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.
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
“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.”
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.
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.