Our mayor is a great actor, but I’m the acting mayor!

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Councillor Glenn J. Nashen and Mayor Mitchell Brownstein at the June 12, 2017 Council meeting

I’m always honoured, and somewhat excited, when my turn comes up in the council rotation to serve as Acting Mayor. This week a resolution was adopted that read:

“Be it resolved that Councillor Glenn J. Nashen is and shall be named Acting Mayor of the City of Côte Saint-Luc, effective July 1, 2017 up to and until September 30, 2017 inclusively, and further that the aforementioned Councillor Nashen shall have and may exercise the powers of the Mayor when the said Mayor is absent or unable to perform the duties of his office.”

Last time I served in this capacity our mayor, Anthony Housefather was elected to Parliament and I suddenly found myself serving as the actual Mayor of the City for two months (November and December 2015). This time around, while I may be the acting mayor I can assure you that our current mayor, Mitchell Brownstein, is the real actor.

Founder and executive producer of the CSL Dramatic Society, Brownstein has performed in nearly every production and is currently starring in the Little Shop of Horrors, on stage now in the CSL Harold Greenspon Auditorium (through June 25).

It’s a privilege to serve my community and to always be ready, just in case.

Cote Saint-Luc mayoral race shaping up to be a battle between Mitchell Brownstein and Robert Libman

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Côte-St-Luc, Que., Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, surrounded by supporters, makes his re-election bid official on June 9. JANICE ARNOLD PHOTO

He hasn’t yet decided whether he would try to get his old job back as mayor of Côte-St-Luc, Que., but Robert Libman has come out swinging against incumbent Mitchell Brownstein, for his and his supporters’ criticism of how Libman handled the municipal demerger issue more than a decade ago.

Libman suggests that federal partisan politics are motivating the “attack.”

At a press conference held at a kosher restaurant on June 9, Brownstein officially announced that he is seeking re-election in November. A longtime councillor, Brownstein was acclaimed mayor in March 2016, following the resignation of Anthony Housefather, who was elected as the federal Liberal MP for Mount Royal the previous fall.

Housefather, who had been mayor for 10 years, was on hand to endorse Brownstein’s candidacy. Friends for more than 20 years, Housefather said Brownstein is “probably the person I have asked advice of more than any other.”

He and Brownstein were leaders of the Côte-St-Luc demerger campaign from 2002 to 2004.

Also present were Peter Trent, former mayor of Westmount, Que., and former chair of the Association of Suburban Mayors, and Lawrence Bergman, who was an MNA for the riding of D’Arcy-McGee for 19 years.

READ: PROPOSED NEW SHUL DIVIDES LARGELY JEWISH MONTREAL SUBURB

Both praised Brownstein for, as Bergman put it, his “blue-chip integrity.”

Brownstein, 56, has also received the endorsement of all eight councillors, each of whom will be seeking re-election.

The decision by residents of Côte-St-Luc to fight the forced creation of the island-wide city of Montreal, which was finally achieved through a referendum in 2004, has proven to be the right one, Housefather said.

“I’ve not heard one person say, ‘Why did we not stay in Montreal? What a terrible decision we made’.”

Then Housefather turned his sights on Libman, the former provincial Equality Party leader and MNA, who was acclaimed Côte-St-Luc mayor in 1998 and then borough mayor of Côte-St-Luc-Hampstead-Montreal West in 2001.

At the time, he was named to the Montreal Executive Committee, which is responsible for urban planning, and supported continuing as part of the megacity (with some nuances). He quit municipal politics in 2005.

In the 2015 federal election, he ran unsuccessfully as the Conservative candidate in Mount Royal against Housefather.

Housefather, a borough councillor at the time, said winning on the demerger issue was a hard struggle, and Libman a tough opponent.

A blue ribbon became the symbol of the demerger campaign, he recalled. “Libman called them shmatte and ordered the ribbons taken down from public property, where they were legally, and from private property.

“Mitchell reacted calmly and simply said ‘put them back up,’ which we did over one weekend.”

Libman, 56, responded with a statement: “I haven’t even decided yet if I am running … yet the current mayor and other local politicians decided to come out and attack me … with falsehoods and exaggerations. This odd spectacle was bizarre and over the top, but I’ve always been up against this Liberal establishment mentality that is so condescending towards our community and which constantly takes us for granted and tells us how we have to vote.

“Their comments about demerger were disingenuous. About half of the current Côte-St-Luc council supported the same position that I did at time.…It was an intellectual debate about municipal structures and taxation. I wasn’t against true demerger, but opposed the (Quebec) government’s Bill 9 … the so-called demerger legislation was a ‘dog’s breakfast’ allowing former suburbs to supposedly demerge according to a controversial voting formula but also stripped them of any clout and political power and forcing them into a ‘taxation without representation’ straitjacket.”

