Councillor Mike Cohen welcomed everyone to this District 2 meeting. More than 60 people were in attendance. Many others called and emailed in advance, asking for a summary to be posted on the mikecohen.ca website. This is always the case. Councillor Cohen reminded everyone that since he was first elected four and half years ago he has made it a point to have these meetings. He in fact introduced the concept and several of his colleagues have followed the same lead.
2. Mayor Housefather
Councillor Cohen was pleased to introduce Mayor Anthony Housefather, he himself a resident of District 2. The mayor provided everyone on hand with a comprehensive breakdown of the Cavendish Mall dossier. He noted that council finally adopted Plan 44 A, which shows how much negotiating went on between the city and the Mall over a four year period. The Mall will soon be given permission to demolish part of its building. In its place, a housing development will take shape. He indicated that our hope is to see town houses and single family homes at affordable prices so that young families will settle there. The mayor encouraged everyone to attend special public meetings about the Mall at City Hall on June 7 (7 p.m.) and June 14 (7 p.m.).
The audience was also updated on the new $17 million Aquatic-Intergenerational Centre we will construct on Parkaven next to the large outdoor pool. We received $11 million in federal and provincial grant money. The facility will have an indoor pool, a fun pool for young children and plenty of meeting space. This will become the new home of our senior groups, saving us $100,000 in annual rental fees at the Côte Saint-Luc Shopping Centre. We will also be able to have special events there, such as the Volunteer Appreciation Evening, alleviating the need to rent a hall. The mayor encouraged one and all to attend a public information meeting on this project at a date to be announced soon.
3. Rembrandt Park
Harold Cammy, the Manager of Sports and Facilities with our Parks and Recreation Department, gave an extensive preview of the planned changes for Rembrandt Park. Councillor Cohen noted that work is only scheduled to begin in September. While council has approved a plan, one of the main reasons for holding this meeting now was to consult the public.
Rembrandt Park presently has two courts. They are the only two truly public courts in the city. The Côte Saint-Luc Tennis Club is private and there are fees attached. Rembrandt is free with a CSL Fun Card and has a nominal fee attached without.
The city has decided to add four more courts at Rembrandt. One of the reasons for this is that the courts on Caldwell, in the parking lot of the old Wagar High School, have been deemed unsafe and cannot be used any longer.
Mr. Cammy said that four courts will be built where the present two exist and in place of the basketball court. Two other courts will go up on the grass area further along towards Merrimac. This is the spot that was once a soccer pit that we filled a few years ago. Plans also call for a parking lot with enough space for nine cars.
Why get rid of the basketball courts? For the past number of years seniors have complained that the courts attract young people from outside of the community late at night that are up to no good. Michel Martel, the CSL chief of Public Security, was on hand at the meeting and confirmed this to be the case. So did Rembrandt Ave. resident Ruby Goodman, who works as an attendant at the park.
This is a $900,000 project and it will include new lighting.
There was a lot of feedback on this issue. Some, like Rob Leibner, were very passionate about not eliminating the basketball courts. Others like Doug Roseman were not crazy about the need for a parking lot.
As Mr. Cammy and Councillor Cohen emphasized, all of the comments were heard and recorded. They will be brought back to the Tennis and Parks and Recreation Committees.
4. Work on Kildare Road
At the May 10 Côte Saint-Luc City Council meeting the contract to sleeve the aqueduct on Kildare road, between Rembrandt and Merrimac, was awarded to Les Entreprises Canbec Construction Inc. and authorized a payment of an amount not to exceed $322,191.00 plus applicable taxes. In the winter of 2009 there were several water main breaks on this stretch. The CSL engineering division did a terrific job containing the problem. We were not able to complete the necessary work last summer, which involves a complete pipe replacement. Fortunately we had a mild winter and no incidents. Because of the heavy traffic flow involving Bialik High School we decided to wait until July when classes are out to do the project.
Charles Senekal, the city’s traffic engineer, reported that work will begin July 5. A week prior we will put in temporary pipes for potable water. Work will end mid August. Mr. Senekal said he will be doing his best not to inconvenience folks as much as possible and for 90 percent of the time he will make sure we have two lanes open on Kildare (one eastbound , one westbound). Only in a very rare circumstance does he foresee us having to completely close Kildare. He will not be closing Sir Walter Scott Avenue completely at any stage other than an unforeseeable situation that may arise, perhaps for an hour or two during the asphalt work. This would also affect Ilan Ramon Crescent. We will have to close Rembrandt completely at Kildare (only for one day). Motorists can access via Merrimac.
A lot of people asked whether as part of this work, the rough pavement surface between Rembrandt and Cavendish will be redone. Mr. Senekal noted that it is not in the budget of this project. Councillor Cohen said he will work towards it being taken care of.
There were many questions about the traffic lights at the corner of Cavendish and Kildare. It is a familiar situation. Motorists often find the wait at the light is too long. Pedestrians find the crossing signal too brief. Sidney Margles, the new president of the Senior Men’s Club, recommended pedestrians cross on the north side of Cavendish and Kildare.
Mr. Senekal said that he continues to monitor the situation. We have made many modifications and tried to accommodate different needs. There were a number of suggestions made and he will take these to the traffic committee.
5. Sir Walter Scott/Kildare Road /Ilan Ramon
Councillor Cohen was pleased to announce that after many years of discussion, council has finally agreed to place stop signs on both side of Kildare Road and Sir Walter Scott, together with a protected crosswalk. This will be in place after the piping and repaving is done on Kildare. Many young families and seniors have complained that this is a busy corner to cover.
Ilan Ramon residents complained about the fact so many cars from the Westwood apartments on Kildare are parking on their street overnight and blocking corners.
It was explained that the Westwood is having its garage redone. The city has taken the unprecedented step of getting permission from the Ministry of the Environment to allow cars to park in the snow dump area. This cannot be done, however, until all car owners sign waiver forms. Chief Martel said his team would keep an eye on any cars violating parking rules.
Last year Mr. Senekal and Councillor Cohen took a walkabout on Ilan Ramon with residents to hear concerns. That will be repeated again on June 17.
6. Marc Chagall Ave. Update (Town Houses, Chabad)
When will construction begin on the new Marc Chagall Town Houses? We are awaiting certain information from the developer before a permit can be issued. We hope this will occur soon, as almost all of the 21 units are sold.
Beth Chabad will need a new home when the Cavendish Mall starts demolition, probably in August. Their community centre on Kildare and Marc Chagall is not ready yet, but they will probably have to find a way to move into the facility gradually. Some say they will start operating out of the basement.
Councillor Cohen indicated that a lot of progress has been made over the last number of years on this dossier. The school administration has been cooperative. We have established student traffic committees. Florian Gaudreau, the head of security and facilties, has been most helpful. Two Grade 10 students, Gabriel Alon and Zack Campbell, recently earned community service points from their school for doing some traffic analysis.
Mr. Gaudreau filed this report prior to the meeting.
Subject: Morning drop-offs and afternoon pick-ups are creating traffic congestion issues along Kildare. Neighbours on both sides of the street are quite upset.
Introduction: In the past several days I have been present for both parts of the day. The following is a partial solution that I hope will ease the congestion so that we could all use the street in a more collaborative way.
Morning traffic: This part of the day seems to be the most congested. The flow of traffic is restricted coming from the Meadows condo complex and the Westwood apartment block. Traffic is also affected along Merrimac because school traffic impedes drivers trying to access Kildare.
Main problem: The main problem seems to be that parents insist on dropping off their children right at the walkway. This backs traffic all the way up the street. To further aggravate the traffic, there have been cars parked illegally along Kildare; not just once, but several mornings in a row.
Afternoon pick up: The traffic has been less of a problem during the afternoon, but safety seems to be more of an issue. The reason traffic backs up in the afternoon is because of our crossing guard, who has to contend with a flood of children leaving the school.
Possible solution to morning drop off: We will try putting a second person out there to encourage parents to move further along the drop off zone. This may ease some of the problem. I would like to ask the city’s permission to paint the curb of the sidewalk in order to signify the presence of drop off zone. I believe this will cement the idea of where to drop off the children.
Possible solutions for the afternoon pick up: The only traffic problem that can be addressed is that of parents parking in the Westwood parking area. The complaint that I received was that the parking area was so jammed that one of the tenants couldn’t get out of her assigned parking area. I have been telling parents not to park there, but it may take some time to get the point across. The duration of the afternoon traffic is much shorter and less congested because there are two city buses and two regular school buses to accommodate the flow of children.
Conclusion: I hope this report will effect change and that we can come to a satisfactory resolution to this problem. I’m truly sorry that this situation has gotten to the point it has. I totally understand the concerns and frustration of our neighbours. It is my hope that we resolve these problems as soon as possible.
8. Digital Signage
Councillor Cohen announced that the city’s first ever digital sign will soon go up at the corner of Cavendish and Kildare. We have installed the concrete base and done the electrical for the digital sign and the frame is being manufactured. We have been in contact with Kazoo Media (provider of sign) and they indicated it should arrive and be installed by end of July the latest. This sign will not cost the city anything. It will advertise city events and include some commercial material as well.
9. Mike’s blog
Councillor Cohen asked everyone to read his blog at www.mikecohen.cato really know what is going on in the District and the city. On can also subscribe by filling their email address on the right hand side of the screen.