Browsing "Quebec"
Apr 29, 2009 -

Traffic Rule Differences

Driving all over Canada and the US, I’ve discovered that the rules of the road are fairly universal, but there are some variances. Here are three that I’ve encountered:

1) You can legally pass people on the right in California/it’s okay to drive slowly in the left lane;

2) Until very recently, you could not turn right on a red light in Quebec. The law was repealed so that you can now turn right on a red light in Quebec, except on the Island of Montreal and most intersections in the rest of the province. Even though I’ve spent most of my driving years in Ontario or on the border thereof, I still feel like I’m breaking the law when I turn right on a red light, or left on one at a one way street;

3) A flashing green in BC does not mean the same thing as a flashing green in Quebec and most of the rest of the continent, apparently. I learned this on Monday after nearly causing a ten car pile up, peeving off about ten drivers, being flipped off by about ten drivers, and having one driver make his opinion of my mental capacity very clear. In Quebec, a flashing green light means that the opposing drivers are sitting on a red light and I have the right of way to turn left. In BC, it means that the other drivers are also looking at a flashing green light, that I’m supposed to yield when making my turn, and that the light is pedestrian controlled. Oops. I apologize to everyone who was sitting at the corner of Kingsway and 10th in Vancouver on Monday morning around 11:30. I’m not an idiot or otherwise mentally deficient; I’m just from another province!

Bonus: your headlights must be on at all times when driving in the Yukon. *makes a mental note to stick a note by the door reminding myself to make sure I turned OFF the lights when I park Miranda*

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British Columbia, California, Canada, Driving, Law and Government, Quebec, Technical, Travel, USA, Yukon    4 Comments
Feb 3, 2009 -

It’s That Time of Year

The time of year that makes me regret I ever learned to drive, that is.

It starts in February, when I owe the SAAQ 250$ for my toad’s license plate. It then continues in March when I owe them 100$ for my driver’s license. This year, the party will continue for a third month straight when I will owe them 500$ and change for Miranda’s license plate.

(The non-RVers go: “HA! My house doesn’t need a license plate, nyah nyah!” Rae replies: “My house doesn’t require me to pay school or property taxes, nyah, nyah!”)

There is some stuff going on behind the scenes that tells me that I will be taking up BC residency this coming fall. I’ve been warned that BC means ‘bring cash’ and that their driving fees are more draconian than Quebec’s. I find that hard to believe, but even if that’s the case, income tax will be less, so it will all come out in the wash.

What irks me with the SAAQ is that I can’t just send them three post dated cheques tomorrow. I need to wait for the February notice to appear in my mailbox in Gatineau and have said notice forwarded to me. I will then send said notice with payment attached back to Quebec. In March, I won’t need to wait for a notice since Quebec has come up with a really great scheme for nabbing people for lapsed licenses and imposing gargantuan fines on them: don’t send out notices that the license needs to be renewed and let people remember this for themselves. They do make it easy on us: license renewal happens on our birthday, on either an even year or an odd year, depending on the year we were born. So, on my birthday every odd year, I have to remember to send them a cheque. Gee, thanks, this is always what I wanted to do for my thirtieth birthday!!! Finally, in April, I will have to repeat February’s circus.

I’m just glad that this odd year isn’t the odd year when I need to get a new picture taken for my license. This was actually a factor in my decision to take off as quickly as I did. Since you have to be physically present in Quebec to have your picture taken (ie. you can’t send in an authenticated picture the way you can for a passport application) I wanted that two year buffer to reduce the urgency of making a decision about whether or not to go back. Of course, going back to Quebec never was more than option Z on a list of twenty-six options, but it was there (note that going back to my old job didn’t necessarily entail going back to Quebec other than to actually work since I could live in Ottawa, making that option significantly higher up on the list than taking up residence in Quebec again. Just thought I’d clarify).

I did get ‘happy’ news from Hydro Quebec this week. When I sold my house in the spring of 2007, I was sure that they owed me money, but still paid their huge final bill. A few months later, I got a sizable cheque from them. When I left my rental house in the fall of 2008, I once again got a huge final bill, which I paid. Guess what came in the mail this week? Hint: it’s a shame they couldn’t have made the cheque out to the SAAQ since it would have saved me from having to sent it anything in February or March (!). For years now, I’ve dreamt of living ‘off the grid’ and not having to rely on utilities. Now that RVing has given me a taste of what this is like (22$ power bill for January, woohoo!), never having to deal again with Hydro Quebec is another of the many reasons why returning to Quebec is option Z on my list. 😀

(I’ve been told that I can come across as very critical of Quebec. Yeah, so? Just because I come from one of the (not THE, mind you) best places in the world in which to live it doesn’t mean that I have to take what’s wrong with it place sitting down, that I’m not allowed to criticize what’s not working. I vote, so I feel it’s my right to have a say. In fact, I think it’s my duty to not just sit by complacently. At any rate, José Emilio Pacheco sums up my thoughts about Quebec (and Canada, for that matter) perfectly (even though he was writing about Mexico). I’m not sure if my translation from the Spanish is 100% perfect, but it’s close enough:

High Treason

I do not love my country. Its abstract splendour
is beyond my grasp.
But (although it sounds bad) I would give my life
for ten places in it, for certain people,
seaports, pinewoods, fortresses,
a run-down city, gray, grotesque,
various figures from its history
(and three or four rivers).

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Canada, Driving, Electricity, Finances, Law and Government, Quebec, Travel, Vehicle Registration & License    2 Comments
Jan 26, 2009 -

Staying Put For Now

Well, I’ve crunched the numbers and weighed all the pros and cons and decided to remain at Pacific Border for at least the month of February. I think that when I add it all up, the main reason is that it’s secluded. Living in the GVR reminds me of what it was like to live in the Montreal area growing up, and all the reasons why I left Montreal without looking back. There are just too many people and too much traffic. Going out to do anything shouldn’t be a chore and I like living in an area where I can go run errands without having to plan around rush hour. Also, the difference in price between this park and the runner up amounts to only about a hundred dollars spread out over four months. I’d rather spend that extra money and have access to the pool here where it’s much nicer and quieter.

My commute today was fine. 55 minutes in the morning and 70 minutes in the afternoon because you can’t catch the freeway southbound from the park ‘n ride (who designs these things; just about everyone goes south from the park and ride!). That said, I really hate having to rush out of work at the stroke of 4:30 and the Pattulo Bridge has reopened (three weeks early!), so traffic is going to be much less dense. I’m going to finish up my fare coupons on Wednesday, then I’ll drive Thursday and Friday and make the final decision then as to whether I’m buying a bus or parking pass on Monday.

There is an RV show in Abbotsford this weekend and I will be attending on Saturday as there will be a seminar on RVing in the Northwest Territories! I cannot believe that I attended my first RV show last February and now, less than a year later, I’m attending one as a full-time RVer who is not just dreaming of going to the NWT, but will be going! Have I mentioned recently that I love this life?

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British Columbia, Campgrounds, Canada, Finances, Nice Folks, Quebec, Social, Travel, Work    No Comments