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August 2017

The "power" of the cats: 2017 benefit concert a big success

On a night when massive power failures hit Côte Saint-Luc and a good chunk of Montreal, the show still went on!

Milo
Joseph Milo starts the program.

The Côte Saint-Luc Cats Committee (CSLCC) held its annual benefit concert on   August 22 at the Syd Wise Auditorium of the Wagar Adult Education Centre.  Featured performers were once again the Musicians of the World Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Joseph Milo. The selection of music was light classical pieces around the theme of Dance.  Soprano Fairouz Oujida was a  special guest.  

We did so in the memory of Barbara Diehl, a member of our commitee who passed away very suddenly in June. In fact, we were the last people to see her. She went home happily after the meeting. The following day she was found by family in her home. One of her daughters and  grandchildren attended our event.

More than 270 tickets were sold for the event. Funds raised will go towards our Trap, Neuter, Release and Adopt Program. There are many feral cats in the community. The CSLCC’s team of volunteers sets out to trap as many as possible, have them sterilized and then adopted or returned to the spot where they were originally found.  In the latter case, efforts are made to assist the feeders in the community. The committee has also rescued a number of  kittens and found homes for them.

I wish to thank our devoted Chairman Diane Liebling and the woman who spearheaded the efforts seven years ago to help get this initiative started, Shelley Schecter. As the city councillor responsible for Animal Protection I am so proud of the success our small and devoted group of volunteers has achieved. Thanks to former Mayor Anthony Housefather, who helped me get this off the ground, his successor Mitchell Brownstein and members of council. In particular I must single out Sam Goldbloom, who has supported me all the way. He and his wife Bev even adopted a cat a few years ago they named Mr. Darcy. My little kitty, Cleopatra, has a special place in my life.  While I adore all animals, cats make the most remarkable pets. You do not need to walk them. They do their business in a litter box and will apportion food you leave them during the day at their own pace. And oh fresh they smell. These animals bathe themselves all day long. When I pick my eight year old Cleo up she smells like shampoo.

CouncilGroup
Councillor Sam Goldbloom, Cllr Sidney Benizri, myself, Cllr Ruth Kovac, Anthony Housefather, Cllr Allan J. Levine, Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and Cllr Glenn J. Nashen.

 We are grateful to our 2017 concert sponsors: Expedia Cruise Ship Centres, with franchisee Sean Flynn; Little Bear Pet Supplies on St. Catherine Street in Westmount and D’Arcy McGee Liberal MNA David Birnbaum.

Bakesale
Our dedicated bake sale crew.

In addition to sponsorship and ticket purchases, we also held our annual bake sale at intermission. Bravo to committee member Fern Pereira and her team for their extraordinary work. Funds raised from that project goes to Diane Liebling’s project of providing food and litter to people who foster cats and those who feed outdoor felines year-round. A huge hats off to Alvin Fishman of the Parks and Recreation Department, who handled all logistics and Regine Banon at City Hall for her coordination. 

Kitten
Tori Gazin shows young Annabelle a kitten she just rescued.

 We are always looking for new committee members and thanks to the concert this year a few new people have stepped forward.

Orchestra
The orchestra plays.

 The Musicians of the World Symphony Orchestra (MWSO) was founded in 2006 by conductor  Milo and his wife Lucy Ravinsky. This one of a kind orchestra is composed of 55 musicians: about 80 percent of its members are from 15 countries around the world, while the remaining 20 percent are natives of Montreal who successfully facilitated the integration of the newcomers. They have been rehearsing at Côte Saint-Luc City Hall for many years and as part of the arrangement, they agree to perform a benefit concert once a year. We have been the beneficiaries the past seven years.

Expedia
Mayor Brownstein, Councillor Goldbloom, Sean Flynn and myself.

 We remain grateful for the partnership we have with the Côte Saint-Luc Hospital for Animals.

Cats Meow 2017 (36)
Joseph Milo and his orchestra take a well deserved bow.

 The concert was a splendid affair and everyone left delighted and entertained. Anthony Housefather, Mayor Brownstein and Elisabeth Prass (on behalf of David Birnbaum) gave opening remarks and then the band played on!

For more information call 514-485-6806, ext. 2200 or log on to www.cotesaintluc.org/cats.

 


Phase Two of the City Hall/Library Parking Lot project will be paved soon

As Phase Two of the City Hall/Library Parking Lot project is under way, we have been getting questions regarding the pedestrian access to the building.

For this week, pedestrians are being directed to the temporary stone path that runs from Sir Walter Scott to Cavendish, on the south side of the parking lot.  The contractor will be bringing more signs to direct the pedestrians from the back of the lot towards this path.  He has also adjusted the temporary fence and its supports following a complaint received about a possible tripping hazard risk.  
 
