By Joel Goldenberg, The Suburban, August 28th, 2013

Côte St. Luc had a shelter prepared at the Aquatic and Community Centre during the July 30-31 20-hour standoff between police and resident Isidore Havis on Guelph Road, Councillor Glenn Nashen revealed at the August council meeting.

Havis, who had dementia and had allegedly threatened Hydro-Québec employees, died Aug. 17.

Nashen said the city’s emergency services and agglomeration services were tested “perhaps to the maximum” in recent weeks, whether because of heat waves, the standoff and a fire on Holland. He congratulated those involved for their work.

The councillor, who is in charge of the public safety portfolio, commended his colleague Councillor Ruth Kovac for her involvement in the preparation of a shelter during the standoff, which turned out not to be needed “because our residents were so well taken care of.

“The fact that residents such as Councillor Kovac and the volunteers from volunteer Citizens On Patrol, and our city staff were willing and able to muster, at 1 a.m., to prepare themselves for this influx of residents that never came – it’s irrelevant the residents never came – they were willing to go that extra mile to help those who were potentially in need.”

Kovac thanked those involved as well, saying she had received a call at 12:45 a.m. July 31 from city manager Tanya Abramovitch asking that the Aquatic and Community Centre on Parkhaven Ave be made available for the affected residents.

“Only a few availed themselves,” said Kovac. “But to know that you can call on your vCOPS and have four of them, like that, show up and be with you, be at the ready to transport, to bring blankets to the residents, that’s amazing. That tells you that it works. They give their heart, their soul, their time. It was 1 in the morning and one of them stayed until 5 a.m., when the next crew came in. Our public security officers were outstanding that night. They went back to the scene to ask residents if they were in need, if they needed anything, any help. They reported back on a half-hourly basis.

“With all of the experiences we’ve had in the past number of years, especially the [1998] ice storm, we serve and take care of our residents, and it’s done with a good heart. The vCOPS were really something special that night.”

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Nashen, speaking about public safety, said emergency preparedness in the city has to be “adapted to the realities of modern day communication,” especially in light of the Lac Mégantic rail disaster in July.

“Our intention is to have tabletop exercises to plan out various disaster scenarios and see how it plays out around a meeting room, and then in 2014, to have a live exercise done somewhere in the community, be it in a school, residential street, CP Rail, we’re not sure. CP sits around the table with us, as do police, fire and other services.”