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February 2010

Multi-million dollar Intergenerational/Aquatic complex announced for CSL

Today I was proud to be in attendance at a press conference at Côte Saint-Luc City Hall where city council's wish to build an intergenerational/aquatic centre became a reality thanks to an investment of $11.5 million from the federal and provincial governments. We will make up the remainder of the cost.

Provincial Minister of Municipal Affairs Lauren Lessard made his first visit to our community. He was accompanied by D'Arcy McGee MNA Lawrence Bergman. Senator Judith Seidman represented the federal government. Côte Saint-Luc Mayor Anthony Housefather gave Mr. Bergman a lot of credit for pursuing this file. Councillors Allan J. Levine and Ruth Kovac were also on hand. Ms. Kovac will co-chair the new project with Councillor Mitchell Brownstein. Below is a group photo after the announcement and the full press release.


Senator Judith Seidman, acting on behalf of the Honourable Denis Lebel, Minister of State for Canada Economic Development, today joined Laurent Lessard, Minister of Municipal Affairs, Regions and Land Occupancy, and Lawrence S. Bergman, Member of the National Assembly for D’Arcy-McGee and Chair of the Government Caucus, in announcing that the City of Côte Saint Luc will receive $11,571,880 in joint government financial assistance under the Communities Component of the Building Canada Fund – Quebec for the construction of an intergenerational/aquatic centre. 

The project involves the construction of an intergenerational/aquatic centre covering a total gross area of about 5,456 square metres in the City of Côte-Saint-Luc. This new complex will comprise a 25-metre swimming pool, a wading pool, an indoor terrace adjacent to the aquatic pools, portable bleachers for about 200 people, multifunctional community halls, a physical fitness room and dance and warm up studios. 

The new complex will bring sport and recreational facilities under one roof and boast modern equipment tailored to contemporary indoor leisure and fitness activities as well as suite of activities for persons aged 55 and over. Students from nearby schools and residents from surrounding cities and boroughs will also be able to benefit from the activities and services on offer at the new centre. 

"Côte-Saint-Luc’s construction of a new intergenerational/aquatic centre will serve the interests of its residents and businesses. In supporting this project, we are seeing to it that the population enjoys the high quality of life for which our country is famous. Indeed, the Government of Canada is committed to equipping every community with modern facilities and equipment to ensure citizens’ health and safety. The renewal of public infrastructure is part of a broad action plan that will enable us to thrive and prosper in a healthy environment," stated Senator Judith Seidman. 

"By participating in this project, the Government of Quebec is moving forward to ensure the province’s municipalities have infrastructure that meets their unique realities while fostering sustainable development. By injecting new capital into the Quebec Infrastructure Plan, our government is looking to accelerate the execution of numerous infrastructure projects throughout the province, like this one in Côte Saint Luc, in an effort to improve Quebecers’ well-being, create jobs and promote a high-performance economy. In this way, we are leaving the municipality a legacy of quality infrastructure with which to face the challenges of the future," said Minister Laurent Lessard. 

"Côte-Saint-Luc is the Island of Montréal’s third largest city and its population is growing faster than that of Quebec as a whole. It is important that the City have all the necessary infrastructure to meet the needs of its increasing number of residents," added MNA Lawrence S. Bergman. 

Completion of this project will necessitate an overall eligible investment of $17,357,821. The governments of Quebec and Canada will each contribute $5,785,940 toward the work, for a total of $11,571,880 in combined government funding, while the City of Côte Saint Luc will assume the remaining third, or $5,785,941, of the project’s costs. 

The Communities Component of the Building Canada Fund – Quebec is a cost-sharing initiative aimed at funding infrastructure projects in communities with fewer than 100,000 inhabitants. These communities are thus able to use this assistance to improve infrastructure that is in major need of revitalization, including water treatment plants, water supply systems and cultural and sports centres. 

For provinces, like Quebec, that have committed all of their funding under the Communities Component, the Government of Canada’s Economic Action Plan provides for up to $500 million in additional funding for projects that will be completed by March 31, 2011. 

In Quebec, a joint federal-provincial contribution of $232 million will be used to fund 106 infrastructure projects. 

