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March 2009

Hampstead must step up as good neighbours

For many years the relationship between the city council of Côte Saint-Luc and the town council of Hampstead was pretty awful. Mayors Bernard Lang and Irving Adessky were not on speaking terms. When the Partii Québecois undertook the forced mergers and created the borough of Côte Saint-Luc-Hampstead-Montreal West the one good thing that came of this action was the wonderful way the three (then) former municipalities worked together and got to know each other.

We demerged officially on January 1, 2006 and as Mayors Anthony Housefather and William Steinberg assumed office it appeared that a new era had begun. A deal was struck for Hampsteaders to use our library. Hampstead invited us to their events and we did the same to ours. Now this relationship is in jeopardy due to what some are calling "the nightmare on Fleet Road" which has inconvenienced thousands of people in both communities.

We have placed a lot of effort to synchronize traffic lights on Fleet Road. More recently we implemented a double left turn at Cavendish and Fleet, something that sped up traffic significantly. Then, without consultation, Hampstead turned back the clock on good relations by implementing new traffic configurations on Fleet during the morning rush hour. This is nothing short of a disaster for motorists and not just those from Côte Saint-Luc. Parents from Hampstead who drop their children off a schools such as  Bialik, Hebrew Academy and the JPPS CPE cannot even turn left  on Fleet to return to their own street. Cars are honking! It is a bad scene.

We have come such a long way in inter-municipal relations. I call upon Hampstead Council to cancel these new restrictions immediately.

Please also see my colleague Glenn J. Nashen's comprehensive commentary on this issue at:

Beth Chabad Plans Move to New Building By September


Enertainer Gad Elbaz, Mayor Housefather and Councillor Cohen at the  gala Purim celebration at Beth Chabad.

I attended the gala Purim Celebration of Beth Chabad at the Cavendish Mall on March 9 at the Cavendish Mal, along with Mayor Anthony Housefather and Councillor Mitchell Brownstein. With hundreds of people in attendance and sensational Israeli singer Gad Elbaz performing on stage, the dynamic Rabbi Mendel Raskin provided the news we have all been waiting for. The Beth Chabad Menachem Community Youth Centre will open by early September in its brand new location in the heart of District 2 at the corner of Marc Chagall Avenue and Kildare Road. Beth Chabad has been based at the Mall since 2001. The Kildare Road site was rezoned to accommodate them many years ago. Construction began on the $5.8 million project two years ago. When fully 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. This will be a wonderful addition to the community and could help sales at the new town house development across the street. Rabbi Raskin and his wife Sarah do an outstanding job with their congregation. It was beautiful to see so many young families at the Purim celebration, which included a carnival for the children and fuilly catered meal by Toledano later on. Elbaz was sensational. At one point Rabbi Raskin turned to me and just smiled. "Can you imagine how good this is going to be when we move into our new building?" he asked rhetorically. I am working with Daniel Malca of Beth Chabad on a special event for residents of District 2, hopefully for June. Stay tuned to my blog for more details on construction progress.


Councillor Cohen is greeted by Rabbi Mendel Raskin at the Purim celebration.


Sir Walter Scott to be repaved

City council has adopted its Capital Works Budget for 2009 and I am very pleased to report that Sir Walter Scott  Avenue is scheduled for a long awaited and badly needed repaving job. Both the street and sidewalks will be given a facelift, hopefully by early fall to the tune of about $457,600.

Sir Walter Scott is home to five apartment buildings. That adds up to a lot of vehicles travelling back and forth. Add in the residential street of Ilan Ramon and it just gets busier.

Congratulations to Bialik scientists

The District 2 Bialik High School’s team of five budding physicists are off to the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, to compete against some of the best young minds from the world over at the final round of the Weizmann Institute’s International Shalheveth Freier Physics Tournament. Their victory in the Eastern Regional Canadian Semi-Finals, hosted by Weizmann Science Canada, and held at Bialik High School, was announced by the Consul General of Israel, Yoram Elron. Along with the Western Regional winners, the two teams will be representing Canada in Israel.

Their victory in the Eastern Regional Canadian Semi-Finals, hosted by Weizmann Science Canada, and held at Bialik High School, was announced by the Consul General of Israel, Yoram Elron. Along with the Western Regional winners, the two teams will be representing Canada in Israel.

The winning team of David Benrimoh, Chad Cohen, Samantha Creme, Madison Goldberger, Erica Shrier, coach and Bialik grad Shawn Bramson ’08, and teams from the competing schools (Hebrew Academy, Herzliah, St. George’s School of Montreal, West Island College, and the Study) were given a box and a lock mechanism and tasked to build a safe that operated on the principals of physics. The teams were allowed only 10 minutes per safe to figure out how to crack the lock. A panel of nine esteemed judges, including head judge Professor Vicky Kaspi, astrophysicist, and 2006 winner of the prestigious Steacie Prize in the Natural Sciences, carefully analyzed all the entries and scored for their being pick-proof, and also for aesthetics and originality. Moreover, prior to a final decision’s being rendered, the judges interviewed all the teams individually for 20 minutes to ensure that the teams had a firm grasp of the science in their projects.

"I have so much admiration for the work, creativity, and ingenuity displayed by the students," Consul General Elron stated afterwards. "These students give me such optimism for the future." The staff advisor to the winning Bialik team, Judy Stein, beamed. "It's been quite the process from the first brainstorming ideas for the physics back in November. I have marveled at your creativity, enthusiasm, and teamwork throughout the process. Next stop—Israel!"

Thanks to a very generous anonymous donor, most of the costs are provided for each team and a chaperone for the trip of a lifetime to represent their country. Bialik High School is fortunate to participate in several additional Weizmann Science Canada programs, including Math-By-Mail and the Dr. Bessie F. Lawrence International Summer Program.