Over the summer, community member Vanessa Martin began to draft a letter to the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake (MCK) outlining safety concerns on Route 207 and pressing for a permanent solution to protect residents living on the road.
After the collision on the afternoon of August 28 between a car leaving the Mohawk Hills Golf Club and a motorcyclist travelling on the 207 – who died after being transported to the hospital – the letter quickly turned into a petition.
“Everyone who lives on the 207 was 100 percent on board,” said Martin. The petition garnered 82 signatures from community members in just under two days where it was dropped off at Club Rez. Last Friday, Martin delivered the petition to the MCK, hoping to get a response in time for this month’s community meeting scheduled for September 12.
“I truly believe that the 207 is the biggest hazard within Kahnawake at the moment,” she said.
Martin has been living on the 207 since she moved to Kahnawake in 2007 and has noticed a marked increase in speed, traffic volume, and trucks circulating on the road.
“I just really hope that we can all put our minds together and figure out a way to make this road safe for the residents who live on this road because people who are non-locals have died on this road and people who are from Kahnawake have died on this road already,” said Martin.
Some residents have even been witness to these fatal accidents. “There’s serious trauma amongst the families that live up that way due to accidents that have happened over the years,” said Connie Meloche, who grew up on the 207. She lived there for most of her life and regularly visits her family who still lives there.
She could name a handful of relatives and friends who had died on the road. “My younger sisters have witnessed their cousin (Gordie Deer) getting killed because they were all playing outside,” she said. This happened when they were all children – their cousin was nine, crossing the road on his bike when he was struck by a car, she said.
Despite voicing her concerns and demanding the implementation of more safety measures, Meloche remains cognizant of Kahnawake Peacekeepers’ efforts throughout the years to mitigate the dangers on the road.
“They do what they can. But there need to be some changes overall with the system around traffic regulation on that road,” said Meloche. “Sometimes it feels like we’re kind of an afterthought.”
The MCK held a meeting Wednesday afternoon involving the Peacekeepers and the Public Safety Unit to review the letter and discuss potential solutions, according to MCK chief Ryan Montour, who leads the public safety portfolio.
Adding a double solid line and blinking yellow lights are among the short-term options being considered. As for long-term solutions, they’re looking at investing in hiring more officers – but the entire process to get more officers on the road would take at least one year. Installing speed humps – which are smaller in height but longer than speed bumps – is also another alternative being considered to slow down the speed of cars.
Another method could be to acquire private lands to make an access road strictly for residents of the 207. Aside from the signage and billboards posted, Peacekeepers monitor the traffic during rush hours on the 207, which is posted at 50 KM/H in Kahnawake. However, the road is split up between the jurisdictions of the Surete Quebec (SQ) and the Chateauguay Police as well, which have higher speed limits in their respective areas.
Montour said that the Peacekeepers have requested the SQ and Chateauguay Police to address the other side of the 207 intersection. Sometimes they’ve been able to respond, and other times not, he said.
With the growing population in and around Kahnawake, along with the opening of businesses, the 207 has seen increased traffic. But the majority of the road’s 15,000 daily users are passing through the community to circumvent the traffic on highways 132 and 138.
“Obviously, there’s work to be done with the Ministry of Transportation of Quebec (MTQ),” said Montour, adding that solutions and funding have to be discussed collectively.
“We are putting the concerns of the people who addressed the letter to us on the community meeting (agenda), looking for solutions, looking for explanations, looking for ways to mitigate the problems in the short-term and long-term,” he said.
All community members who’d like to share their concerns about the situation on Route 207 are invited to attend the community meeting at 7 p.m. next Tuesday at the Knights of Columbus.
“I have little cousins, I have little sisters, little brothers, and I have my own children. We’re all living on this road. And we don’t even play outside in our front yard because we don’t know if someone’s going to come flying in our front yard or come tumbling in from a car accident,” said Martin, adding she plans to keep applying pressure until action is taken.
According to her, a solution should be a priority for the community because the problem shows no signs of stopping – “it’s getting out of hand.”