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March 2007

Liberal Minority? Good for the Suburbs?

On the eve of the provincial election, as a Côte Saint-Luc city councillor, I have a feeling what would be the best scenario for all of us. A Liberal minority government, with Mario Dumont's ADQ holding the balance of power, could be just the tonic we need to fix the agglomeration council mess. Premier Jean Charest has been very non-committal about making changes to the agglomeratiom structure. Dumont, on the other hand, has been very straight forward. He would replace it with something that resembles the old Montreal Urban Community. If Charest wins a majority - highly unlikely - he would probably be bullied by Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay not to make any changes to the agglo. But in a minority situation, Dumont will be in a position to exert pressure. Charest and his MNAs representing the suburbs have been saying for some time they want to fix the agglo. I think they need Dumont's presence to get that extra push. Dumont has not managed to attract much attention in the West End. He has come a long way over the years, but policies such as abolishing school boards do not fly here. There is potential and if he could play a role in fixing the agglo it could bode well for him...especially considering the fact a minority government might not last more than a year or two, giving him a realistic chance at becoming premier.

Beth Chabad Construction/Bialik Expansion

Excavation work has finally begun at the future site of the Beth Chabad Hechal Menachem Community Youth Centre, at the corner of Marc Chagall Avenue and Kildare Road. Beth Chabad has been based at the Cavendish Mall since 2001. With the Mall’s grand redevelopment plans, Beth Chabad will need to vacate their premises soon. The Kildare Road site was rezoned to accommodate them many years ago. Beth Chabad was established in a duplex at 5534 Earle Road in 1986, moving to the Côte Saint-‘Luc Shopping Centre two years later before taking up residence in the Mall’s former Eaton location. When completed, the new facility will include a youth lounge, computer and teen fitness rooms, a cafeteria, library, kollel/study room, social hall, Sephardic and Ashkenazi synagogues and a men’s mikvah. I am pleased to see this work moving foreward. Beth Chabad has an enthusiastic membership, headed by Rabbi Menachem Mendel and Sarah Raskin. In my newsletter to District 2 constituents last September, I pledged to fix a longstanding problem at Côte Saint-Luc/Rembrandt Park whereby the soccer f ield was designed in a very awkward fashion. It is located in a pit, not visible at street level. Besides the fact it is not used very often, it floods easily and is use as a spot for juvenile delinquents to hide late at night. These “delinquents” frequently drag benches into the pit. Thanks to the efforts of Public Works Director David Tordjman, we have arranged for the contractor at Beth Chabad to dump his earth here at no cost to the city. I hope this will enable us to level off the field in the coming months so that it is at nearly street level.

There is another significant development at the Kildare/Marc Chagall corner. A few years ago we learned that Bialik High School intended to double in size to accommodate a new facility to house the Jewish People’s and Peretz Schools (JPPS) Elementary School. That project never came to be since JPPS enrolment levelled off. But now council has received a new proposal for a two-phase expansion and renovation of Bialik. Phase I will consist of the reconfiguration and renovation of the existing cafeteria and lunchroom located on the basement level, the addition of 9,000 square feet of new construction for new classrooms and a relocated Art Studio, a new site enclosure and renovation of the main entrance and of the landscaping at the circular driveway and toward the entrance. Phase II will involve the conversion of the Metteralin Hall into a 264 seat auditorium, the renovation of the front face of the Mettarlin Hall to introduce additional glazing, the addition of a 6,930 square foot gymnasium and the addition of a new 2,900 square foot storage area to serve the new gymnasium and new auditorium. The architect is George Elbaz, a Bialik/JPPS parent. Our Planning Advisory Committee has studied the proposal. While recommending some changes, the project will be approved,

So what does all of this mean for traffic? Well, we have known for years that Beth Chabad would be building directly across from Bialik. Rabbi Raskin assures that most of the members walk to services in the early morning, in the evening and of course, on Shabbat. As for the latter, Bialik’s original plans were far more grandiose and would gave included a brand new elementary sector. I have been working hard to enact different traffic measures on Marc Chagall. The seasonal planters we placed at specific intervals have significantly slowed down the movement of vehicles. At Bialik, I have met with the administration several times. The police have stepped up the issuance of tickets, showing a zero tolerance policy towards parents not abiding by the law. Our Volunteer Citizens on Patrol (VCOP) have monitored the situation and I recently established a traffic committee consisting of Bialik students. Their job will be to conduct a statistical analysis of the situation.

In the months ahead, Marc Chagall and Kildare will be one busy corner.