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December 2013

My 2013 Year in Review: City Councillor for CSL District 2

Since first being elected to Côte Saint-Luc City Council eight years ago, I have traditionally prepared a year in review.

I begin by thanking my constituents of District 2 for their confidence and my acclamation to office last October. After my maiden election in 2005, which I won with a 92 percent margin, I subsequently acclaimed in 2009 and 2013. I certainly did not take anything for granted and engaged in a busy door to door campaign from late summer until nominations closed. I have really enjoyed getting to know my constituents and there is no better way to do so than by coming to the door of someone`s home. In addition, I continue to hold my annual District meetings, walkabouts in the District and meet and greets.

District 2 encompasses Merrimac, Rembrandt., Kildare  (between Rembrandt and Marc Chagall), Sir Walter Scott,  Ilan Ramon, Marc Chagall, Mackle  (between Cavendish and Brandeis),  Quartier Cavendish Mall,  Jubilee, Park Place, Cavendish (Manoir Montefiore, Manoir Camelia, L’Excelsior) and Honoré-de-Balzac.

We have a large number of condominium complexes (high-rise and townhouse) and I have made it a point to stay in close contact with the respective condo presidents and their executives. Constituents know they can reach me easily by email or by calling the office of the councillors at City Hall.

A Third Mandate

Looking back on 2013, Mayor Anthony Housefather and seven of our eight members of city council were elected by acclamation. Only Councillor Sam Goldbloom (District 1) had to face the electorate against two opponents. Sam`s victory meant that the same council will now be together for a third successive mandate.

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Quartier Cavendish

District 2 is the home of Quartier Cavendish (the new name for Cavendish Mall). I was pleased to welcome new constituents who are part of the new housing development on the streets of Park Place, Jubilee, Kildare Road and Cavendish Boulevard. The new Kellert Avenue townhouses and single family dwellings are part of Councillor Glenn J. Nashen`s District 5.

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The Quartier Cavendish is a far better fit for our community in its present size, rather than having a 40 percent vacancy rate. We welcomed the Yeh!Yogurt & Café chain to the Quartier last June. Owners Jon and Marvin Gurman are natives of Côte Saint-Luc. Their mom still lives in the community. Yeh! recently gained MK certification. It is located on The Avenue, another new street leading to Kellert. We would one day love to see The Avenue become the Monkland Avenue of CSL.

Traffic Safety

During the year I spent time with our devoted crossing guard at the corner of Cavendish and Kildare, Archie Kwiatt. I even honoured him at my last District meeting. Archie does a great job ensuring people safely cross the street at this busy corner. Due to health reasons he takes the winter off and we make sure to find a good replacement for him.

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The personnel at Bialik High School, I believe, continue to do a good job on traffic control. Over the last number of years, following meetings I organized in conjunction with local Police Station 9 and our Public Security, we have made it clear that violating no parking zones, double parking and illegal U-turns are unacceptable. I believe that a lot of improvement has been seen.

Marc Chagall Avenue

The Beth Chabad CSL facility continues to be a hub of activity. Rabbi Mendel Raskin and his group have done a magnificent job at making this community centre/synagogue/reception hall one busy spot.

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We had a 1,300 square foot piece of land at the corner of Kildare Road and Marc Chagall available for purchase, with certain restrictions. This would have been a small two storey facility, perfect for a small pharmacy. In the end, we received no bids. The land is still available for purchase if someone wishes to make an offer.

The snow dump on Marc Chagall naturally remains a busy location during the winter. Once again in 2013, with the support of the mayor and the majority of council, I have been able to get majority votes in favor of chopping down the mountain of snow so that we are not left with the eyesore of a dirty ski hill in the middle of the summer.

Next to Les Cours Marc Chagall, the two year old townhouse condo complex, we have installed two permanent benches. We hope this is a small first step to eventually building some kind of park there.

Rembrandt Park

At Rembrandt Park, the two tennis courts are finally getting a facelift and new lights. This has been on my radar screen for a number of years. Work on resurfacing the courts took place last fall. The remainder of the job, including much needed new lighting, will occur next spring. I have spoken to many regulars of the courts who are just delighted with the changes. There were some other options on the table for Rembrandt Park, including the removal of the basketball courts. However, after holding a number of focus groups it was clear that the younger generation who use the park were not in favor of such a move.

