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November 2017

The Smart Cities Challenge: UMQ calls on municipalities to make strong showing  

 The Union of Quebec Municipalities (UMQ)  has welcomed the launch of the federal government’s Smart Cities Challenge and has encouraged all municipalities to apply. The Union took part in the initial call for projects from Quebec with federal minister of transport, the Honorable Marc Garneau, in Montreal.

“Local governments are increasingly called upon to put innovative solutions in place to effectively meet the needs of their communities. The UMQ applauds the federal government’s commitment to recognizing the work of municipalities of all sizes and in all regions of Quebec,” said UMQ president and mayor of Drummondville, Alexandre Cusson.

“The UMQ’s Smart Cities Commission has been very active over the past few years in supporting municipalities to do the ‘smart’ thing by beefing up their citizen consultation and participation processes. In collaboration with CEFRIO, the Commission has also developed a smart city self-assessment tool exclusively for members of the Union. The Smart Cities Challenge will provide elected officials with ideas for innovative projects that they can learn from and apply in their communities,” said Vicki-May Hamm, mayor of Magog and chair of the UMQ Smart Cities Commission.

The Smart Cities Challenge aims to help communities across the country develop and implement Smart Cities initiatives of their own. As part of this first call for projects, municipalities have until April 24, 2018 to apply. The Smart Cities Challenge independent jury will announce the finalists in the summer of 2018 and the winners in the spring of 2019. Municipalities selected as finalists will receive a $250,000 grant to develop a detailed proposal and business plan. Winners will receive funding of up to $50 million to implement their proposals.  

Côte Saint-Luc will be applying. I will be working on the Smart Cities (open government) dossier with Councillor Dida Berku, who has the citizen engagement portfolio. Several citizens, including District 2 residents Charles Guerin and Robert Leibner, are particularly interested in this project.

A big thanks to our former mayor and present-day Mount Royal Liberal MP Anthony Housefather for supporting this initiative. "During the last municipal election there was a great deal of discussion about smart cities and transparency," he commented. "A great challenge for cities is the cost of implementing solutions that connect their residents with information. As such I am thrilled that the federal government will now assist municipalities in this area."



MNA Birnbaum to chair Liberal caucus of Montreal

Bravo to our D'Arcy McGee Liberal MNA David Birnbaum who received a well deserved promotion  from Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard.


Already the Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Education, Recreation and Sports and the Minister Responsible for Advanced Education,  Sebastien Proulx, Birnbaum has been named chair of the Liberal Caucus of Montreal.

This caucus includes all the Liberal members serving the ridings of the island of Montreal. Birnbaum succeeds the member for Jeanne-Mance-Viger, Filomena Rotiroti, who was appointed chair of the government caucus during the last cabinet shuffle.

"I am honored by the confidence my colleagues have placed in this important position, particularly in the lead-up to the upcoming elections," said Birnbaum. "Montreal is the engine of Quebec's development and its successes are victories for all Quebecers. I look forward to our group playing an active and visible role in promoting solutions to the key issues of concern to Montrealers. "

Birnbaum has acknowledged the constant and effective leadership of outgoing President Rotiroti over the past eight years. He indicated that he wanted to follow her example by working in partnership with the Minister of Municipal Affairs and the City of Montreal, Martin Coiteux, the Prime Minister and all government partners.

"Our Montreal caucus can and must be a vital force in supporting positive policies and initiatives for the Island of Montreal ," said Minister Coiteux."I am confident that Mr. Birnbaum will be a positive catalyst in his role as chair of our caucus."

The caucus is looking forward to meeting the new Mayor of Montreal, Valérie Plante in the coming weeks.

In my opinion Birnbaum should have gotten the new Ministry of Anglo Affairs portfolio, which went to Kathleen Weil. 



Mayor Brownstein hands out portfolios to newly elected CSL Council

As I begin my fourth mandate as a city councillor in Côte Saint-Luc, I look forward to serving my constituents in District 2 while overseeing the portfolios assigned to me by Mayor Mitchell Brownstein: Communications and IT, Animal Protection and Sponsorship. Like all elected officials, I will also chair and co-chair some special events.

It was former Mayor Anthony Housefather who introduced the portfolio system in 2005. This works well,  allowing councillors to have significant input while  collaborating with staff on different dossiers.

