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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
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.