There is a new commander of Police Station 9, Marc Cournoyer. He succeeded the wonderful  Sylvain Bissonnette.  I have met with Commander Cournoyer a few times already and one of the issues we have discussed was patrols of Rembrandt Park later at night and speeding infractions.

Portfolios

Each city councillor in CSL has portfolios. During the last two mandates, my main responsibilities encompassed Communications, Corporate Identity, Naming Opportunities, Intercommunity Relations, Sponsorship and since 2010, the CSL Cats Committee.

In 2013, the city continue to enhance our website (www.cotesaintluc.org) while increasing our profile in social media (Facebook,  twitter,  google plus). We have a growing email newsletter, regular press releases, the Côte Saint-Luc Courier newsletter, flyers, brochures, the two electronic screens on Westminster and Kildare, indoor information screens at the library, City Hall and the ACC, special notices to the public, a monthly calendar of events published in The Suburban Newspaper  and a host of other initiatives.

In terms of special events, I co-chaired the annual Côte Saint-Luc Golf Classic at Meadowbrook and our Human Rights Walkway ceremony on Canada Day honouring Jackie Robinson, who broke the colour barrier in Major League Baseball.  This program was preceded a month earlier by a lecture on the life of Robinson at CSL City Hall. Our panel included former Expo Warren Cromartie, a former teammate of Robinson with the Montreal Royals Kermit Kitman and historian Jack Jedwab. The audience was made up of local students from community and public schools. I was very proud to have hosted such a lesson in authentic learning, which also attracted good media coverage.

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Councillor Sam Goldbloom and I also co-chaired our Volunteer Appreciation Evening. We added a different twist by having a special showing of the CSL Dramatic Society`s magnificent presentation of Fiddler on the Roof. There was a nice pre-show reception and award presentations during intermission.

Cats Committee

I am exceedingly proud of the CSL Cats Committee, which I helped establish three years ago. We believe there are hundreds of homeless cats in our community. Our group of volunteers work on a Trap, Neuter, Release and Adopt Program.

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We rescue these cats, try to find them homes and work towards educating the public on the subject. Our second annual fundraising concert, featuring the Musicians of the World Symphony Orchestra, was another sellout.

City Wide

City wide, our council introduces an urban agriculture program and a weekly Farmer`s Market. We spoke out strongly against the PQ government`s proposed Bill 14 (toughening up the language laws) and Charter of Values.

AHDBTanya Urban ag news conference6

As the year 2013 draws to a close, I look forward to some new challenges the mayor has assigned me. Our new portfolios will be formally announced at our next public council meeting in January.

Please feel free to email me anytime via email (mcohen@cotesaintluc.org), phone (514-485-6945)  or by accessing my website (www.mikecohen.ca).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Wishing the wonderful Peter Kopitas well in his retirement

I first met Peter Kopitas 35 years ago. He was a new employee at Côte Saint-Luc’s Samuel Moskovitch Arena and I was a typical rink rat, writing for the local paper, refereeing, scorekeeping and even managing the equipment room.

Kopitas

It was very clear from our first encounter that Peter  (pictured above right) was a good person, always greeting people with a smile and a warm “hello.”  He remained at the arena for six years, moving on to our Parks and Recreation Department where he has remained a fixture since that time.

Peter was eligible to retire last May, but given the multiple functions he serves in the department replacing him is no easy task. So he stayed on for a longer period.  His last day on the job will be December 23, although I am sure he will be called back to lend a hand for certain projects.

While his formal title is “technical support,” Peter’s name should really be changed to “Jack” as in “Jack of all Trades,” for that attests to his true value.

Anyone who has attended a public event in CSL over the past three decades will recognize Peter: Canada Day, Winter Carnival, VE Day, Street Namings, Maison Fleuries, Concerts...the list is endless. Peter would set up the equipment, make sure the microphones worked perfectly and if there were drinks to serve he would be the bartender as well.

