Councillor Steven Erdelyi is not only a colleague of mine in the city, but our day jobs are both at the English Montreal School Board. Until recently Steven was the head of the math and science department at Marymount Academy in N.D.G. Last night he was officially appointed as the new vice-principal of Westmount High School. Good luck Steven. I know you will do a great job! Check out his website at www.stevenerdelyi.com. In addition to library, culture and special events, another of his portfolios includes the environment. Steven, along with Dida Berku, are our recycling, composting and organic waste mavens.
A big thank you to the traffic division of Police Station 9 for beginning surveillance of motorists at the corner of Kildare and Merrimac, coming from Marc Chagall. For some time now, cars have been bolting right through the stop sign. Today the police posted a car in the area and ticketed a number of cars for not abiding by the law. There are a lot of young families in this area, not to mention close to 1,000 students at Bialik High School. God forbid we have a tragic accident. I am sorry it has come to this, but sometimes only the cost of a ticket gets motorists to think more clearly.
At a special city council meeting August 25 Rembrandt Park and District 2 were the good fortune of two upgrade measures. As announced previously, but only confirmed by the rest of council at this meeting, work will commence in the next few weeks on the installation of a water games area as well as a large slide/climbing structure. Construction is unlikely to be completed before the end of October, meaning that residents won't get to experience these wonderful new features until the spring. Well, good things are worth waitiing for. The water game area will be similar to those already in place at Richard Schwartz and Pierre Elliott Trudeau parks. For instance, there will be a large sprinkler in the shape of a flower that spins as it emits water. The total cost for this will be up to $32,524.81. We are now going for tender for construction bids. As for the new play structure, it will replace some older equipment at a cost of $26,361.06.
I was pleased to see Henry Marcovitz and his wife at the special council meeting. Henry, of course, was a distinguished city councillor for many years. The Marcovitzs now reside on Rembrandt, so I feel fortunate to have someone of Henry's experience to consult with. At the meeting he suggested that we perhaps at some future date lower the size of the hilly areas which front Rembrandt as they could be a detterent to catching any troublemakers in the act. It is no secret that we have had some incidents at Rembrandt Park which have been of particular concern to seniors. This is why we are moving forward with plans in 2009 to get rid of the basketball courts and replace them with tennis courts. We have also had some lights knocked out and broken beyond repair at the park, no doubt by some delinquents. They will be replaced, but this is no small job labour or cost-wise.
While there is no sign of any plans to build homes on Meadowbrook Golf Course, greenspace activists in Côte Saint-Luc and Montreal West continually keep everyone aware of the fact that one day the owners of the land could try to close the links in favor of development. On August 23 they held an event at Richard Schwartz Park they called Meadow Fest. There was live music, information kiosks, some vendor tables and lots of community spirit. I must say that I was disappointed with the turnout. It was a gorgeous day and there was plenty of publicity, yet the gathering was sparse. I really do no think that the future of Meadowbrook is truly on the radar screen of most residents. In the photo Councillor Dida Berku and I shared a moment with some of the event organizers, with Dida holding up a map of the golf course.
I would like to share with readers of my blog the response our mayor gave to Ben Merson, a resident of the city since 1955 who wrote to complain about the road surface condition of Cavendish Blvd., between Mackle and Cavendish. Here is what Mayor Housefather said:
"I agree with your comments about the stretch of Cavendish between Mackle and Collins. Unfortunately, as I have communicated in our newsletters and recently in a letter to residents of Cote Saint-Luc when I spoke of the agglomeration reforms, this stretch of road in not under the jurisdiction of Cote Saint-Luc as relates to reconstruction of the road.
"Since we were merged into Montreal in 2001 there has been a concept of arterial roads. This continued after demerger. During the years we were part of Montreal these roads were the responsibility of the central city and not the borough and since demerger they have been the responsibility of the regional level of government (the agglomeration) and not your local city. CSL has 2 arterial roads (CSL Road and Cavendish). Thus we are allowed to do some things on arterial roads, we are responsible for clearing snow, traffic conditions (we can install the synchronized lights for example) but we can not do construction on the road itself. We advised Montreal many times that this stretch should be prioritized without success.
"As per the letter I sent to you, the Quebec legislature recently adopted Bill 22 which reformed the agglo. These changes only come into force on January 1, 2009. In addition to keeping EMS, having only one tax bill to CSL and other improvements, the arterial roads go back to the control of local cities. As such, next year this road can be on our list to repair but we can not do so this year."
We will hold a special council meeting on Monday, August 25 (8 p.m.) at City Hall to deal with some exciting improvements to Rembrandt Park. On this night contracts will be awarded for the purchase of a water games facility for young children (something which already exists at Pierre Elliott Trudeau and Richard Schwartz Parks) and for some new playground equipment. On Monday we will also award contracts for road surfacing in different parts of the city. Please note that due to the fact our council chamber is being painted, the meeting will take place downstairs in the Harold Greenspon Auditorium. Please note that the water games facility pictured is the one that was installed several years ago at Richard Schwartz Park on Côte Saint-Luc Road.
