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March 2021

Great news for democracy: vote by mail approved for those 70 and over in municipal elections

Score a victory for democracy-- well partial democracy.

Côte Saint-Luc assumed a leadership role in calling for the Quebec government to allow voting by mail in our November municipal elections for everyone who wishes, given the uncertainty of where we will be with the COVID-19 pandemic next fall. Thanks to the opposition Quebec Liberals, a compromise was reached. It is far from perfect, but it will help many of our electorate.

Here is a story in The Montreal Gazette that summarizes the decision.

Should the COVID-19 pandemic drag on even longer, Quebec wants cities and towns to be ready to hold their Nov. 7 elections anyway. This week the National Assembly passed a bill making the campaign rules more flexible.

 

 

QUEBEC — With the COVID-19 pandemic lingering, the Legault government has given cities more flexibility in the organization of the November municipal elections, including the authority to allow citizens over the age of 70 to vote by mail.

MNAs this week adopted Bill 85 which, among things, gives municipalities the option of offering the mail-in ballot option to older citizens. Municipalities have to pass a council resolution opting for mail-in balloting by July 1 to make it happen.

The expanded mail-in option was added at the last minute in the form of an amendment, which passed Wednesday in a vote. The score was 118 MNAs for, zero against.

The bill’s passage was overshadowed this week by the presentation of the Quebec budget.

“It is difficult to know what the public health situation will be for the next general municipal election,” Municipal Affairs Minister Andrée Laforest said in a statement to the Montreal Gazette.

 

“As minister, I had to put in place the conditions to ensure this major event happens. Regardless of what happens, thanks to our Bill 85, Quebecers will be able to participate in the municipal democratic process in safety and knowing the integrity of the vote is assured.”

The amendment to the bill was proposed by the Liberal MNA for Vaudreuil, Marie-Claude Nichols, the critic for municipal affairs. The government accepted the amendment.

It expands the scope of the mail-in ballot option. The initial bill, tabled in February, had the option but only for seniors living in CHSLDs or private nursing homes and people with reduced mobility who can’t travel.

In the debate over the bill, Nichols said her own 76-year-old mother would be afraid to go to a polling station if the pandemic was still happening. Nichols wanted the amendment to including to anyone over 65.

Elections Quebec indicated it would not have time to organize such a system for this election. The compromise was age 70. Elections Quebec had the same view on the issue of electronic or internet voting, which the minister Laforest also favours. There would not be enough time to put the system in place.

Elections Quebec polling shows about 50 per cent of Quebecers support the idea of electronic voting. In the 18-to-34 year-old category, the number is 76 per cent. The tool is seen as a way to boost low participation rates.

Bill 85, however, includes other clauses to ease voting in a pandemic.

To take into consideration voting by mail, the election period is expanded from 44 days in total to 51. Additional voting days will be added to avoid crowding at polling stations.

To avoid contact, fewer election workers will be on site and it will require fewer signatures to become a candidate to avoid door-to-door contact.

Finally, voters will be allowed to use their own pencils to vote.

“The last year has taught us the importance of being able to rapidly adapt to any scenario, even those which seemed impossible,” Quebec’s chief electoral officer, Pierre Reid, said in a statement.

Voters in 1,100 municipalities including Montreal go to the polls Nov. 7 to fill 8,000 elected posts.

pauthier@postmedia.com


Why I voted for a first reading of proposed new synagogue and community centre on Mackle Road and where we go from here

Over the last few weeks many people have asked me why I voted in favor of the first reading of the rezoning of land on Mackle Road to house a new synagogue and community centre under the auspices of the Fondation Sepharade Kollel Avrechim.

 

Kollel

What the proposed building would look like.

First off, please pay attention to the words “first reading.”  For many years the Fondation Sepharade Kollel Avrechim has been operating out of a duplex on Parkhaven Avenue. I equate their beginnings to Beth Chabad CSL, which operated from the old Eaton’s at the Cavendish Mall and in the CSL Shopping Centre until they constructed a beautiful facility on Kildare Road and Marc Chagall. The Fondation Sepharade Kollel Avrechim deserves something better than a duplex.

Initially they bought land on Mackle Road right next to the CLSC René Cassin for what was to be a very modest-sized building. Neighbours opposed the project, signed a register and council stopped any potential development. We did identify land across from Maimonides Hospital, which was not near any homes and honestly we expected them to come back to us with the same sized structure. Instead, what materialized was something more than triple the size.

When I spoke to their leaders just a few years ago I asked them if they would give up their Parkhaven duplex once the new building opened and the response was affirmative. Now we learn that they intend to keep it. Parkhaven is not my district so that really is for the local councillor to work on.

Why did I vote in favor of the first reading? I felt it was important for this project to go to public consultation and due to the pandemic and the coverage of this dossier in The Suburban I knew we would have a strong presence online. Some 200 people ended up tuning in and voicing their comments. The response continued on local Facebook pages.

Had we voted this project down, then there would have been no opportunity to hear what the public had to say. I truly hope that the commentary we heard at the public consultation resonated with the congregation. Please make note. I support them. They do excellent work in the community and we are lucky to have them in our midst. To their credit they have approached some local synagogues whom many believe have room in their buildings to cohabitate, but they had no luck. Can the city play a role in mediating? That would certainly be a lot simpler than constructing a building from scratch.

City Council will convene for our next vote on April 12. In my opinion the Fondation Sepharade Kollel Avrechim should adhere to many of the valid concerns raised at the consultation regarding parking and drop off.  Their proposal needs to be revised to take these points into consideration.

I must add that I am troubled by the combative nature of some of our residents who have tried to make this an anti-synagogue issue. Côte Saint-Luc has one of the largest Jewish communities per capita in the world next to Israel and New York. We must all learn to live together as friends and partners.

I am glad we got such a strong response. The consultation, I believe, can create a “win win” situation for everyone involved. Indeed it is clear that the proposal presently before us by Fondation Sepharade Kollel Avrechim is not feasible nor safe. The ball is in their court to come back to us, either before April 12 or if the vote does not pass. But to all citizen of Côte Saint-Luc, if all of the factors due line up in a revised plan then we all need to keep an open mind.

On the eve of Passover, let us all be one strong community. Melodie Cohn, who was my opponent in the last election and has since become a friend and an important voice in District 2, has created a hashtag of #CSLStrong and she adds how we should all celebrate the fact we have so many rich cultures in our community,


IGA Lipari at Côte St. Luc Shopping Centre going the extra mile to assist clients for Passover orders

It is hard to believe, but we are headed towards our second COVID-19 Passover and that brings with it many challenges.

Right about now, grocery stores in the Jewish communities have aisles of Passover products. Most of the non-perishables are in while we might have to wait just a little bit longer for the frozen goods.

There are still many people in our community, particularly seniors, who do not wish to physically go into a store. To avoid that they have relied upon curbside pickup or delivery the past year.  In order to do so you must register an account with IGA, Provigo or Metro and input your order several days in advance.

For Passover, though, you are not really going to see a list of items you need on the data base.

Now I have always done my Passover shopping at the IGA Lipari at the Côte Saint-Luc Shopping Centre. Owner Pete Lipari is a prince of an individual. Last summer he worked with the Nellie Philanthropy Foundation.  David Lisbona, Councillor Mitch Kujavsky, his sister Pam Kujavsky, and Melissa Margles spearheaded a group of about 200 volunteers who packed and delivered orders to seniors. Lipari let them stay after hours  and before opening in the morning to complete the task.

PeterLipari
Peter Lipari is ready to assist.

 

Well, once again, Lipari is stepping up.  Beginning  Friday, March 12 people can reserve their Passover orders by sending an email to igalipari@gmail.com.  It is important to merely list the name of the product you want, such as egg matzvah or chocolate cake mix. Someone will call you within two days to go over the items and take your credit card. You can then arrange for it to be delivered or picked up. The last day of operation for this option will be Monday, March 22 at Noon.

This is something those of us who have elderly parents can take care of it they do not have email. Many seniors have received their first vaccines, but they do not kick in for three weeks. So it remains highly advisable for them to stay home and safe.

Here is a basic list of Passover items you can order:

  • Borch
  • Gelfilte fish
  • Matzah
  • Egg Matzah
  • Whole wheat Matzah
  • Matzah Farfel
  • Matzah meal
  • Cake meal
  • Vegetable oil
  • Sugar brown sugar
  • Passover coke/diet coke
  • White rock seltzer
  • Chicken consume
  • Matzah ball min
  • Matzah ball and soup mix
  • Jam, assorted flavors
  • Instant coffee/tea
  • Cereal
  • Passover cake mix
  • Kedem grape juice
  • Candles
  • Spices
  • Matzah crumbs
  • Passover cookies, cakes
  • And many more items including meat, cold cuts, salads, dairy, etc

If you have another item, just list it.  The phone number is 514-486-3254.


Former CSL standout athlete launches Go Fund Me campaign to assist some of his NY basketball players

While growing up in Côte Saint-Luc next to Kirwan Park,  my brother Chuck and I would spend of our summers playing pickup baseball. The guy everyone wanted on their team was Mark Rosenoff, who lived one street over. We called him “Rosie” and he was the prototypical  power hitter. In the local CSL system, from hardball to Slo Pitch, this guy was always good for the long ball.

Rosie2
Mark Rosenoff and one of his previous teams.

Well, I lost touch with Rosie until he contacted me the other day. Twenty years ago, while living here, he met his wife Michelle. She is a New Yorker and they  ended up moving to Long Island.    They were blessed with two beautiful children.  Sydney,  17., is a high school senior   at LuHi and Matthew, 15,  is a freshman at Commack High School. Sydney is a chip off the old block  received a full basketball scholarship at Adelphi University. Not to be outdone, Matthew made the varsity basketball team and he also plays football.  

Rosenofffamily
Mark Rosenoff and his family.

 

 

 

Now Rosie himself was also quite a basketball player growing up.   “I loved the game as a player and continue to love the game as a coach,” he says. “Coaching has to be one of the most rewarding things to do in life. To make a difference in these young kids lives means everything.”

Rosie currently coaches a Boys 15U AAU travel basketball team. They are not a sponsored, so everyone has to pay their own way to play.   Turns out he has players who can’t afford to pay anything to play.   “They are great kids that deserve the opportunity to compete,” Rosie says. “With New York closed,  we have to travel to other states to play,  which is very costly.”

By day Rosie has a sales position in the pest control industry.   

So Rosiehas embarked upon a Go Fund Me account  to help these kids out and he is hoping that Montrealers and CSLers who knew him will consider making donations.

The link  to donate is:   https://gofund.me/85219532 


New measure to improve safety on Marc Chagall Ave. to reduce speed to 30 km/h

The Côte Saint-Luc Traffic Committee met recently, at which time I made the case for something to be done to increase safety on Marc Chagall Avenue

With the addition of two Equinoxe high rises,  and if you take into account Le Rothchild I, which borders on the street, there are  close to 1,000 residents spread across six buildings and one town house complex. Add to that JPPS Elementary/Bialik High School,  Beth Chabad at Kildare Road and the snow dump, then we are talking about a lot of traffic.

ChagallsatFinal
A look at Marc Chagall Avenue.

Following two recent accidents at the curve on Marc Chagall, the committee discussed what can be done. Engineering presented  traffic counts taken from the previous week.

MarcCHagallSPeedtest

They showed low volume and low speeds at the curve. Simply looking at the data would not suggest a problem in the area. The  local Police Station 9 commander  agreed that there is likely no speeding on the curve and that they would not be able to issue tickets based on the speeds of the tests. The committee did agree  that these values would be amplified if it were trucks and not cars.

Personally I do not feel that these speed tests tell the true story. There have been many spring, summer and fall nights where have seen cars whizzing by well above the speed limit.

So our plans now call for a significant reduction in speed allowed:   30km/hr along the entire Marc Chagall stretch. For residents who have been asking for such a measure  you need to understand that once signs are installed the police will be monitoring it and tickets issued.

Keep in mind that the main entrance for Isadore Goldberg Park is now on Marc Chagall, qualifying  certain portion of the street as a park area for the purposes of speed. Then, of  course, as we approach JPPS/Bialik we enter a school zone.

I walk or drive down Marc Chagall almost every day. When I am in my vehicle I do so very slowly, cognizant of the traffic and - notably during COVID-  the fact that there has been more pedestrian activity.

The addition of more speed bumps was not accepted as the noise caused by trucks  would be very disruptive to the surrounding buildings.  

Before the signs are installed and we complete the necessary steps to make this a reality, I welcome comments from constituents at mcohen@cotesaintluc.org.