With the first heatwave of the summer season upon us, many low income families in Côte Saint-Luc are left without any window air conditioners or fans to cool them off. With malls, movie theatres, libraries and restaurants closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these usual spots of refuge are unavailable.
Justin and Julian enjoy my old air conditioner in their Sir Walter Scott Street apartment.
A few days ago I communicated with Ariel Davidson, who has been reaching out to those members of the community in need. I had an old air conditioner in my garage that I did not need and I glad donated it to a family on Sir Walter Scott Avenue. They parked it in their window and report it is in good working condition. Certainly there must be others within our midst who can assist.
Before I share with you a report by Douglas Gelevan of CBC about pools reopening this summer, I wish to reiterate my position on the subject. I am very uncomfortable with all of this.
Our own Parkhaven Pool will reopen with very strict guidelines. As for pools in condo and apartment buildings, especially outdoor ones, I am not confident that these entities can properly keep everyone safe. This issue will be discussed at our public council meeting on Monday night, May 25.
"We want to find a way to make sure summer feels like summer this year," said Lucie Roy, the president of the Association des responsables aquatiques du Québec, which manages public swimming areas in the province.
The association recently conducted a poll of 224 of its members, which include various cities, towns and schools with pools, across 109 municipalities and found 73 per cent feel positive they will be able to open their public pools and beaches this summer.
Roy says many managers are still targeting their regular window of the week of June 24 to July 1.
But even if public health gives the green light for community pools and beaches to open, the final decision will ultimately fall to each individual municipality, school board or manager, Roy said, because they are footing the bill and are the ones who need to justify the operational costs.
It's estimated that opening with limited access to adhere to new physical-distancing guidelines would reduce the number of people in the water by 70 per cent.
And still, the poll found the main concern among managers is how they will operate their facilities safely.
Roy says the ARAQ is currently working on a three-phase plan.
Phase one includes opening up the sites so a small number of employees can prepare them. Phase two would be teaching staff how to execute their jobs while respecting new physical-distancing guidelines. Phase three would be the opening up to the public for aqua activities without contact.
Roy says the time frame needed to open an outdoor pool is around three to four weeks.
What the science says
Microbiologist and public health consultant Vicky Huppé says the risk for transmitting COVID-19 through water is relatively low, and adding chlorine to the water reduces the risk even further.
She says the biggest risk at a public swimming area won't come from the water, but rather from contact with other swimmers. Practicing physical distancing while in the water should limit the risk of transmission in the same way it does on dry land.
As for beaches, Huppé said more studies are needed before she can draw any firm conclusions.
But she feels that even if a person diagnosed with COVID-19 were to take a swim and secrete the virus through their skin into the water, the risk of transmission would be low because the virus would be diluted into such a large volume of water.
Good news for athletes, bad news for young kids?
The CEO of Sport Québec, Alain Deschamps says this all adds up to good news for athletes who use pools for training.
"So far, the municipalities are telling us that it should be OK [to swim]. The issue is, how do you put your bathing suit on? Do you have access to the lockers, toilets and whatnot?" said Deschamps.
Deschamps believes creating a safe area to change and shower is doable but the outlook is not so positive, however, for children who want to use the pools just for fun.
"That's going to be a big, big issue."
Deschamps said it will be tougher to enforce physical-distancing rules in areas specifically for kids, therefore many municipalities don't think those zones can be opened up safely.
He says parents should expect kid-friendly play areas to be shuttered all summer long.
With files from Radio-Canada's Jean-Patrick Balleux
Recently, Jaclyn faced a language barrier with a patient on the unit and reacted in a truly beautiful way. Colleague Kendra Berry saw what happened and was moved to write about it in an email to their mutual colleagues and supervisors:
“Today I witnessed something beautiful and heartwarming that I wanted to share,” Kendra wrote. “ Jaclyn was performing a swallowing evaluation with a patient on the COVID unit. There was a language barrier, so Jaclyn contacted the family and placed them on speaker phone. I believe this was the first contact that they had with the patient. Their voices were filled with love, gratitude and relief. It brought tears to my eyes. Jaclyn gave them such a gift. On each of her units, her gestures are having positive impacts on patients and their families. I am inspired by her bravery, dedication and perseverance. Very proud of my entire OT Department. Let’s keep chasing these rainbows.”
When Kashif Baig, manager of Occupational Therapy, Adult Sites, read Kendra’s account, he was filled with joy: “The poise and calm demonstrated by Jaclyn is remarkable, especially considering how busy she is. Jaclyn had the empathy and resourcefulness to balance her clinical need for a translator with the patient’s emotional needs. The fact that this was brought to my attention by Kendra makes me even more proud; it shows how my team celebrates each other’s victories.”
