Council

Our city council and staff have shown leadership during this pandemic period

On the eve of Yom Kippur I repeat something everyone has heard  many times since last March: be careful! There are new limitations to public gatherings. Please abide by them.

COVID-19 is not going away anytime soon. We had a brief reprieve over the summer when too many people let their guards down, but now we are entering a second wave.

I do not think that Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, our seven members of council and our staff ever imagined a mandate like this. It has been a challenge  and that is for certain, but I think as elected officials we have handled this pandemic responsibly.

First let me underline the incredible leadership shown by our senior management trio of Tanya Abramovitch, Jonathan Shecter and Nadia Di Furia. They have been ahead of the game every step of the way. Our teams in Finance, Urban Development/Engineering, Public Works, Purchasing, Communications, IT, the Library, City Clerk’s Office,  Parks and Recreation and Public Safety have done an incredible job. I could not be more proud.

Look at our Men’s Club. This is a group which lives for personal gatherings, but since last spring they have embraced the Zoom video platform and opened up an entire new world. This brings me to my next subject. Out of respect for social distancing measures and in order to discourage seniors and others coming to public gatherings, all of our city council and committee meetings have been held via Zoom since March. And you know what? It works beautifully. In fact, over the past seven months our number of meetings have more than doubled!

Until there is a vaccine, bringing eight elected officials, staff and the public into a hardly spacious council chamber would be a very bad idea. Just look at the recent spate of COVID-19 positive cases for politicians: the leaders of the Bloc Québecois and the Conservative Party of Canada. Our own Councillor David Tordjman was at an event for the latter. He said he stayed for less than a half hour, wore a mask at all times and made sure to clean his hands any time he touched something. Nonetheless he got COVID as well.  Please see this story.

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This is how I dress to go to work now!

 

There are a number of hot button issues coming up on our agenda. We broadcast our public meetings live now on YouTube, via Zoom, and as Larry David would say, attendance  is “pretty..;pretty..pretty good.” People can ask questions in the comments section or send them in advance.

I shudder to think of how we would be functioning if this pandemic had occurred in say 1987?

I have spent the past few months walking my District 2 on foot several days a week and talking to constituents from a distance.  My district meetings have successfully moved to Zoom and I am happy to say work is getting done at a good pace.

We all want this to be over, but now we must brace ourselves for a rough fall and winter.  Get your flu shot! One can only pray that by spring that elusive vaccine will arrive.


Councillor Tordjman and I will cover vacant District 8 for now

The by-election  to replace the  late Ruth Kovac for City Council District 8 was supposed to take place on April 5. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this has been delayed indefinitely. A date will only be set when social distancing lets up and sadly that looks like a long way off.

Our mayor and seven members of council are being inundated with phone calls, emails  and Facebook messages from constituents.  We are also meeting via zoom conference as often as twice a day. This is what  we were elected for.

Over the  last few weeks, residents of District 8 who are without a councillor have started  to contact myself and Councillor David Tordjman directly. Our districts  (2 for  me and 6 for David) border District 8. Until further notice we have divided up the territory. I will cover the streets of East of Cavendish. This includes Cavendish Club and Chateau Collins; David will oversee the streets West of Cavendish, including Mackle Manor, the Ritz and other buildings on that side.

We miss Ruth Kovac. As someone's whose forte was emergency preparedness, she would have been front and center in this fight!

Residents should first call City Hall at 514-485-6800. Frontline staff will triage the calls. We can also be contacted  directly by email or social media. See then map below, courtesy of Councillor Tordjman's handy work. 

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Your city is showing leadership during this COVID-19 crisis

I was not a member of city council when Quebec experienced the 1998 Ice Storm. But I vividly remember our mayor, councillors and front line staff stepping up as leaders.

As the COVID-19 pandemic hits us all very hard, Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, our council and our senior management team have stepped up. We have a high proportion of seniors in our community and two large healthcare institutions – Maimonides and Mount Sinai – which are of great concern. There is also the CLSC René Cassin, which sees patients and of course has a blood test center.

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Hundreds of snowbirds will be coming home by car (passing by and stopping at some American towns where the disease can be active) and air. Social distancing on a plane or in line at the airport is simply not possible.  These individuals must follow the protocol set forth by Premier  François Legault and self-isolate for 14 days immediately upon their return. Any one of them can be a super spreader.  We also need to encourage individuals aged 70 or over to stay home, as stated by the Premier.

Gradually our religious institutions are cancelling any large gatherings. This is essential. Sadly celebrations must be included in this category – weddings, bar mitzvahs and upcoming Passover seders. We are all congregating at grocery stores and pharmacies out of necessity. Try and limit these visits and practice social distancing. Make sure to have a hand sanitizer with you at all times and a container of wipes. Consider frequenting some of our smaller-sized merchants such as Qualitifruits on Westminster, Nosherz next door, Caldwell Provisions, Pharmaprix Caldwell, Maxis Bakery at Quartier Cavendish.

We have closed all of our main municipal buildings.  City Hall is closed to the public, but our staff continue to run the city. Our city council wants to lead by example. We have therefore moved to online meetings via video to avoid all being in the same room. The provincial government has given municipalities powers to proceed with meetings and consultations via technology. I want to take my hat off to Darryl Levine, our invaluable public affairs and communications chief. In short order he set up a system whereby the mayor, council and senior staff met from 5:45 pm to 11:30 pm on Monday entirely via video. The monthly “public” council meeting was streamed live on YouTube. We took questions that were submitted earlier in the day and the mayor responded to questions posted on YouTube in real time. Nearly 40 people watched it live and it is now available here for everyone to see.

This format was a huge success. We will continue to meet this way until further notice. The mayor and council are in regular communication daily. We are all practicing social distancing. On Monday I was appointed Deputy Mayor for the next three months. This means that if for whatever reason the mayor cannot fulfill his duties, I will assume those responsibilities.

State of Emergency Declared in CSL

We held a special meeting at 3:30 pm on Tuesday, March 17 when the Mayor declared a state of emergency in our city. The focus was to limit gatherings now to no more than 10 people. Included as well was a message to Snowbirds and other travellers arriving from abroad.

Here  is the complete text:

WHEREAS the World Health Organization declared a pandemic related to COVID-19 on March 11, 2020;

WHEREAS several measures have been taken by the City of Côte Saint-Luc in order to prevent and slow down the spread of the COVID-19 virus as per the directives provided by the appropriate health authorities;

WHEREAS the City of Côte Saint-Luc has a high concentration of seniors, representing over 30% of its population, including many snow-birds living in apartment and condo buildings who have been or will be returning home after extended travel;

WHEREAS the City of Côte Saint-Luc also has one of the highest population density per square kilometer in Québec;

WHEREAS senior citizens are most susceptible to be affected by the COVID-19 virus;

WHEREAS the City of Côte Saint-Luc is home to eight (8) large religious institutions and many smaller ones, most of which continue to maintain services and hold celebrations;

WHEREAS the City of Côte Saint-Luc has seven (7) senior residences and, two (2) hospitals and one (1) CLSC on its territory;

WHEREAS this pandemic constitutes an actual and imminent major disaster situation and immediate action is required to protect human life, the health and physical integrity of the population of the City of Côte Saint-Luc given its particular demographic and population density;

WHEREAS by virtue of sections 42, 43, 44, 45 and 47 of the Civil Protection Act (C.Q.L.R., chapter S-2.3) (“Act”) a local municipality may declare a state of emergency in all or part of its territory where, in an actual or imminent major disaster situation, immediate action is required to protect human life, health or physical integrity, and specify the nature of the disaster, the territory concerned, its effective period and the measures to be taken without delay and without formality;

WHEREAS by virtue of the Act, a state of emergency is effective as soon as it is declared or renewed; It was

MOVED BY COUNCILLOR  DIDA BERKU
SECONDED BY COUNCILLOR OREN SEBAG

AND RESOLVED:

“THAT in conformity with section 42 of the Act, a state of emergency be declared in all of the City of Côte Saint-Luc’s territory due to the COVID-19 virus pandemic;

THAT in conformity with section 44 of the Act, the Mayor of Côte Saint-Luc be authorized to exercise the powers provided by section 47 of the Act;

THAT the state of emergency be declared for a period of five (5) days from the adoption of the present resolution;

THAT during the state of emergency and in conformity with section 47 of the Act, the Côte Saint-Luc City Council prohibits any indoor social and-or religious gatherings exceeding 10 individuals on its territory and calls upon the Direction de santé publique to use their powers of enforcement to shut down any of these said gatherings with the Collaboration of the SPVM;

THAT the Côte Saint-Luc City Council further beseeches upon its residents and strongly implores them to:

- Undertake mandatory isolation for a period of fourteen (14) days for all those who return from abroad on or after March 12, 2020; and

THAT in conformity with section 45 of the Act, the present resolution be sent immediately to the Minister of Public Security and the appropriate civil protection authorities in the territory of Côte Saint-Luc.”
ADOPTED UNANIMOUSLY

Handwash

Resolution on COVID-19

We began our  March 16 meeting by adopting the following resolution:

WHEREAS several measures have been taken by the City of Côte Saint-Luc in order to prevent and slow down the spread of the COVID-19 virus;

WHEREAS the City of Côte Saint-Luc recognizes and appreciates the proactive measures taken by some organizations on its territory to prevent and slow down the virus;

WHEREAS the City of Côte Saint-Luc has a high concentration of seniors,  representing over 30 % of its population of 34000, including many snow-birds living in apartment and condo buildings who have been or will be returning home after extended travel;

WHEREAS the City of Côte Saint-Luc is home to seven large religious institutions and many smaller ones, three large shopping centres, several strip malls, and some office buildings;

WHEREAS the City of Côte Saint-Luc would like to do everything in its power to contain and prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus;

WHEREAS community organizations and individuals can play a significant role in helping to prevent the spread of the virus;

WHEREAS a community’s resilience is only as strong as its weakest links;

Be it Resolved That

The City of Côte Saint Luc hereby asks the organizations and community groups on its territory to cease all of their activities that gather people physically together, and calls upon its residents to follow all provincial recommendations to help prevent the spread the COVID-19 virus.