The contribution from the Government of Canada has been awarded through Canada’s Economic Action Plan. To learn more about this plan, visit

For further information on the Government of Quebec’s Quebec Infrastructure Plan, see 

Aussi disponible en français : 

Meeting Canada's Governor General

I met Canada’s Governor General, Her Excellency The Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean,  for the very first time. It was on the occasion  of her visit to   Share the Warmth in Point St. Charles, the wonderful organization which assists people living below the poverty line. Among the volunteers on hand that day were a group of students from John Grant High School in Côte Saint-Luc. GovGenMike

A well-known journalist and broadcaster in Quebec,   Jean immigrated from Haiti with her family at an early age. Fluent in five languages - French, English, Italian, Spanish and Haitian Creole - she is the first black Governor General of Canada. A social activist for women and children at risk, she has always said that her  plans called for  to using the office of Governor General to help disadvantaged young people.

Jean has been in this prestigious post for nearly five years. She travels around the world representing our country. Ironically her visits in  Montreal are few and far between. It is no surprise then that given her background as a social acfivisit she chose Share the Warmth, which began in the winter of 1989 after three women were moved to collect warm clothing and food for the homeless. They put out a plea to the public via an article in The Gazette.  The response was overwhelming.  People called to volunteer, to donate clothes, to sort clothes, to donate food and to help with deliveries.
The group incorporated in February 1990 and moved into Point St. Charles in 1991. They continued to collect and distribute food and clothing and deliver to the homeless on the street, to drop in centres and to shelters. It was in 1992 social workers and individuals from the community were requesting that food be given out to individuals and families living below the poverty line. That was the start of the food bank. The first month 39 baskets were prepared. In the next year the first request from a school for food came. James Lyng High School had a teacher who recognized that students were coming to school hungry. He began to give them snacks from his classroom. He asked for   help and that was the start of the School Food Program. From that base Share the Warmth expanded its programs to answer many more needs of the community. Each step of the way has helped thousands of people.
The Governor General spent almost two hours at Share the Warmth, shaking hands and talking to the many clients, playing with children and talking to students about their future. She is a classy lady and I can see why former Prime Minister Paul  Martin decided to recommend  her appointment to the Queen. Michaëlle Jean is a distinguished head of state and we  are lucky to have her.

A successful 2010 CSL Winter Carnival

The 2010 Côte Saint-Luc Winter Carnival  was a big success,  featuring horse-drawn carriage rides, taffy on the snow, a pancake breakfast, outdoor hockey tournament and much more at Pierre Elliott Trudeau Park and the Samuel Moskovitch Arena over the Valentine’s Day Weekend. In fact, the fun continues on Saturday evening, February 20  (7:30 p.m.) at the Côte Saint-Luc Gymnasium (7500 Mackle Road) with the second annual “Dance to the Oldies But Goodies,” with music from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. Tickets are $18 (in advance only). Call 514-485-6806 for details.


Congratulations to our Parks and Recreation staff and event co-chairs, Councillors Mitchell Brownstein and Allan J. Levine.  

The fun all began on Friday, February 12 with the beginning of the Peewee ‘A' invitational outdoor hockey tournament. Eight teams from various communities  participated.   On Saturday, February 13, there was a  special public skating session at the Samuel Moskovitch Arena., with all proceeds from the entrance fees going to Manoir Ronald McDonald (

( The latter, located in Côte des Neiges,  offers an affordable and comforting home away from home for families who have a child hospitalized for a serious sickness in a Montreal hospital.  

On Sunday, February 14, a hot pancake breakfast was served in Chalet 1 of Pierre Elliott Trudeau Park.

The breakfast was sponsored by McDonald's franchisee Pierre Brunet.  I had a chance to chat with our most beautiful police officer, Station 9’s Marie Christine Nobert, who is always on hand for our events to lend a hand. Over the course of the afternoon children got to enjoy face painting, arts and crafts, balloons, hot chocolate, cider, taffy on snow, inflatable activities, horse-drawn carriage rides and skating on Centennial Lake.  Luc Carnival, the event mascot, was busy making the rounds.

I also had a chance to view the magnificent figure skating club exhibition and take part in the presentation of trophies.

Following this we had the pleasure of presenting a cheque of $3,000 to  Le Manoir Ronald McDonald de Montréal, increasing the figure of $2,500 from last year.

Public skating was free of charge from for one hour and that was followed by   the Youth Hockey all-star game...