From the day I was first elected I have held Town Hall meetings for my District 2. In recent months we have all witnessed the opportunities provided to us via social media. With that in mind, new technology will enable me to continue that tradition.
Due to the passing of Councillor Ruth Kovac and the delay of a planned April by-election due to COVID-19, Councillor David Tordjman and I have agreed to temporarily share responsibilities for District 8: East of Cavendish for me; West of Cavendish for David.
On Wednesday, June 3 (7:15 pm) David, who represents District 6, and I will c0-chair a Virtual Town Hall Meeting. All you need is a computer and internet access. Mayor Mitchell Brownstein will provide a COVID-19 update. David and I will provide updates on what is new in our Districts. We expect some guests. People will be able to ask questions in the chat window via this YouTube broadcast.
All of the details are here so please reserve the date and time.
As the weather gets nicer, more people are venturing outside.
In Côte Saint-Luc, and in my District 2, I would say that the vast majority of residents are abiding by the social distancing protocols. But in this COVID-19 pandemic world too many people are taking risks.
I am taking regular District 2 walks and being especially careful. People who see me want to talk.
As I headed down Merrimac, Rembrandt, Kildare, Ilan Ramon, Marc Chagall, Mackle, Cavendish, The Avenue, Park Place and Jubilee, I saw so many people wearing masks and staying clear of others.
A salute to Serge from Public Works.
On Rembrandt a constituent flagged me over to ask when the streets will be better cleaned. As I began to respond from across the street, I noticed Serge from our Public Works Department packing the back of his truck with collected garbage bags. “We will get to the streets,” he promised the woman. “We have a lot of work to do during this time.”
Another man wanted us to open the playgrounds for kids. “If you do not, they will end up playing on the street,” he said. I responded by saying that we are following the directives of Santé Publique and having young children playing with each other’s toys.
Next were some constituents who wanted me to go take a look at a mess Hydro-Québec left in their back. No sooner had I snapped a photo, someone else was pointing to some potholes that need to be patched. I took more pictures.
As I reached Marc Chagall Avenue, I saw that the Equinoxe rental building had its garbage container sitting in the middle of the street on a Sunday. “We already called Public Security,” a constituent told me.
Then came another constituent. “I am so upset at the behaviour of many CSL residents who are not following guidelines and recommendations,” she said. “We will never be rid of this pandemic if residents don’t start following the rules. Many have no regard. They are killing us and something has to be done!”
Kildare Towers residents play it carefully.
Over at Kildare Towers on Honoré de Balzac, a group of women were seated on lawn chairs all six feet apart. “We are abiding by the rules,” said one of them. “But too many people here are not! It's a complete free for all! I have my Stanley rigid tape measure. They are coming and going from getting into cars having guests or going to others. No one is playing by the rules. I have called the police already.”
Bonnie Phillips gives a wave with her son Jason Nishmas, daughter-in-law Carly Hitelman and her grandchild.
Another person asked me about pools. "It appears Parkhaven will reopen with strict rules," I stated. "I am against that. As for pools in condos and apartment buildings, they have the potential of becoming giant petri dishes. Council will make a recommendation in that regard."
Our city council is meeting by Zoom video several days a week.Our senior management convenes regularly. City Manager Tanya Abramovitch speaks to the Police Station 9 Commander almost daily. Our Public Security team is doing an excellent job, but they do not have the power of the police. The police are responding to calls of illegal gatherings, but the volume is very high to keep track of."
I can't wait for my next relaxing walk in the community!
At the last Côte Saint-Luc council meeting I moved a motion to modify our by-law for the regulation of dogs. This was deemed necessary to be in line with new provincial government legislation.
You can watch the full meeting, which was conducted via Zoom Video, here.
One minor change was done to the draft by-law that was tabled at the April 6, 2020 meeting, namely, that the coming into force of the obligation to microchip all dogs on the territory of CSL will be on April 6, 2021.
The remainder of by-law 2555 will come into force as of July 11, 2020 (in order for Public Security to inform the City of Montreal of the modifications), with the exception of the microchipping articles.
This new regulation aims to provide a basis for reducing the risk of attacks and tragic incidents related to dangerous dogs. For instance, dogs 20 kg and over must wear a halter or harness at all times. Wearing a leash with a maximum length of 1.85 meters is also now compulsory, except in a dog park, hunting, in a training course or a dog competition (the latter three will unlikely occur in CSL). Doctors are obligated to report serious dog bites. Veterinarians must report dogs they believe to pose a risk, and municipalities will enforce the rules and order any dog responsible for an attack to be euthanized.