I attended an open house August 20 at city hall where we unveiled our curbside organic waste collection program, which starts in mid-October with all 4,798 single-family homes and duplexes. Since townhouses, high rise condominiums and apartment buildings will not be part of this first phase of the program, the only District 2 residents to be affected by this will be those on Ilan Ramon Crescent. Beginnng October 20 Ilan Ramon homeowners will have their garbage picked up on Mondays and organic waste on Thursdays. Recycling pickup will remain on Tuesdays.
I wish to give credit to Councillors Steven Erdelyi and Dida Berku, along with our staff in Public Works, for spearheading this project, which was launched a year ago in 500 homes. Instead of separating garbage two ways (recycling and garbage), participants will now separate it three ways (recycling, garbage, and organic waste) and will receive a new brown bin container and small kitchen collector.
Diverting organic waste to compost facilities (and paper, plastic, glass and aluminum to recycling plants) will save Côte Saint-Luc money as dumping garbage becomes most costly. We had a good turnout at the meeting. I can say that most of the town houses, condos and apartment buildings in District 2 are already on board in terms of recycling. And they will become part of the organic waste collection in due time.
The next municipal elections in the province of Quebec are scheduled to take place in November 2009. But according to my sources, they may be delayed until November 2011 in order to coincide with school board elections. That would mean that city and town councils presently in office across the province would enjoy unprecedented six year mandates.
Let me go on record again as stating that I strongly oppose the amalgamation of school board and municipal elections. I passed a resolution at our June council meeting, which was subsequently forwarded to the Quebec Union of Municipalities, the Association of Suburban Municipalities, the Minister of Education, Recreation and Sports, Michelle Courchesne, the Minister of Municipal Affairs, Nathalie Normandeau, the Chairman of the committee studying Bill 88, Pierre Arcand, the MNA for D’Arcy McGee, Lawrence Bergman and municipal councils in Quebec. This is the same position espoused by the English Montreal School Board, where I serve as communications and marketing specialist and by the Quebec English School Boards Association - the umbrella body for the province's nine English boards.
Last May the Quebec government tabled Bill 88— An Act to amend the Education Act and the Act respecting school elections —to modify the laws governing public school boards and school board elections.
I have personally spoken to several Members of the National Assembly on this subject, trying to convince them that the presence of separate English and French voting lists at school board elections would create confusion at the polling stations. Let us remember that in the 2005 municipal election, there were already significant problems and delays at the polling stations. Both municipal and school board elections deserve proper attention paid to the candidates and the issues involved. The merger of these elections would be unfair to the candidates and the voters.”
We should learn very soon what Minister Courchesne has in mind. But I am told she seems convinced that the merger route is the way to go. Since it would be very difficult to do this in time for November 2009, she is apparently looking at 2011.
If the federal elections occur in October 2009, which is what a bill adopted by the Conservative government spells out, then that would be another reason to delay municipal elections.
There is still time to hopefully get the Minister to change her mind. If Premier Jean Charest would like to look into the crystal ball, he would see an embarrassing disaster unfolding at polling stations in November 2011. This is a very very bad idea. Once again, I call upon my muncipal colleagues across the province to speak up..
On Monday, August 11, 2008 the mayor and councillors presented resident Ronald Levy (pictured with his wife, the mayor and members of council) with a new book that will be added to the collection of Eleanor London Côte Saint-Luc Public Library. The book includes a bookplate with the following inscription: “Donated by the Mayor and Councillors of the City of Côte Saint-Luc to honour Me Levy on his appointment as President of the Lord Reading Law Society.” This year, the Lord Reading Law Society will be celebrating its sixtieth anniversary as the collective voice of Jewish jurists in Quebec. The society is known for its work in the area for social justice, its tradition of legal excellence and its contribution to the judiciary. Me Levy is a senior partner at the law firm De Grandpré Chait and was admitted to the Bar of Quebec in 1978 after having attended law school at McGill University in 1976 (B.C.L.) and 1977 (LL B.). He specializes in commercial litigation and also maintains a practice in business and corporate law in addition to insurance and international trade.
Constituents on Merrimac Road have been calling me lately, disturbed with the early morning noise of machinery emanating from the construction sites at Bialik High School and Beth Chabad. Our bylaws stipulate that they cannot begin work until 7 a.m. However, they seem to have been starting on certain mornings at close to 6:15 a.m., waking some people up. I spoke to our Public Security Chief Michel Martel, who is a man of action. He immediately assigned a patrol to the area and sure enough at 6:27 a.m. machinery was operating at both sites. They were warned to stop the work immediately and advised that the next time they do this before the proper hour they will be fined. A job well done Michel!