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April 2021

Remembering Steve Acre: a very special person and constituent with one heck of a backstory

In my 16 years as a city councillor, I have met few constituents like Steve Acre. He was that special kind of human being who would call and e-mail me so often with concerns and suggestions, that when that communication stopped most recently I started to worry.

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Steve Acre

 

Today I learned that Steve passed away and my heart is broken. He was an unequivocal supporter of mine, providing unsolicited donations to my election campaigns. Almost four years ago, right after sitting shiva for his dear wife, he withstood a long lineup at advanced polls to vote for me. In recent conversations he was excited to hear that Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and I were pushing for a vote by mail procedure this November. The Quebec government will indeed allow this for those 70 and over. Steve would have qualified.

Steve had a tremendous backstory, which I wrote about on my blog in 2011. The Rembrandt Avenue resident was  a successful insurance executive.  

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Steve and Leila at their wedding.

Steve loved surfing the internet and he would regularly sound out mass e-mails to all of his friends on a wide variety of topics. He served on my District Advisory Council and attended meetings with great enthusiasm, always voicing his opinion. I credit Steve for pushing me on traffic measures we took with the lights at Cavendish and Kildare and the new stop sign we installed at Rembrandt and Kildare just less than three years ago

I checked my account and the last e-mail from Steve came at the end of December after he read my Year in Review blog. “What a year that was,” he stated. “Lots of things happened and you were in the thick of it. Happy New Year!”

I am attaching  this fascinating article which appeared  in AMI Magazine about Steve and his memories of hardship growing up as a Jew in Iraq. He was just nine years old when he witnessed the horrible massacre of Jews, known as the Farhud.There are photos of Steve in different attire. The one in Arab clothing was taken just before he escaped in 1949.  This is an important story to tell about how minorities were treated in Arab lands.

After leaving Iraq Steve wound up as a  refugee to Israel and in 1949 he graduated in the first class of Air Traffic Control in the Israeli Airforce, then became secretary to the foreign attaché in Burma. A world traveller in his early twenties, his obituary reads, it was a whirlwind romance in 1957  that saw him making a life in Montreal. Always proud of his heritage as a Babylonian Jew, a founding member of Beth Tikvah synagogue in Dollard-des-Ormeaux, a former president of the West Island Lodge of B’nai Brith, a long-time member of the Spanish & Portuguese Synagogue and lately Congregation Dorshei Emet, he was always up for a song or a dance and delighted in the company of all people, where he could inevitably start an interesting conversation.

Always curious about the world, magic and the paranormal, Steve could find a subject to talk about in any situation. He loved new inventions and held inventors and creators in high regard. Predeceased by his wife of sixty years, Leila Azoulay, he will be laid to rest by her side in Dollard-des-Ormeaux where they resided for over forty years. Described by a close colleague as a “Prince” among men, he was generous, courageous, and principled and we are a lesser world for having lost him.  

 A private graveside service will take place.  I extend my deepest condolences to Steve’s family and I  dedicate my next election campaign in his memory.


Meeting held with senior CP Railway officials to deal with train noise

In a show of force, Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, Mount Royal Liberal MP Anthony Housefather, Riding Office Senior Advisor Sonny Moroz, Councillor Dida Berku and our City Manager Jonathan Shecter  met with four senior officials from Canadian Pacific Railway by video conference today. Thanks to the Mayor for

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Our meeting with CP.

CP was represented by their Stacy Patenaude, Manager, Government Affairs and Communications and Nathan Cato, Director, Government Affairs and two key Operation Managers, Ben Serena and Guy Seguin.

During my 16 years on council, and well before that, meetings between the city and CP over train news have been quite common. But this meeting was a bit different. Residents of Merrimac, Baily Road and parts of Hampstead have been repeatedly woken up at the ungodly hours near 3 am in recent weeks. This has impacted  constituents of myself, Councillor Berku and MP Housefather – our former mayor. Rather than approach CP on a piecemeal basis, we  included the mayor and the city’s senior director to make the case.

We reminded them that the last time the noise was this bad in 2017 CP put a stop to it.  Resident Charles Guerin has been collecting written complaints from people and we presented these to them.

“Shunting and banging at 3 am is unacceptable,” stated Housefather.

We believe the message was delivered loud and clear. They agreed to review the list of complaints and demands which were presented and  to investigate the sources of noise and disruption and get back to the city within the next few weeks. So a full investigation has now begun.

Citizens upset by the noise who have yet to write to Guerin can do so at cguerin@icloud.com

Please provide the following:

1) Name
2) Home address
3) What you are hearing (Train idling, banging, bells, horns, etc...)
4) What time of night you are hearing it.

We also ask you to go online at CP's Community Connect. The link is here.


