It has been my pleasure to serve as Côte Saint-Luc City Councillor for District 2 since 2005. Each year at this time I present my year in review. The past 12 months have been very busy as usual in my district and in city at large via my portfolios.
Mitchell Brownstein was acclaimed as our new mayor, succeeding Anthony Housefather who had been elected as the Liberal Member of Parliament for Mount Royal. Mitchell was first elected to city council in 1990. He has done an excellent job thus far, becoming a true full-time mayor. Mitchell has basically stepped away from his law practice and you can find him at City Hall five day a week – sometimes even on weekends. While the next general election is on November 5, 2017, Mitchell commenced his door to door campaign immediately upon taking office. I joined him on a few occasions. My constituents were pleasantly surprised to meet the mayor and their city councillor in a non-election year.
Filling Mitchell’s seat in District 7 was Sidney Benizri. There were four candidates in the spring by-election. Sidney has been a welcomed addition to our team. It is nice to have the first Sephardic Jew elected to council.
Via this blog, my annual District meetings and regular walkabouts in this area I remain in very close contact with the electorate. Being a city councillor makes you accountable to the public. Each day I respond to phone calls and countless e-mails. When I attend public events or go to the shopping center, someone always has a request to make.
Since I was elected as a member of city council in Côte Saint-Luc 11 years ago, the most frequent concern raised has been related to the Cavendish/Kildare intersection. The city formed an ad hoc committee which met over a period of many months. In June I held my annual District 2 Round Table and Cavendish/Kildare was the main subject. Staff were on hand to respond to all questions from a standing room only crowd and we promised that phase one of our plan would be in place by the fall.
In November we proudly introduced a new split phase configuration. In short, motorists travelling westbound on Kildare are now able to drive through the intersection at Cavendish while traffic in the opposing direction waits. This allows drivers to turn left (or turn right, or go straight) without opposing traffic. To help visualize the change, imagine you are a driver who left the JPPS/Bialik campus and is heading west along Kildare towards the police station. When you approach the traffic light at Cavendish Blvd., you can use the left or middle lane to turn left or the middle lane to go straight. Once we have made the change, the motorists coming from the opposite direction will have a red right, which will allow you to turn left (or to go straight) without having to worry about oncoming traffic.
Likewise, motorists coming from the opposite side now have their chance to move through the intersection without interference, soon after. Just as many vehicles as before are able to pass through the intersection. However, the process is less stressful for many. Pedestrians also appreciate the change because they now have fewer vehicles coming from few directions to contend with. I would like to thank staff, Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and particularly Councillor Glenn J. Nashen who really spearheaded this initiative as he does with all traffic matters in the city. The response I have received from constituents has been overwhelmingly positive.
An announcement was made by a developer that two 12 storey high rise buildings will be built on Marc Chagall Avenue, near Mackle Road. Initially the developer had planned to sell condominiums, however a new concept of luxury rental condominiums with extensive amenities is planned. Trantor Realty will develop the project with Jadco construction.
I need to make something abundantly clear. It was the 1988 Côte Saint-Luc City Council, 17 years before I was elected, that adopted the zoning which allowed for these two facilities. People residing in Le Rothchild I and II would be interested to know that the developers of those properties were the ones who originally owned that piece of land where they had advised the city of plans to construct Le Rotchild III and IV. The land remained vacant for many years. About a decade ago there was a plan by another company to construct two buildings at this location. They would have been 18 storey high condos. At the time, none of the neighbours were thrilled about the project. They recognized the zoning had been set earlier. When I was elected I got calls asking if we could lower the number of floors. Once the project stopped, then Mayor Housefather and council agreed to to lower the density to 12 storeys. It is very important that people understand the present council could do nothing to stop these two apartment buildings from going forward. The zoning was set in stone 26 years ago.
We expect there to be 264 units. We insisted that the developers provide the maximum number of parking spots possible, that being 400.
Meanwhile, Ron Basal of the BSR Group, a leading Montreal based developer who has been extensively active in Côte Saint Luc in recent years, began construction of a brand new six storey apartment building on The Avenue right across from the side entrance to Quartier Cavendish. It is expected to be ready for occupancy by July 2017. Most of the Quartier Cavendish development sector falls under my District 2. This includes Park Place, Jubilee and now this new mixed use building, which will consist of 90 dwelling units on six floors (plus penthouse) as well as a main floor for commercial use. Tenants there will be determined. A two storey underground parking lot is also in the plans. While this was part of the original zoning, nearby residents did have some concerns about all of the new activity. For instance on Park Place there appeared to be a lot of non-residents parking their cars in the street. We did a study and implemented some parking limitations. This deterred, for instance, gym users from parking there for an extended period. Most residents have garages so the issue of street parking has a lot to do with their ability to enter and exit their driveways more easily.
