Skip to content

Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Montreal Councillors Take Pedestrian Rail Crossing Debate to the CTA

Read more articles by


Montreal’s executive committee will seek mediation from the Canadian Transportation Agency in the dispute with Canadian Pacific over creating pedestrian at-grade rail crossings. The Canadian Transportation Agency has a mandate to resolve disputes related to federally-regulated modes of transportation.

In 2011, following a citizen mobilization and petition to open the tracks between the Petite-Patrie and Mile End neighbourhoods, Montreal city council unanimously adopted a motion in favour of implementing level crossings. But negotiations with the CP ground to a halt later that year. CP insists on sticking to overpasses and underpasses, but a great number of pedestrians and cyclists just as stubbornly refuse to take a detour that requires either climbing several flights of steps, or plunging into a dim, smelly tunnel.

In response, CP security officers have adopted the infuriating practice of laying wait at popular rail crossing spots, pouncing on pedestrians as they slip through the gaping holes in the chain link fence, and slapping them with $146 trespassing fines (those so inclined can read about my personal fury here).

But at least our counselors are sticking up for us:

“Canadian Pacific’s obstinacy in maintaining their urban barrier which bisects neighbourhoods is unacceptable, and furthermore the game of cat and mouse with our citizens must stop!” said RDP councillor Cindy Leclerc, who sits on the city’s transportation committee.

“We will no longer tolerate the ignorance and disregard of a company that governs as if it had never been to Montreal,” said Plateau borough mayor, Luc Ferrandez in a Projet Montréal press release.

The six proposed crossings would be located at:

  • Rues Cartier / Dandurand (Plateau / Petite Patrie)
  • Avenue Henri-Julien / rue des Carrières (Mile End / Petite-Patrie)
  • Rues St-Dominique / Bernard (Mile End / Petite-Patrie)
  • Avenue De l’Épée / futur Campus Outremont (Outremont / Parc-Ex)
  • Parc metro (raccordement des rues Ogilvy et De Castelnau); (Parc-Ex)
  • Gare Bois-de-Boulogne (Ahuntsic-Cartierville)

Altogether, it is estimated that the six crossings would cost $1.5 Million. The CTA will also be asked to weigh in on whether the CP should be required to split the cost with the city.

UPDATE: The CP has responded with a press release once again insisting on “grade-separated solutions” due to safety concerns. Last year CP reports that last year in Canada there were 154 injuries and fatalities due to “trespassing and crossing” (they do not apparently differentiate between the legally and illegal crossing).

There are about 55,000 level-grade crossings in Canada.



  1. Mmmh. Level crossings may interfere with the future potential to implement rapid transit along some of these corridors. Tunnels May not be such a bad solution at some of the sites – they don’t have to be as dark and dinky as the Melrose tunnel.

  2. Tunnels or level-crossing, whichever is easier/safer in their eyes. I personally prefer level crossings but anything is better than nothing. There is no reason these companies should continue putting up barriers to pedestrian/bicycle transit. This is 2013 not 1913.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *