of the no-parking zone around the cycling path crossing, in order to improve the visibility for car drivers.  The City is planning more changes to improve the safety of this cycling path crossing.  Our office will follow up in 2015.

Hidden driveway entrance in a curve (2012)

We obtained that Arrondissement de Saint-Laurent installs a mirror on a street, near a private driveway. Citizens were complaining about safety problems, when they were driving out of their driveway which happens to be located in a curve, near an intersection. With the new mirror, the owners can see oncoming vehicles, before committing their own in the street: they are, therefore, less at risk of having an accident. The borough also improved traffic signs, at this intersection, and got one of the neighbours to reduce the height of an hedge located in the curve, which also increased drivers’ visibility.

Safety around an elementary school (2012)

We obtained that Arrondissement Le Plateau-Mont-Royal reviews its parking restrictions in front of an elementary school, in order to improve the safety of pedestrians and alleviate the traffic and parking problems around it. Street parking was added and the area used by parents for dropping or picking up their child, was enlarged. Another such area was also added.

Pitbulls: public hazard – Myth or reality (2008)

A citizen addressed herself to our office in order for a municipal by-law to be passed for the entire Ville de Montréal territory or, in the very least, in Arrondissement de Villeray – Saint-Michel – Parc-Extension where she resides, to prohibit all Pitbull dogs. The citizen was also submitting that, failing such a by-law, all Pitbull dogs should be required to wear a muzzle.

This citizen’s dog had recently died following injuries due to a Pitbull attack. She considered that this race of dogs presents a serious threat to public safety and should, therefore, be banned from our streets.

According to provincial laws, animal control falls under the jurisdiction of each borough: it is up to each borough, therefore, to decide whether or not it wants to prohibit one or more dogs breeds, on its territory, and these rules can vary from one borough to the other. In Montréal, some boroughs do prohibit Pitbulls, on their territory, but not all of them. The Ombudsman de Montréal launched a thorough investigation to evaluate if it would be appropriate to Recommend such a stricter by-law, in regards to this issue.

First, we found out that the Ordre des médecins vétérinaires du Québec and the Faculté de médecine vétérinaire of Université de Montréal are refusing to commit to an opinion on the danger that this breed of dogs really represents.

We then moved on to evaluate the statistics of the previous five years in regards to dog attacks on the Arrondissement de Villeray – Saint-Michel – Parc-Extension territory: the number of attacks by Pitbulls was not significant if compared with the number of attacks by other breeds, during the said time frame.

Moreover, Ville de Montréal had formed a special committee to study the question of Pitbulls, in 2006. Most boroughs participated and experts in animal behavior came to share their opinion on the matter. There was no consensus, however, in regards to the necessity to prohibit Pitbulls in order to ensure the safety of the public. According to the experts that were heard, it would be more a question of how masters treat their dog that influences a dog’s behavior rather than the dog breed itself. They also underlined the fact that some Pitbulls can be docile while dogs of other breeds can be dangerous.

In light of all of the above, Arrondissement de Villeray – Saint-Michel – Parc-Extension decided not to systematically prohibit Pitbulls on its territory and we could not find this decision to be unreasonable, unjust or arbitrary.

As for the idea of requiring that all Pitbulls be required to wear a muzzle, the opinions mentioned hereinabove tend to show that dogs of all breeds could possibly have a reprehensible behavior, at one time or another: it would be difficult, therefore, to justify such an obligation, in regards to Pitbulls only.

In spite of all of our sympathy for the difficult situation the citizen had lived through, we had to take into account the neutral information we had gathered and, as a result, we did not intervene as she would have hoped. However, we remain open to reconsider our conclusions, if new studies should demonstrate, in a preponderant manner, a specific and general danger in Pitbulls.

Cycling path – Safety and Public consultations (2007)

Ville de Montréal plans to set up a cycling path on de Chambly/16ème avenue, between Rachel and Saint-Zotique.

Some citizens consider this cycling path to be unsafe, for cyclists, motorists and pedestrians. They wanted, therefore, that an external firm conducts an expertise on the safety of this cycling path project. They also complained that Arrondissement de Rosemont – La Petite-Patrie had not held public consultations on the matter and also, that it had not requested an impact study.

Firstly, one should keep in mind that a public consultation is not a process where citizens make the final decision: it is rather an occasion for the City to provide citizens with transparent information on a project and for the citizens to express their opinion, fears and apprehensions. Except in rare cases where the law requires a referendum (such as zoning changes or the taking out of a loan by a borough), the final decision remains with the City managers and/or elected officials.

Following our intervention, the borough organized an information and discussion meeting where citizens had the opportunity to express their point of view, ask questions and explain their fears to City representatives, with regard to this project.

On the safety aspect, our investigation confirmed that the concerned borough and departments had taken numerous steps to ensure the safety of this path for cyclists, motorists and pedestrians. Rigorous analysis, field visits and many simulations have been done and teams of engineers, technicians specialized in traffic and police officers have looked into the project.

All of the representatives with whom we spoke confirmed that the safety of the project was a priority.

Moreover, if this cycling path is indeed set up, extra traffic lights will be added at the Rosemont and Saint-Joseph junctions; the City will add countdown lights for pedestrians and lights for cyclists, between Saint-Zotique and Rachel, and these lights will be deliberately unsynchronized, so as to slow down traffic. The signs and markings of the roadway at intersections will be more intense, between Saint-Zotique and Rachel; and parking prohibitions will be implemented before the street corners, in order to ensure a better view.

In light of the above, the Ombudsman could not conclude that the City had acted in an unreasonable or negligent manner in the management of this project or that the project was unsafe. We explained all of the aforementioned to the citizens before ending our investigation.

Unsafe hedges (2007)

A citizen complained that the height of her neighbour’s hedges contravenes to the municipal by-laws and constitutes a safety risk for pedestrians and motorists. Indeed, one side of this high hedge skirts an alley giving access to a street.

Our investigation confirmed that the hedges exceeded the height permitted under the by-law which was in force at the time. But Arrondissement de Saint-Laurent refused to intervene because this by-law was currently under study and would most likely be modified so as to increase the maximum height permitted for hedges, in the borough. As a result of this change, many hedges would conform to the new regulation.

The Ombudsman de Montréal has not deemed it appropriate to intervene immediately to request the strict application of a by-law that was on the verge of being modified so as to regularize the situation.

Nevertheless, she intervened on the safety aspect. The Ombudsman went on location and she noted that part of the hedge was hindering the visibility of pedestrians, cyclists and motorists circulating on the street or in the alley skirting the hedge. During her visit, she even witnessed a near-accident between a bicycle and a child who was coming out of the alley: no one had noticed her presence before she came out of the alley because she was completely hidden by the hedge.

The Ombudsman, therefore, intervened with the borough and this part of the hedge was quickly cut to a height of one meter, on a distance of three meters from the sidewalk.