Weather permitting, we expect that Phase Two of the parking lot should be paved by September 1.  This will provide parking in the area that is presently under construction and the sidewalk for pedestrian access towards the back entrance.  The contractor has been advised that this sidewalk closer to the building is a priority and he is working to see if it can be done sooner than later.
 
The entire project should be completed by October.
MeetingParklot
Residents take part in a meeting about the parking lot construction.
 
Last week we invited area residents to City Hall to get a closer look at exactly what this project will look like upon its completion. I met with a number of residents from Marc Chagall and Sir Walter Scott. There was a request for us to save even more trees than originally planned. We have done so and as a result there will be eight less new parking spots than originally envisioned.

A new café opens at the Quartier Cavendish: let's all support it!

When the Cavendish Mall transformed into Quartier Cavendish and city council approved the accompanying housing development, we envisioned the new street we named The Avenue  in District 2 to become our own version of Monkland in NDG.  Naturally, it would not be as elaborate, but a few cafés and restaurants would add a nice touch to our community.

MarissaGroup
Mayor Brownstein, MP Anthony Housefather, Noah Sidel, Marissa Sidel, Johanna Miller and me.

Four years ago Yeh! Yogurt opened amid much fanfare on The Avenue and we were all very excited. The owners made a strong attempt to make it work, but a number if factors led to its closure.  It was therefore very exciting for me to attend the pre-opening of  Café de l’avenue in the same spot, brought to us by the Sidel family. Leading the way is CSL resident and business owner Marissa Sidel, working with her brother Noah, sister-in-law Joanna Miller and dad Jerry Sidel. Marissa is also the moderator of the Let’s Chat CSL Facebook page.This immediately becomes  our neighbourhood’s first sit-down, storefront coffeehouse. It opens to the public on Wednesday, Aug. 16.

Horsdouevres
There were some nice appetizers served at the pre-opening.

“I’ve lived here my whole life and I can’t remember a time in which people weren’t asking for a proper, sit-down, storefront café,” said Marissa. “We saw the opportunity to partner with the Quartier Cavendish and we jumped at it.”

BanonSariLitman
Pharmaprix boss David Banon and one of my favorite constituents Sari Litman.

Marissa, who has run her company, National Dispatch Services, out of CSL (and District 2) for nearly five years, enlisted her family and friends to get the café started. “Côte-Saint-Luc is all about family and we’re excited that our own family is able to further cement its place here with this café,” she said.

You can access Café de l’avenue from within Quartier Cavendish and via an outside door and terrace on The Avenue. The coffeehouse features free WIFI for customers, power stations throughout the seating area, and a real neighbourhood feel.

“We’ve partnered with great kosher suppliers like Elna Bistro and Mimimelon for all of our food and desserts, and our beans come from Union Coffee – legendary among Montreal coffee drinkers,” Marissa explained.

Opening hours are 6:30 am to 11 pm Monday to Friday, and 8:30 am to 11 pm on the weekend. “We’re open seven days a week so we can always serve the entire Côte-Saint-Luc community,” she said.

There was a wonderful atmosphere at the café pre-opening. Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, most members of council and several candidates for election were on hand. So was Ron Basel from the BSR Group, whose new  rental apartment building will open on September 1. His ground floor is zoned commercial. Ron told me that the Quartier Cavendish management team will decide what type of tenant takes that spot.

Marissa and her team put this all together in only seven weeks. She heaped praise in her sister-in-law Johanna Miller, a busy mother of three, for playing a crucial role. “This could not have happened without her’” Marissa said, upon presenting her with a bouquet of flowers.

JerrySidel
Proud father Jerry Sidel.

While the new café no doubt will count on the local population to help it succeed, Marissa and her team are taking the very smart route of opening its doors to community groups and activities. There will be a Mommy and Me and painting activities on site. The café will ultimately sponsor one of the local school sports teams and in-turn invite that club and others to utilize the premises for pre and post-game bites.  With the free WiFi and work stations it is hoped that this will become a “go to” place for students.

While all of the food is kosher, the café itself is not MK certified. Marissa notes that some items will be pre-sealed in order for everyone to have a comfort factor.


The café’s menu includes a wide variety of coffee, breakfast items (bagels, cream cheese, croissants, muffins, granola bars, cheese and greek yogurt), sandwiches, soups, salads and desserts.


Good luck to the entire team! Let’s all get out there and support it.

www.cslcoffee.com


The pumps may be gone at Shell, but Raffi Abikian insists he is not going anywhere

For the past 25 years, Raffi Abikian has become an iconic figure in Côte Saint-Luc. His Shell Service Station on Westminster Avenue has a loyal clientele.

In the recent past our community the then full Cavendish Mall had Pneus Experts and Canadian Tire, which serviced cars while there was also Bernie’s on Côte Saint-Luc Road. The first two shut down and last fall Bernie’s relocated to Lachine.