ELIE WIESEL REMEMBRANCE PARK
As the city councillor responsible for naming rights, I was proud to successfully propose that we name the new park at the corner of Cavendish Blvd. and Kildare Rd. after the late Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor and author who fought for peace, human rights and simple human decency. The new park, to officially be called Elie Wiesel Remembrance Park, includes 11 trees, pedestrian paths, lamp standards, illuminated bollards, 10 park benches and decorative fences. It was recently completed. A formal dedication ceremony for the new park will take place in spring 2017. I was approached by a number of people after Wiesel died with the suggestion that the city honour him. I believe that by doing so at the intersection of two of our most important streets makes a lot of sense. Elie Wiesel was a champion for people of all religions. We are proud of the fact his legacy will live on in our community forever.
The Beth Chabad Hechal Menachem Complex CSL, located at the corner of Kildare Road and Marc Chagall, celebrated its 30th anniversary at a gala affair on December 4 which I was proud to attend. This gorgeous facility has been in operation for five years now. Prior to that it was based at the Cavendish Mall, Côte Saint-Luc Shopping Centre and Earle Road.
Rabbi Mendel Raskin and his wife Sarah have been there since day one. This is not just a synagogue, but a full-fledged community youth centre. It incorporates entertainment and education in a very modern environment for today's and tomorrow's youth. Children of all ages, can share their time between pool tables at the youth lounge, work on computers with internet access in the computer room, eat or have a snack in the cafeteria as well as study in a beautiful and well equipped library. In the summer, this is the site of a camp. The upstairs banquet hall can accommodate close to 600 people. Next to it is the beautiful sanctuary. A new mikveh was recently unveiled.
The former Bureau en Gros locale at Quartier Cavendish was filled in June. A brand new health club called Éconofitness, a division of, Energie Cardio, set up shop and transformed the one-time office supplies stores into a state-of-the-art gym. It was a $1 million investment. You can become a member for as little as $120 a year, payable at $10 a month.
NEW GAS STATION
Thursday May 19, 2016 marked a very exciting day in Côte Saint-Luc and District 2 as the much anticipated Shell Gas Station, complete with a Boni Soir convenience store and a car wash, finally opened for business. I am proud to be the city councillor for the Quartier Cavendish (former Cavendish Mall) where this new facility sits. If there was one question that followed me up and down the grocery aisle more than others it has been "So when is that Shell going to open?" There were a variety of delays for good reasons, lastly some necessary Hydro-Québec connections. But it was certainly worth the wait. The entire facility is under the umbrella of Sobeys, the company which owns IGA. Franchise operator Alaedine Gouader runs a good operation. The Boni Soir has freshly baked muffins and danishes prepared on the premises each day and they are kosher. A 12 ounce cup of coffee will be available free for the first two weeks. I had some decaf and it was very good. There were is a full array of snacks and dairy products. We were told that the shelves will become more plentiful in the coming days. There a few tables and chairs in the back for customers to sit down on. A large bathroom, complete with a changing table, is also available to the public. You can buy lotto tickets and use the BMO ATM.
Franchise operator Alaedine Gouader runs a good operation. The Boni Soir has freshly baked muffins and danishes prepared on the premises each day and they are kosher. A 12 ounce cup of coffee will be available free for the first two weeks. I had some decaf and it was very good. There were is a full array of snacks and dairy products. We were told that the shelves will become more plentiful in the coming days. There a few tables and chairs in the back for customers to sit down on. A large bathroom, complete with a changing table, is also available to the public. You can buy lotto tickets and use the BMO ATM.
It is very important to keep our sidewalks in good condition. During my walkabouts in the District I always keep a close eye on which sections are in disrepair. In the case of Marc Chagall Avenue and Kildare Road, there were certainly some trouble spots. Not every problematic sidewalk can be fixed. We have a very long list of those which require repair. This year Marc Chagall and Kildare were chosen. In the case of Kildare, there is a lot of foot traffic.
NEW CROSSING GUARD
Since the passing of Archie Kwiatt, the position of a crossing guard at the corner of Cavendish Boulevard and Kildare Road had been vacant. This was not for a lack of trying on the part of our Public Safety Department. There simply were not people applying for the job. Archie was very special. He did the job for 17 years and like the "King of Kensington," when he walked down the street "everyone knew his name." Archie took great care making sure that the elderly and young students crossed this very busy intersection carefully. Norman Klein has been on the job for more than a month and is serving us well.
I made it very clear at the council table that this was one position which could not remain vacant. We have a school a block away, JPPS-Bialik, and many senior citizen pedestrians. History will note that this was also the site of some tragic accidents in the past. Last May we welcomed Norman Klein to the post. We actually had a number of applicants this time around and Norman was our choice. He is on the each weekday. He is passionate about the job, personable like Archie with the residents while keeping his eye out for safety. Norman is a resident of Côte Saint-Luc, where he also works as a security officer for a local high rise condominium and umpires weeknights in local softball leagues. I made it very clear at the council table that this was one position which could not remain vacant. We have a school a block away, JPPS-Bialik, and many senior citizen pedestrians. History will note that this was also the site of some tragic accidents in the past.
ISADORE GOLBERG PARK
Isadore Goldberg Park is sandwiched between apartment buildings on Sir Walter Scott Avenue and The Marc Chagall Town Houses. For many years I have been advocating that we relocate the park to the open area closer to City Hall. This would in fact be more convenient to everyone residing in the neighbouring apartment buildings and condos. Efforts are being made to address this issue.
