Lachine upset as Montreal West barrier upheld

The Town of Montreal West has the right to set up a controversial traffic barrier, the Quebec Court of Appeal ruled Thursday.
The Quebec Court of Appeal has upheld Montreal West's right to block traffic on Broughton Road. ((CBC))
Lachine residents are expressing frustration after the Quebec Court of Appeal ruled the Town of Montreal West has the right to set up a controversial traffic barrier.

The battle over Devil’s Hill — officially known as Broughton Road — has raged for almost two decades.

Officials in Montreal West have set up barriers, ranging from Do Not Enter signs to concrete flower pots, in an effort to address what the town says is a safety issue.

Montreal West residents complain the street has been used as a shortcut by motorists to get to Highways 13 and 20. The town conducted a study that showed 70 vehicles an hour were using Broughton during peak periods, and most were not stopping in the neighbourhood.

Residents in the neighbouring Montreal borough of Lachine, however, accused Montreal West of being elitist by cutting off the only road connecting the two areas.

Lachine took the issue to court, arguing the town was being unreasonable. Lachine said there is no nuisance problem on any street unless it is used by more than 250 vehicles in an hour.

Officials in Lachine launched an appeal after the borough lost its initial case.

Montreal West has since agreed to install traffic signals in the area to allow emergency vehicles to get through.

In its ruling Thursday, the Court of Appeal said Lachine cannot control the decisions Montreal West makes about the streets inside its town limits.

The decision angered Lachine residents, including Christos Sirros, who compared the barrier to "another Berlin Wall."

"I've been living here all these years, we had no problem," Sirros said. "Now they want to close like we're second-class citizens."

 Another Lachine resident, Nina Matthews, worries about the detour she is forced to take because of the barrier.

"We're seniors citizens and my husband goes to the hospital once a week," Matthews said. "Winter is coming. I gotta take that hill. I think it's just terrible … Montreal West and the city [have] allowed this to happen."

Montreal West resident Dewan Shashi said he also disagreed with the barrier. 
Lachine resident Christos Sirros compares the barrier to the Berlin Wall. ((CBC))

"They should live in harmony — so we can go there and they can come here," Shashi said.

Lachine Borough Mayor Claude Dauphin said he shares the residents' disappointment.

"[In] the next couple of days, we should get in touch with the new council of Montreal West to see what can be done to try to please both sides," Dauphin said.

Montreal West Mayor Benny Masella, who has been in office only since the Nov. 1 civic election, said he is glad the saga has come to an end.

"We wanted to put this issue behind us," Masella said. "From the beginning, Lachine and the Town of Montreal West, we always decided we were going to let the courts decide this issue.

"Now that this issue is behind us we can go forward. … We already have an excellent relationship with Lachine. We just want to look at strengthening that."