Event sponsors included The Suburban, Domino's Pizza, IGA Pagano, Qualitifruits and Infusion Catering.





Michael Polak: New Honourary Consul General in Montreal for the Netherlands

Since obtaining his law degree from McGill University in 1982 and passing the Quebec bar exam a year later,  attorney Michael Polak has enjoyed a successful career.


The son of parents of Dutch origin, Quebec Court Judge and retired  Liberal Member of the National Assembly Max Polak (pictured with Michael below),  and Celine Spier, Polak  grew up in Côte Saint-Luc. In fact his parents still reside in the same Wavell Road home.PolakMike & Max1


Over the years Polak has travelled to the Netherlands several times, usually with his parents, and  served as a member of the Canada Netherlands Chamber of  Commerce. He has also assisted the Netherlands  Consulate in Montreal with Dutch-Quebec contracts on numerous levels. Ironically, while his parents had to surrender their Dutch citizenship when they came to Canada more  than 50 years ago, through what he calls a “loophole,” Michael was able to claim dual citizenship about a decade ago.


Polak believes that these factors led to his formal confirmation this month as the Honourary Consul General for the Netherlands in Montreal. “As the  title explains this is honourary and I will not get paid,” he told me. “I will, nonetheless, try to represent the Kingdom of the Netherlands at every opportunity here.”


Polak’s mother is a survivor of the Holocaust and the Theresienstadt  concentration camp in the former Czechoslovakia. Her experience was in fact described in detail in the novel What World Is Left. It was written by Monique Polak, Michael’s sister and while it focuses on a fictitious character named Anneke and her family, it is inspired by  he experiences of  Celine Spier.  Michael  Polak says that until  his sister  began doing the research for this book, their mother had never discussed her experience in Theresienstadt


Max Polak, born to a Jewish father and a  non-Jewish mother, met Celine after the war in Holland. They  moved to Canada in 1954  and raised three children: Michael, Monique and Caroline, also a lawyer.


“This honourary appointment means a great deal to my parents and they are just tickled pink,” says  Polak. “ For many years the Netherlands had a full Consulate here. In fact, there was a Jewish Consul General named Albert Moses.  For budgetary reasons they had to close and I was actually approached more than a year ago. Even though my post is honourary  I needed a former letter from Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. The Canadian government required a security clearance. This all took time. Now that it is done I am here to be of assistance. If people have VISA problems, I can help. I am in  constant communication with the embassy in Ottawa.”


Polak notes that this coming May will mark the 65th anniversary of  the  liberation of Holland. “It was Canada,” he said, “which played the most significant role.”


Indeed Canada’s most notable role in bringing about the end of the Second World War was the liberation of the Netherlands on May 5, 1945. To this day, the Dutch Royal Family sends 10,000 tulip bulbs to Ottawa each year as a show of thanks.  In the early hours of May 7, just two days after Canada’s victory in the Netherlands, Germany’s High Command of Armed Forces signed an unconditional surrender at a schoolhouse in Rheims, France. The following night, a second and final surrender was signed at a villa just outside Berlin.


Polak’s legal practice remains a busy one as the counsel for three international airlines,  a representative to a myriad of radio, television and production companies, handling licensing,  distribution, mergers and acquisitions for  foreign companies based in the Netherlands, Spain, France, Belgium, the United States, Germany and China . He is also involved in a  number of community activities.  His wife, Penelope Kershaw,  is the  president of one of the oldest philanthropic organizations in the city  The American Women’s Club of Montreal.  Polak says he will be counting on her  broad experience in community affairs in his efforts to  elevate the relations between the Netherlands and Montreal for greater cultural understanding and exchange.


Honourary Consul General Michael Polak can be reached at 514-935-6226.