Relatives and Caregivers

We have heard from many distraught relatives of patients at Maimonides and Mount Sinai. They and the hired caregivers are no longer allowed inside, according to government directives to limit transmission. Our mayor is in regular touch with our Members of the National Assembly and healthcare officials to see what kind of compromise can be made. Surely there can be a screening process created.  The existing staff cannot possibly handle such a caseload. One of the residents at Maimonides is Cecile Klein. She is 112 years old, the oldest living person in Canada. Feeder

Côte Saint-Luc has the largest proportion of seniors in the province per capita. They are the most vulnerable to contract COVID-19. We must all do everything in our power to keep them safe.  And they must do their part as well – Snowbirds in particular! 

Please stay tuned to the city’s special COVID-19 website. Our EMO (Emergency Measures Organization) consists of Mayor Brownstein, Councillor Oren Sebag (public safety portfolio and a registered nurse by profession), City Manager Tanya Abramovitch, Associate City Manager Nadia Di Furia,  Public Safety Director Philip Chateauvert, Parks and Recreation Director Cornelia Ziga and Darryl Levine. They are convening multiple times daily.

Look for our advertisement in The Suburban on Wednesday, Letters will be sent to each home and we will make sure to address our concerns of those people who must self-isolate. The orientation of Côte Saint-Luc is that we want to be a leader and prevent the virus from spreading as much as possible, acting with an abundance of caution.

 


Meet our two District 8 by-election candidates: Leslie Perez and Adam Dahan

There are two candidates for the April 5 by-election in Côte Saint-Luc, to  fill the  giant void left in District 8 by the passing of our dear and devoted city councillor Ruth Kovac. Both are residents of my District 2: Leslie Perez and Adam Dahan. The advance poll is on March 29.

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Leslie Perez's daughter Miriam holds up her cards.

 

Leslie was first out of the gate a few weeks ago.  A 41-year old single  mom,  who lives with her two teenage daughters,  she earned a BA ( Specialization in Communications Studies, with a concentration in Digital Media) from Concordia University in 2003. Admitted into Law School right after college, she chose to pursue a career in communications as a means to foster her vision and creative skills. For 18 years, she has dedicated her career developing and strategizing marketing and communication initiatives. She has worked in both the corporate world and for non-profits grasping both, marketing and public relations methodologies. Witnessing the evolution of web, social media, and corporate communications, she founded her own communications consulting business, combining her expertise with her passion to the things that matter most – health, happiness and innovation. She looks forward to contributing new vision, and new skills at Council.

Over  the past decade, Leslie  volunteered in over a dozen non-profit organizations, ranging from education, special needs, political parties to poverty alleviation. She believes giving-kindness feeds our  greater purpose in life. Her brother Lionel is  the leader of the  official opposition at Montreal City Hall. Her priorities  include attention to  senior citizens and intergenerational programs, family-focused recreation (including online programming),  responsible urban development on the district,  enhancing communications, a focus on public transit , community spirit, safety on our streets and  transitional green measures.  Leslie has been taking regular drives and walkabouts in the district.  She says she feels   energized and overwhelmed by all the support, private messages and calls she has been getting since her announcement to run.

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Adam Dahan

 

Adam, 24,  and  recently married  graduated from Bialik High School in 2013, attended CEGEP at Marianopolis, then completed his Civil Law Degree at the University of Ottawa and   Common Law Degree at the Université de Montréal. He is also the founder of a residential real estate management company in which he  has held a passive role since 2018 when he began working as a jurist for a philanthropic group focused on an array terrorism prevention and accountability objectives. More specifically, he  acts as a jurist and legal advisor and researcher for this philanthropic group in their civil pursuits on behalf of terrorist victims, as well as lobbying the federal government on the repatriation of ISIL fighters into Canada.  His campaign is rooted on four platforms: Security; Sustainability; Linguistic Rights; and Transportation. 

Adam believes  our city must act as a leader in deterring anti-Semitic attacks as prevention is the best solution.  On the subject of  climate change he says there are countless initiatives and projects that we can enact in order to make sure that CSL and its residents are part of the solution rather than the problem.   As a son of immigrants who created an environment in which he was able to learn to communicate in both English and French--but yet feel more comfortable communicating in English—he says he can relate to many CSL residents who simply want to communicate in the language in which they have more ease. He  pledges to work tirelessly to ensure we maintain our bilingual status. Finally, vis-à-vis  transportation issues he intends to communicate with the most affected residents of CSL in order to ensure that the implementation of the transportation solution(s) be aligned with their priorities.

Best  of luck to both candidates.


Leslie Perez joins the race in District 8 by-election

We now have an official race for city councillor in District 8 to succeed the late Ruth Kovac in a by-election on Sunday, April 5.

Jeffrey Kovac, Ruth’s son, announced his intentions to run a few months ago. He will be challenged by Leslie Perez, a public relations  professional and community activist. She made the announcement at Quartier Cavendish in the presence of supporters, which included her brother Lionel Perez. The latter is a city councillor in the Montreal Côte des Neiges-Snowdon District and the interim leader of the opposition.

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Leslie and Lionel Perez.

 

The official electoral period has not yet begun for this by-election, so more individuals may enter the competition.

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Jeffrey Kovac, with his son.

 Our beloved Ruth lost her battle with cancer last fall, but remained integrally involved in city affairs virtually right up until the end. Perez acknowledged Ruth’s legacy in her speech, which was broadcast on Facebook Live.


My Year in Review for 2019

The four year mandate of our city council has reached its mid-way point. For myself, 2019 was once again a very busy year in District 2 and via my portfolios. Here is my recap.

BUS STOP ON KILDARE ROAD

I am pleased to report that the 162 bus stop has finally been moved back from the corner of Rembrandt Avenue and Kildare Road. It previously stood right at the driveway entrance to the high rise condo at 5790 Rembrandt. When I met with condo reps on Rembrandt last May it was agreed that in combination with the new stop sign across the street, the bus stop was creating a blind spot for motorists attempting to turn left. Police Station 9 Traffic Officer Simon Poitras and CSL Traffic Committee Councillor David Tordjman concurred. Our Traffic Engineer Spyro Yotis was then charged with the task of trying to persuade the Montreal Transit Commission (MTC) to make this change, something they had refused in the past. We were fortunately successful in the endeavor this time around.

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With Police Station 9 Traffic Officer Simon Poitras.

 

We recently installed a larger stop sign at Kildare and Rembrandt. I did receive some requests for a crosswalk, but our Traffic Committee stated that we do not wish to encourage pedestrians to cross at that corner. Instead they should either do so at Kildare and Cavendish or Kildare and Sir Walter Scott.

I spent time with Officer Poitras during a number of rush hours during the year to analyze this corner and get his professional opinion. History will note that after the last election I requested that the CSL Traffic Committee study the possibility of adding a stop sign to slow down speeders and give motorists on Rembrandt a window to turn towards Cavendish - particularly during rush hour. Last May Councillor Tordjman, Officer Poitras and I met with representatives of Rembrandt condominiums to discuss how the new stop sign has worked and sought suggestions on how to improve the safety of the corner even further.  A lot of good ideas were shared  

Officer Poitras did say at our meeting that at first glance he was concerned that by having a stop sign at only one side of Kildare (the other is not long enough) it might give drivers a false sense of security. Following our session I joined him for his analysis and upon reflection he was comfortable that the new measure is working.  

TRAFFIC CALMING

The traffic calming plan in 2019 was focused on making the Kildare corridor a safer street for pedestrians.  Pedestrian counts were undertaken. The pedestrian and vehicular at Sir Walter Scott and Kildare gave us some valuable information in terms of the traffic flow at particular hours.