Raffi
Raffi Abikian

When Shell opened a self-serve gas station, complete with a car wash and a Boni-Soir the future of Raffi’s was questioned. He does not own the land. His service bays are always busy.  The man is a genius. He remembers the history of every car in his computer. We are not talking laptop here. “The computer in my head,” he laughs.

I am writing this story because Raffi wants to assure all of his customers that he is not going anywhere.  People are wondering because there are no more gas pumps. These were removed. The next step is for Raffi to buy the land and focus exclusively on fixing vehicles. He has already started negotiations with Shell.  Once a deal is complete, he intends to completely renovate and expand.

Raffi already owns a repair and body shop in NDG.  Had Shell forced him out completely, he would have been left with no alternative but to house all of his business there.

Originally Raffi owned a station further down Westminster, closer to Montreal West,

“We started from scratch when we opened our first garage and built our client list,” says Raffi. “Then, we had the opportunity to get this location, so we took it.”

Raffi’s son Ari, a very polite young man, is part of his talented and devoted team of mechanics.

Côte Saint-Luc needs at least one service station and who could ask for anyone better than Raffi? He will only have to make one adjustment and not answer the phone with the word “Shell!”


A meeting with our Police Commander Jean O'Malley

We have been very lucky over the last number of years to have some wondeful commanders at Police Station 9, which is physically located in District 2 at the corner of Cavendish and Kildare.

CommanderOMalleyMike
With Commander O'Malley.

 Commander Jean O’Malley has been at the helm of Station 9 for almost two years now. I had the chance to spend the morning with him as part of my foursome for our annual Côte Saint-Luc Golf Classic on July 6. More recently, I sat down with him in his office to talk more specifically about several issues in the district.

Traffic safety remains a central concern. Commander O’Malley was on our special committee which studied different ways to improve the Cavendish-Kildare intersection. This finally resulted in 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. 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. While constituents continue to express their appreciation over the change, Commander O’Malley and his staff agree that it has marked a huge improvement.

Just to be clear, there have been no accidents at the corner since the new configuration came into place.

Police Station 9 personnel have been present at intersections like this to warn pedestrians to be careful. “Yes I am very pleased with the changes to Kildare and Cavendish,” said the Commander. “But everyone has to use caution. That means if you determine that the number count does not give you sufficient time to cross then wait for the next one.”

When our crossing guard Archie Kwiatt passed away a few years ago, he was not immediately replaced. I worked diligently with our Public Safety Department to make sure the job was posted. We were lucky to find Norman Klein, who adds an extra degree of security at that corner.

Commander O’Malley’s team will be out in force when school begins at the end of the month. We always pay special attention to JPPS-Bialik at Kildare and Marc Chagall, first to keep the parent motorists in order and also to advise the students to cross the street carefully. With more trucks than usual turning on Marc Chagall, because of the new highrise construction, the police and Public Safety are keeping a closer eye on that corner.


Temporary main entrance to City Hall/Library Parking Lot

Starting  on Monday, August 7, access to parking spaces at the City Hall/Library parking lot will only be via the Sir Walter Scott entrance. See the map below to locate this temporary entrance.

Work on this large-scale project is continuing at a nice pace. Anyone wishing to receive more information, please join me at City Hall with Project Manager  Marianne  Zalzal on Monday,  August 14 (5 pm)  where we will answer any questions and show a new mock up of the final design. As the result of consultations I carried out in July with the mayor, we have decided to fell less trees and plant many new ones. We also changed the design of a proposed bike path.

For anyone driving to City Hall via Sir Walter Scott, please make sure to use the turnaround at the end of the street. Do not drive straight inside! When leaving the lot, drive slowly!

http://www.cotesaintluc.org/announcement20170804a

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Temporary main entrance to City Hall/Library Parking Lot

Starting  on Monday, August 7, access to parking spaces at the City Hall/Library parking lot will only be via the Sir Walter Scott entrance. See the map below to locate this temporary entrance.

Work on this large-scale project is continuing at a nice pace. Anyone wishing to receive more information, please join me at City Hall with Project Manager  Marianne  Zalzal on Monday,  August 14 (5 pm)  where we will answer any questions and show a new mock up of the final design. As the result of consultations I carried out in July with the mayor, we have decided to fell less trees and plant many new ones. We also changed the design of a proposed bike path.

For anyone driving to City Hall via Sir Walter Scott, please make sure to use the turnaround at the end of the street. Do not drive straight inside! When leaving the lot, drive slowly!

http://www.cotesaintluc.org/announcement20170804a

Image may contain: outdoor
Image may contain: text and outdoor
 
 
LikeShow more reactions
Comment

Temporary main entrance to City Hall/Library Parking Lot

Starting  on Monday, August 7, access to parking spaces at the City Hall/Library parking lot will only be via the Sir Walter Scott entrance. See the map below to locate this temporary entrance.

Work on this large-scale project is continuing at a nice pace. Anyone wishing to receive more information, please join me at City Hall with Project Manager  Marianne  Zalzal on Monday,  August 14 (5 pm)  where we will answer any questions and show a new mock up of the final design. As the result of consultations I carried out in July with the mayor, we have decided to fell less trees and plant many new ones. We also changed the design of a proposed bike path.

For anyone driving to City Hall via Sir Walter Scott, please make sure to use the turnaround at the end of the street. Do not drive straight inside! When leaving the lot, drive slowly!

http://www.cotesaintluc.org/announcement20170804a

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Image may contain: text and outdoor
 
 
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Council is on the case: attacking the train noise problem in our community head on

When I first moved into District 2 in 1995 one of the first things I noticed, living rather close to the railway tracks, was the loud noise emanating from the trains.

CPrail

This was a decade before I became a city councillor, so I voiced my concern to the Mayor and Council at that time and the Member of Parliament for Mount Royal. Not a lot happened. At one point,  during an earlier term of office for the federal Liberals, then MP Irwin Cotler even held some public meetings with high ranking officials from the government and Canadian Pacific.  But there was no great improvement. In our household, white noise machines helped block out the horrible sounds. Since our home was not physically right next to the tracks, this solved our problem. However, I realize it is hardly the solution for everyone.

When I was first elected in 2005, then Mayor Anthony Housefather and Councillor Dida Berku made it a priority to try and get this problem fixed. Residents in virtually every district in the city are affected by the trains.

As Anthony Housefather, now our MP, notes that when we first demerged we had literally dozens of noise and vibration complaints per week.  Most of these related to shunting and idling in the yards overnight.  We were able to work with CP to drastically reduce the frequency by which this occurred and to move certain works further from homes. 

I must say that complaints on this front have been very minimal over the past decade. But very recently, the horrible noises have returned and for many residents that translates into sleepless nights. We do have an excellent process in place and strong relations with CP.  Our senior legal officials are on the case as is Mayor Brownstein, Councillor Berku (who chairs our Railway Committee) and MP Housefather, who can access Minister of Transport Marc Garneau.

In  message on the Let’s Chat Facebook page, MP Housefather stated: “Côte Saint-Luc, like many communities in the country, borders on rail tracks. We have the compounded issue of bordering on the second-biggest rail yards in Eastern Canada.  Like many cities that grew after the Second World War we built houses far too close to the tracks and the yards and in the decades since, as rail traffic has increased, residents have suffered.  When I was Mayor we set up a process which has gotten even stronger today under Mitch Brownstein, where in addition to the complaint and adjudication mechanism set out under law which can be found at https://otc-cta.gc.ca/eng/publication/guidelines-resolution-complaints-over-railway-noise-and-vibration, Côte Saint-Luc's City Clerk escalates certain complaints directly to CP and we work with complainants on files to assist where escalation is needed.”

What Côte Saint-Luc and other cities originally asked for from the federal government was for a mechanism to resolve complaints.  This was answered when the Canada Transportation Act was modified to allow the Canadian Transportation Agency, a quasi-judicial administrative tribunal of the federal government, to resolve complaints regarding noise and vibration caused by the construction and operation of railways under its jurisdiction. But for the CTA to hear a case, the collaborative measures set out in the link above must be followed.     

As MP Housefather notes, over the last number of years, certainly following the Lac Megantic incident, our priority (both at the municipal and federal level) shifted to the issue of yard safety and safety in the way railways transported dangerous goods.  “It was an issue I raised as a priority as Mayor and when I was running in the last federal campaign and Mitch and Dida have continued the pressure from the municipal side. In that area we have made much progress which still continues,” he said. “Marc Garneau our Minister of Transport has required a faster phase out of the Dot 111 boxcars, which were involved in a number of the incidents. The Minister has also introduced a mandatory minimum level of insurance for federal railways to carry based on the type and volume of dangerous goods they carry, launched the Railway Safety Improvement Program, increased the overall funding for railway safety projects and the number of eligible recipients who can receive it, required railways to provide municipalities and first responders with even more data on dangerous goods to improve emergency planning, risk assessments, and training, provided municipalities with additional information about the railway crossings in their communities through Canada’s Open Government Portal, among many other initiatives that have already been publicly announced.  I commit that this is an area that I will continue to focus on.

“While rail safety will remain a top priority, I understand your frustrations on the issue of railway noise and can assure you that I will continue working directly with all Côte Saint Luc Council Members on this file. But the process itself has been largely fixed. Now it is a matter of using the process to its fullest.”

What I appreciate seeing here is citizens not sitting back and taking a passive attitude. We live in the era of instant communication, so the magic of email and social media can be effective.