Year in Review
As I mark my 10th anniversary as the city councillor for District 2, I could not be happier with how things are going within my constituency and the city-at-large via my portfolios of Library and Culture, Animal Protection and Sponsorship.
Kildare and Cavendish Greenspace
The new development that essentially carved the Cavendish Mall in half, transforming it into the Quartier, has brought to us an entirely new community. I have spent considerable time with residents of Park Place, many of whom were concerned with people using the land at the corner of Cavendish and Kildare as a shortcut to the Quartier. Over the summer we installed a temporary fence to make the intrusions more bearable and next spring an attractive arrangement of greenspace will be created. Trees and bushes will be planted to insure privacy. Most recently, due to safety concerns, it was recommended to staff by council to block entry to the imaginary path completely during the winter.
Development at the Quartier Cavendish
As of this writing, construction at the Quartier stands at 68 Townhouses, 16 semi‐detached homes and 31 single family homes. Some 20 homes are completed, with minor finishing touches and landscaping outstanding on some. Six others are under construction and progressing well. Five lots are still at the permit stage. We are awaiting official word on a mixed used building on the Avenue, which we have already zoned for.
New service station
A new Shell gas station, car wash and convenience store at the corner of Mackle and Cavendish is about to become a reality. This will be real bonus to our community, especially those of us who like to fill up close to home.
Bureau en Gros
Bureau en Gros closed its doors in 2015. Quartier Cavendish has now found a tenant as Multiclub Cavendish will relocate from its present Cavendish Club location.
Yeh! Yogurt, located on the Avenue at Quartier Cavendish, closed its doors in the fall. Unfortunately the community did not support this business. Owners Jon and Marvin Gurman are originally from Côte Saint-Luc and they really wanted to make this place work. They even got MK certification. For me this was the perfect place to go for a snack after dinner. Besides yogurt they had wonderful crepes, grilled cheese sandwiches, coffee and shakes. The Gurmans still hope to have a Yeh! presence somewhere else in our community, so stay tuned. With the permanent closure of the Famous Delly Boys on Westminster, a the kosher pizza place in the food court has added some deli items.
On Kildare Road, near Cavendish, we lowered the height of the fence from five to three feet. At my District meeting in June Rembrandt Avenue resident Steve Acre made a good point. He stated that when a car goes south on Kildare and makes a left on Cavendish, the height of the fence and the presence of vines on it resulted in obstructive views. In some cases it was difficult to see if another car was coming from the opposite direction. We believe we improved the situation.
In 2015, long-time crossing guard Archie Kwiatt passed away. Archie spent 16 years making sure pedestrians safely crossed our busiest intersection.
We continue to monitor traffic at the Kildare and Cavendish intersection. In fact a special technical committee has just been established with our engineering experts, Public Safety and the local police station involved. I will keep everyone posted on our deliberations.
With the synchronization of the traffic lights on Cavendish a number of years ago, as well as the implementation of the double left turn on Fleet, circulation has been vastly improved. We do continue to look for ways to improve the situation at Cavendish and Kildare, where some pedestrians find the timing to cross the street not long enough in contrast to motorists who tend to consider their wait too lengthy. I do regular walkabouts at that corner, observing the traffic flow and talking to residents. In addition, I will continue to ask staff to study the traffic patterns and make recommendations.
Public Piano Program
In June we inaugurated the city’s first public piano program. What a wonderful occasion and a proud moment this was for me as the councillor for the area and for the portfolio of Library and Culture. The piano was available to the public all summer from around 8:30 am to 10 pm.
Rembrandt Park is busy. Our refurbished tennis courts, with improved lighting, have been very well received. The water spray area remains very popular on warm summer days with youngsters. Kids play in the park, basketball games take place and picnics are popular as well. The chalet is still used for art courses. Public Security makes regular rounds and I have asked police to keep their radar on this area in the later hours.