CROSSING GUARD

 After a lengthy search, our Human Resources Department finally engaged the services of a full-time crossing guard for the crucial corner of Cavendish and Kildare. Danilo   Aaragao succeeded Norman Klein, who left the post for a security post at a local condo. Of course the legend there was the late Archie Kwiatt worked that corner for many years. This our busiest cross-section. There are many students from JPPS-Bialik and pedestrians from nearby streets who frequent the corner and we need someone responsible to make sure they abide by the signals. And yes we have to watch out for the motorists as well. Decades ago there was a fatal accident involving a Bialik student. I still get chills recalling that moment.

 

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One of the new flashing stop signs.

FLASHING LIGHTS

In a continued effort to make Kildare Road in District 2 safer, we installed two brand new flashing stop signs at the corner of Sir Walter Scott. I believe this has deterred motorists who have either run through the sign or made short stops. We do not have many signs this noticeable in the city so I would like to thank our traffic experts for recognizing the need here.

We also added a sign of a little girl with a backpack on a pole closer to Merrimac, warning motorists that there are small children travelling back and forth to school and to watch their speed. These type of signs are posted in strategic spots throughout the city and I think they are very effective.

ELYSÉE GARAGE REPAIRS

For the last several months, our Urban Development, Public Works and Public Safety Departments, have been working diligently with the administrators of the Condo Elysée on Rembrandt Avenue and how to assist them while major garage work occurs over the next four months. The Elysée   data base of 84 cars license plate numbers were submitted to Public Security. Special measures for outdoor parking were enacted.    

LIGHTS ON CHAGALL

On Friday May 24 a new electrical conduit was installed on Marc Chagall Avenue in front of the Equinox building. Both the light base and the permanent asphalt road repairs were carried out. Once the contractors work was completed our electricians ran the electrical wires and installed the street lights (one on the east side of the road next to the Equinox driveway and the second on the corner of Marc Chagall & Lismer).  Once the new wiring was completed and the lights installed, the Equinox builder "Jadco" was able to cut the temporary power to the lights and the street lights were again connected to the city's power grid. The street lights now go on and off with the magic eye including the lights on Leonard Cohen Lane.

 FELLING OF TREES

Like many places on the island of Montreal, many of the ash trees in Côte Saint-Luc have been infected by the Emerald Ash Borer and Dutch Elm disease, and have become sick or are dead.  The forested area behind the library known as the Ashkelon Woods was infected and sadly we had to take action last year. The trees were sick and could have potentially fallen down on their own or even catch on fire if we did not remove them. The existing maple trees remained in place. After the trees were felled, our Public Works Department began the process of   removing the invasive plants. Once we are confident the area is ready, we will plant new trees and other species of vegetation. Director of Public Works Beatrice Newman  notes that we will be keeping the fence erected around the Ashkelon Woodlands until operations are completed. Currently, the shards of trunks and branches, stumps and buckthorn are a hazard and could possibly trip people causing sprains and other injuries. The buckthorn (22,000) plants will be removed in July. These operations are very dangerous to the average person and only professional tree cutters and the like may be in the vicinity while these operations are taking place.

Once the buckthorn is removed, the same scenario as before will play out with odd sticks and stuff shooting up from the grounds. The uneven grounds and no supervision of the woodlands may cause injury to children venturing through as well as adults who are not used to hiking and other activities similar to that. In the fall we will be planting. The saplings and young plants must be protected from being trampled on, so again certain areas are going to be cordoned off. What Public Works is focusing on now is designing permanent pathways through the area of the forest that is not considered a wetland. 

Here are the updated figures of plans for replanting: 510 indigenous trees and 400 indigenous shrubs have already been planted. The bushes will achieve maturity within five years and the trees will take between 10 to 15 years in the spring we will continue to remove the buckthorn.  That will give freedom to biodiversity and reduce the monocultures. Right now the plants have been just surviving, not thriving. 

Some residents have asked for the fence to be removed. The fence should stay since the project hasn't finished. We can't afford to risk the accumulation of garbage in the area. The cleanup was costly and we are looking to reduce the costs of maintenance. Also, we don't want to take the risk of damages to a project that isn't finished. People tend not to pay attention to signs. In January, the contractor will request a federal government grant for the removal of buckthorn. This would mean that several students would be hired to do the work by the grant, immensely reducing the costs of the project. If granted, the students will come in June for 10 weeks to single-handedly pull weeds.

REMBRANDT PARK BASKETBALL COURTS

Here is some good news! The city is planning to renovate the basketball courts at Rembrandt Park. This will include installing new light fixtures, scarification of the existing asphalt and adding a new layer of asphalt, line painting, replacing of basketball backboards, new rims, paint the basketball poles, new benches and the installation of a gate for the tennis court. The engineering department will start preparing the plans and the specifications to launch the tender at the end of the spring of 2020.

GOLDBERG PARK

From the day I was first elected as the city councillor for District 2, one of my objectives has been to clean up Isadore Goldberg Park. Strangely sandwiched between a number of buildings on Kildare Road and Sir Walter Scott, it has never been properly accessible to all. While we have maintained the park and always kept it clean, our plan all along was to try and relocate it closer to Marc Chagall Avenue. One such consideration was the greenspace near the row of town houses. That was put on hold when we needed the land for a temporary lease in order to find an appropriate space for the workers on the new Equinoxe apartment buildings to park their cars and store equipment. That lease concludes next summer, at which time the developers must return the land to its previous form. I would like to thank our Director of Public Works Beatrice Newman and her team for coming up with a solution to make Isadore Goldberg Park shine in its present surroundings. This is a two phase project. For starters we removed invasive plants and tall weeds along the fence behind the townhouses and placed geo-textile and poured stone onto the newly cut pathway. This will provide a new entrance to the park from Marc Chagall Ave. In phase two, the city will add a fence along the path (and hopefully paving), benches, new lighting, and other features to the park. We will also give the lights a more decorative look. We hope to do a re-dedication and install a new visible sign.

There are two reasons why the city must remove invasive plants like buckthorn, phragmite, other tall weeds along with overgrown bushes and other bushes. First, this vegetation has attracted insects and rodents. Second, it is blocking our crews from accessing the park with equipment. We need proper access to the park to maintain and clean the park regularly as we do in all other parks in the city, remove old urban furniture in the park, and clean the sewer. Also, Côte Saint-Luc Public Security patrollers will be able to see more clearly into the park when doing their patrols. As Ms. Newman notes, “we intend to make this park a beautiful space with an accommodating entrance for all.”

I would also like to thank Sir Walter Scott resident Alexander Errore for his ongoing interest and encouragement for the state of this park When the makeshift parking lot becomes greenspace again, I will meet with local residents to determine what we can do with that area as well.

LE MONTEFIORE

The former Manoir Montefiore seniors residence at the corner of Mackle and Cavendish will soon reopen under new ownership as a residential apartment building. Regrettably the contractor working on the building discovered significant water infiltration on much of the exterior envelope of the building and is having to remove and replace much of the bricks on the upper floors as a result. The interior work is also progressing well and they hope to be finished the transformation by spring 2020.

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My meet and greet on the Avenue.

BUILDING ON THE AVENUE

We are aware of the inconvenience that neighbours have had on The Avenue because of the construction project at the apartment building in recent years. New ownership recently took over and we have been able to address the concerns many residents have shared with us. As can be seen on site, the process of finishing the project is underway. Proper improvements are being made to the visitor parking at the rear of the building , repairs to fencing, repairs to the city path and unistone along The Avenue, landscaping of the site as well as removing debris and grassing of the park space at the corner of Park Place and The Avenue. 

We also made a total investment of less than $10,000 the Avenue, which includes 10 new concrete pots creatively measured with membranes, Styrofoam, crushed rock and soil. The city planted over a half dozen varieties of annuals. Our Department of Public Works also replaced all dead shrubs and ornamental grasses that were missing and fluffed up the soil at the flower beds with trees. Mulch was replaced only at the block after the Quartier Cavendish on the Avenue.

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Work on phase two of the Equinoxe continues.

EQUINOXE PHASE II CLOSER TO COMPLETION

 Soon after developers announced they planned to construct two high rise rental buildings on Marc Chagall Avenue I established an ad hoc committee, consisting of  representatives from the four  condominium complexes on the street (Les Cours Marc Chagall, La  Marquise, The Bellagio, Rothchild II and on Mackle Road the Rothchild I).  We began meeting immediately and a lot of issues were resolved as the new Equinoxe became a reality, I always begin my stories about the Equinoxe with the historical note that the zoning to allow for this facility was adopted by a previous city council more than 30 years ago. Phase one has 170 units. The second tower will number 116 units. It is scheduled for completion by July 2020. The bulk of the “messy” excavation was done during the winter when most people were away. There is no weekend construction for this phase. Only certain weeknights will they work late for the pouring of cement. During the year I had to work with the developer to resolve two serious problems involving excessive noise emanating from the generator and the ventilation systems of the Equinoxe.  I was on site frequently, even taking videos in the middle of the night.  It took a lot of work, but we did resolve both problems.