A lawyer by profession, Brownstein said he would continue to be a full-time mayor, if re-elected.

“Our finances have never been better,” he said. “This year, we had a surplus of over $1 million and we will be paying $2.4 million less to the Montreal agglomeration council over the next three years for island-wide services.”

Libman begs to differ. “Côte-St-Luc is a great community in which to live, but we can do much better with stronger leadership,” he said. “We have the second-highest tax rate of all 35 cities and boroughs on the island of Montreal. This was unheard of when I was mayor.”

Brownstein, first elected to council in 1990, was also praised as a “consensus” builder.

Sidney Benizri, the city’s first francophone Sephardic councillor, who was elected in a byelection last year, said, “I was immediately welcomed by Mayor Brownstein as part of the team. I appreciate his openness to all communities.… Mitchell has a capacity for united people and this characterizes his strong leadership skills.”

Mitchell Brownstein announces plans to run for re-election

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Global News Montreal

Côte Saint-Luc Mayor Mitchell Brownstein formally announced that he will be throwing

his hat in the ring and will be running for re-election in this year’s November elections

On Friday morning, current mayor of Côte St-Luc, Mitchell Brownstein, announced that he was putting in his candidacy to run for another term as mayor of the city.

At the Elna Bistro press conference, Brownstein made the announcement with the support of six city councillors present and with statements read from two other city councillors who were unable to attend.

He was also supported by Anthony Housefather, member of Parliament for Mount Royal, Lawrence Bergman, former minister of revenue, and Peter Trent, former mayor of Westmount and former president of the Association of Suburban Mayors.

“Mitchell has the capacity of reuniting people and this characterizes his strong leadership skills,” city Coun. Sidney Benizri said.

When Trent spoke, he mentioned that he had originally written a speech that focused on Brownstein’s accomplishments but since he learned yesterday that another candidate would be running, he decided he needed to speak about Brownstein’s potential opponent.

“I didn’t want to use the L-word at that point,” Trent said.

“But then yesterday, I discovered that Mr. Robert Libman has decided to put his toe in the water to see the temperature with regard to running again as the mayor of Côte St-Luc.

And I thought it was important that I give some context to this rather strange desire on the part of Mr. Libman to come back.”

Trent said that during 2002 and 2004, he led the de-merger movement.

“And my comrades in arms were Anthony Housefather and Mitch.”

Trent placed his hand on Brownstein’s shoulder as he spoke.

“I have seen them fight for their city which I think is important that potential electors realize,” Trent said.

Trent explained that five weeks before the 2001 election, Libman thought the mega-city would be a “bureaucratic monster” and that Libman was “completely against it”.

But, Trent said, then he changed his mind.

“From then on, he became the biggest cheerleader for the mega city, to the point that when we managed to pull a rabbit out of the hat and have a chance at de-merging, he actually argued against de-merging,” Kent said.

According to Trent, the de-merger is the most important thing to happen to Côte St-Luc.

“You can judge a person’s character on how they behave during a tough time,” Kent said.

Trent added that Brownstein has the capacity to “do the right thing when times are tough” and that history has proven that Brownstein can stay the course and fulfils his promises.

Housefather said that you can tell a lot about a man from what he does when the chips are down, and told a story about how Brownstein lifted him – and others – up.

Housefather reminded the crowd about how difficult it was to bring the de-merger to life back then.

“There was not an incentive from the government for us to de-merge,” Housefather said. “They put a process in place that was exceptionally difficult.”

He explained that at the time the symbol used to support the concept of a de-merger was a blue ribbon and told a story about how, one weekend, they all went out and put up blue ribbons on both public property, and the private property of those who requested it, across the city.

He said he was shocked and discouraged when he heard that then-mayor, Libman, was on the news opposing the ribbons and had Public Works crews out taking down all their blue ribbons.

This year, his first year as mayor, they ran a surplus of over a million dollars, he says, but with the Association of Suburban Mayors, they were able to negotiate a deal with Montreal where the city of Côte St-Luc will be paying $2.4 million less, phased in over three years, in order to support island-wide services.

“That is really who I want to be as mayor,” Brownstein said at the press conference when it was his time to speak.

“Someone who could create consensus, who can work together for what the people want.”

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Live Press Conference Footage: Mitchell Brownstein announces his candidacy for mayor of Cote Saint-Luc

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Côte-St-Luc Mayor Mitchell Brownstein to run again

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Côte-St-Luc Mayor Mitchell Brownstein announced Friday morning during a news conference he will be running again for mayor in the municipal election in November.

Last year, the former Côte-St-Luc councilman won unopposed, but could face more opposition this year. Former mayor of Côte-St-Luc Robert Libman said he is considering a return to municipal politics.

