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August 2018

JPPS-Bialik unveils a state-of-the-art artificial turf sports field, basketball court

Only a few weeks after Herzliah High School inaugurated its new campus in snowdon, JPPS-Bialik in Côte Saint-Luc’s District 2 formally unveiled a  new regulation-sized, state- of- the -art artificial turf sports field, basketball court and healthy living curriculum under its Project Fit banner.

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Guests admire the new complex.

I was pleased to be at the VIP breakfast-time ceremony and tour, attended by parents, supporters and some community leaders. Dubbed the Cons Family Sports Facility and Tehrani Basketball Court, it is an absolutely extraordinary facility.

Officials noted that Project Fit will benefit the entire JPPS-Bialik Community through Mind, Body, and Spirit. This will include ensuring that their rigorous International Baccalaureate Programme is balanced with physical activity to promote a healthy mind and body; building on  strong academic programs with an enriched and accelerated curriculum; and backing up sport science studies which show that participation in sports activities improves school performance and builds self-esteem, especially in schools.

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With Mayor Brownstein, David Birnbaum and some students.

JPPS will introduce the Brain Break Program, with lunchtime fitness activities, such as CrossFit and yoga for students and teachers at JPPS and Bialik. More team opportunities at the high school level, providing students with physical activity options to counter sedentary screen time .A new hockey program is being launched in conjunction with the City of Côte Saint-Luc., to prepare for the new GMAA regulations. In the area of spirit, Jewish life events and programs designed to highlight all aspects of Judaism to our students and community. Mindfulness will be practiced daily at JPPS. It allows   students and staff to focus inward and start their day intentionally and purposefully.

JPPS-Bialik President Lee Wise, Foundation President Joanna Yufe Naimer and Co-Heads of School Avi Satov and Marnie Stein were elated with the final result of the complex. “Today is a very happy moment for all who love sports and our school,” said Wise.  “I have been here daily for weeks and  I am still in awe of what was transformed here. The community at large can take great pride in knowing JPPS-Bialik has taken a leadership role in creating an environment where every student is seen as an individual, and where every student can challenge themselves to excel with confidence and enthusiasm in sports and all areas of their education. “

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With Joanna Yufe Naimer, Lee Wise, Glenn J. Nashen, David Birnbaum and Mitchell Brownstein.

It was a couple of years ago that a past board officer, Etan Jagerman planted the seed that grew into a comprehensive effort to implement the concept of Project fit.  The baton  was then passed to Dave Perlis, who along with Jeff Fixman worked diligently assessing what was to be built and how.  Bobby Titleman, Ora Loeb  and John Dore were also in the mix. “The next stage was meeting with contractors and designers,” Wise explained. “I am going to be blunt now and tell you that we would not have such a gorgeous facility here without Luciano Catalogna and Ken Gilman.”

Gilman   is a new parent in the school and has a long family history in the artificial turf industry. He introduced Wise  to Catalogna whose family owns the huge The Catalogna Soccerplex in Lachine. “Together, they helped design, pick colors and most of all negotiate an incredible deal for us to build something that many thought was impossible,” Wise said.

Yufe Naimer credited Foundation staffers  Amy Finkelstein and Naomi Blumer for their diligent work on the project.  "Tuition alone cannot cover all of our costs," she said. "Fundraising is critical today."  

Satov said the opening of the complex marked an important moment in JPPS-Bialik’s history, “a moment that will propel our school to new heights.”

Satov said that  when he was growing up, his favorite movie was Field of Dreams, starring Kevin Costner. “For those of you who may not be familiar will the movie, the premise revolved around farmer Ray who heard mysterious voices one night in his cornfield,” Satov said. “The voices said ‘If you build it, they will come.’ Despite taunts of lunacy, Ray builds a baseball diamond on his land, then baseball legends start emerging from the crops to play ball. As Ray learned, the field of dreams was about much more than bringing former baseball greats out to play.This project has been in the making for a few years.  Just as in sports, teamwork, dedication and commitment reap great results. “

Past presidents and board members, under the leadership of Jamie Ross and Harley Eisman, were thanked for their guidance, insight and support for the project  

Satov said that the new field will be used for regulation sports such as soccer, touch football, track &and field, field hockey, lacrosse to name a few, as well as Physical Education classes. " It will also allow for winter sports. It will provide and support a higher profiled academic sports leadership; most recently with the hiring our  Senior Athletics Coordinator Matt Starr," he said.

Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and D'Arcy McGee Liberal MNA David Birnbaum were also at the ceremony as was JPPS-Bialik parent, alum and present-day board member Glenn J. Nashen with his wife Dr. Judy Hagshi.


Inauguration ceremony for Leonard Cohen Lane was a proud moment for all of us

It was about a year ago that as the city councillor for District 2 in Cote Saint-Luc I shared with my colleagues a desire to finally give a name to the laneway that leads from Marc Chagall Avenue to the Library/Bernard Lang Civic Centre parking lot.  It is a beautiful area that we dressed up substantially with newly paved path and more benches.

Initially my thought was to name it simply Library Lane. But when I raised the subject on the Let’s Chat Facebook page, community activist Tamar Hertz private messaged me with the idea to honour the memory of Leonard Cohen. I promised her that I would bring this up after the November elections.

Soon after the newly constituted council took office, Leonard Cohen Lane was approved. I then worked with our Chief Librarian Janine West and Public Affairs and Communications Director Darryl Levine to set the wheels in motion. We scheduled the unveiling ceremony for the end of August, hoping for a nice summer night.

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Sidney Benizri, Mitch Kujavsky, Oren Sebag, Mayor Brownstein, Danny Benlolo, myself, David Tordjman and Dida Berku.

The August 27 inauguration was a fabulous event which frankly gave me goosebumps.“We honoured Leonard Cohen in Côte Saint-Luc because of the influence he had through his words and music,” Mayor Mitchell Brownstein said. “Arts and culture are important to Côte Saint-Lucers and adding his name to  the landscape here is another way to recognize that fact.”

While Leonard Cohen never lived in Côte Saint-Luc, his early years were similar to many of his contemporaries who ended up in the community. He attended Roslyn Elementary School, Herzliah High School, Westmount High School, and McGill University,   loved books and words and combined the analytical mind needed for debating -- which he did at McGill -- with the creative mind of a writer and thinker. He is all the things Côte Saint-Lucers revere and his name will be a fine addition to the landscape of Côte Saint-Luc.

Other artists, musicians, scientists and thinkers honoured in the city with streets or parks include Irving Layton (poet), Beethoven (composer), Chopin (composer), Banting (scientist), Edison (inventor), Euclid (mathematician), Freud (scientist), Honoré de Balzac (writer), Krieghoff (painter), Lismer (painter), Louis Pasteur (scientist), Marc Chagall (painter), Mozart (composer), Newton (scientist), Rembrandt (painter), Sabin (scientist), Schweitzer (philosopher), Sir Walter Scott (writer), and Stephen Leacock (writer).

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Raphael Fleming shares his memories.

A childhood friend of Leonard Cohen, Raphael Fleming, attended the ceremony and talked about Cohen’s early years. Councillor David Tordjman, who holds the Library and Culture portfolio and   co-hosted the ceremony with me, noted that  the  Library will be putting Leonard Cohen materials on display the week of the inauguration. In addition, the library will have a special film screening of Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man on Wednesday, August 29 at 2 pm.

Cantor Danny Benlolo from  Shaare Zedek Congregation and his nephew performed a fantastic rendition of Cohen’s Hallelujah” and the entire audience sang along with big smiles. We had a very nice turnout, including cameras from CTV, Global and CBC.

It was also nice to see impresario Ruben Fogel and his communications chief  Arlene Slavin, a proud CSL native, on hand. They worked  closely with Leonard Cohen and do so now with his son Adam Cohen, whom they shared the good news of our inauguration ceremony. Janine West and I have something on our wish list: an Adam Cohen concert at the library. 