VACANT LAND ON MARC CHAGALL

There is vacant land owned by a developer on Marc Chagall, near Kildare Road. It is zoned commercial for a two storey building. The developer would like a zoning amendment to allow for a residential building. My position remains firm: we have had enough residential development on that street.

SNOW DUMP

Cooler than usual temperatures in May delayed our plans to chop up the thick and dirty snow dump on Marc Chagall Avenue. As we have done in the past at the snow dump, we rescheduled to start the process of breaking up the hill, mid-June. Our foreman arranged for the contractor to begin the work. As the mechanical shovels are costly, we had them come twice to repeat the operationm then we needed to wait another week so that some snow could start to melt on its own. We then brought in the shovels again. The operation consists of two shovels for one week working from 7 am to 7 pm (60 hour week each) for a cost of $14,160 + tax.  I thank the council for supporting this initiative and Public Works Director Beatrice Newman and her team for working so hard on the dossier. Nobody living close by the dump or driving by should have to look at that mess. I hope one day we can find a way to move the dump to a different location.

POLICE VISIT

The team at Police Station 9 are always there for our community, notably socio-community officers Vincent Di Angelis and Marie Christine Nobert. I appreciate the fact they are always there when I need to share or obtain some information. Last spring Officer Di Angelis set up an information kiosk in the lobby of Kildare Towers on Honore-de-Balzac. It is something Police Station 9 does in certain large buildings during the year, giving residents a chance to pick up some important literature and ask questions. I stopped by to join Officer Di Angelis and converse with tenants. Having been the councillor for District 2 for more than 14 years, I know many of them already. The building is owned by Howard Szalavetz and managed by Pat Meisels.There was some excellent literature warning people not to get trapped by con artists, such as credit/debit card theft, jewelery theft and contractor and grandson fraud. Another piece of information showed how to file a police report online. There was also a magnetized card with important phone numbers on the front. Tenants in particular always feel comfortable when the police set up such visits. It is reassuring to say the least.

SMOKING

Smoking is an addiction and for all of my life I could never figure out why anyone liked puffing away at cigarettes or anything else of that nature. Many years ago, when I was a cub reporter for The Suburban, I covered the adoption of a then ground-breaking non-smoking bylaw in Côte Saint-Luc. The late Councillor Eric Helfield championed this legislation and it spread to other municipalities. During the summer a few weeks ago some constituents contacted me to advise that there were people smoking cannabis at Rembrandt Park. They wanted to know what we could do about it. Well at that time the Liberal government's legalization of cannabis held the upper hand.  I told them to be patient and that our council would be strengthening our own smoking bylaw to cover this. At a fall meeting we did just that! Pursuant to the adoptions of the Cannabis Act (federal) and the Act to constitute the Sociéte québécoise du cannabis, to enact the Cannabis Regulation Act and to amend various highway safety-related provisions, our council decided to amend our smoking by-law to incorporate provisions for the consumption of cannabis.

Council has decided that the same provisions for smoking tobacco will apply to consuming cannabis.  A similar amendment was made to by-law 2374 for electronic cigarettes. Smoking (cigarettes, electronic cigarettes and cannabis) will be prohibited in the following place as per the new by-law: Any place as indicated within the Provincial Tobacco Act and any of its amendments (all of which apply on the entire territory of Côte Saint-Luc); All Laundry Rooms of Apartment Buildings; All elevators, escalators, or stairways in any Building or part thereof; All Lobbies, Reception areas, halls hallways, or stairwells in any Building or office or part thereof; Lunch Counters; Food Courts; Transit shelters; Any playground, splash pool or sports activity; In all municipal parks, during, a special event, green spaces, municipal dog runs, community Gardens; and All municipal outdoor pools.

MEET AND GREETS

As part of my outreach program with constituents, I continued my series of meet and greets this year with visits to The Avenue, The Equinoxe, The Rothchild I and II and regular walk throughs in my district.

FLASHING LIGHTS ON CHAGALL

Concern has been rising over the last couple of years regarding speeding cars on Marc Chagall Avenue. We did place seasonal speed bumps closer to Kildare Road, which helped.  Seasonal planters were eliminated for now because of the many trucks that use the street for construction and snow dump work. In the past year I   heard from some new residents of the Equinoxe building who enjoy walking to the library. But they raised concern over crossing at the turn between the Marquise and Bellagio condos and that blind curve. I brought this issue to the Traffic Committee. As an initial measure, we now have a "Lentement" sign near the Marquise and buttons on both sides of the street where the crosswalk is situated. The buttons signal flashing lights which are meant to warn vehicles to slow down. In addition, developers of the Equinoxe consented to our request that they employ flag men during construction. This has been a significant safety initiative.

DISTRICT 2 RESIDENTS

If you have been to the CSL Public Library recently then you could not have missed the sensational photography exhibit of Sir Walter Scott (District 2) resident David Chandler. I am honoured to have such a talented constituent. The remarkable thing about David’s work is that the photos look like paintings. David met me at the library earlier this week to provide a personal backdrop to his work. He had showcased his work inside the library a few months ago and this turned out to be a competition. The winner got to do an exhibit and David triumphed. It was interesting to get his backstory on how he proceeded to take each photo.

 Bravo to the residents of the Bellagio Condominium building on Marc Chagall Avenue who recently contributed to a vernissage. "The condo lived up to our namesake," said Allan Familiant.The artists were:  Maxine Bloom, Shalom Bloom Shirlee Rosen, Dale Dobrovsky, Debbie Dworkin, Jacqueline Familiant, Al Garellek, the late Yetta Garellek, Mala Raducanu, Linda Saks and Laura Winerman.

UPGRADING OUR STREETLIGHTS

The City of Côte Saint‐Luc plans to upgrade the streetlights and replace all the existing HID (High‐Intensity Discharge) streetlights to LED. A tender was launched last April for professional services which include: production of plans, estimation, specification and supervision for the acquisition and the installation of LED luminaires.

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Ruth Kovac with Councillor David Tordjman and I at the 2019 winter carnival.

IN MEMORIAM

We mourned the passing of Councillor Ruth Kovac in October. She lost a brave battle with cancer. Ruth was first elected to council 29 years ago. Like others she sat out the four years of the forced mergers with Montreal, but returned when Côte Saint-Luc was reconstituted in 2005. That was when I was first elected. I had first met Ruth many years earlier, even prior to her assuming council duties. She was a member of the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and a volunteer in the figure skating program. I helped her in that first election and when she won (alongside the man she would call her council husband -Glenn Nashen) she and her husband Peter took us both out for a steak dinner. Ruth was a devoted councillor and cared deeply for our community. It was interesting to see the fire in her belly at council meetings and this something she kept going until her final days. Just a few years ago, Ruth convened the mayor and council to share some dark news. "I have been diagnosed with cancer," she said. "Only my family knows. But you are my council family. Please do not share this news outside this room. I will fight this." And "fight" she did. We were all in awe of Ruth. Despite her treatment and side effects I cannot recall her missing one meeting or private event. She was stoic indeed and for a time it looked as if she had defeated the dreaded disease. When it returned she still kept it to herself and her loved ones. Most of us were not even aware. But a few months ago her condition worsened. She shared with us that at this point there was no cure.

Most people in her position would have stepped down, gone into a dark room and get angry about their fate. But not Ruth. I will forever admire how she comported herself. Some nights she was not well enough to join us, so instead we got a detailed group e mail with her comments on every single agenda items. She was at our last public meeting on September 9. You can see the video here. I knew things were not good when she asked me to carry a small file folder into the council chamber for her. She was too weak to lift it. That night Ruth was as active as ever in our discussions.

What a brave lady! It was extraordinary to see how emotional she was on decisions we were taking on issues that would only come into play a year from now.

The community lost a legendary queen of the kitchen. Marianna Roth passed away peacefully, in her sleep on May 5, 2019, after a courageous battle. She was 82. 

 When I was very young and growing up at our Wentworth Avenue home the name "Arnie Smith" enjoyed legendary status. Arnie was my dad's pharmacist. Originally, he worked out of a small storefront on Côte Saint-Luc Road near Randall and later took over the Pharmaprix at Cavendish Mall (now Quartier Cavendish). To my dad, Arnie was like a doctor. No matter what ailment hit a member of our family, dad would say, "We better go see Arnie Smith."

I can remember dad walking down the aisle at the Pharmaprix and asking Arnie to examine his eye. And he did. Last year Arnie and his wife Frances became constituents of mine when they moved into a condo on Marc Chagall Avenue. Arnie was so happy with his new home. Sadly, he did not get to enjoy it for very long. He passed away on Saturday, March 9.

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Allan "Sonny" Rubin was indeed front and center at our most recent Remembrance Day ceremony.