We have had issues in the past with dangerous dogs. But usually, it is the owner who is fault.
In CSL we have an active Dog Owners Committee I launched after the last election. I know many people would like to see our Dog Runs reopened. Regrettably, in our effort to avoid gatherings, council groups the Dog Run in the same category of playgrounds. While I am personally confident our dog owners would respect social distancing, we must give this situation some more time to evaluate.
Beginning May 20, non-organized outdoor recreational sports activities carried out individually or in pairs, without physical contact and with limited or no access to sanitation facilities, will be permitted:
Non-organized leisure activities
Whitewater and still water canoeing and kayaking
Scuba diving and snorkeling (outdoors)
Horseback riding (outdoors)
Non-organized outdoor recreational sports activities carried out individually or in pairs, without physical contact and with limited or no access to sanitation facilities
Track and field (outdoor running and throwing events)
Rowing (singles only)
Speed canoeing and kayaking (singles only)
Open water swimming (lakes)
Rollerblading on streets, bike paths or tracks
Outdoor tennis (singles only)
Triathlon (open water swimming only)
Sailing (single rider only)
All of these activities may be carried out by individuals with a physical disability, provided they do not need assistance from anyone other than a person living with them.
Provincial sports federations and recreational and outdoor activity organizations have worked in collaboration with the Québec government to develop guidelines tailored to their respective fields and disciplines. These organizations are responsible for informing their members of these guidelines and for making it clear that health and safety guidelines, especially hygiene rules, must be followed in order to ensure that activities are practised safely.
Additional phases in the resumption of activities will be announced at a later date and will be based on the following criteria:
Physical distancing during the activity
Activity context (e.g. non-organized versus supervised training or competition)
What does this all mean for Côte Saint-Luc? I expect that our tennis courts at Rembrandt Park will reopen. As for Wagar, that must be discussed with the school board. The larger tennis club on Guelph is likely to remain closed.
As for summer camp and pools., I am not in favor of either returning this summer. This includes Parkhaven Pool and any other that is part of a condominium or an apartment building. During this COVID-19 period they are nothing more than giant petri dishes. I believe most of council concurs and we will pronounce ourselves officially soon.
Meadowbrook Golf Course can reopen. However we have decided to cancel our annual Golf Classic, which was slated fo August, to be on the safe side.
Dr. Jonathan Trager is a true local boy makes good story. Raised in Côte-Saint-Luc, he was a member of their Emergency Medical Services from 1994 to 2001. En route to becoming a physician in Pensylvannia, he continued to pursue his passion of serving as a paramedic Today Jonathan is the medical director of St. Luke's Emergency and Transport Services in Fountainville Pensylvannia, very much in the trenches fighting the coronavirus. But he also has the title of Major in the United States Air Force Reserves. He is a graduate of Solomon Schechter Academy and Bialik High School.
Montreal has more confirmed cases of the virus than any other Canadian city. As of Thursday afternoon, there were 17,442 confirmed cases on the island, and 1,562 people with the virus had died. Côte Saint-Luc is no longer among the highest on the list.
Over the course of this terrible pandemic so many people in our community have truly risen to the occasion.
When Alyssa Grunstein was contacted by her uncle to help bake 1,100 cookies single wrapped for the staff and front-line workers at the seven sites under CIUSSS West Central Montreal -Donald Berman Maimonides, Donald Berman Jewish Eldercare, Mount Sinai, Saint Margaret, Saint Andrew, Father Dowd and Henri Bradet – her natural instinct was to agree.
“That is a lot of cookies to bake for one person,” said her husband Yair Meyers.
With two posts by Alyssa, the couple were able to obtain over 800 cookies. “We realized that we can do this weekly,” said Yair.
With the help of master of all trades Judah Aspler, they came up with a snappy flyer. Now they are trying to get as many bakers as possible to bake for this beautiful initiative.
Volunteers on the move.
The group is called Operation Feel the Love. “We drop off the box at the security desk at each location and there is a person on site that represents us to handle the distribution to the workers,” he explains.
Yair wanted to personally thank Councillor David Tordjman and Shiri Tamam who he considers as essential volunteers with the group
“I would like to try and get as many bakers as possible,” said Yair. “ I think there is an entire market of bakers from the non- Jewish community who could love to help with this.”