D'Arcy McGee Liberal MNA David Birnbaum, who paid a tribute to Cohen in the National Assembly after he died, also gave some words of tribute.


Leonard Cohen (1934 – 2016) was a legendary Canadian singer-songwriter, poet and novelist. He was born in Westmount, Quebec. His father, who ran a well-known clothing store, died when he was nine. He pursued undergraduate studies at McGill University and became president of the debating union. He flirted with a legal career and attended McGill law school for a year after completing his bachelor's degree. He also went to Columbia University for a year. But literature had a stronger call than litigation.

"Let Us Compare Mythologies," his first book of poetry, was published in 1956 when he was an undergrad. The "Flowers For Hitler" poetry collection and the novels "The Favourite Game" and "Beautiful Losers" followed in the 1960s. He established himself as a poet and novelist of renown by the age of 32, Cohen decided that songwriting might pay better. Leonard cohen

A big break came in 1966 when Judy Collins recorded his standard "Suzanne," and he came out with his first album "Songs of Leonard Cohen" the same year. That was followed up with "Songs from a Room" in 1969, which included the popular "Bird on the Wire." He had a fairly steady output although his popularity dipped in the 1970s as disco, not doom, was deemed to be the treat for consumers' ears. But Cohen began a comeback in 1984 with "Various Positions," which included "Hallelujah."

Click here to see our video of the ceremony. 

 


The ultimate federal MP Anthony Housefather remains close to his constituents

For the first 10 years of my city council career in Côte Saint-Luc, I worked under Anthony Housefather as mayor. He is an extraordinarily gifted man whose ultimate dream was always to become a Member of Parliament. In 2015 that became a reality when he won a hard fought election to represent the Mount Royal riding.

It is no exaggeration to say that Anthony has probably been the MP who has made the strongest effort to maintain close relations with his constituents. When he is not in Ottawa, he never misses a public event. He remains a proud resident of Côte Saint-Luc and luckily one of my constituents in District 2.

One of the many excellent initiatives Anthony introduced was something he calls Anthony’s Assembly. Throughout each year he rotates between  Côte Saint-Luc, Hampstead, Town of Mount Royal and Côte des Neiges to hold Town Hall style meetings where constituents can be brought up to date on his activities. The most recent such gathering was on August 22 at CSL City Hall where a nice crowd gathered.

A fabulous public speaker, Anthony does so without notes.  At the Assembly he spoke and answered questions for nearly two hours. There was not one question he did not have a good response to, be it relations with the United States, the recent spat with Saudi Arabia and refugees and immigration.

Anthony was very proud to remind everyone  that the City of Côte Saint-Luc is a finalist in the Smart Cities Challenge. We have already been allocated $250,000 by the federal government to fine tune our project which makes sure seniors are well cared for. Two District 2 residents, Charles Guerin and Marc Chriqui, have been integrally involved. There are eight finalists and the winner takes home $10 million from the federal government so stay tuned.

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Anthony Housefather delivers his remarks.

“One of my roles as an MP is to bring money into this  riding,” said Anthony, who has done exactly that in so many ways over the last three years.

On the battle with President Donald Trump over tariffs, Anthony said: “I think this will be withdrawn when NAFTA is signed, but you can never be sure.”

The Trudeau Liberals have taken some hits regarding its position on Israel,  but Anthony shared some significant data which shows that the his government does in fact have the best record at the United Nations in opposing anti-Israel resolutions: 87 percent compared to 61 percent for Stephen Harper’s Tories, 19 percent for the Paul Martin Liberals and 18 percent for Brian Mulroney’s Tories.

Anthony noted that 31 percent of the Mount Royal riding is Jewish and as a result he gets an overwhelmingly large number of emails related to Israel. As a result he and Toronto Jewish MP Michael Levitt work exceedingly hard on quarterbacking all of the important Jewish dossiers.

Bravo to Anthony for a job well done!


Dr. Harry Rosen unveils public art sculpture Partenaires/Reliance at CSL's Ashkelon Gardens  

Côte Saint-Luc  hosted a wonderful unveiling of the public art sculpture Partenaires/Reliance at Ashkelon Gardens in District 2  on August 13.