I would also like to give a mention about our new pétanque courts. There is a regular league which plays at Rembrandt Park throughout the spring and summer. Pétanque (boules/bocce) courts are now open to the public. Players of all ages are encouraged to gather for games of pick-up pétanque. You must bring your own balls and jack. If you are interested in participating in a league, contact François Marechal at francoismarechal@videotron.
Manoire Montefiore on Mackle and Cavendish has announced its impending closure. No date has been set yet for the upscale and beautifully maintained seniors residence, which has seen its numbers reduced dramatically in recent years. There were only 65 units occupied at the Montefiore at the time of their announcement and the average is 90. This means they were operating at about 50 percent capacity. The building will eventually up for sale. Réseau Selection officials do not expect it to remain as a seniors care facility, but rather revert to a condominium or rental. Someone will truly inherit a gorgeous and sprawling facility
Next spring, Bialik High School on Kildare Road will welcome the students from Jewish Peoples and Peretz Schools on Van Horne Avenue to the facility. This consolidation is "win win" for everyone concerned.The JPPS building on Van Horne has been sold to Yaldei, the excellent program for youngsters with special needs.
"From the very beginning of our consultation process we have always said that the choice was either to renovate JPPS or to relocate JPPS into a renovated Bialik campus," said Head of School Maureen Baron. "When we announced the choice of a relocation, rather than a renovation, our stakeholders were extremely pleased. With our relocation, CSL will have a pluralistic, neighbourhood, English and French elementary school which will attract young families. This new school, in the midst of your District 2, will help dispel the nickname of “the grey ghetto.' The renovated K-11 JPPS-Bialik campus will contribute to green space of the district with the construction of a green playground for the elementary school students. JPPS-Bialik is the only private Jewish school offering the International Baccalaureate Programme in the elementary school - Primary Years Programme and in the high school - Middle Years Programme. These outstanding academic programs will also be an attraction to young families looking for academic excellence in the educational offerings for their children - another plus for your district. The renovated campus will provide the JPPS elementary school students with great facilities: an on site theatre, synagogue, full sized gymnasium, cafeteria, modernized library, renovated classrooms designed for elementary school learners, innovative learning environments with bicycle and stand up desks, Ideapaint walls and much more. Our registration for next year is robust in that the kindergarten class has very limited space available for September 2016 and we already have registrations for September 2017. The incoming Secondary I group already has three full classes."
Beth Chabad continues to operate very successfully, with simchas taking place fairly regularly. It was a pleasure for me to celebrate Sukkot with Rabbi Mendel Raskin and his family once again and attend their grand concert at Pierre Elliott Trudeau Park.
Marc Chagall Snow Dump
We continue to very closely monitor the snow dump on Marc Chagall Avenue. There was a time, of course, when the snow dump stood basically alone on this street. The development of high rise condos and town houses changed all of that and we had to respect the fact there were people living right next door to what can be a very busy area when a lot of snow falls.
On days when dump trucks go back and forth, we assign staff to keep track on the work and ensure that the vehicles do not make unnecessary noise. This is not an easy situation to police, but we do our best. We also had our Public Works Department construct a long wall of snow, which doubles as a sound barrier. Furthermore, in order to get rid of what amounts to be a mountain of dirty thick snow in the spring we rent special equipment to effectively cut the mountain in pieces so it will melt quicker. And it works.
Vacant Land on Marc Chagall
For the past two years we have had a small piece of land at the corner of Marc Chagall and Kildare Road available for sale. Despite advertisements placed in local newspapers and a sign on the property itself, no interest was expressed until recently. There was more than one bid in fact and we chose the highest offer. At this time we do not know what will be constructed there, but the land is zoned commercial. Something like a small medical facility could materialize there. Meanwhile, the land at the corner of Marc Chagall and Mackle may be sold soon and we could see two highrises constructed.
Isadore Goldberg Park
Isadore Goldberg Park is located between rental apartment units on Kildare and Sir Walter Scott. Our long term plan is to move this park, which consists of play equipment and sand, closer to the entrance of the City Hall/Library complex. That will be an expensive endeavor. In the meantime many people with young families approached me to see what could be done to clean the park up and do a safety check on the equipment. We did so and everyone was pleased.