Tashlich (תשליך) is a ritual that many Jews observe during Rosh Hashanah. "Tashlich" means "casting off" in Hebrew and involves symbolically casting off the sins of the previous year by tossing pieces of bread or another food into a body of flowing water. Unfortunately, due to the renovations at Trudeau Park, that lake was not available. I was able to arrange for one of the bodies of water to be available at Rembrandt Park (near Kildare).
SHAKESPEARE IN THE PARK
Last summer, Repercussion Theatre’s Shakespeare in The Park took place in Rembrandt Park. We actually had two sessions there. Rembrandt was used because of the renovations occurring at Pierre Elliott Trudeau Park.
An important step forward” is how David Birnbaum, MNA for D'Arcy-McGee, described a resolution adopted at the Quebec Liberal Party’s General Council calling for the implementation of the long-awaited Cavendish extension. The final resolution, including an amendment brought forth by the D’Arcy-McGee Liberal Riding Association, was overwhelmingly adopted. The original resolution, proposed by the Nelligan Riding Association proposed that: “The government recommend the opening of Cavendish Boulevard between Saint-Laurent and Côte Saint-Luc to provide a north-south alternative to motorists from the West.’’ Significantly, Nelligan is the riding of Municipal Affairs and Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux, who has a key role to play in orchestrating Quebec’s participation in the project. The D’Arcy-McGee delegation to the congress, led by President Orna Hilberger, strengthened the resolution by proposing the following amendment: “The government recommend and participate, with the other levels of government, in the financing and execution of the opening of Cavendish Boulevard between Saint-Laurent and Côte Saint-Luc to provide a north-south alternative to motorists from the West.’’ Cavendish is much more than a plan to reduce West-end traffic congestion, Birnbaum insisted. With the future developments of Namur-De-la-Savanne, including the Triangle, the Blue Bonnets site and potentially, the Quinze-40 shopping-centre project, Cavendish represents perhaps the central economic hub of activity for all of Montreal over the next 20 years.”
BREAKING DOWN THE SNOW DUMP
Once again I was able to make sure that our Public Works Department broke up the large mountain of dirty snow in the snow dump on Marc Chagall Avenue. Our staff inspected the ditches around the perimeter of the dump that capture the melting snow. These ditches functioned properly and the water from the melting snow made its way to the northwest corner of the snow dump where it drained into the city sewer. We then called in a contractor with a large shovel who broke up the remaining snow and accelerated the melting process. We took advantage at the same time to clean any leaves at the bottom of the ditches. Once all of the snow melted we then picked up all remaining debris in the snow dump from our snow removal operations
Work also took place at our snow dump as a reaction to a problem we discovered last year with an amount of water runoff which looked as it had become a standing pool at the north side. I thank Dr. Marvin Steinberg for continuing to bring this to our attention. Concerned that this may be a potential for mosquitoes to propagate in the stagnant water or other potential problems, we combined our efforts with Engineering to investigate and follow through with a plan of action.
The ditches around the perimeter of the dump that capture the melting snow were inspected, but the water in the ditch surrounding the snow dump was determined to be not stagnant. We confirmed that ditches were functioning and the water from the melting snow made its way to the North West corner of the snow dump where it drained into the city sewer; the water from the melting snow is continuously running to a low point at the North West corner of the dump. The water then percolates through the bed of gravel into the city's sewer system.
A contractor was called in early spring to break up the remaining snow with a large shovel and this accelerated the melting process. We took advantage at the same time to clean all leaves at the bottom of the ditches, as well. Once all the snow had melted we picked up all remaining debris in the snow dump from our snow removal operations. The company Stantec was then called in to do a study of why there was any water accumulation and finally determined that the required repairs included the need to replace a broken sewer pipe. The company Simo was contacted on a "appel de service" and was supposed to do the work in November. They are here now completing the work. Thanks to Director of Public Works Beatrice Newman and Director of Urban Development and Engineering Charles Senekal and their teams
An exhibit of wildlife sculptures from District 2 resident Shalom Bloom was display at the Eleanor London Côte Saint-Luc Public Library’s Art Gallery March 31 to May 29. Bloom, a resident of District 2, is considered one of Canada’s pre-eminent wildlife sculptors. Many of his sculptures are on display at corporate headquarters worldwide as well as in White Tail Deer Park in Elliot Lake. His work has been commissioned by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to create a sculpture for their headquarters in Montreal. Just as fascinating as his art is his personal story. Bloom, who is today an active resident of Côte Saint-Luc, only started working on his sculptures at age 50, while creating a successful career building his own businesses. He was CEO of Arlington Sports, the South Africa Diamond Company, as well as a chain of restaurants. Starting in 1995, he devoted much of his time to pursue his art. He stumbled across his talent by accident when his children were working with plasticine modeling clay and asked for his help. In 2017 the new Shalom Bloom Sculpture Garden will open a Trudeau Park
Congratulations to Jesse Shuster Leibner, a resident of Côte Saint-Luc`s District 2, who received the Scarlet Key for leadership at McGill University Jesse was also offered the Guy Drummond Fellowship as one of the top Political Science Honours students from the 2016 graduating class. He went to Paris for the 2016-17 academic year to pursue graduate studies at Europe's leading school in political science, Science Politiques, and he will then return to McGill to complete his Masters in Political Science. These activities are supported by the Fellowship. Before that, Jesse will be working this summer as the Economic and Trade Intern for the European Union in Ottawa.