The sculpture was created and donated to the Eleanor London Côte Saint-Luc Public Library by Dr. Harry Rosen. He has created and donated 17 sculptures in the Montreal area including the Montreal Children’s Hospital, the Jewish General Hospital, the Segal Centre for Performing Arts, the YM-YWHA, the YWCA Westmount, the Mt. Sinai Hospital, the Institut de cardiologie de Montréal, and the MAB-Mackay Rehabilitation Centre.

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Library Director Janine West, Councillor David Tordjman, Mayor Brownstein, Dr. Harry Rosen, Liberal MP Anthony Housefather, Councillor Steven Erdelyi, myself and Councillors Dida Berku and Ruth Kovac.

“Dr. Rosen's philosophy is to donate his art to institutions to which he shares their values,” Mayor Mitchell Brownstein said. “Our library was a natural fit and we had the perfect place for it in Ashkelon Gardens behind the library.”

Dr. Harry Rosen has enjoyed a successful career as a dental surgeon and professor at McGill University. He began working with stones at his country home in the Laurentians and developed his skills as a sculptor using the flat layers of sedimentary rocks, which he acquired around his country home property after breaking rocks apart with a sledgehammer.

The sculpture shows two people facing each other and holding hands as they lean backwards. The plaque inscription reads: “When communities build libraries, libraries build communities.”

“Public art has community-building potential,” Dr. Rosen said. “Not only does it create more beauty, joy, and connection in the world, but it has the ability to tell stories. In effect, it tells the library’s story. A library’s greatest asset is its ability to connect with people building relationships and creating partnerships.

“This is the message of Partenaires-Reliance. I always felt that we humans are social animals and rely on each other. We don’t live alone. The sculpture tries conveys that message.”

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D'Arcy McGee Liberal MNA David Birnbaum joined us for this photo as well as Dr. Rosen's wife Dolores and Councillor Sidney Benizri.

I was pleased to be asked to speak with you today regarding Harry Rosen’s latest installation.   While it is easy to admire the innovation, the craftmanship and the feats of engineering that resulted in this sculpture, landing in front of this library, it is the artist that I would like to focus on now.  In doing so, I hope you will gain an even greater appreciation for the work he has created as it is very much an expression of himself and his world view.

Joy Rosen, Dr. Rosen's daughter, beautifully explained  how this second career or hobby evolved. “How fitting that a first generation Canadian would choose big hunks of the Great Canadian Shield as the material for his artistic expression,” she said. “And how ironic that this denizen of St Urbain Street, whose Jewish immigrant parents saw peril lurking around every corner and who counselled him to ‘work hard with the head, not the hands’ would create two ton works of art, that would, if toppled, annihilate a bungalow.”

Joy described her dad as a studious, much loved third child, who through will, intelligence, and an abiding commitment to excellence, propelled himself into McGill, then dental school and then into the upper echelons of his field, never allowing lack of privilege, adversity, or bad weather deter him.  

“And just as Harry created his own narrative from the rough environment that he was born into, he seems to thrive in all kinds of rough environments,” Joy said. “Skiing down frozen mountains during snow storms, digging in 100 degree heat in archaeological ruins, and riding through the woods on the backs of frisky horses.   So, when he started to re-distribute the landscape at our country house, by hauling huge boulders out of the lake with a series of winches and pulleys, it was clear that our dad would never be joining a golf club. By the time the first perfectly engineered stone terraces began to dot the property, we knew, he was not merely trying to avoid drying dishes, but that it was another step in his lifelong project: to work with whatever nature gave him and make it better.”