I serve as Communications and Marketing Specialist for the English Montreal School Board by day, so returning this portfolio which I oversaw from 2005 to 2013 is kind of a natural. The landscape has changed and we must deal with the reality of social media and the many Facebook pages covering our community. We especially encourage people to join our new page called Your CSL. Here is the link.  In early 2018 our website will be revamped and thematic newsletters produced. I intend to work with every one of our departments to ensure our messages are going out correctly.  As for Animal Protection, I am proud to have established the Côte Saint-Luc Cats Committee eight years ago. Work on that area will naturally continue, but I believe a big focus will be placed on dogs. Should we allow dogs on leashes in more parks? How are our dog runs being best utilized?  In regards to sponsorship, we have brought in a lot more outside corporate support in recent years for different events and programs and I hope to see that continue. I am especially proud of the Pierre Brunet McDonald’s Parks and Recreation Bursary Program we launched last summer. Almost $9,000 has been collected, which we will distribute to individuals and families in need of subsidies to take part in some of our programs.

The other portfolios are:

Oren David
Oren Sebag and David Tordjman.

Oren Sebag, a Registered Nurse by education, takes on Public Safety and Volunteer Citizens on Patrol.

Dida Berku  gets Urban Planning, Citizen Engagement and Central City and Transportation. She will also chair the Planning Advisory Committee (PAC).

Steven Erdelyi keeps Finance and Environment and chairs the Audit Committee

Mitchell Kujavsky gets Engineering, the Côte Saint-Luc Dramatic Society and sits on the Audit Committee

David Tordjman takes on Library and Culture and Traffic. He will also sit on PAC.

Sidney Benizri continues with Intecommunity Relations and adds Public Works.

Ruth Kovac moves to Park and Recreation and Seniors and sits on PAC.

Mayor Brownstein will oversee Human Resources and Legal Affairs.

Of course I want to wish our three former councillors, Glenn J. Nashen, Allan J. Levine and Sam Goldbloom well. I am sure each one of them will remain involved with our community.

Veteran's Day marked at Côte Saint-Luc City Hall in dignified ceremony

The City of Côte Saint-Luc marked Remembrance Day on Friday, November 10 in the Council Chamber at City Hall, moving the event indoors rather than brave the chilly temperatures outside at Veteran's Park.

2017-11-10 Remembrance Day Ceremony in CSL 044
Officials with our few veterans and students after the event.

 There was a lot of warmth inside as our Director of Public Safety Jordy Reichson oversee an excellent program. The hall was filled to capacity and when explaining why  we were holding this a day prior to Remembrance Day, Director Reichson pointed behind him to a large group of students from Merton Elementary School, Jewish People's and Peretz Schools (JPPS) and Hebrew Academy.

2017-11-10 Remembrance Day Ceremony in CSL 030
The room was full.

 Each year there are less veterans who fought for our country in World War II with us, At the ceremony, members of the Royal Canadian Legion Brigadier  Frederick Kish Branch #97 were represented. Their president is Allan  J. Levine, who served as a city councillor for 32 years up until his defeat in last week's elections. Allan did not fight in any wars, but his late father Sol did. So each year he devotes his time to selling poppies and working closely with the vets.

This marked the first public appearance for new Councillors David Tordjman, Mitch Kujavsky and Oren Sebag. Former Councillor Sam  Goldbloom also joined us.

2017-11-10 Remembrance Day Ceremony in CSL 020
Allan J. Levine speaks.

The indoor ceremony was very dignified, with remarks by Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, Mount Royal Liberal MP Anthony Housefather and  D'Arcy McGee Liberal MNA David Birnbaum, Director Reichson served as emcee. Police Station 9 Commander Jean O'Malley, Richard Liebmann of the Montreal Fire Department,  Rabbi Yechezkel Freundlich  from Tifereth Beth David Jerusalem Congregation and Father Peter Laviolette from St. Richard's Parish did some readings as did students from the three schools, some of whom became overwhelmed with emotions.

Having the students with us was essential as we provided a lesson in authentic learning. Afterwards some Merton students approached one of the veterans. "Thank you for your service," they said, honoured to make his acquaintance.