No Parking Signs on Sir Walter Scott
Thanks to resident Debra Gerson I was advised that due to sidewalk repairs on Sir Walter Scott, two no parking signs were removed and not put back. As a result some vehicles began parking there far too long. It also made turning into the driveway of 5775 Sir Walter Scott very dangerous. I worked with staff and the signs were replaced just before the heart of winter.
Canada Day and Golf Classic
In terms of the city at large, I co-chaired Canada Day with Councillor Glenn J. Nashen and our most successful Golf Classic with Councillor Sam Goldbloom. Canada Day was close to being postponed due to rain. However, we rolled the dice and decided to proceed. Some activities were moved indoors and under cover. Everyone had a great time. And by the time the highlight of the evening arrived, fireworks, the rain stopped completely.
As for the Golf Classic, this was originally called the Seniors Golf Outing. I was involved with the event dating back a few decades, originally as the awards banquet emcee. When I became a councillor I became co-chair and worked towards changing the format to attract a larger turnout. Thanks to the tireless efforts of staffers Harold Cammy and Alvin Fishman, we opened the event up to all ages. Last summer we decided to choose an honouree, Ron Yarin, and continued the process of finding an event sponsor. It was our most successful golf program ever, with more than 100 participants.
It is indeed an honour to be the councillor responsible for Library and Culture. The Côte Saint-Luc Eleanor London Public Library remains a jewel in our province. Magnificently run by Janine West, we are more than just books. There is an art gallery and significant programming. In 2016 we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of our library so stay tuned for details to come.
We will also be changing the library hours to 10 am to 6 pm on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays starting the week of January 4, 2016.
For decades, Côte Saint-Luc has gone beyond many other municipal libraries by staying open from 10 am to 10 pm every day of the year. In a continuing effort to provide the best services to most people most of the time, we are modifying the hours because of relatively low usage on some nights. Unfortunately, we do not have limitless resources and we have to make choices.
To put the weekend hours in context, all other suburban libraries on the island of Montreal close early on weekends. The Côte Saint-Luc Public Library is still open 365 days a year which is, to our knowledge, unmatched in the library world. The virtual library remains open 24/7 with online access to eBooks, audio-books, magazines and reference material. Library membership is free for Côte Saint-Luc residents. We also have our Library Express (to be renamed soon) at the Aquatic and Community Centre.
I am now working towards the formation of a CSL Dog Owners Advisory Committee. Over the last few years I have met with dog owners informally. Recently I did so in a group and I believe we can do a lot of good working together in terms of maintenance of the dog run, ensuring people pick up after the canines and other matters. We will also adopt a by-law insisting that any pet store operating within the confines of our city only sell animals that come from shelters or rescues.
Of course I remain very proud of my Côte Saint-Luc Cats Committee, now in its sixth year of operation. We are a small group of volunteers who focus on Trap, Neuter, Release and Adopt. Each summer we present a fundraising concert featuring the Musicians of the World Symphony Orchestra. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than rescuing homeless kittens, having them socialized at the CSL Hospital for Animals and finding them good homes.
I urge all of my constituents to follow my blog at www.mikecohen.ca for regular updates on what is going on in the city. You can also keep up date via Twitter.com/mikecohencsl.
The final word for the year goes to our now former Mayor, Anthony Housefather. He recently stepped down after being elected as our new Liberal Member of Parliament for the Mount Royal riding. From the moment he submitted his candidacy for the nomination, all members of council supported Anthony.
We all worked on his successful campaign. He was an absolutely tremendous mayor to work with. Now we face a by-election for mayor on April 10. We petitioned the government to delay the vote in order to accommodate Snowbirds so they can vote. Councillor Mitchell Brownstein will seek the mayor’s seat. He has our full support. That also creates the need for a by-election for his District 7 council seat. Councillor Glenn J. Nashen has done an excellent job as acting mayor. Dida Berku will assume those duties from January through March.