Nikki Yanofsky's Canadian OIympic song

Teen singing sensatiom Nikki Yanofsky’s career continues to blossom. With her first studio album due out in the spring and just having come off two tours to the Orient, the energetic Hampstead resident will now be getting some truly worldwide exposure as the voice behind the official theme song for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games. he theme music, written for Vancouver 2010 broadcasts by Canada’s Olympic Broadcast Media Consortium, has evolved into an original song that was released at the end of January to radio stations across the country and made available for download on I-Tunes.Nikki Yanofsky

I Believe, an original song performed by three prominent Canadian artists, is the lyrical manifestation of the theme music that will be featured throughout consortium broadcasts. The consortium is a unique arrangement involving CTV, TSN, RDS, RIS Info Sports, Rogers Sportsnet, OMNI, OLN, V, APTN, ATN,,, The Globe and Mail, Corus Québec and select Rogers radio stations across the country.I Believe was recorded in several different formats, including an English single performed by Yanofsky, a French single, entitled J’Imagine, performed by popular Quebec recording artist Annie Villeneuve (the girlfriend of Minnesota Wild hockey star Guillaume Latendresse); a bilingual version, also recorded by Villeneuve; and a full-length instrumental by the theme music’s award-winning Canadian composer, Stephan Moccio. Yanofsky’s recording of I Believe was produced by 14-time Grammy Award-winning legend Phil Ramone and Grammy Award-winner Jesse Harris.

How did this all come about? "I don't remember exactly when, but I met Stephan Moccio at the Juno Awards last year and I guess we were on each others radar," she told the Jewish Tribune. " I kinda learned the words and the melody at the same time. What can I say- what an incredible honour! I am speechless."

The song is just such a universal message," she remarked. "It doesn't even need to be applied to the Olympics. It's really just about believing in yourself and your talent, and that when you're down, there's people around you that really do support you. It's really something I believe in. Pardon the pun."

An EP, distributed by Universal Music Canada, hit stores on February 2 containing three versions of the song: I Believe, J’Imagine and the instrumental track, as well as behind-the-scenes footage of the music/recordings in the making.

For more information log on to To see her video click here:  Nikki's Olympic video.



Justin Trudeau visits Bialik High School

Liberal Member of Parliament Justin Trudeau stepped out of his own East End Montreal Papineau constituency  recently  for a speaking engagement  in Cöte Saint-Luc’s District 2, more specifically Bialik High School. This also happens to be the federal riding his legendary late father, former  Canadian Prime Minister  Pierre Elliott Trudeau, held for nearly 20 years.JustinTrudeauM'ke2010  

I have had the good fortune to spend time with Justin over the past couple of years, mostly when he speaks to students. To say he has a gift for the spoken word is an understatement. I have always seen him as a future Liberal Party leader and prime minister.

Becoming an MP was not easy for Justin. He should have been handed the safe riding of Outremont by former leader Stéphane Dion in a by-election nearly three years ago.  Instead Dion opted in favour of a journalist named Jocelyn Coulon . Seeing that the Grits had chosen a weak candidate, the New Democratic Party entered star candidate Thomas Mulcair in the race and  he won. Justin was forced to battle for a nomination in Papineau against two adversaries and then face an incumbent Bloc Québecois MP. 

At the  Bialik talk Justin said he recognized there were a lot of cynics out there when he announced his decision to run: “I know that a lot of people were saying things like ‘What has he done? He is running on his last name.’ So I picked the toughest riding  to get nominated in and then to win an election. I did both.”

Before Justin gave one of two one hour talks at Bialik , Principal Andrew Trager told the students how fortunate they were to have a speaker of this calibre find the time in his schedule to come be with them. “This is an opportunity for you,” he advised. “I suggest you use it!”

And that they did, sitting attentively as he spoke about subjects ranging from the environment,  world poverty, social media and youth empowerment and his role as the Liberal Party’s official critic on multiculturalism and youth.  

What motivated him to become a Member of Parliament? “The fact that my father was a politician and represented this area was something that actually served as a deterrent to me,” Trudeau responded. “If your dad is a lawyer or there is a family business, you  might  say that I want to find my own path. I decided not to go into law, which is what my father did before politics, but become a teacher. For me, becoming a teacher was important to help make a difference in this world.

“I wanted to make a difference  not because I was a Trudeau, but because I am a Canadian..As a teacher I was touching a lot of people, but I looked for the next step where I could have the most impact. That is where politics became a natural extension.”

While Justin has been considered a future prime minister since the day he made such an emotional eulogy at his father’s funeral, he was politically correct when responding to a question as to whether he covets the big job.  “Getting into politics is a way of impacting upon others,” he said. “If you are focusing on what your next step is then you are not paying attention to what you can do right now. Is it possible I will seek to become prime minister one day? Yes. Is it something I am planning for now? No. I want to think about what I need to do right now.”