Until now, Dr. Rosen’s art has touched on themes such as: Self Reliance & Ambition with Assent: Personal Strength with Little Hercules and then finally “we are stronger together” with The Connection.  “With this latest work, Harry’s oeuvre has taken another turn,” Joy explained.  “For the two figures cantilevered together, convey unequivocal trust and complete synergy between the partners. Together they are one and can spin together just like the world on its axis.  However, if one or the other partner were to let go, both would tumble.  In speaking with my dad about this sculpture, he indicated that it was like his relationship with my mother, Delores, over all the years of their marriage.  If you examine the work, it is easy to see that.  They spin together in beautiful balance, never breaking their hold.

“Our family is so lucky to have such an inspiring role model although there is not one among us that would not admit that he is a tough act to follow.  Harry is an incurable optimist with no illusions that creating perfection requires a lot of really, really hard work. And yet, I don’t think he’s ever found himself between a rock and a hard place that he could not engineer into something awesomely positive.  This is, both as an artist, as a human being, his gift, his message and his legacy.”

Congratulations to Library Director Janine West and her staff for the work they did on this project.

Watch Mayor Brownstein’s interview with Dr. Rosen at https://youtu.be/bXlRBoODPa0. Watch the sculpture being installed at https://youtu.be/KGP1-0fzfyw.


Hydro-Québec begins felling trees on their servitudes

Hydro-Quebec has returned to Côte Saint-Luc to do another inventory of land where they have servitudes.

Hydro-Québec’s servitudes, or easements, include certain rights and restrictions:

  • The right to install, add, maintain and operate overhead and underground telecommunications and power distribution lines on the site of the servitude;
  • The right to authorize individuals, public utilities and municipalities to install, add and operate lines, cables, conduits, equipment and accessories on the site of the servitude, including underground and in the overhang;
  • The right to fell, prune, remove or destroy any type of vegetation (trees, shrubs, branches, roots) through any means and at any time;
  • The right to prune trees within four metres of lines, even if the trees are growing outside the site of the servitude;
  • The right to move about on foot or by vehicle on the site of the servitude and outside the servitude whenever necessary;
  • The prohibition against building or erecting a structure on the site of the servitude, including underground and in the overhang, except for a fence with a gate, an ornamental hedge or a paved driveway;
  • The prohibition against modifying the ground elevation.

Together with Hydro, Côte Saint-Luc Public Works Department Director of Operations John Monteiro always rings the doorbell first before going onto the resident's property, even though  Hydro legally has all rights to enter. They are very polite and the Forestry Technician explains why he is there, that he is doing an inventory of trees that are within the six-meter radius from the closest transmission line. Lignes-transport-emprise

John hands out his business card and the resident receives a letter like this.  It explains why Hydro must perform these important operations for safety measures.

On August 7 our Public Works Department advised me of the following:

  • Approximately  five locations were dealt with where some hedges at 15 feet tall will be pruned to eight feet two
  • Approximately  30 trees (only at some homes) are to be felled according to the criteria on  Kreigoff, Marc Chagall, Brandeis and  Merrimac to Rembrandt).
  • More work will be done this week on Rembrandt , Sabin, Holland and Wavell.

Nobody likes to see trees felled. Some residents have called to express their concerns, especially those who looked out at this beautiful landscape. If they do not own that land and it falls on a Hydro servitude legally there is not much they can do. Property owners  do have the option to request a change in servitude. The necessary information is here.

In the case of the Meadows I am not pleased at all that this work was done without any prior consultation by Hydro. There has already been a strong line of communications between Hydro and the Meadows board, especially lately due to an attempt by them to replace the grid. I, as the councillor, only learned about this after the work was done.  I do not fault our staff. I expect more from Hydro. Why the rush and did all of these trees really need to be cut down? Did they not learn from the vote last May not to allow them to proceed with certain work due to "a lack of consultation?"

Our Public Works Department states the following: " The only reason that Hydro  arrived in the city today, was that they are doing an inventory of possible problematic trees that could create an arc from the tree/bush to the transmission line. Only an inventory is being conducted. And only once the inventory has been completed, shall Hydro contact the city with a plan of action that will be suitable for all. Every resident that will be affected will also be contacted in advance with all pertinent information."

Here is a video from resident Charles Guerin as to how Hydro previously felled trees in an irresponsible manner at the Meadows: