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March 2014

The Eleanor London CSL Public Library: Seeking to increase membership

The Eleanor London Côte Saint-Luc Public Library is a jewel in our midst. There are not too many libraries in Quebec, perhaps even Canada, which can rival our size, collection and the wide array of activities we offer. I am proud to be the city councillor responsible for Library and Culture. We presently have 11,804 members – only 352 of which are non-residents and our goal is to increase those numbers.

At the April 9 city council meeting, we will adopt a new strategy related to our program free schedule. For the first time we will be distinguishing between members and non-members rather than residents and non-resident for courses and workshops presented by the library.

We will make changes as follows. For all courses and workshops, there will be one price for library members and another for non-members. For programs that have limitations on how many people can attend, we will begin to implement a policy of either free for library members and a cost for non-members, or a cost for library members and a higher cost for non-members. Book clubs, which limit attendance to 12, will be for library members only.

Why do we want to make these changes? Well first of all to encourage membership. We also wish to ensure that the budget and staff time are allocated to library programs to serve CSL residents, and in particular members. If non-residents attend, they are paying for the privilege.

We wish to ensure that where programs have limited capacity they are filled with library members and places are not taken up by non-members. Not all programs will be affected. Ticketed events such as concerts or play readings will have one ticket price for all for the time being.This will be a gradual implementation.

For example our series called Let’s Talk Movies with Film Librarian Steven Tomlinson, will be free for library members and $15 for non-members. A six-class course like Introduction to Computers and email will be $90 for members and $120 for non-members. A children`s program like Hippity Hop will be free for library members and $25 for non-members.

Residents of CSL only need to pay a one-time fee of $5 to become a member of our library. So our first objective is to have all of our residents come get their card. We just need some personal identification.


Here is my message to non-residents. You will save a fortune with your membership, not having to go buy books at a store. Members can also take advantage of our online book service. And of course, there is the aforementioned discount for our courses, workshops and lectures. Just spend the night at Coles, Chapter`s or Indigo and see how the tab adds up. I know people who spend more money in one book store visit than the non-resident fees we charge.

Our annual non-resident fees are $175 for those 18 and over; $100 for seniors, teens 13 to 17 and children 12 and under. For $300, families of up to five people at the same address can become members. Montreal West already has a special package available for their residents: $100 per adult; $50 per senior (65 plus); $50 per child (under 18); and $200 per family. MoWesters must have a voucher from the Town.

Our library is open year-round, seven days a week, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

District 2's Quartier Cavendish profiled in The Montreal Gazette

A fresh start in Quartier Cavendish


On land that was once home to a larger Cavendish Mall, a family builds just what they want


Custom-built four-plus-one, three-level stone home took eight months to build on the vacant former mall site.

Sometimes, it’s all about second chances, even when it comes to finding the right home.

When Evan and Keren bought their first house four years ago, the young couple thought the turnkey, four-plus-one-bedroom bungalow in Côte St-Luc was a keeper. But it didn’t take long before they realized it wasn’t quite a perfect fit.

“It was on a busy street, and all the rooms went off the main hallway, so it seemed as if we were on top of each other,” said Keren.

“It wasn’t the right house for us.”

When a new housing development in Côte St-Luc offered an opportunity to build from the ground up, Evan jumped at the chance.

“The idea of doing our own house was appealing,” he said. “The other places we saw, there was always something. If we were going to spend that kind of money, then we thought, ‘Let’s do it the way we want.’”

In 2010, Cavendish Mall was downsized. The site was transformed into a town centre that became known as Quartier Cavendish. The southern end of the mall was demolished to make room for a residential development that included single-family and semi-detached homes and townhouses.

By the time the family bought 5,500 square feet of land in September 2011, the area was a large tract of dirt. “There were no streets. They were just tearing the mall down, so you didn’t know what you’re getting into,” Evan said. His wife and their parents “thought I was crazy.”

Buying the land was easy compared with what came next; finding the right professionals to design and build the house. They weren’t happy with plans an architect came up with. With time running out, they decided instead to just use a builder, Paolo Presti.

It took eight months to build the 3,200-sq.-ft., four-plus-one, three-level stone cottage. The couple wanted a clean, modern interior with some classical touches such as crown moulding, sloped ceilings and curved arches in some doorways. Instead of opting for a “man cave” in the basement, they dedicated that space as a play area for their two young daughters, and built a main-floor study for Evan to read, relax and savour his collection of fine scotches. They also wanted a formal dining room and a large master bedroom with a two-sided gas fireplace, a separate sitting room, a huge walk-in closet and bathroom ensuite with a European-inspired toilet — in a nook with its own door for added privacy.

A formal living room, however, was not in the plans.

“We had one in our other house and we didn’t use it,” said Keren. “A formal living room didn’t work for us.”

Instead, they had the builder design a spacious, functional kitchen with eating area that flowed into a large, comfy den with a fireplace and built-ins to create a great room.

“We like an open concept, with the kitchen looking onto the den, like a family room,” said Keren. “It’s the place we all like to hang out.”

Once the bones of the house were finalized, the couple focused on other details. They chose rich chocolate brown Brazilian wood for the floors in the den, dining room, study and bedrooms, and glossy 24-by-24-inch porcelain floor tiles for the vestibule, entrance hallway and kitchen.

In December 2012, the family moved in, and while it really was their dream house, it still didn’t feel like a home. Many of the rooms were empty. Evan’s love for traditional trappings were evident in the furniture they had brought from their first home, such as the heavy wood table, chairs and breakfront in the dining room, an imposing round wood pedestal kitchen table with large upholstered chairs, and two oversized brown leather couches in the den. But pleasing Keren’s more contemporary tastes proved to be a challenge.

“I needed help,” said Keren. “I needed pieces to make the house pop. I remember our other house; everything was wood. I wanted this house to look more modern or contemporary.”

A friend recommended interior designer Lori Anders, who was hired to bring together Evan and Keren’s diverse tastes while creating a livable, family-friendly space.

“It was a beautiful house, but it was bare,” said Anders. “Everything was brown.” On the first walk-through, Anders was gentle, but told the couple one thing: “You’re not allowed to bring in more brown.” Keren and Evan laughed.

Anders tackled one room at a time, sourcing unique pieces of furniture, rugs and accent pieces to add warmth to each space.

“Very modern can be very cold,” said Anders. “They wanted people to feel that when they walked into the house it wasn’t a museum.”

For the vestibule, with its irregular shaped, angular walls, she chose a low-back upholstered chair in a warm grey leather treated to look worn, or distressed, with a wooden frame and nail-stud detailing, added an octagon-shaped, antiqued mirror above it and a small distressed round table beside it to create a welcoming entry.

In the master bedroom, the walls and drapes were a Champagne colour, but the space and adjoining lounge area were bare.

“They wanted a romantic and elegant feel,” explained Anders. “They had ordered the bed, and Keren was very unsure about it. She felt it wouldn’t look nice because it was a brown leather upholstered headboard. It was heavy, and we needed to go lighter and softer with the other things.”

Anders tied it all together with two distressed mirrored side tables and light-coloured, textured be d coverings and an assortment of pillows with grey and rust accents. The lounge area, or nook, with its long, narrow shape, didn’t lend itself to a full couch, so Anders chose a slim, grey upholstered chaise longue. A white sheepskin rug, colourful painting, tall lamp and small side table completed the look.

The master bedroom is probably Keren’s favourite room in the house. With a large flat-screen TV over the fireplace for the adults, and a small one on the floor at eye level for the children, it’s a place the family loves to gather, relax and spend time.

“If I had a fridge in there, I would never leave,” said Keren.

More than two years after deciding to build their own house, Evan and Keren are now proud to call it a home.

District 2's Matt Cudzinowski has dream job for Montreal Canadiens

A couple of years ago I was delighted to learn that former NHL defenceman  Igor Kravchuk was a constituent of mine in Côte Saint-Luc District 2.  A few days ago I had a chance to meet another one of my constituents, Matt Cudzinowski, who has a pretty exciting job with the Montreal Canadiens.

Matt Cudzinowski
Matt Cudzinowski

Matt, now 31,  attended both the Jewish People's and Peretz Schools (JPPS) and Bialik High School before  moving on to  Marianopolis College (DEC – Commerce), Concordia University (BA – Journalism) and the University of the Pacific – (BA - Sports Management) in Stockton, California.

When I was introduced, I knew his distinct name sounded familiar. Sure enough, he had done some on  air work for TSN 690 Radio.   Matt enjoyed  two major internships  with the Stockton Thunder of the East Coast Hockey League and the NHL's Detroit Red Wings.  He signed  on as the coordinator of  media and public relations for Golf Canada in Oakville, Ontario. before returning to Montreal and joining the Canadiens on January 30 2013.

Presently, Matt is the coordinator for HabsTV and Editorial.  He serves as a writer for the impressive  website and CANADIENS Magazine.  "I cover the team both at home and on the road as part of a team of writers for our website," he says. "I also write feature stories for every issue of CANADIENS Magazine and I am also responsible for translation work, as well."

A dream job indeed for any hockey fan! No doubt some interesting stories to share if we bring back to speak at Bialik High School in the heart of District 2.



CSL opposes Canada Post decision to halt home mail delivery and use community mail boxes

I was pleased to move a resolution at the March 10, 2014 stating that Côte Saint-Luc city council opposes the decision by Canada Post to end home delivery. We are calling on the Crown Corporation to enter into discussion with municipalities which are directly concerned by the mail service reform as soon as possible.

Canada Post recently made an official announcement of an impending reform of its services. This  implies a cost increase for mailings,  as well as a five year phase out of door to door mail delivery. It is being proposed to replace home delivery service by community mail boxes.

Community mailboxes

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities has expressed concern over the consequences of this reform particularly with regard to an aging population and households which rely on the home mail delivery. There are elderly residents within our community, some of whom are limited in their mobility and who will be directly affected by this reform of an essential service, together with all other residents. The elimination of home delivery service will create an unnecessary hardship for persons with handicaps.

There are some 14,911 addresses in our community including private residences and companies. The presence of the community mail boxes will have an impact on traffic, parking, snow removal of the sidewalks, removal of graffiti and many public works operations in general.

It also should be noted that community mail boxes will have to be accessible 24 hours a day, which will create a number of safety issues.

Canada Post will deposit considerable amounts of advertising materials  (junk mail) in the community mail boxes, which in turn will increase the risk of littering problems and overflowing refuse containers in the vicinity of these mail boxes.

The Crown Corporation needs to be reminded that any intervention such as the installation of a community mail box (which is a structure) in or on the public or private domain requires the prior approval of the municipality concerned,

There are also significant aesthetic and logistical issues that in many locations will make the installation of community mail boxes difficult, if not impossible. These structures will have environmental consequences in that it will result in citizens using their vehicles to drive to and from these mail boxes;

Canada Post did not consult with municipal leaders before announcing its intention to end door to door mail delivery and that is a shame. Our federal government has a role to play here and they have been silent. If Prime Minister Stephen Harper wants to make a bold move, he should look at privatizing Canada Post.

Lawrence Bergman served his constituents with style; Welcome David Birnbaum

Soon after Quebec Premier Pauline Marois called an election for April 7, the province’s de facto Minister of Jewish Affairs announced that he was retiring. Lawrence Bergman, the Member of the National Assembly for D’Arcy McGee, surprised many by stepping aside. His successor is David Birnbaum, the executive director of the Quebec English School Boards Association and a former executive director of the Canadian Jewish Congress, Quebec Region.

Lawrence Bergman


It was only last fall that Bergman was formally nominated for the next election at a gala affair at the Adath Israel Congregation in Hampstead, where he served as president prior to becoming the local MNA in 1994.There was no indication that Bergman would leave politics. Then again, we expected a December election at the time which never came to be.

Over the last two weeks new Liberal Party leader Philippe Couillard has already seen a number of his elder statesmen resign before the election call. It started last summer when former Finance Minister Raymond Bachand retired in Outremont and continued last week with news that three other veterans would not run. Bergman supported Bachand in the party leadership race, not Couillard, leaving some to believe that may have played a role in his departure. He is 73 years old, so if the Liberals or PQ won a majority government he would have seen himself stay in office until the age of 77.

Bergman’s career highlight was being named Minister of Revenue during then Premier Jean Charest’s government in 2003. He did not retain his cabinet seat in 2007 and 2008 victories, but did grab the prestigious post of chairman of the government caucus. This gave him invaluable daily access to members of cabinet. When Bachand announced millions of dollars worth of funding for the Jewish General Hospital, he credited Bergman with aggressively pursuing him at every turn.

Early in his parliamentary career Bergman had the National Assembly recognize Yom Hashoah, something that became a regular occurrence. He constantly spoke out against acts of anti-Semitism and stood up for municipalities and organizations in his predominantly Jewish constituency. There was rarely a community event he missed, always the ultimate politician shaking hands and remembering everyone’s name.

In Côte Saint-Luc we will always be grateful for his successful efforts in saving our Emergency Medical Services (EMS) after our city demerged from Montreal. When I asked for his support for our CSL Cats Committee he not only attended our annual fundraising concert, but made a generous contribution to our cause.

Bergman was present at every community event we held. In recent years he has been accompanied his lady friend, Vivian. Early on his mandate, Bergman`s wife Monica died of cancer. He was alone for a long time until he connected with Vivian who was by his side for every political event. Now, as he told a press conference, he will have more time for her, his two sons and their spouses and his grandchildren.

David Birnbaum


I have know Birnbaum for over 30 years. We met when I was covering meetings of the former Protestant School Board of Greater Montreal for The Suburban. At the time he served as their information officer. We maintained contact during our various incarnations. He served as the executive director of Alliance Quebec and then went to work for a private public relations firm.  I was with the Canadian Jewish Congress in 1999, having spent 11 years there. The head office was moving to Ottawa and I wanted to stay here so I did some networking. Birnbaum was among the people I called. He connected me with the English Montreal School Board and set the wheels in motion for the job I have held since that time, as communications and marketing specialist. Ironically, a few months later, Canadian Jewish Congress let me know they needed a new executive director for Quebec. I, in turn, recommended Birnbaum. He got the job, but eventually took the  top post at the Quebec English Montreal School Boards Association where he was a strong voice for the anglophone community. At this precarious time in our history, he is the right man to represent at the provincial level.

See Glenn J. Nashen's blog for a very fitting tribute.


District 2's Matthew Stein shows exemplary community service

I have known 15 year old Mathew Stein most of his life. The happy go lucky District 2 resident is a Secondary IV student at Bialik High School and during mid-term break he decided to undertake some community service hours.
Matthew Stein clean2
No doubt encouraged by his parents Steve Stein and Arlene Ades,  Mathew did no choose an easy task. "It bothers me alot how careless people are with their garbage and how they are not proud enough of their city," he said. "They throw it on the ground and walk away."
So while many of his friends were out of town on vacation, Mathew went about cleaning up our community. He was spotted around and about, including right in front of City Hall. "I chose to clean up my city, so that I could be  proud to walk my dog in a clean and safe environment," he said. 
Bravo Mathew.

  Matthew Steinclean