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November 2010

A video interview with Jacob from Lost, Mark Pellegrino

When the cult hit television show Lost  concluded its dramatic six  year run last May, as a devoted fan I went into withdrawal. Recently, I received the DVD box set of the final season. That helped  ease the pain a bit.  In November  I met the man who played the pivotal role of Jacob, actor Mark Pellegrino. He was in Montreal shooting the much anticipated new original drama called  Being Human, a North American version based on the British series. Look for it on SPACE TV in Canada and t he SyFy Network in the USA in January. After I interviewed him for my column in    The Suburban Newspaper  my friend and colleague Daniel Smajovits, helped me film this chat with “Jacob.”

Although Pellegrino only joined Lost at the very end of the second to last season, his character was the key to making sense of all of the plotline mysteries. Meeting him was a real thrill, Ever since Lost ended its run I held out hope that I would meet a cast member and be able to ask them the same kinds of questions all fans had on their minds. Pellegrino was an absolute delight: polite, humorous and very open. We met in the lobby of his hotel. He was wearing glasses and reading a book. When he stood up I was surprised to see how tall he was – six-foot-three- and in what phenomenal physical condition he’s in.

A lesson in "placemaking" for council

The mayor, members of city council and senior staff took part in a day-long workshop on placemaking recently. I must say it was a most interesting experience and I thank Mayor Anthony Housefather, Councillor Ruth Kovac and City  Manager Tanya Abramovitch for inspiring us to take part.
A few weeks ago the mayor, Councillor Kovac and Tanya attended a conference and met the people from  Project for Public Spaces (PPS),  a non-profit planning, design and educational organization dedicated to helping people create and sustain public spaces that build stronger communities.  Their pioneering “placemaking” approach helps citizens transform their public spaces into vital places that highlight local assets, spur rejuvenation and serve common needs.
PPS was founded in 1975 to expand on the work of William (Holly) Whyte, the author of The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces. Since then, they have completed projects in over 2,500 communities in 40 countries and all 50 US states. Partnering with public and private organizations, federal, state and municipal agencies, business improvement districts, neighborhood associations and other civic groups, we improve communities by fostering successful public spaces.
In addition to leading projects in their nine program areas, PPS also trains more than 10,000 people every year and reaches countless more through its websites and publications. PPS has become an internationally recognized center for resources, tools and inspiration about Placemaking.
Through research, conferences, and strategic partnerships, PPS promotes “placemaking” as a transformative agenda to address some of the most pressing issues of our time.  In its broadest application, “placemaking” is a catalyst for building healthy, sustainable and economically viable cities of the future.
In Côte Saint-Luc we are about to embark upon some exciting times. Our new $18 million Community and Aquatic Centre is under construction and expected to be completed by the summer. The Cavendish Mall development is also taking shape, with 40 percent of the shopping centre currently being demolished.
PPS President Fred Kent (right) and Senior Director (Downtowns and Streets)  Norman Mintz  showed us multiple examples of public spaces, in “before” and “after” shots.  Fred  Kent
To say this inspired us is an understatement.   PPS split us up into small team and had us head outdoors. Our task was to examine the front of our  City Hall/Library complex from different vantage points. It was an eye opening  experience. We came back inside energized and full of ideas of how we could transform this area. I will save the details for another day when perhaps  citizens will rejoice over the exciting choices we make. But let me be clear. This council now has a brand new way of looking at the “public places” in our community and we are better for it.
Check out pps  for yourself here.



Digital signage arrives in Côte Saint-Luc

I am very excited with the arrival of the first digital sign in the history of Côte Saint-Luc.

Digital signage has arrived in the city of Côte Saint-Luc. An attractive four by seven full colour and weatherproof LED display was installed last week at the corner of Cavendish  Boulevard and Kildare Road.031

This is an initiative of Kazoo Digital, which already provides digital signage Solutions for retailers, medical and dental clinics, and corporate offices with the use of in house digital display systems. Company president Howard Szalavetz notes that this agreement reached with Côte Saint-Luc marks the first outdoor sign.

Messages appearing on the sign represent a combination of city announcements and advisories and paid advertisements. Szalavetz states that a number of inquiries from community organizations and businesses have already been received. “We chose Cavendish as the first location for many reasons,” says Szalavetz. “First and foremost, it is the gateway to Côte Saint-Luc.  The screen is also placed in such a manner that the messages are able to be read quite clearly while vehicles are stopped at the traffic lights.”

Szalavetz notes that plans call for at least two more digital signs to be installed in Côte Saint-Luc. As part of its agreement with the city, Côte Saint-Luc has the right to veto any advertiser they do not feel would be appropriate.  Messages will run on a continuous two minute and eight second loop – 16 ads per loop.
“Advertisements on digital signs are proven to have a higher consumer recall than those of static mediums such as billboards and bus shelters” says Szalavetz. “They help increase sales and customer satisfaction. Our advertisers find that a few strategically placed advertisements on digital signage displays pay for themselves in just a few months.”

For more information log on to, email or call 514-529-6655.


Remembrance Day

Councillor Ruth Kovac and myself represented city council today at a Remembrance Day ceremony at Veteran's Park in Cöte  Saint-Luc. There were a number of vets from Brigadier Kisch Branch #97 on hand. We are very fortunate to have these gentlemen, who fought overseas all those years ago, in our midst. Among them was former Mayor Bernard Lang. Councillor Kovac, Police Commander Sylvain Bissonnette, Public Safety Director Jordy Reichson and myself laid a wreath. For Councillor Kovac it was an emotional experience. She was born in Holland and came to Canada as a baby.


CSL resident Ros Schneidman to be honoured

As the longtime national executive vice-president of Emunah Women of Canada, the local branch of the world’s  largest women’s Zionist organization, Roslyn Schneidman knows the importance of an annual gala fundraiser. In fact, one of her main tasks over the years has been to seek out honourees from coast to coast. RozSchneidmanEmunahBW

It was therefore a bit of role reversal last summer when  Rena Schondorf and  Bayla Aspler entered her Côte Saint-Luc office and  requested that she be the 2010 honouree.

“There was a time when  I convinced both Rena and Bayla to be honourees so they knew I could not refuse them,” Schneidman said. “This basically completed the circle. I may be working for the organization, but Emnuah is really in my blood and I truly only accepted because of where the proceeds will be directed."

The tribute evening in honour of Schneidman and her 33 years with Emunah will take place on Monday evening November 8  at the Crowne Plaza Hotel (6600 Cote de Liesse). Proceeds will go towards   supporting  the expansion of the Orfus-Sinai Dormitory for Teenage Girls at Risk at Neve Michael Children’s Village in Hadara, Israel, located  half way between Tel Aviv and Haifa.

“It is a cause so very close to my heart,” said Schneidman. “Neve Michael is a safe haven for Israeli children at risk whose biological parents can no longer care for them. It provides sustenance, education, and a warm and caring environment to needy children from the ages of  three to 18 years old. Together with the devoted membership of Emunah, we realized the creation of the Canada Pavillion  Crisis Centre for Children at Risk and the David Shock Synagogue at Neve Michael.”

Schneidman estimates that she has been to Israel in her Emunah capacity at least 60 times. “I remember being at the airport in Israel when these teenagers from Ethiopia came off the plane barefoot,” she recalls. “We settled them at Neve Michael and watched them grow. We see them now having served in the army, with families of their own  and as proud Israelis.”

Emunah, notes Schneidman, means faith.   Her granddaughter, Emily Lawrence, recently became a fourth generation Emunah family member when she rallied her classmates at Hebrew  Academy to raise money for Neve Michael. “She did a powerpoint, showed it to her class and brought  in over $400,” said a proud Schneidman.

Schneidman was raised  in Outremont and lived there most of her life until a decade ago when she and husband Leonard sold their home and bought a condo in Ditsrict 2 of  Côte Saint-Luc.  Her first vocation was that of a public school teacher at  the primary level. When she got married and her wedding day fell in September she was told that she could not have the necessary time off. That propelled her into community work for a number of organizations, ultimately leading to her present post at Emunah.

Emunah Women of Montreal has a local membership of 600 active participants. Their 13 chapters meet regulary. Some of the projects supported by Emunah Women in Israel include: day care centers, children’s residential homes, high schools for girls, golden age clubs, Jewish studies groups, family and marital counselling services as well as training volunteers to aid newly-arrived immigrants in adapting to life in Israel. 
Now 75 years young, Schneidman realizes that retirement will come sooner than later. “Not just yet,” warns the woman better known as “Mrs. Emnunah.”

For more information about the gala call (514) 485-2397.

I am proud to be her city councillor.


Maisons Fleuries Contest Shows City Beauty

The Côte Saint-Luc City Hall  Council Chamber was filled to capacity on Monday November 1  for the annual Maisons Fleuries garden beautification contest  awards evening.  The city awards prizes to residents who create attractive green spaces with blossoming trees, flowers and shrubs. A panel of judges views the gardens and selects the winners and runners up based on various categories.

Councillors Allan J. Levine, Sam Goldbloom and former councillor Harold Greenspon co-chaired the contest and officiated at the ceremony. Director of Parks and Recreation David Taveroff was the master of ceremonies while the magnificent Edwin Brownell provided entertainment.

There were a number of award winners from District 2. Ilan Ramon Crescent neighbours Daniel J. Cohen and his wife Bonnie Roiter and Frank Palucci and his wife Sandra Cambone  came in first and second place respectively for single family and semi-detached homes in District 2. Bonnie and Frank are pictured below with me.  Le Rothchild on Mackle Road came in tops for highrise condos. The superb Seniors Garden, located off the parking lot of the Cavendish Mall, won an award and  president Sava Todorovic and his wife Martha received a well deserved special recognition award.BonnieFrank

I wish to salute all of our property owners who took the time to present such beautiful gardens. We know how much work it can be to create and maintain a garden and this contest our the city’s way of recognizing those efforts.

Residents were able to enter for consideration the garden of their single-family home, duplex or townhouse. All apartment buildings, commercial establishments and public buildings were automatically entered in the contest and were judged separately.  Judges assessed front gardens according to the cleanliness of the property, the appearance of plants and flowers and general landscaping.

The chairpersons of the Maisons Fleuries contest are Councillor Sam Goldbloom, Councillor Allan J. Levine and Harold Greenspon.