A typical day for Peter would be making countless deliveries and pickups, transferring books from our Library Express at the Aquatic and Community Centre to the main Côte Saint-Luc Eleanor London Public Library, overseeing inter-departmental mail delivery and doing bank deposits. There were many evening and weekend commitments for the job and Peter always performed his duties with great enthusiasm.

“I remember the ice storm of 1998,” Peter recalled when I sat down with him the other day. “I worked 10 days straight. There was so much to do. So many people were without food or power. I drove anywhere I could to find necessary supplies.”

Peter and his wife have two children: a son in Montreal and a daughter in Cyprus. The latter is the true reason for his retirement for Peter goes on skype each day to see and her from his granddaughter  He wants the time  and flexibility to go for some extended visits and now that is possible. His wife retires from her job soon as well, so the first trip is planned for March.


Harold Cammy, Manager of Sports and Administration,  started his career several years before Peter and remembers how he was so muchan integral part of the success of every special event within our community.

"Peter's title of technical support represented just a hint of what his real value was to the organization," Cammy said. "That value was manifested through his commitment, devotion and loyalty and to making sure that he carried out his responsibilities to the best of his abilities. To Peter, excellence was not a destination but rather a continuous journey.''

There is no question Peter’s presence will be missed. He was deservedly honoured at a retirement party last week.

Good luck Peter!


Successful CSL protest against the proposed Quebec Charter of "Shame"

Hundreds of people gathered outside  Côte Saint-Luc City Hall on December 2 for a morale lifting rally for religious freedom.

The rally itself was preceded by a Christmas tree lighting event with Father Peter Laviolette of Saint Richard’s Church of Côte Saint-Luc. Following the event, there was the traditional Chanukah menorah lighting with Rabbi Mendel Raskin of Chabad of Côte Saint-Luc.

This was a “feel good event” as guest speakers spoke out loudly against draft Bill 60, the proposed Charter of Quebec Values.

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“Some people have asked why as a city we are speaking out against the Charter,” said Mayor Anthony Housefather. “City government of CSL has an absolute right to speak out against the Charter.  Our council is unanimous in opposing it and in fact each and every city on the Montreal island has adopted positions against the Charter. We are against the Charter because it is a violation of both the Canadian and Quebec Charters of Rights and international treaties Canada has signed.  It would reduce religious and linguistic freedoms in Quebec as the primacy of French is also bundled into the Charter.  In the same way CSL led the fight in opposing Bill 14 which would have reduced our residents linguistic rights we will also lead the fight against this Charter.  Indeed the Charter is squarely a municipal issue as it impacts our employees and how the municipality operates including forcing elected officials to adopt policies against their conscience."

After opening remarks from Father Laviolette, the St. Richard’s Choir sang some Christmas tunes. They surprised us all with an improvised, “We wish you a Merry Chanukah!”

Rabbi Reuben J. Poupko  of Congregation Beth Israel Beth Aaron would later remark, “I am glad they did not sing Silent Night.”

Rabbi Poupko, Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz, Mayors William Steinberg and Beny Masella of Hampstead and Montreal West and Mayor Housefather energized the crowd with very strong words against the Charter.

Mayor Housfather called Bill 60 “an odious law,” and then put his own spin on former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s famous quote that the state has no business in the bedrooms of Canadians, noting how Quebec “has no place in the wardrobe of the nation.”

Mount Royal Liberal MP Irwin Cotler was unable to attend the rally, but he sent a message calling Bill 60 “the Charter of shame.”

Added Mayor Housefather: “ If god forbid this law is ever adopted we will go the courts. We will never discipline anyone because they wear a hijab, a kippa or a crucifix.”

Mayor Steinberg declared this his town will not enforce the Charter, if it is ever adopted. "Immigrants from all over the world have fled tyranny and racial strife to come to Quebec," he said. "They came here for freedom and democracy. They came to a place where they could express their religious beliefs without fear of persecution or discrimination. If Bill 60 – the Charter of Shame - becomes law, Quebec will no longer be that place. This odious Bill contains provisions to eliminate minority rights, to restrict freedom of religion and freedom of expression. The Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms will be amended so that these basic freedoms can be removed. We cannot allow that to happen. We must stand up and say no.

