Since I was first elected over 14 years ago as the city councillor for District 2 in Côte Saint-Luc, I have hosted annual Town Hall meetings.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, all council meetings have moved to the Zoom video platform. We actually convene far more often than ever before.
While I do take daily walkabouts in spring, summer and fall throughout the District and communicate with constituents by phone, email and (in Pre COVID times) in person, Town Halls became a unique opportunity to focus on specifically District issues.
Last fall longtime councillor Ruth Kovac passed away. A by-election was scheduled for April, but postponed due to the pandemic. We have two candidates, but no date when this will occur. So for the time being, Councillor David Tordjman and I are serving those constituents on an interim basis: East of Cavendish for myself; West of Cavendish for David.
On June 3 I organized the first Virtual Town Hall Meeting, with Councillor Tordjman and Mayor Mitchell Brownstein joining me. It was broadcast on YouTube via a link on our website. Here is the link.
Mayor Brownstein gave an update on the many COVID-19 issues. Councillor Tordjman and I focused on our districts and the one we are sharing. On a personal note I hope that the Quebec government finds a safe way to allow the by-elections to take place. If people can social distance at the grocery store and pharmacy, they can probably do so at a well-organized polling station.
The message from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs is the same as it has been for the past weeks: no public notice of election can be given before June 26, 2020. Both the DGEQ and municipalities have no authority to determine when the by-elections across the province can/will be held. We are told that the government will be looking into the question over the next three weeks and further information will be provided on their website or possibly by way of a decree.
Here is a look at some of the important issues related to District 2
The Equinoxe and Le Montefiore
Carole Doudak, the vice-president of Jadco Development, gave an important update on the status of Le Montefiore and The Equinoxe.
Le Montefiore, of course, is the former Manoir Montefiore seniors residence. Jadco purchased the property over a year ago and poured in a lot of money to transform it into a luxury rental building. The first five floors are now ready and residents began moving in on June 1. Construction was delayed due to some brickwork. The former first floor dining hall was transformed into a second indoor garage.
Ms. Doudak provided some good news on the completion of the phase two of the Equinoxe. After being shut down for a month due to the pandemic, they have made up for lost time and expect to have the project completed by November 1. They anticipate that all of the concrete and windows should be installed within three weeks. Once that occurs, all of the transport trucks and trailers will be gone and work will move exclusively indoors. That makes for far less disturbances and noise.
Ms. Doudak was asked about workmen repeatedly arriving early in the morning, prior to the legal starting time of 7 am and too many of them parking on the street instead of the makeshift parking lot. Ms. Doudak said that there more than 100 workers on the site. They are sub-contractors whom she and her team repeatedly remind not to start before the designated time. With security on site, she promised more vigilance over the next few weeks until quieter work begins.
The apartment building on The Avenue is finally starting to take shape. New owners have proceeded to beautify the property and they should have everything completed by the end of the summer. The city has also given approval for two new residential units to be constructed on the ground floor, which is also zoned commercial. Somewhere down the line there could be some stores there.
The Rembrandt Park tennis courts re-opened May 29, with new safety standards. It is being well utilized. I even saw our Mount Royal Liberal MP Anthony Housefather playing there last weekend.
Public Works reports that they are slowly installing bollards on the bike paths and pedestrian walkways. So far there has not been enough staff to install the necessary speed bumps, but we hope that will occur soon.
The Snow Dump
When will we chop up the thick hill of dirt and snow at the dump on Marc Chagall? We will be starting on Monday, June 8 until Friday, June 12 from 7 am to 7pm. The equipment used will be two mechanical shovels and one bulldozer. We will then wait a couple of weeks for Mother Nature to help us melt the exposed snow and then return for another session.
On my walks I am taking note of any potholes I see and reporting them to Public Works.
With a smaller staff and many new COVID-19 related responsibilities, Public Works has not been able to complete as thorough a job on street cleaning it wishes. Some streets in my district that have not received the attention necessary have now been placed on a new priority list.
Parks and Playgrounds
All playgrounds have been fenced in to prevent children from playing on the equipment. The outdoor exercise equipment was taped up. They are now being reopened with extreme caution and the same goes for the basketball courts. The water was turned on for the splash pads at Rembrandt Park to deal with the recent extreme heat.
The Excelsior (Ilan Ramon)
Residents of both the Cavendish Blvd. building and Ilan Ramon Crescent complained last week of very loud noises emanating from the ventilation system. Our Urban Development Department intervened and ensured that they fix the problem.
Isadore Goldberg Park
I was hoping for us to have a rededication ceremony for Isadore Goldberg Park this spring. Regrettably, the late Councillor Goldberg passed away last winter and then COVID-19 hit us. Last fall our Public Works Department began removing all of the bushes near the park and created a pathway from Marc Chagall Avenue. The plan was to move the sign and pave the path. While that has been placed on hold, workers returned to the site this week to begin a fresh cleanup. I hope concerns over a long burnt out light reported to me by my Sir Walter Scott Avenue lieutenant Alexander will be attended to.