If Montreal has one major problem, it's the city's roads. And I don't just mean the mass amounts of potholes and construction sites that litter the streets; the traffic congestion experienced by drivers on Montreal roads are definitely looped into the issue.
To most, however, intense traffic and damaged roads are a sad reality of living in Montreal; neither are going to get much better so we should just learn to live with it.
But that may not be true, thanks to a new partnership between the City of Montreal and Waze, a free community-based mapping, traffic, and navigation app owned by Google.
The first city to ever create a formal collaboration with Waze, the partnership is part of a 2-year pilot project that aims to ameliorate Montreal's traffic problems, reports Radio-Canada.
By allying themselves with Waze, the City of Montreal's pilot project aims to provide real-time information on traffic and road conditions to drivers. This will be achieved through the combined information gleaned from the city's physical traffic sensors and Waze's user-inputted traffic data.
For those unfamiliar with Waze (who apparently has 103,000 users in Montreal, notes Radio-Canada), the app is essentially a platform that allows drivers to share any and all traffic and road info in real-time. See a traffic jam, input it into the app, and all other users will be aware of it too.
Now,the City of Montreal will be receiving Waze-data directly.
Anytime a user submits traffic details, the information will be sent to a control room headed by the Centre de gestion de la mobilité urbaine de la Ville de Montréal. This will then allow the City to better control traffic and make more informed decisions on anything road-related, with drivers in mind.
Information directly from the City's traffic cameras and sensors will also be sent to the Waze app, thus providing users with more accurate and extensive information. Details on construction and special events (which may result in road closures) will also be supplied to the app.
In tandem, Waze and the City of Montreal are providing Montreal drivers with the most up-to-date and accurate traffic information available, all of which will be sent right to your smartphone. So if you don't have Waze downloaded, now might be a good time.
Unfortunately, the Waze pilot project is limited to the Ville-Marie area. If the collaboration is successful, more boroughs may be added in the future, though no dates or plans have been specified.
Boucherie Slovenia, a boulevard Saint-Laurent institution for 50 years, will soon serve its last spicy sausage.
The iconic home of enormous Eastern European-style sandwiches — Slovenian sausage and towering cold-cuts were staples — will close its doors forever on January 29, said the owners, Lourdes Rodrigues and Jean Teixeira, in a Facebook post.
"Thank you to all our loyal customers, for the wonderful years," they said.
With a menu overflowing with huge, yet affordable, meat and mustard sandwiches — sauerkraut, pickles and Cherry Cokes were also standard — Boucherie Slovenia is the latest of the Main's iconic old-school institutions to close.
The beloved Moishes steakhouse announced its closure under the strain of the pandemic in the summer of 2020.
The Boucherie Slovenia Facebook post asks readers to share their memories of the restaurant and butcher shop, with many offering childhood stories of visiting for a pepperette sandwich or their "underrated" smoked meat, which is "the best in the city," according to one commenter.
Many apparent long-time customers said they wouldn't know where to go to find dishes comparable to Boucherie Slovenia's treasured menu items.
Others remarked on how yet another classic Montreal restaurant is closing its doors. "Nothing replaces these fantastic old shops," said one person. "It's a loss. The rich character of the boulevard is disappearing."
Montreal is certainly no stranger to a traffic jam, which makes taking public transit a more viable option to not only get around faster but do more good for the environment.
As Canadian cities take the initiative to improve their transit systems and reduce their carbon footprints, Montreal has become one of the country's greenest metropolitan areas when it comes to transport, according to one ranking.
A December report from Kijiji Autos analyzed green transport options in Canada's most populated cities, evaluating their use of electric cars, bikes, scooters, and the number of electric charging stations.
With its metro and bus systems, BIXI rentals, bike lanes, and availability of electric cars, Montreal found itself in third place among Canadian cities that offer the greenest transport with a score of 5.5/10.
Although Vancouver and Ottawa/Gatineau snagged the top two spots, Montreal takes the lead as the most bicycle-friendly city in all of North America, with a total of 2,163 bicycle paths, says the Copenhagenize Index.