"The CAQ says that it is OK to ban religious symbols on authority figures like police, judges, and prosecutors. The Quebec Liberal Party now says that they might agree with that view. Well, they are wrong. What you put on your head does not suddenly make you unqualified or biased.  To force those who do these jobs to choose between their religious beliefs and their employment is immoral. Support for any part of Bill 60 fans the flames of racism and intolerance. I call upon the CAQ and the Quebec Liberal Party to stand up and just say no to Bill 60.  The Town of Hampstead will not recognize it as a valid law. We will not comply. We will not be complicit with hatred, racism and intolerance."

Mayor Masella acknowledged that while our communities have not elected PQ MNAs, “we need to tell the CAQ and the Liberals that there is no common ground here.”

Rabbi Steinmetz referred to the Charter of darkness. “It is destructive and divisive,” commented the spiritual leader of Tifereth Beth David Jerusalem Congregation.  “It is stirring up an awful lot of animosity in our community. It is a solution to a problem that does not exist. This is cheap demagoguery; a ploy to get better results at the ballot box.”

Rabbi Steinmetz said that he was never before reticent to be in certain parts of Quebec outside of Montreal wearing his kippa until now. “We are here not just to oppose it Bill 60, but to deny its legitimacy,” he said. “We will never respect this law. If it is ever passed, we will deny it and undermine it. We will act with civil disobedience and follow the lead of the Jewish General Hospital.”

Rabbi Poupko said that the Charter  is a repudiation of Quebec history. He accused the PQ government of  trying to divert attention from the economy. “The definition of a democracy is when minority rights are protected by law,”  he said.

After the rally, the large crowd moved over to the large menorah where Chabad officials first showed a video of how Chanukah is celebrated around the world with political leaders. Rabbi Mendel Raskin, just back from his native Casablanca, Morocco, looked around at the dozens of cars with Chanukah menorahs on top and smiled at the tradition which Côte Saint-Luc has made sure continues each year. Councillor Glenn J. Nashen then climbed aboard a truck with a lift and manually lit the shamash and six candles. Bravo Glenn!

Here is the video:

 

 


CSL Kosher gets "Chanukah" coverage in prestigious magazine

Avi Brook, Marianna Roth and their team from Côte St. Luc Kosher (www.cslkosher.com)  are featured on the front page of this edition of the December Chanukah edition of The Jewish Standard Magazine, the prestigious and glossy 84 year old quarterly which also has editions across Ontario.

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Côte Saint-Luc Kosher has been cooking up a storm once again for Chanukah. Prior to the holiday, Mrs. Roth baked her famous Chanukah latkes and sugar donuts and handed them out to the many regular customers who come through the door six days a week at 5533 Westminster at the corner of Côte Saint-Luc Road.

Côte Saint-Luc Kosher Meat Market has been servicing the palates of Jewish Montrealers for decades. Here you will find a wonderful array of kosher meat and ready to serve healthy meals made the day you pick them up.  You can choose from items such as chicken schnitzel, Chinese dishes, chicken burgers, roasted chicken, brisket, salads, soups and much more.   Avi the butcher is the son-in-law of Mrs. Roth, a legend of 50 plus years in the business. The supporting cast includes people like Billy Gerontakos, Claudia Levine and Wing Wah Li.  These days Côte Saint-Luc Kosher cannot only pride itself on having quality meat, but also the  premier kosher cuisine in the city. Their store is spacious and whether you are a longtime customer or someone dropping by for the first time, the team will always make you feel at home. Just call 514-481-4094 and look for them on Facebook.

If you are coming home from work and do not have time to cook dinner, head over  to Côte Saint-Luc Kosher where home cooked meals are waiting for you. Check their website for the menu.

The Jewish Standard Magazine (www.thejewishstandardmag.com) is available at many locations, including the Quartier Cavendish IGA, the Eleanor London CSL Library, the Jewish General Hospital, synagogues and other Jewish points of interest.