Many students were eager to hear what it was like growing up as the son of a prime minister. “It was pretty neat,” he admitted. “Our home at 24 Sussex Drive had 13 bathrooms. At the same time we knew this was not our real house. We were given the opportunity to live there and travel around the world because it was contingent upon the job my father was doing.”

Check out for more on this great young man.

Tax increase the fault of the Agglo

Property owners in Côte Saint-Luc received their tax bills this week after our elected council adopted the 2010 budget. This process was delayed as the  Agglomeration Council, headed by Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay, once again stuck it to the suburban municipalities which demerged from the mega-city four years ago. Some gratitude! Tremblay would not have his job if it were not for the suburbs.

Côte Saint-Luc council and administrative staff did extensive work to trim costs wherever possible and achieved a 0.7 percent decrease in the average residential property tax bill for the local portion of the bill controlled by the municipality. Unfortunately, despite the decrease in taxation for local spending, there was an overall increase of 4.9 percent in the average residential property tax bill because of the dramatic increase of 11.2 percent in the bill Côte Saint-Luc will be charged for island-wide services by the Montreal agglomeration council.

"We are proud that due to our careful planning and prudent fiscal management, residents will see a tax decrease on the local portion of the Côte Saint-Luc budget," Mayor Anthony Housefather said. "Unfortunately the average residential property tax bill will rise 4.9 percent this year due to the dramatic increase in the cost of island-wide services. We opposed the Montreal budget that imposed these increases and continue to believe that in this recessionary environment, any increase in taxes beyond the cost of inflation is unacceptable and grossly unfair. We have done our utmost to mitigate the effect on our residents by our local cuts and are pleased that our average tax increase on a residential property is less than the average tax increase for an average property within the City of Montreal and most other neighbouring municipalities."

Côte Saint-Luc is responsible for delivering local services, such as snow clearing, library and recreation services, road and sidewalk resurfacing, aqueduct repairs and much more. It is also responsible for delivering emergency medical services on its territory The island-wide Agglomeration of Montreal (Agglo)  is funded by 16 municipalities—including Côte Saint-Luc—and is responsible for delivering island-wide and regional services such as public transit, fire services, police services, water treatment. Côte Saint-Luc collects property taxes on its territory and pays the Agglomeration of Montreal for island-wide services.

The 2010 Côte Saint-Luc budget totals $56.9 million representing $31.2 million for local services and $25.7 million to pay the Agglomeration of Montreal for island-wide services. While the cost of local Côte Saint-Luc services has increased by just 0.52 percent compared to 2009, the bill for island-wide Agglomeration services has increased by 11.2 percent. Yes, this is not fair! Our mayor and his colleagues are not taking this sitting down. They will take this to the provincial government. If you are unhappy as a taxpayer then tell your local MNA from D'Arcy McGee, Lawrence Bergman.

"The first installment for taxes is due is March 1 and the second on May 31.

Again this year, the Côte Saint-Luc city council and management team used a strict budget process used in the private sector. Instead of using historical budgets as a base and adding to it, a form of zero-based budgeting was used where every department function was reviewed comprehensively and all expenditures had to be justified. This budgeting process allows city council and the management team to allocate resources more efficiently as it is based on real needs and priorities, allows for better understanding of overall budgets, encourages managers to find cost effective ways to improve operations, and complements the city’s objectives of financial accountability.

Just as the operating budget allows short-term planning and control of current operating needs, the capital expenditures budget is a tool to aid long-term planning and control of long-range and capital needs, such as road and sidewalk replacement, sewer replacement and repairs, repairs to municipal buildings, upgrades and improvements to parks, pools and equipment, replacement and upgrade of municipal vehicles.

The city council also approved the three-year capital expenditures budget on December 16, 2009. The budget is $23.5 million in 2010, $6.9 million in 2011 and $6.7 million in 2012. The City of Côte Saint-Luc will continue to maximize the use of grants for capital expenditures such as the PRECO, the new Gas Tax and FCCQ grants available by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs. The Intergenerational/Aquatic Centre has been identified as a possible project for 2010 costing approximately $18 million. Côte Saint-Luc has submitted an application for funding of $11.5 million to Ministry of Municipal Affairs (MAMROT) to cover two-thirds of the cost of the project. The municipality is waiting for a positive reply from MAMROT before making a decision to proceed.