Manoire Montefiore, the upscale and beautifully maintained seniors residence located at the corner of Cavendish Boulevard and Mackle Road, shut its doors in 2016 - less than a year after the owners, Réseau Selection, made the official announcement. At the time they indicated it could take as long as 18 months to ensure that the residents all found new homes. The process of relocation concluded with 85 residents moved to another Réseau Selection property while 15 percent went elsewhere.
Each resident and their family was given individual counselling in terms of selecting a new place to live as well as getting compensation equivalent to three months of rent to assist with the relocation costs. The building is now up for sale. Unless it remains a seniors residence, any change in vocation will have to come to council for a zoning change. It will be interesting to see what transpires. There were only 65 units occupied at the Montefiore at the time of last year`s announcement to close. Manoire Montefiore opened in 1989. In my 10 plus years as a city councillor I made many visits there to attend events and speak to the residents. It was always such a pleasure.
Good luck to District 2 resident Josiane Ouaknine, who is retired as a Côte Saint-Luc municipal employee after 34 years of dedicated service. Josiane has worked in many departments: Finance, Archives, Urban Planning, EMS, Public Safety, Purchasing, The Aquatic and Community Centre and for the office of then Mayor and Council. In the latter capacity she was most helpful to me. Over the last few years she has been the person to greet members of the public at City Hall, directing them to the right office as well as answering questions by phone.
COMMUNITY AT LARGE
B'nai Brith Canada held its official ground-breaking ceremony November 28 for a much anticipated $26-million, 129-unit subsidized seniors’ residence. The Bissell Family Foundation Château B’nai Brith will be located next to the Côte Saint-Luc Shopping Centre, only a short walk from Maison B’nai Brith (B’nai Brith House), another B’nai Brith subsidized seniors’ residence. The latter recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. Construction on the residence began the following day, with a projected opening of spring, 2018. Ted Greenfield, long-time B’nai Brith Canada activist – former president of both B'nai Brith Canada and B’nai Brith Residences – served as the emcee for the ceremony. He lamented the absence of stalwart Gerry Weinstein, another former B’nai Brith president, who passed away last May. Weinstein is considered the “father” of B’nai Brith House and he worked tirelessly to make Château B’nai Brith a reality. His wife, Lynn, was on hand, who also spoke about her late husband. “Gerry is up there looking down on us with a smile. He’d be so happy,” she said.
When my city council colleague Sidney Benizri and I were asked to co-chair the 2016 Maisons Fleuries Contest, we agreed to do something different. I suggested Sidney, Parks and Recreation Associate Director Cornelia Ziga, event coordinator Laura Trihas, devoted committee member Louise Ferland and the dean of city employees Harold Cammy that we introduce a Lifetime Achievement Award. We brought the idea to Mayor Brownstein and city council and it was approved. Maisons Fleuries recognizes the superb floral arrangements at homes, condominiums, apartments and business complexes. Judging is done during the summer and every November we hold a ceremony at our Aquatic and Community Centre. So who would win our first Maisons Fleuries Lifetime Achievement Award? Dirk Van Egmond was the logical choice. Dirk, who just turned 92, has devoted his life to flowers and plants. He accepted the honour and it was heartwarming to see him at our event, surrounded by his children, their spouses and hi grandchildren. His wife Teuna (Toos) passed away in 2010. The Van Egmond family own Edgewood Florist, which they operated on Hudson Avenue in Côte Saint-Luc for 56 years. Although the business relocated to Montreal West in 2012 when the land was sold for development, Dirk continues to be a resident of Côte Saint-Luc. Edgewood and the Van Egmond family have been part of the Côte Saint-Luc landscape for more years than most residents of this city. They have played an important role in the lives of thousands over the decades, making milestone events all the more special with their beautiful floral arrangements.
The Côte Saint-Luc Men`s Club sure knows how to throw a party! Their annual gala is always the highlight of the social season for some of our most outgoing senior citizens and the 2016 edition was no exception.
This 29th annual gala was held at the Gelber Conference Centre. It was a sold out affair, with more than 400 people in attendance. District 2 resident Joe Presser served as the gala chairman, working with committee members Nathan Brotman, Kenny Bessner, David Haltrecht, David Gandell, Peter Sternberg, Mannie Young and Syd Kronish. Syd is the Men`s Club president and also a District 2 constituent of mine. Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and members of city council were in attendance as was Mount Royal Liberal MP Anthony Housefather and D'Arcy McGee Liberal MNA David Birnbaum. His predecessor, Lawrence Bergman, was on hand as well. Lawrence maintains a very steady presence at community events. There was entertainment by Greg Innis on the keyboard an magic with Jody M. This year's Man of The Year was Bill Surkis, the Men's Club vice-president who sadly passed away very suddenly over a week prior to the event. He was 77. Bill enjoyed a distinguished career as a pedagogue, head of the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre and B'nai Brith Canada. He suffered some adversity in recent years and the death of his devoted wife. The Men's Club provided him with an opportunity for a fresh start. Many of his family members were on hand to accept the honour posthumously. Kronish also paid tribute to the late Seymour Kleinberg, a sweetheart of a gentleman and a two-time Mann of the Year, who also passed away recently.