Tenders adopted and it is now a go for Rembrandt Park basketball court facelift

It is hard to believe that just more than a decade ago when I would take my regular walks through Rembrandt Park, I’d often hear comments to the effect that the basketball courts should be removed. This came mainly from seniors and even some residents of Merrimac.

Well, in recent years the number of young families living in the immediate vicinity has grown substantially and these basketball courts have gained popularity. The problem is they are in dire need for a facelift and that is what I advocated at the Council table. Parks and Recreation, Engineering and Public Works heard my cry and a renovation job was placed into our Capital Expenditures budget four years ago. There are a lot of requests and we must wait our turn.

Users of all ages kept asking me, “when will these courts be fixed?”  I promised it would be done by 2021 and last November we got the green light to go to tender. Engineer Dalia Mohamed, Parks and Recreation Director  Cornelia Ziga and our Legal Counsel for Procurement Andrea Charon worked exceedingly hard on this project. The original budget was $70,000 and after receiving several informal equipment quotes, Dalia asked Cornelia to present a business case to  our  Finance Department, which was approved  for an extra $15,000.

I have been fortunate to be able to count on some solid advice from constituents Alex Fyon and Kevin Fuks. Their  JHoops organization runs leagues, after school programs, summer camps and more. Kevin has been playing basketball at Rembrandt for more than 20 years. They are very invested in these courts. They will join other regulars like 18 year old Shai Troy, whom I first met when he was two,  to form the first ever Rembrandt Park Basketball Advisory Committee. 

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Shai Troy and Daniel Ohayon are among those excited to see this court get a much needed facelift.

 

Next week, along with Mayor Mitchell Brownstein,  we will meet with Dalia and Cornelia to get an overview of the project. While elaborate changes are not likely given the fact the budget has already been stretched to the limit we will explore the possibility of building a mini-companion court for younger kids. JHoops is open to a possible sponsorship.

Plain and simply, the existing  court is in very poor condition and is at the end of its

lifespan.  Among the selected new equipment will be the basketball poles, backboards, front mounted  rims basketball nets and players benches.

  • Removing the existing cracked asphalt and install six inches of MG-20 crushed stone to

maintain a slop of one percent for better drainage;

  • Install  new asphalt;
  • Install two coats of epoxy paint acrylic surface;
  • Install new basketball sets, including the two new poles and two steel fan-shaped basketball boards with double rim basketball goals;
  • Install a new 30-foot light projector with two LED fixtures;
  • Install two players' benches with backs;
  • Install new grass (SOD) around the perimeter of the basketball court.

The work is scheduled to start in June 2021 and to be completed  by the end of July. We had nine conforming bids

I will have more to report when Mayor Brownstein and members of the Advisory Committee meet with our staff next week.

 .


New black bins coming soon to single-family homes and duplexes

 From June to August 2021, more than 4,000 wheeled black bins will be distributed throughout Côte Saint-Luc to residents of single-family homes, duplexes, and some townhouses. These black bins will replace the existing mix of household waste bins.

 

“The collection is therefore faster and safer because the new black bin can be emptied into the garbage truck using a lift,” Mayor Mitchell Brownstein said. “The waste materials are in a closed container and out of sight. Also, the wheels will make it easier to place the black bin at the curb.”

 

NewBlackBin_CSLBranded

 

The black bins will be delivered to the front of each home, along with a bag containing an information package. Please note the materials may arrive during the week or weekend between 7am and 8pm.

 

The City will provide homes with a 240L black bin, which is the same size as most of the blue bins currently in use in the city. If a resident prefers a smaller 120L black bin, they can complete a form online at cotesaintluc.org/blackbins. A 240L black bin can hold approximately five regular outdoor garbage bags. A 120L bin can hold approximately three regular outdoor garbage bags.

 

“The City intends to maintain the once-a-week schedule for waste collection for now,” said Councillor Sidney Benizri, who the council member responsible for Public Works. “If you’re not sure which size bin to get, choose the standard 240L black bin. This is also easier as you don’t need to inform us because the 240L is the default size.”

 

Once the new black bins go into service, residents will no longer be able to place garbage bags on the side of bins, as the City will not collect them. Estimates show that about 80 percent of household waste is either recyclable (blue bin) or compostable (brown bin). Only 20 percent is residual waste (black bin). Remember, if you need a larger blue bin or brown bin, the City will exchange it for free.

 

The City will be mailing information flyers to the single-family homes and duplexes affected by the change. Some—but not all—townhouses will also be affected.

 

For more information, visit cotesaintluc.org/blackbins.

 

 

Nouveaux bacs roulants noirs seront bientôt distribués

 

De juin à août 2021, plus de 4 000 bacs roulants noirs seront distribués sur tout le territoire de Côte Saint-Luc aux résidents des maisons unifamiliales et des duplex, en plus de certaines maisons en rangée. Ces bacs noirs remplaceront tous les bacs à ordures existants.

 

« La collecte va être plus rapide et sécuritaire parce que le nouveau bac noir peut être vidé dans le camion à ordures à l’aide d’un mécanisme de levage. Les déchets sont dans un contenant fermé et à l’abri des regards. Enfin, les roues facilitent le placement des bacs noirs en bordure de la rue, » explique le Maire Mitchell Brownstein.

 

Les bacs noirs seront livrés devant chaque maison, avec un sac contenant une trousse d’information. La livraison se fera pendant la semaine ou le week-end, entre 7 h et 20 h.

 

La ville fournira aux foyers un bac noir de 240L, qui est de la même taille que la plupart des bacs bleues actuellement utilisées dans la ville. Si vous trouvez le bac de 240L trop grand, vous pouvez demander un bac noir de 120L à la place. Faites la demande à cotesaintluc.org/fr/bacsnoirs. Un bac noir de 240 litres peut contenir environ cinq sacs à ordures ordinaires. Une poubelle de 120 litres peut contenir environ trois sacs à ordures ordinaires.

 

« La ville a l'intention de maintenir l’horaire d’une fois par semaine.  Si vous n'êtes pas sûr quel bac à choisir, optez pour le bac noir de 240 litres. C'est également plus facile car c’est la taille par défaut » a déclaré le conseiller Sidney Benizri, membre du conseil responsable des travaux publics.

 

Une fois que les nouveaux bacs noirs seront en service, vous ne devez pas déposer de sacs à ordures à côté car la Ville ne les ramassera pas. On estime qu’environ 80 % des déchets ménagers sont soit recyclables (bac bleu), soit compostables (bac brun). Seuls 20 % sont des déchets résiduels (bac noir). N’oubliez pas que si vous avez besoin d’un bac bleu ou d’un bac brun plus grand, la Ville vous l’échangera gratuitement.

 

La Ville enverra des dépliants d'information aux maisons unifamiliales et aux duplex touchés par ce changement. Certaines maisons de ville—mais pas toutes—seront également concernées.

 

Pour en savoir plus, consultez cotesaintluc.org/fr/bacsnoirs.

 

Le bac noir doit être utilisé uniquement pour les déchets qui ne peuvent pas être réutilisés, recyclés, ou compostés. En général, il s’agit de déchets solides et non dangereux qui ne peuvent pas être recyclés ou compostés et qui ne sont pas acceptés par les organismes dont la mission est de donner une seconde vie à certains objets.

 

 

 


Caldwell Provisions to become Supermarché PA  Côte Saint-Luc next fall

Caldwell Provisions, the popular neighbourhood grocery store located on Caldwell and Kildare Road, will take over the entire strip mall by fall 2021  and be rebranded as Supermarché PA Côte Saint-Luc.

Owner George Sparagis said  the existing tenants, CSL Bagel, a drycleaner, a hairdresser and a chocolate shop, will all be integrated into the new design, which will expand to three storeys. The former Pharmaprix , bakery  and synagogue storefronts are already empty.

 

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George and Rachel celebrate the exciting news.

 

Sparagis made the deal with Supermarché PA when they unsuccessfully tried to lure away his head chef Sophie and head cashier Rachel.  

By engaging in this partnership, Sophie will in fact become the executive chef for all of the Supermarché PA stores. They will also carry CSL Bagel and Le Petit Jardin  products.

“This is a dream come true,” CSL Bagel owner Seth Eliahoo told me through his glass window. Seth has employed rigid safety measures since the start of the pandemic. He does not even let his financée inside.

 

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Seth contemplates great things ahead for his bagel empire.

 

Mayor Mitchell Brownstein was privately involved in the negotiations and promised to bring to Council a proposal to place a very large billboard on the roof of the building to increase visibility.

Supernarché PA will also purchase naming rights to the Samuel Moskovitch Arena. The ice surface itself will be known as the Supermarché PA Rink and that will be emblazoned on the scoreboard.

While small in size compared to the major grocery stores, Caldwell Provisions has cornered the market  on fresh ready to eat meals via Chef Sophie and some of the best cut fruit in town thanks to assistant manager Spiro and his team. Many clients do their regular grocery order here by phone and as a result Sparagis has multiple delivery trucks out at a time.

The staff are extremely friendly and they greet all regular customers by name.

Sparagis started working at the store when he attended nearby Wagar High School and eventually bought the place. He is a hands on owner who can be seen on site seven days a week.

Now this would be an absolutely excellent idea for the strip mall, but at this point I must simply say “April Fool’s Day.” However, on that note I would certainly welcome Caldwell Provisions taking over the  storefront formerly occupied by Pharmaprix so they can double in size. As for CSL Bagel, Eliahoo created a superb brand and expansion is indeed merited.