Your mayor and city council work very hard. We meet face to face on a very regular basis, attend numerous community functions and most importantly makes ourselves readily available to respond to the concerns of our constituents. If someone calls the City Councillor’s Office, we will get back to them right away. Most constituents, though, contact us via email. On any given night, I will have dozens of emails to respond to. I urge residents to stay tuned to my website (mikecohen.ca), where I publish frequent updates on community activities. Interestingly, it is when I take my walkabouts in District 2 or do my shopping at the local IGA, where constituents approach me in any aisle they see fit.
Here is my look back at 2012.
New Town Houses on Marc Chagall
The 21-unit town house complex, Les Cours Marc Chagall, was completed on time and I am pleased to welcome the new residents to the District. Located on Marc Chagall Avenue, this project was many years in the making. History will note that the land was originally zoned commercial. A few years ago a developer approached council for a zoning change to residential. It was clear from dialogue I had with residents in condo buildings in the immediate vicinity and through a public information session, town houses were far more preferable than a stripping shopping mall.
When council initially refused the zoning change, the developer began to promote a strip mall. Residents were concerned. Once again I worked with council and the zoning change was granted. While the first developer was not able to see the project through, a new consortium soon arrived on the scene. They were very successfully, selling out within six months.
The Snow dump
For years residents of Marc Chagall, specifically at La Marquise, complained about the large dirty hill of snow that remained in the snow dump into the early summer. With the support of Mayor Housefather I was able to secure enough votes for a special allocation to break the hill apart in early spring. I will endeavor to do the same after this next winter.
Not only is there is aesthetic problem with the snow dump, it is also dangerous. The previous summer I saw people climbing over the fence and walking up the snow dump hill. I had to call Public Security on several occasions to get these people down. The snow also attracted different birds and wild animals, from racoons to even coyotes.
I wish to thank Mayor Housefather for his strong support on this matter. He agreed to put the $10,000 in our 2012 budget. We needed five votes for this to pass. Besides myself, Councillors Allan J. Levine, Sam Goldbloom and Mitchell Brownstein supported the motion. It was a 4-4 tie, with the mayor casting the deciding vote.
Beth Chabad Thrives
Last May I was thrilled to attend Beth Chabad CSL’s 26th anniversary gala, which was highlighted by the debut of a gorgeous new social hall. Officially known as Beth Chabad Hechal Menachem, the building is home to the Maurice and Nicole Benisti Youth Centre. At the gala, Max and Sigy Laredo received the Tree of Life Award; Jacob and Therese Attias, the Builders Award; and Michel and Perline Amar, the Anshei Chesed Award.
The new social hall can accommodate close to 600 people. “This will fill a large void in the greater Montreal area where few halls can boast the capacity to hold events of this magnitude,” Rabbi Raskin told me “It will be equipped with state-of-the-art audio equipment and screens to hold community wide Jewish educational conferences, community lectures, symposiums and seminars throughout the year. This will be a place to hold holiday celebrations, weddings, brit milot, bar/bat mitzvahs in addition to many other occasions.
There may be some more opportunity in 2013 to construct something else new on Marc Chagall. Stay tuned.
Bialik High School
At Bialik High School, across the street, efforts have been successful to improve longstanding traffic congestion. A combination of working with the school administration and local Police Station 9 has resulted in much better conduct by parent motorists.
As the co-chair of the Côte Saint-Luc Human Rights Walkway project, I was happy to organize an event at Bialik to mark the 100th anniversary of righteous gentile Raoul Wallenberg`s birth. We invited students from a number of local public schools, the Consul General of Israel, the mayor and some members of council, community leaders and a gentleman whose family was saved by Wallenberg.
VE Day AND REMEMBRANCE DAY
District 2 is also home to Veteran’s Park, a piece of land directly beside City Hall, which serves as a fitting venue for VE and Remembrance Day activities specifically.
The annual Victory in Europe (V-E) Day commemoration ceremony in Côte Saint-Luc took place in May. The City of Côte Saint-Luc and the Brigadier Frederick Kisch Branch 97 of the Royal Canadian Legion organize the V-E Day event, which commemorates the victory of the Allies over Nazi Germany. We generally do not have a large Remembrance Day ceremony, especially when it falls during the week. This year it fell on a Sunday. Weather conditions were also quite nice. These two factors resulted in a larger than usual turnout.
Kildare Road Parking
For many years parking on the southern side of Kildare Road, between Rembrandt and Merrimac, had been prohibited on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Residents approached me numerous times to try and get this changed and for various reasons approval was not within reach. Last winter I worked with our head of engineering, Charles Senekal to come up with a resolution to this problem. Many residents of the condominium town houses on Kildare Road like to leave their cars on the street when they come from work, rather than park in their garage. The city, however, has always needed to allocate some time for street cleaning.
The compromise I was able to reach, with Mayor Anthony Housefather lending a helpful hand, was no parking on that strip between 7 a.m. and Noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Since most of the residents I spoke to indicate that it was late afternoon when they generally wanted to park on the street, I believe this is a winning solution. I would like to thank District 5 Councillor Glenn J. Nashen, who as head of the city's Transportation Committee, set the wheels in motion for this development.