NEW DROP-IN PROGRAM
The new Drop-In Program for Older Adults was inaugurated on August 29 at the Côte Saint-Luc Parks and Recreation Department, right next door to our ACC. This program will provide a respite for the caregivers of seniors, many of whom suffer from dementia. The program is operated by staff from the Cummings Centre in space provided by Côte Saint-Luc, and with $390,913 in financial support over three years from the government of Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors Program. The creation of the program was also made possible with the assistance of the Integrated Health and Social Services University Network for West-Central Montreal (West-Central Montreal Health), the Caregiver Network and the Town of Hampstead.
SIDNEY SHOHAM PLACE
The city renamed a section of Hudson Avenue to Place Sidney Shoham Place at a beautiful ceremony on Sunday, September 25 several hundred people turned out on a nice sunny day. Rabbi Shoham passed away on September 21, 2015, at the age of 86. He retired 10 years earlier as the founding rabbi of Beth Zion Congregation after having served in that role for 50-plus years. Rabbi Shoham continued to remain very active in synagogue life and in fact, passed away only hours after attending the synagogue’s annual Cantorial Concert, of which he was most involved. As the city councillor responsible for naming rights, I was approached last winter by Beth Zion president Earl Rosen about honouring Rabbi Shoham’s memory. We do not often rename streets, but in this case the decision was a natural. Beth Zion is no longer located at 5740 Hudson Avenue, but rather 1 Place Sidney Shoham Place. The Hebrew Day School is now at 5 and 9 Place Sidney Shoham Place. When I went to district Councillor Allan J. Levine, Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and the rest of council, the name change was agreed upon immediately. I would like to thank our Director of Public Affairs Darryl Levine and Director of Public Works Beatrice Newman for their work behind the scenes.
NEW RABBI IN TOWN
Rabbi Yechezkel Freundlich became the new spiritual leader of Congregation Tifereth Beth David Jerusalem on Baily Road, succeeding Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz who is now in New Yok City.
Rabbi Freundlich, affectionately known as “Rabbi Y,” his wife Rifki and their seven children arrived here via Atlanta. Since 2007 he had served as the Associate Rabbi of Congregation Beth Jacob. In addition, he became Head of School at Yeshiva Ohr Yisrael High School in 2014.
In the City of Côte Saint-Luc, I am proud to say that I am part of an elected council where not the mayor or the eight other members smoke cigarettes. The same can be said for Liberal Mount Royal Member of Parliament Anthony Housefather, who was our mayor I detest cigarettes and I am proud of the measures our city has taken over the years, notably the late Councillor Eric Helfield’s ground-breaking anti-smoking bylaw in public places. I was a news reporter for The Suburban at the time. For the life of me, I cannot understand why people smoke. It does seem less prevalent these days. None of my close friends or family smoke and thankfully it seems less popular among the youth of our society. Tobacco is the most prevalent cause of sickness and avoidable death in Canada, killing approximately 37,000 people each year. In fact, the tobacco epidemic is caused by an industry that uses all means at its disposal in order to render its products more attractive and its appearance less dangerous. Packaging remains one of the most powerful promotional vehicles for tobacco products. The Federal Tobacco Control Strategy must be renewed between now and March of 2017 and Côte Saint-Luc City Council is backing a movement spearheaded by Montreal (Snowdon) Councillor Marvin Rotrand that the standardization of packaging must be one of the first measures deployed within the context of an approved strategy. At a Council meeting we formally requested that the Parliament of Canada legislate a demand for neutral and standardized packaging for tobacco products. Neutral and standardized packaging will prohibit all the promotional elements of all tobacco products, including the use of colors, images, logos, slogans, distinctive policies and finishings. Only the name and brand shall be authorized and the health warnings shall remain present on the packaging. The size and form of the packaging will be standardized, prohibiting therefore any specific formats such as slim and ultra-slim cigarette packages and which will result in reducing the size of the warning. The motion was carried unanimously.
The annual Victory in Europe (V-E) Day commemoration in the City of Côte Saint-Luc took place on Sunday, May 1. Due to inclement weather we could not have it at Veterans Park, so we moved it inside to the Council Chamber for a very dignified and well run ceremony, which highlighted the 71st anniversary of the liberation of Europe from the armed forces of Nazi Germany, on May 8, 1945. The room was full, but with the exception of the relatives of some of the veterans and others in the room the lack of youth in attendance was once again very evident. This was an exercise of authentic learning. We still have veterans who fought for this country among us. I spoke to many of my colleagues after the event, notably Councillor Allan J. Levine. He is our liaison with the Legion. His late dad was a veteran. Allan was a school teacher. “If the students do not come to us, we must go to them,” Allan stated.
I agree whole heartedly. We did have many students at our Remembrance Day Ceremony on November 11 and expect the same when VE Day 2017 takes place at the former Wagar High School on May 8.
The City of Côte Saint-Luc adopted an operating budget for 2017 that kept spending flat and saw the property tax of 1.9% percent for an average single-family home in the city, which is in line with what the Conference Board of Canada has forecast as the inflation rate for the greater Montreal region. We do our very best to keep property taxes as low as possible and our level of service what residents have come to expect. It was a challenging exercise this year given the higher than expected bill we received from Agglomeration of Montreal, which is the island-wide government that all cities on the island have to pay into. The Côte Saint-Luc City Council adopted the $68 million operating budget on December 12. About 42 percent of all taxes collected by Côte Saint-Luc are transferred to the Agglomeration of Montreal, which funds services such as police, fire, and public transit. The property tax bills will be sent to homes by the last week of January. The deadline to pay property taxes has been set at February 27 for the first installment and May 29 for the second installment.
Library and Culture
Each city councillor has porfolios. I am responsible for Library and Culture, Sponsorship, Naming Rights and Animal Protection.
The Côte Saint-Luc Eleanor London Public Library is 50 years old and on September 18 we celebrated this remarkable silver anniversary with an entire day of events. As the city councillor responsible for Library and Culture, I could not be more proud of the job Director of Library Services Janine West and her team did to put this together. When our 2016 Canada Day celebrations were rained out, Mayor Brownstein suggested immediately that we make our Library celebration bigger than usually planned. So we concluded everything with a bang – an amazing concert performance by the band Vintage Wine and laser show. Oh yes, the weather was absolutely perfect. We created a makeshift outdoor concert bowl at the rear of our parking lot. The band was so well received that the moment they began to play people came out of the audience to dance. While Eleanor London, our founding librarian could not attend due to health reasons, Miriam Lang addressed the audience. The wife of the late Mayor Bernard Lang, Miriam told us all how the creation of our library all began in the kitchen of her home with a small committee. She said some people questioned Mayor Lang’s decision to select the second floor of the Côte Saint-Luc Shopping Centre as the initial location, but it turned out to be the perfect spot until our City Hall/Library Complex was constructed. We now have without a doubt the finest public library in Quebec and possibly Canada.
In May we announced that the library would again be staying open until 10 pm. Council is very responsive and attentive to the community and this modification was a testament to our commitment to address resident concerns in a timely manner in order to provide the highest quality of service. We listened to residents who asked that we restore late hours at the library, particularly on Sunday evening, which was a popular study time for students. We worked hard to find a way to restore the Sunday hours. Careful re-organization of our staffing plan by Director West made this modification possible. The virtual library remains open 24/7 with online access to eBooks, audiobooks, magazines and reference material. Library membership is free for Côte Saint-Luc residents.
I was honoured to attend the formal kickoff for 50th anniversary ceremonies of the Eleanor London Côte Saint-Luc Public Library. We did so on June 22 at the Harold Greenspon Auditorium. A nice crowd was on hand to watch rising-star pianist Emie R. Roussell and her jazz trio perform the concert Quantum, featuring music from their critically acclaimed CD of the same title. We also inaugurated the library’s new baby grand piano. We were able to acquire this gem of an instrument through various fundraising initiatives, including our heartfelt 88 Keys to Music Campaign, allowing us to honour donors’ names on a plaque we unveiled just prior to the concert. Since the piano will require upkeep, we are still taking $88 donations.
Our transformed library lounge at the ACC boasts is a very popular take-a-book-leave-a-book format. The very popular concept of Little Free Libraries has been gaining momentum in North America over the last few years. People bring books, magazines, CDs, or movies they no longer need and take ones already there. There is no need for membership cards and no associated fees. Items are not part of the regular library collection so they don’t need to be returned and there are no due dates to contend with. The Library Lounge is open from 6 am to 10 pm. The space is loaded with thousands of donated items. People can also use the space to read, relax, play a game, do a puzzle and use the public computer. There is also an outdoor return slot where official library items can be returned 24/7.
How proud am I of the Côte Saint-Luc Cats Committee (CSLCC), a group I helped established six years ago? Very much so. We are a small group of volunteers, dedicated to Trap, Neuter, Release and Adopt. Few communities on the island of Montreal have such an entity. While the city provides us with an annual grant of $5,000, we need more to fulfil our mission. There are veterinarian bills to pay and supplies to purchase. So a year into our existence we decided to start doing some fundraising. Our biggest event is a concert we present featuring the extraordinary Musicians of the World Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Joseph Milo. For our fifth annual concert on August 23 at the Syd Wise Auditorium of the Marymount Adult Education Centre, more than 300 people were in attendance. A Bouquet of Classics: The Music We All Love was the theme. Net proceeds plus funds collected via donations and purchases through our bake sale – spearheaded by Fern Collier-Pereira – gave us the boost we needed to keep doing our job. In fact the money received from the latter goes to a new fund which will enable us to purchase cat food for those who feed outdoor community cats year-round. It is safe to say that most of the people in the audience were there to hear good music.