Montreal's third-place ranking is encouraging news, said McGill University Assistant Professor of Geography, Grant McKenzie, who specifically boasted about Montreal's metro system, "especially compared to other Canadian cities," as well as its "substantial investment towards electric buses."
While McKenzie said "we can always do better" and bemoaned the city's ban on e-scooters, he called the popularity of the BIXI and the inclusion of electric bikes in its fleet an "excellent move in the right direction."
As for electric cars, Kijiji Autos looked at new registrations of electric vehicles in the first quarter of 2021, as well as total charging stations. Montreal landed second to Toronto with a total of 3,633 new registered electric cars, and 1,258 electric charging stations throughout the city.
Kijiji Autos also looked at the number of hybrids and electric vehicles for sale on their platform. Montreal led the way with 1,063 hybrid vehicles and 375 electric vehicles, states the report.
With the province of Quebec offering residents a rebate for the purchase or lease of electric cars, Quebec estimates that there will be 1.5 million electric vehicles on the road by 2030.
In fact, Environment Canada put out a special weather alert for the following areas:
Châteauguay - La Prairie
Longueuil - Varennes
"A system from Colorado will move into Western Quebec late in the day on Sunday and reach eastern parts of the province on Monday morning," the alert says.
It says the storm could start with snow and then turn into freezing rain overnight on Sunday.
"Forecast precipitation types and amounts will become more certain as the event draws nearer and warnings will be issued as needed," Environment Canada says.
Meanwhile, MétéoMédia is predicting up to 25 centimetres of snow in parts of Quebec. It also predicts strong winds gusting up to 80 km/hour in the Greater Montreal area. This could even lead to power outages.
What road closures can drivers expect this weekend?
Quebec's transportation ministry issued a press release outlining several obstacles on Greater Montreal roads throughout the December 3 weekend.
Between Longueuil and Montreal, Highway 25 northbound will be closed from exit 90 (R-132, A-30, La Prairie, Varennes) on Highway 20 west and the entrance to rue Notre-Dame Est / Curatteau — a stretch that includes the Louis-Hippolyte-La Fontaine tunnel. The closure is set to start Saturday at 12:30 a.m. and last until Monday at 5 a.m.
On the South Shore, expect the following closures starting at 11:30 p.m. on Friday:
Ramps leading from R-132 east and west (Exits 89-N) to Highway 25 north
East and west entrances to boulevard Marie-Victorin
Entrance to rue de l'Île-Charron
In Boucherville, at the Highway 20 / Highway 30 Interchange, the ramp leading from Highway 20 to Highway 30 west / Vaudreuil-Dorion will be closed between Friday at 10:30 p.m. and Monday at 5 a.m.
Between Montreal and Brossard, at the end of the Samuel-De Champlain Bridge towards the South Shore (Highway 10 east, Highway 15 south), there's a partial closure of two out of three lanes, Saturday and Sunday from 5 a.m. to 4 p.m.
In Montreal, two traffic lanes on Avenue Papineau southbound between rue Sherbrooke and rue Ontario will be closed for maintenance from Friday at 9:30 a.m. to Monday at 6 a.m.
Note that some or all construction work may be postponed due to the weather.
Women will lead five of Quebec's eight largest cities following the 2021 municipal elections.
The biggest headline of the night may have been Valérie Plante's triumph over old foe Denis Coderre in Montreal, but across the province, the faces of municipal politics have become more gender-balanced.
According to the latest counts and projections, France Bélisle (Gatineau), Catherine Fournier (Longueuil), Évelyne Beaudin (Sherbrooke) and Julie Dufour (Saguenay) are all also on their way to their respective (and figurative) city hall corner offices.
In Quebec City, it seemed for a while like Marie-Josée Savard would join them. Multiple outlets had even called the election for her until the vote count for her opponent surged into the evening. Bruno Marchand ultimately claimed victory.
Mayor Plante commented on the historic nature of her second mandate in her victory speech Sunday night.
"Four years ago, Montrealers elected the first woman mayor in the history of the City of Montreal," she said.
"Tonight, they told us again, 'yes, this mayor, we're going to continue to work with her, we trust her!'"
This year, for the first time, Montrealers will have two women leading the city, as Projet Montréal's Dominique Ollivier is set to take over as president of the Executive Committee.