 

Allan "Sonny" Rubin was a devoted member of the Brigadier Kisch Branch #97. We could always count on his presence at our Remembrance Day ceremonies, regardless  of his health status. In fact Sonny was with us at City Hall this past November, with his devoted wife Gilda and his always so proud daughter Liana by his side. Sonny served as a true inspiration to the  young students on hand. He  was a true gentleman who will be truly missed.

CATS COMMITTEE

A capacity crowd of well over 300 people attended the Côte Saint-Luc Cats Committee’s (CSLCC) annual benefit concert on   October 24 at the Syd Wise Auditorium of the Wagar Adult Education Centre. Featured performers for Broadway’s Greatest Hits were the Musicians of the World Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Joseph Milo. There were also solo performances by soprano Olivia Charette-Hancinsky, baritone Burney Lieberman and saxophonist Gideon Vigderhaus.

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Recognizing our performers at the annual Cats Meow Concert.

The 2019 National Animal Welfare Conference (NAWC), an annual professional development and community-building event, was held at the Bonaventure Hotel in Montreal April 14-16. As the Côte Saint-Luc city councillor responsible for Animal Protection, I was pleased to attend this conference.  I did so a few years ago in Vancouver. To be in a room with more than 400 animal lovers from across the country is empowering to say the least. The year 2019 marked the 150th anniversary of the humane movement in Canada and this country’s first SPCA: our Montreal SPCA. I was pleased to meet with Montreal SPCA Executive Director Elise Desaulniers and Director of Animal Advocacy Sophie Gaillard, as well as a number of other Montreal animal advocates. It is too bad the conference did not organize any regional caucuses so we could get to know some of the people who do the same work in the province.

 I was also thrilled to once again be part of the Autism Speaks Canada Promenade de chiens/Dog Walk on Sunday September 8. This was the second year for the event, both times occurring at our own Trudeau Park. Mother Nature cooperated and the sun was shining. A nice crowd turned out - man, woman, child and of course many dogs of different shapes and sizes. Krista Leitham worked tirelessly to make it all happen, seconded by ever-so charismatic ambassador Matthew Moses. Originally Matthew was looking forward to bringing his beloved Rookie along. Sadly, Rookie passed away a week earlier. While still very much in mourning, he needed to fill that gap in his love. He and his family adopted a large puppy they named Houston and the canine made his first public appearance at the walk.

 All dog owners must ensure that their dog has an annual license, payable by May 1 each year. The annual license fee for each dog that is neutered or spayed is $20. The annual license fee for each dog that is not neutered or spayed is $30. You must make this payment in person at City Hallor via eTransfers. You can pay for your dog or cat license via the email address of finance@cotesaintluc.org.

 WEBSITE

I am pleased to also have the Communications portfolio. Our department’s big moment was the launch of the new CoteSaintLuc.org website. The biggest change visitors will notice is the look of the site, which will display nicely on smartphones. The pages are organized somewhat differently but the content is more-or-less identical to the old site.  In Phase 2 of the website project, we will add new content, implement A/B testing of pages, and continue tweaking the look and feel to improve things. In addition to having a cleaner design, our new site is now responsive to mobile phones and tablets. It is also equipped with a custom site search that should increase engagement thanks to live results, control over which result to present, and analytics that inform us about user intention and actions. Another useful feature: results are now presented by the type of content (pages, news, jobs or events), making it easier for visitors to find what they need.

 Our website theme also allows us to present content in a variety of ways. You will therefore find pages that use accordions or tabs to present a large amount of information, while other pages favour index and grid-style presentations. Larger text, breadcrumbs and highlighting of principal options — to prevent information overload — are a few more characteristics that should help CSL residents find their way around our city website. Our Public Affairs and Communications team, headed by Darryl Levine and Regine Banon, built the site in-house, with a bit of help from the outside. Over the last two months, our new Web communications officer Maryse Bézaire has led the effort of moving over content from the old site.

SOCIAL MEDIA

As the councillor responsible for communications, I was proud to present our new social media policy at the last public meeting on May 13. Thanks to our ever so valuable Director of Public Affairs and Communications Darryl Levine, his team and members of council who contributed to this final product. The city launched its Facebook page on April 18, 2009. In the subsequent 10 years, we have added video channels, first at Vimeo then YouTube, Flickr, Twitter and then in November 2017, a Facebook group, which acts like a traditional discussion forum. The goal of the Idées CSL Ideas Facebook group (née Your CSL) was to give residents an exchange forum to provide feedback. We specifically included the word “ideas” in the name to help encourage users into the constructive conversations and comments.  Right now we gave just over 2,300 members for our Côte Saint-Luc page and over 2,100 for CSL Ideas.

 There are things we want to carry out in terms of social media such as sharing smart ideas members have come across, learning about ways we can improve our services and ensure people use their  real name in  their Facebook profile. We also urge members not to use: offensive or violent language; hateful or discriminatory comments regarding race, ethnicity, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation or political beliefs, attacks on specific groups or any comments meant to harass, threaten or abuse an individual.;  this space to advertise a business.  If someone persists in offensive behaviour or continually violates any of our house rules, we may block that person from further participation.  As for the rules,   they have been adopted to make this forum better for members. Administrators have the following options available when dealing with posts or comments that break the rules: delete the post or comment, ask the member to edit the post or comment to make it comply with the rules, closed commenting on the post, mute the member, eject the member, turn on post approval for a period of time to allow people to cool off.

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David Birnbaum, Michael Maislin, myself, Allan J. Levine and Harvey Levine.

GOLF CLASSIC

Weather conditions were simply ideal for the 40th annual Côte Saint-Luc Golf Classic at Meadowbrook on July 4. I was pleased to chair the event once again, working hand in hand with our invaluable event coordinator Alvin Fishman. After a round of golf on the back nine, everyone headed to a special awards banquet at the Aquatic and Community Centre. This year we honoured former city councillor and long-time high school teacher Allan J. Levine. Players competed in the Masters   (age 65 and older) and Eagles groups (age 64 and younger). The title sponsors were Marc Ezerzer and Hagay Brener from Vantage Realty Group,   Michael Maislin of Total Customs Services, Mitch Heft and Tony Lapia from Orangetheory Fitness, businessperson Mitch Garber and Silver Star Mercedes Benz,. The guest speaker was Global TV hockey analyst Brian Wilde. Meadowbrook is a thing of beauty in our community and I am reminded that when I golf there once a year. This is such a fun event. I very much enjoyed spending time with members of my fivesome – D'Arcy McGee Liberal MNA David Birnbaum, Michael Maislin and Allan and Harvey Levine.  We do not have to keep score. This is literally the only time I take out my clubs. Each hole I found myself getting a bit better, remembering the tutelage I got from my late grandfather Lewis Sherwin more than 40 years ago.

CANADA DAY

Due to renovations at the Samuel Moskovitch Arena, much of Pierre Elliott Trudeau was off limits so we moved this year’s Canada Day festivities in Côte Saint-Luc to Wagar Field on Parkhaven. It was very well received from those I spoke to throughout the evening. As per tradition, we started things off with a Canadian Citizenship Ceremony at our Aquatic and Community Centre. The ageless Judge Barbara Seal presided over an eloquent program in which 40 new citizens from 15 different countries were sworn in. “Immigration is a source of richness for our country,” commented Mount Royal Liberal MP Anthony Housefather. After the ceremony we walked across the street to my former high school.  Hats off to Parks and Recreation Director Cornelia Ziga, Event Coordinator Laura Trihas and the rest of our staff who worked so hard to make this event a huge success, our Public Safety and VCOP teams. Kudos as well to Councillor Ruth Kovac, the event chair who was unable to attend. CJAD personalities Dr. Laurie Betito and Dan Laxer served as emcees.

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Preparing to serve the cupcakes.


Activities included an airplane exhibit, inflatables, a petting zoo, pony carousel, tons of games for kids, face painting, food trucks, a photo booth and live music from the singing group Smash. We distributed delicious cupcakes sponsored   by Scotiabank. The evening culminated with an entertaining laser show. Many of us agreed that the venue of Wagar Field is actually a better and more controlled spot than Trudeau Park. For this year fireworks were not permitted in this area.  We like the idea of keeping festivities here and efforts will be made to find a formula to make a fireworks display work.

 

YOM HASHOAH


I have been attending Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) commemoration ceremonies at Tifereth Beth David Jerusalem Congregation in Côte-Saint-Luc for decades now. The Montreal Holocaust Museum does a masterful job coordinating this community-wide ceremony honouring the memory of Holocaust victims and the legacy of those who survived. We are so fortunate to still have Holocaust survivors with us, able to tell their dramatic stories. The title of this year’s ceremony, When Life Changed Forever, spoke to the diverse moments in the lives of survivors when they realized their worlds had shattered. I, like many, appreciate the format the Museum adopts each year for the program. Through video testimony, Holocaust survivors share their personal experiences and memories. In addition, these survivors and their descendants light six candles in memory of the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust.

 

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The mayor and I welcome Sfingys to the community,

 

 BUSINESS NEWS

 Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and I were at the Quartier Cavendish   to formally welcome Sfingy’s to our community. The new kosher donut shop officially opened on July 7, with the husband and wife team of Marvin Fuks and Maya Lallouz working endless hours and from what we saw a loyal following has already materialized. This is good news for the Quartier, which already has the MK certified Café de L’Avenue. The latter launched just over two years ago, but will relocate in 2020.

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Some of the delicious side dishes from Qualityfruits.

Qualitifruits is back and people from all over the island of Montreal are heading to 5818 Westminster Avenue in Côte Saint-Luc (corner of Mackle Road) to shop at this one of a kind store. Pasquale, Albina, Babu, Emma, Marvin, Frank and the rest of the team are there to greet you. Qualitifruits is best known for its array of fresh meals and side dishes, mastered by chef Frank. Let them do the cooking for you. Be it fish, chicken or meat, dinner is served. I especially appreciate the sides: potatoes, cauliflower rice, mushrooms, green beans, zucchini and much more. The refrigerated windows have a wide selection to choose from. They can also cater your private event, notably barbeques in season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Jeffrey Kovac to run in his mother Ruth’s District 8

When Pierre Elliott Trudeau passed away in 2000, his  son Justin gave a stirring eulogy at the funeral. Eight years later he ran for office and captured the Papineau riding to become a  Liberal Member of Parliament, followed by party leader and then Prime Minister.

In Côte Saint-Luc, we are mourning the passing of longtime city councillor Ruth Kovac. At her funeral, her son Jeffrey gave an emotional and heartfelt eulogy. He spent a lot of time with his mom when she was ill, specifically in those last few days. “One of the reasons why my mother continued fulfilling her council duties, virtually until her final days on this earth, was because there were so many ongoing issues, city-wide and in her district,” Jeffrey said. “Two nights before she passed, I was fortunate to spend some one on one time with her. She had a lot to say, but one of them was that she hoped someone would carry on the work she was so passionate about.”

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Ruth and Jeffrey.

A by-election to replace Ruth will likely take place sometime in March or April. At the October 23 council meeting, Jeffrey came to the microphone to announce  that he will run for her seat in District 8. “This,” he said, “will be the ultimate tribute to my mom. She devoted  the last three decades to this city and I firmly believe that she’d want someone with the same passion to continue her work.”

Jeffrey said that even though he is not even an official candidate yet, he has a list from his mom of some of the hot button issues in the district and he intends to follow them up. “Having grown up in Côte Saint-Luc and being given so much from the city in so many ways, it’s now time to continue the agenda, passion and representation that my mother set forth for nearly three decades,” he said. “My entire family has always been very passionate about civic duty  and it’s something I hope to pass on to my own children as well.  The city of Côte Saint-Luc and District 8  lost a champion of representation on Oct 1, 2019, and it’s my hope to follow in those footsteps and fight for the constituents to help enhance life in our community every day!  There is still work to be done that was unfortunately never completed by my mother, but I promise to continue that work with the passion, integrity and diligence that’s been passed on to me.”

Earlier in the evening, the council chamber was the site of an emotional memorial for Ruth. The room was filled to capacity, with everyone seated in the very chairs that Ruth herself chose only a few years ago.

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Glenn J. Nashen and Ruth.

When and if other candidates come  forward, I will share that in this space. One person who will not throw his hat in the ring is former councillor Glenn J. Nashen. He shares precisely why here on his blog.

 

 


I am proud of our amended smoking bylaw which now prohibits cannabis in public areas

Smoking is an addiction and for all of my life I could never figure out why anyone liked puffing away at cigarettes or anything else of that nature.

Many years ago, when I was a cub reporter for The Suburban,  I covered the adoption of a then groundbreaking non-smoking bylaw in Côte Saint-Luc. The  late Councillor Eric Helfield championed this legislation and it spread to other municipalities.

A few weeks ago some constituents contacted me to advise that there were people smoking cannabis at Rembrandt Park. They wanted to know what we could do about it. Well at that time the  Liberal government's legalization of cannabis held the upper hand.  I told them to be patient and that our council would be strengthening our own smoking bylaw to cover this. At our most recent monthly meeting we did just that!

Pursuant to the adoptions of the Cannabis Act (federal) and the Act to constitute the Sociéte québécoise du cannabis, to enact the Cannabis Regulation Act and to amend various highway safety-related provisions, our council decided to amend our smoking by-law to incorporate provisions for the consumption of cannabis.

 

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Council has decided that the same provisions for smoking tobacco will apply to consuming cannabis.  A similar amendment was made to by-law 2374 for electronic cigarettes. Smoking (cigarettes, electronic cigarettes and cannabis) will be prohibited in the following place as per the new by-law:

Any place as indicated within the Provincial Tobacco Act and any of its amendments (all of which apply on the entire territory of Côte Saint-Luc); All Laundry Rooms of Apartment Buildings; All elevators, escalators, or stairways in any Building or part thereof; All Lobbies, Reception areas, halls hallways, or stairwells in any Building or office or part thereof; Lunch Counters; Food Courts; Transit shelters; Any playground, splash pool or sports activity; In all municipal parks, during, a special event, green spaces, municipal dog runs, community Gardens; and All municipal outdoor pools.

The appropriate prohibition signs will also be updated to reflect these changes.

I am proud of our council for taking this position. And by the way,  none of our nine members smoke!

Here is a link to the new bylaw.

 


2018 Year in Review from your City Councillor for District 2

As 2018 draws to a close, I bring you my year in review as it applies top my role as the city councillor for District 2 and the individual on council responsible for the portfolios of Communications, Animal Protection and Sponsorship.

In November 2017 I was elected to serve a fourth mandate on council. The past year I must say has been the most active in my political career. With a lot of things happening in my district and via my portfolios and the increase in citizen engagement, there have been no dull moments.

Let’s begin with District 2

Development

Three and a half years after the Manoire Montefiore closed as a seniors residence,  the highrise at the corner of Cavendish and Mackle,  will be transformed into a residential apartment building. Jadco, the company behind the Équinoxe project on Marc Chagall, purchased the property from  Réseau Selection. They were granted a permit to proceed with renovations since there are no zoning changes requested nor is the façade being altered. The timing, of course, is not ideal. Excavation work will begin soon followed by as much as an 18-month construction period for the second Equinoxe building. There are presently 130 units in the Montefiore building. Jadco has proposed 94 units for their rejigged project – 43 one bedroom and  and  51  two bedrooms. The area of these units are conforming to the city by-law.  There will be about 90 interior parking spaces, including 14 new ones to be constructed in what is now a dining area. In addition, an outdoor lot will accommodate 23  more vehicles.

The past two years have not been easy for anyone residing on or near Marc Chagall Avenue with construction of The Equinoxe.  When the project was announced I formed a committee of representatives from the local condo associations and the developers. We have met several times and line of communication is open. We have made progress on many issues, but the reality is nobody will be completely happy until the second facility is completed.  Interestingly enough there are many former Marc Chagall Avenue condo residents who have sold their units and moved to The Equinoxe.

The developers of The Equinoxe still have a lease for the rental of the green space across from the Marquise. They have used that as a parking lot for their workers. When work concludes in 2020 the developers will return the green space the way they found it. An allocation has been placed in our Capital Expenditures plan for 2021 for a parkette and possibly a community garden, something all of the former homeowners on Marc Chagall have asked for.

Excavation work for the second tower is expected to begin in January.

Work was 100 percent completed on the apartment rental on The Avenue. The bottom floor is zoned commercial, but no tenants have moved in.

Meanwhile the land next to the  Beth Chabad parking lot was zoned for a two storey commercial establishment many years ago. I met with Gary Azimov, the owner of the property, and at the present time he has no plans to build anything there.

Rembrandt Park

A few years ago the central topic for one of my District 2 Town Hall meetings was Rembrandt Park. There were concerns raised about the lack of lighting at the tennis courts, the basketball area, play equipment and the skateboard area. Ruby Goodman, who has served as a park attendant for more than 20 years at Rembrandt, was asked to get a feel from the users. I also set up a small committee and we conducted surveys from people of all ages. The consensus was to fix the lights, maintain the basketball area as is and replace the skateboard space with greenery.

Last spring the Public Spaces Committee of the city, composed of senior staff and some councillors, highlighted the skateboard area for demolition at some point this year.  While some parents came forward and stated their kids enjoy the area, inspections done warned of serious danger due to cracks in the asphalt, as well as heaving areas in the asphalt. Our Public Works Department told me that this area is not conducive to skateboarding.  Potential accidents would result in costly litigation. Some youngsters use their scooters there, something which is also highly dangerous. As a result, filling in the bowl met with the new required safety measures.

The earth came from excavation projects throughout the city. It was therefore, an environmentally friendly project. We installed sod and topsoil to create an area in the shade for picnic tables and benches, providing residents with the opportunity to enjoy summer fun in the shade.  Ruby Goodman said that he has seen very few skateboarders there in recent years. In fact Public Works was constantly tasked to clean the bowl as it was becoming a garbage dump.

 JPPS-Bialik

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Marking the opening of the new field.

 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. 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.

Leonard Cohen Lane

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 a newly paved path and more benches. Initially my thought was to name it simply Library Lane. 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. It was precisely that  and everyone on hand experienced  a very meaningful ceremony. Here is the video from the ceremony.

Our New Parking Lot

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The new enlarged lot.

 

The City Hall/Library Parking lot reconstruction was completed in 2018 and met with rave reviews from users. The work included the reconstruction of the sidewalks and curbs, the replacement of the lighting, the installation of security cameras, the asphalt paving, the installation of new park benches, bike racks and recycling  and garbage containers.   The activation of the electric vehicle charging station was done in early February.

Traffic Calming

Traffic safety continues to be among paramount importance for me as the city councillor for District 2. I am pleased with the changes that have occurred at the back entrance/exit for the City Hall/Library complex. The speed bump and the signs notifying motorists to go around the circle has brought forward the positive results we expected. However, some of my constituents  wisely asked for another speed bump in the parking lot as vehicles approach the turn to make their exit and this measure was taken.

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Making the Sir Walter Scott/Library Exit/Entrance safer.

A few years ago I was able to get stop signs installed  at the corner of Sir Walter Scott and Kildare Road. As I take my regular walks, I still see too many vehicles making short stops or going right through.  We took increased traffic calming measures with the addition of some bollards and signs urging vehicles to slow down. These bollards (not used  in the winter) are part of 10 intersections in the city which will have high visibility traffic calming. The intersections include flexible bollards, flexible signs, more pedestrian crossing signs, silhouettes for school and park areas and extra line painting.

For years residents of Rembrandt Avenue have justifiably complained about being stuck at the corner of Kildare Road, unable to turn left to get to  Cavendish.    After last year’s election I asked our Traffic Committee to study what kind of relief was possible for the hundreds of motorists on Rembrandt. At the end of August we placed a new stop sign at the corner of Kildare and Rembrandt for vehicles headed towards Cavendish. Thus far this has brought some relief for motorists from Rembrandt during morning and afternoon rush hour having to cope with the traffic from JPPS/Bialik.  While I know some residents wanted a stop sign on the other side, our Traffic Committee studied this closely and determined that it would cause serious backups from vehicles turning on to Kildare from Cavendish. We will continue to study this area. A new sign will soon be installed underlining the importance of motorists looking to their left before turning and I will form a focus  group to discuss  the issue further. I have also scheduled a focus group meeting with some residents to get their feedback.

 

RembrandtspeedbumpA new speed bump on Rembrandt.

Another request by Rembrandt Avenue residents was to curtail speeding and we did so by installing a  (seasonal) speed bump.

Park Place resident Corey Frenkiel provided some good feedback about vehicles entering  the Quartier Cavendish via The Avenue and then making U-turns on his street.  These drivers were too lazy to turn into the actual lot. A No U-Turn sign was installed and the problem seemed to be resolved. We are now concentrating on the crosswalk from the apartment building on The Avenue leading to the Quartier Cavendish entrance next to the café. Some vehicles are driving much too quickly in that section as well. We installed flower pots to slow them down. We  continue to monitor the situation to see if any more corrective measures are necessary

Crossing Guard

Our search for a crossing guard at the corner of Cavendish and Kildare continues. We have conducted some interviews, but finding an appropriate candidate has not been easy. Here is the posting. Please share it with possible candidates, 

Chabad Greenspace

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Inaugurating the new pathway.

For those who may have missed it, last summer the Public Works Department of Côte Saint-Luc  put together a beautiful piece of green space between  Beth Chabad and JPPS-Bialik at the corner of Kildare Road and Marc Chagall in District 2. Beth Chabad had used the space, which is city-owned land, for wedding ceremonies for years but it was hardly attractive. That is when Public Works Director Beatrice Newman and her team stepped in. Working with Rabbi Mendel Raskin and  caterer Ray Petrovic of Blossom by the Plaza, the area was beautified with a lovely pathway running through it. As a thank you, Petrovic invited Director Newman, her senior management team and the hard working blue collar employees for a classy barbeque lunch.  Part of the parking lot next to Chabad is zoned for two storey office building. Thus far no formal proposal for a project has come our away, but I do believe something may be coming our way.

Breaking Down The Ice

SnowdumpIcebreaking
Breaking apart the snow dump ice.

 The snowfall in 2018 was significant and that meant a very full snow dump on Marc Chagall. Once the temperature warmed up in the spring we had two mechanical shovels break down the ice, returning the area to normal. Public Works staff then went inside the dump to clean. Each year I advocate for this work to be done.

Train Noise

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Meeting with CP officials.

When I first moved into my present home after getting married 23 years ago, I realized we were very close to the Canadian Pacific Railway tracks. But it was only a few days into residing here that I found myself rudely awoken by some unspeakable noises from the trains. This did not happen every night, but often enough that I followed the advice of some family members and purchased a white noise machine. For my household it masked the disturbance. Over the past two decades train noises have come and gone. In the 13 years I have served as the city councillor for District 2, it has never been more of an issue than the past year, especially for those homeowners closer to the tracks.   I met with officials from CP Rail and via our Co-City Manager Jonathan Shecter we maintained very close touch with them, seeking a response on all complaints. This is not an easy dossier to manage, but I will say that the officials from CP take these complaints seriously.

Open Government

For a number of years I brought the possibly of webcasting our regular monthly public council meetings  to the table for discussion. When Mayor Mitchell Brownstein gave me the Communications portfolio after last November's election, there was already some momentum to provide our citizens with the opportunity to view our meetings online. Initially, we looked into live webcasts.  The cost to video record (and live stream) the council meetings with a professional company would have been $1,230 (plus tax) per meeting. This price only included  one camera. For the 12 regular monthly meetings, this would have translated into a $15,000 cost (plus tax) and an additional $1,230 for each special meeting that we would recorded as well, such as December budget meeting, for instance. We are fortunate to have someone as resourceful as Director of Communications and Public Affairs Darryl Levine on our team. When we mandated him to come up with another option he was quick to respond. His department began video recording council meetings in January 2018 and posting the video recording on YouTube within two days. It also began uploading the audio to SoundCloud. There was no added capital cost to the city to introduce this service as the department had previously invested over the past seven years in a camcorder, wireless audio transmitter, a mirrorless camera (used as a second video camera), digital sound recorder, and video editing software. There was no added labour cost either. Our inhouse production uses two cameras during question period to make the video more interesting to watch. This example highlights the strength of our Communications and Public Affairs Department. They are able to do a lot of work in-house that other cities our size send out.  It also fulfills a key goal of our new "open city" process.

Men’s Club

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With Dr. Paul Weinstein at the dinner.

Along with Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, other members of council,  Mount Royal Liberal MP Anthony Housefather and D’Arcy McGee Liberal MNA David Birnbaum, I was so pleased to be at the Gelber Centre for the 2018 Men’s Club Gala. More than 400 people enjoyed sumptuous hors d’oeuvres, music and dancing, a full course meal, speeches, awards and door prizes. It was a classy affair from beginning to end, co-chaired by District 2 resident Joe Presser and Kenny Bessner.  District 2 resident David Haltrecht, who is one talented individual, was recognized as the Man of The Year.  Volunteer Awards were handed out to Peter Sternberg, Peter Atkin and District 2’s Marvin Hayman. Haltrecht, the Men’s Club First Vice-President, earned a Bachelor of Engineering and an MBA. An active member of the club, he works on several committees. Professionally he designed, developed and implemented computer based systems in retail, manufacturing and restaurant environments. Using this experience, he has implemented an operation system with a web site for the Men’s Club.  For many years he was an avid sailor and also worked with model trains. Today, he has the Men’s club members working with drones.

Volunteers of the Year

The city saluted our volunteers at the Cineplex Theatre at Quartier Cavendish. All volunteers were invited to see a movie, with a free soft drink, popcorn and some candy included. A pre-recorded video of the Mayor presenting the awards was shown on the big screen. Afterwards everyone was invited to a dessert reception. Several District 2 residents won awards: David Haltrecht, Hazel Lipes Award; Syd Kronish, named Ambassador of the Year, completed a four-year term as president of the Côte Saint-Luc Men’s Club; Charles Guerin took home the  Special Recognition Award;  the VCOP (Volunteer Citizens On Patrol)  Award went to Marty Croitoru, whose  wife Mindy just retired as a teacher from JPPS after nearly four decades of service.

Blooming

Maxine Bloom, a long time constituent of mine in District 2, is a wonderfully talented artist who lives and paints in two places. Here in Côte Saint-Luc spring, summer and fall and Deerfield Beach, Florida in the winter. Maxine’s style is mixed media and her eclectic subjects reflect her love of color and movement. She combines watercolor, acrylic and ink with collage.  As she and her husband Victor told me at the opening of an exhibit of her work at the CSL Public Library, many of the paintings are from holiday destinations of theirs.   

Felling of Trees

During the year I organized two  public information sessions in the Council Chamber to provide background into plans for the necessary felling of trees in Ashkelon Gardens.  Hundreds of trees are infested with the Ash Borer and the Dutch Elm disease. These trees are dangerous for people who were walking in the area (from the possibility of falling branches or trees) and may even constitute a fire hazard. The city requested our  xpert contractor, Nadeau Foresterie Urbaine, to prepare an inventory of the affected trees. On February 16, 2017 (based on this inventory), the city issued a public call for tender for the felling of 255 trees under tender number C-16-17. On June 12, 2017,   Council approved the awarding of the contract for the felling of infested trees to Services d’Arbres Tessier.   In total, we are looking towards felling approximately 300 trees and clearing approximately 21,000 buckthorn plants and bushes, a species that interferes with healthy tree growth in Ashkelon Forest

Smart Cities Challenge

District 2 resident Marc Chriqui is playing a key role in the development of our city's plan to win the Smart Cities Challenge. We were selected as one of 10 finalists in our category (and one of 20 overall) by the selection committee of the Smart Cities Challenge, a contest created by the Government of Canada. Each finalist community received a $250,000 grant to help develop its final proposal that outline all design, planning, privacy, data protection and project management components of their plans. The grant can be used for activities such as staffing, professional services, feasibility assessments, capacity building, pilot projects, community engagement and communications, data, and relevant training.  The grand prize is $10 million to implement this proposal.

CSL Cats Committee

 

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On Breakfast TV to promote the concert.

 

Eight years ago I helped establish the first-ever Côte Saint-Luc Cats Committee. We began with a small group of volunteers, spearheaded by Shelly Schecter of Educhat and a small allocation from the city. The most recent annual concert took place on October 9 at Wagar, a change from all our previous late August dates. We made the switch to ensure that we avoided a hot and stuffy evening. Well, October began on the cool side, but wouldn’t you know it on the day of our event a 60 year record for high temperatures was set. A day later it was cold outside again. That being said we sold more than 300 tickets. Singers Alexandra Cohen (also our emcee) and Nicole Arrage were superb. The Musicians of the World were their usual delight and the Gideon Vigderhous Quartet brought the crowd to its feet. We especially appreciated it when Gideon integrated the word “Meow” into one of his numbers and had the audience repeatedly shout it out. Diane Liebling, a retired nurse, continues to lead the committee of volunteers which does excellent work. We have saved the lives of so many cats, found them good homes while developing a network of people who feed feral cats near their homes year-round.

Dogs Committee

I honoured a campaign commitment and established our first ever Dog Owners Committee and moved changes to our bylaws which now allow dogs on leashes in most parks. Jonathan Goldman has stepped forward as our first chairman. He has established an executive committee, introduced a Facebook page (CSL Central Bark) and developed a procedure to communicate with dog owners. Two years ago, with the help of people like Abe Haim and Jason Balinsky, we created a Côte Saint-Luc Dog Run Advisory Committee. Abe chiefly served as my main liaison and as a result of his good work a number of improvements have been made to the Mackle Road facility. A second dog run on Côte Saint-Luc Road, between Richard Schwartz Park and Meadowbrook Golf Course, is now in operation.

JonathanMikeOren
With Councillor Oren Sebag and Jonathan Goldman

 

The city  was proud to host the  Autism Speaks Canada  Dog Walk  on Sunday, October 21 (9  at Pierre Elliott Trudeau Park on Mackle Road.  This was the first time ASC held an ASC-branded Dog Walk   time has indeed come for a Côte Saint-Luc Dog Owners Committee to be formally established.

Golf Classic

PresserandCouncil
Council with Joe Presser.

As a massive heatwave hit our province, we reluctantly decided to take the prudent approach to postpone our 39th annual Côte Saint-Luc Golf Classic. It was rescheduled for a week later While the golf is a lot of fun, the luncheon became the real big draw. So when we had to put off the golf portion on July 5, the show very much went on. Councillor Dida Berku was my co-chair this year and how appropriate given the decades of work she had put in to keep Meadowbrook free from development. Our honouree was long-time community leader and volunteer Joe Presser, a man I consider a good friend and a true supporter of mine in District 2 from day one of my time on council. Joe has been active at programming in Côte Saint-Luc for most of his life, notably at Beth Zion Congregation, the Parks and Recreation Department, the Cummings Centre Sports Celebrity Breakfast and the Côte Saint-Luc Men’s Club. But he was often the man behind the scenes, not getting his deserving day in the sun.

The Golf Classic also played a role in the creation of  the Pierre Brunet McDonald’s Parks and Recreation Bursary Fund. Brunet operates 19 McDonald’s franchise on the Island of Montreal, including one in Côte Saint-Luc. He was honoured in 2016 at the Golf Classic for his continued generosity to community events over the past 30 years. One day he asked me if I could come up with a local charitable endeavor that would benefit kids in our community for McHappy Day. I came up with the Bursary Fund idea,  working with Harold Cammy on making it a reality. It has been a huge success, making much needed funds available to families who ordinarily could not afford to register their children for some of our programs.

New Police Commander

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With the new Police Commander

 

I was pleased to sit down and get to know the new commander for Police Station 9, Luis Oliveira. He is a devoted member of the force with a tremendous back story. I know he will be a huge asset for our community. Here is my story on him.

Good Luck Harold Cammy

Haroldgroupsendoff
A fitting sendoff for Harold Cammy.

 

I conclude this year in review with a salute to a gentleman I have known since childhood.  After more than 40 years of service to our Parks and Recreation Department, Harold Cammy will retire in January. Mere words cannot describe how much I will miss this man. Cote Saint-Luc is part of his DNA. Here is a detailed piece, including Harold's remarkable memoirs.

 

 

 

 


Proud to have sponsored a resolution calling on Tour de l'Île to become charitable

The annual Tour de l'Île de Montréal has been a thorn in my side for decades. I am not a cyclist and I resent the fact that this event paralyzes the city one Sunday each year, as well as eating up the equivalent of $500,000 in Agglomeration funds while not raising a penny for charity.

Activist Murray Levine first connected with me on this issue over 30 years ago and I wrote about it in my newspaper column at the time. 

Organizers from Velo Québec continue to march to the beat of their own drum and with each City of Montreal administration not taking a stand on the issue they face little incentive to change. Now we have a Montreal Mayor in Valerie Plante who cycles to work.

If the Tour would encourage its riders to raise funds for their favorite charity, I might find this inconvenience a bit more bearable. 

Mikemurray
With Murray Levine after the vote at City Council.

It was with this in mind that I moved the following resolution at our December 10 Council meeting, which passed with a majority:

 MOTION TO ESSENTIALLY INCREASE PHILANTHROPY IN QUEBEC
 
WHEREAS the 30,000+ participants of New York’s TD 5 Boro Cycle are invited to raise
funds for charities and this year (and previous ones) raised $1 million;
 
WHEREAS the participants of multitudes of mass participation running, cycling, triathlon
and other mass participation self propelled athletic events around the world have optional
charitable fundraising components;
 
WHEREAS the participants of running events alone in the US raise over $1 billion per
year for charities;
 
WHEREAS the participants of the Marathon de Montreal are INVITED to raise funds and
may still be paying Montreal so that they may stage their event;
 
WHEREAS charities staging athletic events that raise funds at Parc Jean Drapeau
actually pay for the privilege;
 
WHEREAS Le Tour de L’Ile de Montreal receives $500,000 in funding and in kind support
from the Agglomeration;
 
WHEREAS the Tour de L’Ile de Montreal is a major inconvenience to pedestrians and
motorists;
 
WHEREAS emergency vehicles are delayed due to the event;
 
Whereas there is no noticeable increase in tourism due to the event;
 
WHEREAS Dorval, Kirkland and Hampstead will not consider allowing Le Tour in unless
the participants are invited to raise funds for charities;
 
WHEREAS Cote St Luc, DDO and Laval have banned the event altogether;
 
WHEREAS a significant number of the participants come from Laval, the South Shore
etc. whose cities contribute no funds and suffer no inconvenience;
 
It was MOVED BY myself SECONDED BY COUNCILLOR  Ruth Kovac
 
AND RESOLVED:
 
“THAT the Côte Saint-Luc City Council call upon the Agglomeration not to support
Velo Quebec with funding and free in kind support, until such time as all of the participants of Velo Quebec events on the Island of Montreal, are INVITED by to raise funds for charities via their participation in the events.”