As I said in my address, if only a few of those individuals step forward to help us then it will be a plus for us. I must say that over the last couple of years, different people have joined our team and truly made a difference. Diane Liebling is the heart and soul of our committee. She oversees the most difficult task of trapping the homeless community cats we find, often fostering them in her own garage. As I saw the large gathering around the bake sale at intermission, with Fern and committee members working so hard, I felt very very proud,
Councillor Sam Goldbloom once again co-chaired the concert with me. Sam and I are the only pet owners on council and he adores his Mr. Darcy as much as I love my Cleopatra.
While the Quebec government studies the issues of dangerous dogs and consults with municipalities, many of which have already implemented bans on pit bulls in particular, our city reinforced an existing bylaw. Our most recent bylaw regarding dangerous dogs was adopted in 2009. In the wake of a series of high-profile dog attacks, our Public Safety Department has sent letters to current owners of pit bulls in our community that we have on record, asking that they be muzzled. This will be extended to other dogs we deem to be potentially dangerous. Alanna Devine of the Montreal SPCA has let me know how she feels about the issue. “Breed specific legislation is ineffective, unenforceable and unfair," she noted. "It doesn’t do anything to make communities safer and punishes responsible dog owners who happen to have dogs that look a specific way. Even with grandfather clauses, many adoptable dogs and puppies in shelters will be condemned to death because there will be nowhere for them to go. They won’t be able to be adopted because of the way that they look."
According to our present bylaw, a "dangerous dog" means: a dog which has a propensity, tendency, or disposition to attack, bite, threaten, or injure, with or without provocation, any persons, property or other animals; with or without provocation or physical injury, attacks, bites, or threatens any person, property; a domestic animal that has been trained for dog fighting or to attack upon a command. In the event that the owner and/or custodian of a dangerous dog fails to comply with the obligation to muzzle the animal when on any public property throughout the city of Côte Saint-Luc, he shall be liable to a fine. Is this strong enough? I do not think so, given recent events. This is why we really need the government to step in. As the city councillor responsible for Animal Protection, I know how it must feel for someone who has a pet they love, only to be threatened to have it taken away via legislation. Several municipalities do have laws on the books banning pit bulls. However, they are not the only breeds that pose a threat. We will wait to see what the Quebec government decides for that will impact on our future actions. An advisory group, though, does not appear to pushing for a pit bull ban according to this report. In the meantime, I wish to urge the owners of dogs considered to be dangerous to please use a muzzle.
We had some disturbing incidents in our own community. At one park, three people with large dogs (a pit bull, a rottweiler and another breed) were approached by a Public Security agent and asked to leave the premises with the dogs. The owner responded that her dogs were trained to attack on command and loosened her grip on the leash. Fearing for his safety, the agent called immediately for police back-up who arrived, handcuffed the woman in the back of the police car and pointed a Taser at one of the men. Police declarations were filled out and we believe charges were filed against one or all of the individuals involved. Meanwhile, we had a pit bull attack when the dog escaped from a ground floor apartment and attacked a pug. The dog in question already had a muzzle order in place. Public Security and police were on scene. We issued tickets and the police pressed criminal negligence charges against the owner.
Still with dogs, after many years of lobbying members of council we now have five parks where owners can walk their canines on leashes. None of these parks are near sandboxes where young children play. This is a good first start and we know that responsible dog owners will respect the guidelines we have established. In District 2, the newly named Library Lane - the pathway from Marc Chagall Avenue leading to the City Hall/Library - now permits dogs on leashes.
Last December I got a call from Harold Cammy, Côte Saint-Luc`s veteran manager of Parks and Recreation. Harold has been with the city for 42 years and I have worked with him on many projects for one reason or another over that time. Harold, section manager Alvin Fishman and my council colleague Sam Goldbloom and I work together each summer on the Côte Saint-Luc Golf Classic at Meadowbrook. And yes, work actually begins more than six months prior to tee-off time. Harold had an idea for an honouree, that being Pierre Brunet. The franchisee for many McDonald`s Restaurants, including two in Côte Saint-Luc, Pierre has always been there to support us. Sam and I brought the proposition to council and it was approved before anyone could say “Big Mac.” The date for this 37th annual event was Thursday, July 7. Let the record state that we have never been completely rained out. Based on the forecast, we were pretty worried as thundershowers were predicted all week. That remained the case even up until the night before. But Mother Nature is clearly a CSL golf fan and the weather conditions could not have been better. Close to 100 golfers hit the beautiful Meadowbrook course for this nine-hole best ball affair.
There was a beautiful link this year between honouring Pierre Brunet and stepping up our commitment to Manoir Ronald McDonald. This is a temporary home away from home for out-of-town (more than 70 km) families of children with critical illness who must travel here for medical treatments. Traditionally, Côte Saint-Luc directs proceeds from its annual Winter Carnival events to this facility located next door to Ste. Justine Hospital via a pancake breakfast. This has resulted in donations of close to $50,000 for the Manoir. The Côte Saint-Luc Men`s Club announced they had raised close to $1,200 in less than three weeks for Le Manoir. Cammy added that through a variety of other clubs, an additional $2,200 was obtained – bringing the total to $3,400. We also helped raise more awareness, all of which left Manoir executive director Jacqueline Mallet quite thankful.
Solly Levine was a fixture on the local hockey and baseball scene for decades and I had quite a history with him. Seymour Kleinberg was the ultimate gentleman and so much revered by the CSL Men`s Club that they twice recognized him as Man of the Year. Solly passed away at the age of 97. Virtually from the moment I got involved in the amateur sports scene he was presence. Now Solly was not really an athlete, yet he was a true manager of people. So when he stood behind the bench of the Côte Saint-Luc Cougars with his co-coach Kenny Saxe, everyone respected his decisions. He knew just how to send out the right line combinations, which players to select at the start of each season and how to deal with the parents.
Seymour grew up in Outremont, was educated in the public school system and enjoyed an outstanding career in football as a defensive linebacker. After senior matriculation he entered the men’s clothing manufacturing sector with his father and uncle. He soon moved into retail in rural Quebec, which made him fluently bilingual, after which he returned to Montreal as a manufacturer of ladies wear until his retirement. He married Renee in 1953 and was blessed with three children - Ellen, Sharon, and Carl. Seymour is the proud grandfather to Ryan and Benji. Always community-oriented, Seymour was active in the Young Israel of Chomedey Congregation and Combined Jewish Appeal and the Mount Sinai Hospital Sadly, his wife passed away in 1988. He shared his time with Rhoda Baskin, a former executive-secretary in Neurology at the Jewish General Hospital, herself a widow and now, retired. They became inseparable companions these past 17 years, enjoying club activities as well as each other’s children and grandchildren.
John Herman Franken, a long-time Côte Saint-Luc resident and member of the Canadian Legion Brigadier Kisch Branch #97, was a familiar site at our commemorations of VE and Remembrance Days and regularly spoke to students at schools. “To me he was always Uncle Johnny, a close family friend ever since I can remember," recalled Councillor Ruth Kovac. "His late wife Sonja probably one of the sweetest human beings. My mom and he died about a week or so apart two survivors with a great outlook on life. Johnny was a mensch. He had a wonderful sense of humour and as I child loved his few slight of hand tricks. He was unique man."
Funeral services were held at Paperman and Sons on July 31 for Merle Margles, a resident of Côte Saint-Luc’s District 2. Sidney Margles, Merle’s husband, is well known in the community dating back to his days as a high profile reporter for CJAD and Standard Broadcasting. Merle and Sidney had a rock solid marriage for 53 years. They raised three daughters, who gave them six grandchildren. She ran the office of former Liberal MP for Mount Royal Sheila Finestone for 15 years .Merle fell ill a few years ago, but you would never have known it. She and Sidney missed some time at their beloved condo at Century Village in Deerfield, but everyone hoped and prayed that her treatment had been working. When she had to come home early last spring, we knew it was not a good sign. It was clear from the funeral that even just a month ago she spent a great deal of time with her kids and grandchildren. She went to Ottawa to see one granddaughter off to camp and to New York to visit with another. I always admired what a great team Merle and Sidney were. She was clearly a very supportive wife.
Ilse Zilversmit was the mother of Councillor Ruth Kovac. Ilse passed away on June 23 at 90 years of age. She was a terrific woman and right up until her final days, before being hospitalized for a cancer that had reached the critical stage, she lived on her own in a condominium and remained very self-sufficient. Ilse was a Holocaust survivor. Her family home in Amsterdam became a refuge for Jews fleeing Nazi Germany, as early as 1934. As a teenager in 1943, she and her family were deported to the Westerbork transit camp. In February 1944, she was again deported - along with her family- to the Bergen-Belsen camp in Germany. She came to Canada and with her husband Gunther, whom she met in a camp, and raised three children. I always enjoyed my conversations with Ilse. She followed current events very closely and was naturally very proud of her daughter the politician. It was just over a month ago that Ilse came to City Hall with Ruth, her granddaughter and great grandchildren for our annual VE (Victory in Europe) Day, where the three generations lay a wreath. A few days later she joined Ruth at the Yom Hashoah ceremony.
Gerry Weinstein, a true community activist, passed away in My. He had so many accomplishments to be proud about, it was the B`nai Brith House which brought the biggest smile to his face. He engineered its creation and spearheaded the fundraising for the $13 million project. Gerry was also relentless that there had to be another such building nearby to meet the demand. As a member of the Côte Saint-Luc Council, I can tell you that we had a pretty hard time saying “no” to his proposals. He made it happen and Chateau B’nai Brith will be constructed right next to the IGA on Côte Saint-Luc Road. It is so sad that Gerry will not live to see it. Gerry had many health problems over the years. Diabetes robbed him of most of his sight nearly 30 years ago, at which time he had to stop driving a car. But he never let that disability get in his way. “I have to be honest and tell you that I do not feel as if I have any impediments,” he told me.
In 2005 Gerry became the national president of B`nai Brith Canada. This occurred a short time after he underwent a lifesaving kidney transplant.
Happy New Year to everyone!