I have met with senior officials from Hydro-Québec and we are in discussions to undertake a project which will improve the power grid on Rembrandt. Hydro plans to install a new underground infrastructure system. Work could begin by spring or summer. They promise minimum power disruptions and a comprehensive communications plan. This will be done over two years. During year one, they will install the underground infrastructure. During year two, they will pull the new cabling in and get the new system started. We are told Hydro will cover the costs of any damages made to property (roads, sidewalks, lawns). Plans also call for Merrimac Road to be repaved and we want this to be done after Hydro has conducted its initial work.
Stay tuned for more to come on this.
Cavendish Mall∕ Quartier Development
The new Cavendish Mall development is beginning to take shape. Many of the homes are already occupied. The new streets of The Avenue, Park Place, Jubilee and an extended version of Kellert are part of District 2 at the present time. We have come so far in the last seven years. When I was first elected in 2005, we began meeting with the Mall administration over their desires to demolish at least half of the shopping centre and have housing built. We were very diligent in dealing with their proposals, refusing options which would have resulted in unreasonable traffic congestion. I believe we agreed on a win-win project for everyone concerned. It has been wonderful to see the new streets take shape and the Mall lot reconfigured. When this is all completed, we will have a beautiful look.
It should be noted that the Mall is now known as Quartier Cavendish. Instead of having a shopping centre with a 40 percent vacancy rate, the facility is now full. Valet parking is available on certain days. The CLSC René-Cassin offers blood tests that are sent directly to the Jewish General Hospital. We will be having a ceremony in the spring for Jubilee Avenue to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.
In August, I was pleased to attend a barbeque held behind City Hal organized by the Oakridge Tenants Association. This is the apartment building located at the very end of Sir Walter Scott Avenue. It is a well established facility, with a pretty steady clientele.
Rembrandt Park continues to be a well used facility in the spring, summer and fall seasons, from the tennis courts, the water spray section and the play areas. People enjoy taking leisurely walks there and sitting on the benches. We continually consult with residents regarding any changes to the park. I am excited to announce that the long awaited upgrade of the tennis courts at Rembrandt, including the lighting, is expected to be done in 2013. I will know early in the new year what exactly we can expect and the proposed timing. Last summer the courts behind the former Wagar High School were refurbished. Because of that Rembrandt was placed on the waiting list.
I continue to hold at least one District meeting a year, bringing constituents together at City Hall to talk specifically about issues of a very local nature. There is always a good turnout. This year I had City Manager Tanya Abramovitch on hand to talk about a number of issues. City Engineer Charles Senekal and Public Works Director Patrick Raggo also added their expertise.
We always hear from people about traffic concerns, especially at the corner of Cavendish and Kildare. Our traffic experts continue to look at ways to make the traffic and pedestrian flow to move at a better pace. I will announce a new mode of consultation sometime in 2013.
Volunteer of the Year
District 2 resident Sidney Margles, who has done an outstanding job as president of the CSL Senior Men’s Club, was named the 2012 Volunteer of the Year at a Sunday Brunch we held in September at the Aquatic and Community Centre. It was a well deserved honour.
Community at Large
Each member of city council has specific portfolios to deal with. I am responsible for communications, sponsorship, naming opportunities, intercommunity relations and the CSL Cats Committee. I chaired the Human Rights Walkway Initiative (The Raoul Wallenberg centennial mentioned earlier) and the annual Seniors Golf Outing.
In 2012 we continued to upgrade the CSL website at cotesaintluc.org. It has a lot more interesting content, is updated frequently and remains the “go to” place for instant information. We have a facebook page, locally produced videos and an e-newsletter. The Côte Saint-Luc Courier Newspaper and district newsletter continue to be produced. We began publishing a monthly calendar of events in The Suburban Newspaper while councillor columns run in the Free Press Paper.
The CSL Cats Committee continues to be a labour of love for me. I cannot say enough about my loyal crew of volunteers. We continue to trap, neuter and release or seek the adoption or fostering of homeless cats. Every effort is made to have them adopted, especially the many baby kittens we rescue. During the year we held our first big fundraiser, a concert in August with the Musician of the World Symphony Orchestra where we honoured the CSL Hospital for Animals.
In addition, after many months of work on the part of staff and some committee members, we adopted our first ever cat licensing by-law. Outdoor cats now require licenses in Côte Saint-Luc. We still need more volunteers to come aboard. You can check out our special section on the CSL website at www.cotesaintluc.org∕cats.
Red Fisher and Gary Carter
In terms of naming opportunities, I was pleased to oversee the naming of the Red Fisher Sports Section in the Eleanor London Public Library. Red, the legendary sports writer, has lived in CSL for 56 years and is a devoted member of the library. We also named the main field at Pierre Elliott Trudeau Park after former Montreal Expos star Gary Carter, who lost his battle with cancer in 2012. A beautiful ceremony was held during our Canada Day celebrations, with former Expo Warren Cromartie on hand.