Thank you electors for delivering to me a fourth mandate on city council

Elections in the City of Côte Saint-Luc are now officially over and I am proud to announce that I have won a fourth four year mandate to serve the residents of District 2. With all ballots counted,  I obtained 1,008 votes compared to  226 for my opponent Mélodie Cohn.  

Allow me to congratulate Mélodie for running a proper campaign. We saw each other often over the last few months and the interaction was always positive.  In other races, incumbents Ruth Kovac, Steven Erdelyi and  Sidney Benizri were returned to office. Dida Berku had been acclaimed. Welcome to new city councillors David Tordjman, Mitch Kujavsky and Oren Sebag. With victory comes defeat and I am of course saddened to see three devoted colleagues defeated: Glenn J. Nashen, Sam Goldbloom and Allan J. Levine. I expect each of them to remain involved in our community.

For the official final results click here.

Bravo to Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, a close friend of mine for more than 30 years. He worked very very hard to retain his post. Mitchell is a full-time mayor and we are lucky to have him!

For starters, I must  thank my wife Ilana and daughter Alex. Not only did they support me during this long campaign, but they provided valuable insight and advice. They were there every step of the way on election day, not to mention the past 12 years where I have been away from the house more often than  not with council business. It was in fact Ilana who convinced me to run in the first place.

To my father-in-law Reuben Spector, how can I express my gratitude for your critical role as the official agent and campaign manager for a fourth race in a row?  My mother-in-law Shirley was a big booster and stood side by side with Reuben. And then there is my mom Elaine, who at 78 years young accompanied me on many door to door visits.

Dida Berku, Ruth Kovac, Oren Sebag, myself, Mayor Brownstein, David Tordjman, Mitch Kujavsky and Steven Erdelyi.

There were a number of  devoted volunteers, too numerous to mention. I must highlight the work of Steven Stein, who provided a significant amount of time from the get go.The election campaign formally began last June when Robert Libman announced his intention to take another run at the mayor’s seat. His candidacy was preceded by the creation of the Let’s Chat CSL Facebook page. Moderator Marissa Sidel made no secret of the fact that she wanted  to see incumbent elected officials challenged. And that did occur in every district but one.   

I have always felt that an election campaign is four years long. In my case I go out of my way to get to know and interact with as many constituents as possible. You cannot just start knocking on peoples doors a few months before an election and automatically expect their support. In each building or street where I campaigned, I had multiple supporters to join and endorse me. Incumbency is indeed a bonus if the candidate has done his or her job well.

Twelve years ago I became the first councillor to introduce annual Town Hall District meetings. I take regular walkabouts in the district, write an interactive blog, return every phone call and e-mail, meet in person with anyone who has an issue or concern, attend an endless array of community events, chair a variety of committees and constantly look for ways to introduce new concepts to our city landscape.

Most of the people I interacted with during this campaign, were a pleasure to deal with.  On this night I will raise a glass to them and spare any words for those individuals who truly disappointed me. They know who they are.

The campaign has provided me with a significant set of new objectives, fuelled by the hundreds of people I encountered in my door to door visits. There is much work ahead and I am ready for the challenge!

A final word of thanks goes out to Andrea Charon and Mark Gross who oversaw our election process like real pros.

Official dedication of Elie Wiesel Park to take place on Friday

The official dedication ceremony for Elie Wiesel Park  at the corner of Cavendish and Kildare will take place on Friday, November 3 at 10 am.

Elie Wiesel sign

Wiesel, a renowned Holocaust survivor, died in July 2016 at the age of 87.  Wiesel was sent to Auschwitz and Buchenwald during the Holocaust. He wrote dozens of works championing the human spirit. Throughout his life he fought for peace, human rights and simple human decency. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986, recounted his family being sent to the Nazi concentration camps in his first book, "Night," which was published in France in 1958.

The park was completed last fall after I undertook extensive consultation with local residents. We will formally unveil the new sign in the company of many students. Mayor Mitchell Brownstein will deliver opening remarks, followed by Liberal Member of Parliament for Mount Royal Anthony Housefather, D'Arcy McGee Liberal MNA David Birnbaum, former Federal Justice Minister Irwin Cotler, Rabbi Reuben J. Poupko from Beth Israel Beth Aaron Congregation and Montreal Holocaust Memorial Museum Vice-President and survivor  Eva Kuper.