Libman, who became mayor in 1998, left municipal politics in 2005 after the demerger from the megacity of Montreal. He had a stint in federal politics from 2014 to 2015. Originally opposed to the forced merger, Libman became a member of mayor Gerald Tremblay’s new megacity executive committee. Libman angered many of his constituents when he campaigned in favour of the merged city during the June 2004 referendum on demergers.

When asked about the possibility of Libman returning to municipal politics, Brownstein was surprised he would consider it, calling him the “enemy of Côte-St-Luc.”

“No one on council wants him, not one of the councillors, the association of suburban mayors are surely not going to want that guy sitting around the table with them … all those cities who demerged. The community doesn’t want somebody who turned their back on them,” Brownstein said.

“If someone was to run against me, Robert Libman is the least (threatening).”

Libman said Côte-St-Luc needs stronger leadership, citing the city has the second-highest tax rate in Montreal.

“Seems that they’re scared of the possibility of me running,” he said of Brownstein’s news conference, “otherwise, they wouldn’t have gone to this extent.”

Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

Exploring CSL history, from farmland to a modern suburb

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Jane’s Walk is a series of free neighbourhood walking tours that helps put people in touch with their environment and with each other, by bridging social and geographic gaps and creating a space for cities to discover themselves. Since its inception in 2007, Jane’s Walk has happened in cities across North America, and is growing internationally.
Jane’s Walk honours the legacy and ideas of urban activist and writer Jane Jacobs who championed the interests of local residents and pedestrians over a car-centred approach to planning. Jane’s Walk helps knit people together into a strong and resourceful community, instilling belonging and encouraging civic leadership.

Mayor Mitchell Brownstein with residents Ricky and Marla Zipper display photo of the former Cote Saint-Luc City Hall on Westminster Ave

 

This year’s Cote Saint-Luc Jane’s Walk was organized in conjunction with the CSL Historical Society and lead by environmental activist and City Councillor Dida Berku and Director of Library Services, Janine West. It took place on the first Sunday in May.
Despite unseasonably cold temperatures and intermittent rain the pair ran an informative and fascinating history lesson as the group walked the several historic blocks down Old Cote Saint-Luc Road from Westminster to the west.

Councillor Dida Berku, Library Director Janine West and resident Michael Dennis in Prudhomme Park (May 2017)

Prudhomme Park was a very appropriate the starting point where Berku and West began recounting the story of Cote Saint-Luc, much of it touching upon the Prudhomme family, going back to the founding of the Ville Marie and the original colonization of Montreal and areas to the west, now known as the City of Cote Saint-Luc. The land was all forested and good for hunting.
Along came Paul de Chomedey, sieur de Maisonneuve, in 1642 with Jacques Cartier, bringing with them many settlers. The colony required food and de Maisonneuve granted land in the western areas of the settlement to farm and support the settlers.
Around this time, Jean Décarie was rewarded for services to the colony and the earliest grant of land was given to him in this area. The first settlers came to the Cote Saint-Luc area and set up seignueries. These were very successful farms with extremely fertile land.

Farm in Cote Saint-Luc

Prudhomme, Décarie and Lemieux, the landowners under the seigneurial system also became the early political activists as representatives of local government.
Cote Saint-Luc was much larger then, including all the land north of Cote Saint-Luc Road, encompassing all of Hampstead all the way up to Ville Saint-Laurent and continuing past the current area of Décarie and extending toward what is now Westmount.
There were three major farms in CSL back in 1750, all belonging to the Lemieux, Prudhomme and Décarie families. The land was well irrigated by the Little Saint Pierre River that now flows beneath the City of Cote Saint-Luc. The farmers used this river to transport grain to market in the heart of Old Montreal, at the Bonsecour Market. The river actually runs all the way to, and under, Pointe a Calliere museum. Beginning this year, 100 metres of the river will be exposed and viewable flowing in the basement of the museum in Old Montreal.

Chapelle Cote Saint-Luc (1899) once stood on the site of the current Saint-Patrick Square on King Edward Avenue at Cote Saint-Luc Road.

 

The Sulpicians began moving west and established a church, The Cote Saint-Luc Chapel, at the corner of present day King Edward Avenue and Cote Saint-Luc Road. This is the site of present Day Saint Patrick’s Square seniors residence.

Cette chapelle fut érigée dans la première moitié du XIXe siècle en plein cœur d’un secteur rural, le long du chemin de la Côte-St-Luc. Son emplacement exact correspond aujourd’hui au terrain situé à l’angle nord-est du chemin de la Côte-Saint-Luc et de l’avenue King Edward. Ce secteur, aujourd’hui densément peuplé, fut ouvert à la colonisation dès le début du XVIIIe siècle et conserva une vocation agricole jusqu’au début des années 1940.

 

 

CSL resident, Mike Dennis, grew up in the Prudomme Park area and he shared stories told to him by his father who was neighbours with one of the Prudhomme descendants, the grandson of of Mayor Luc Prudhomme.
Mike’s father was a photographer for the city in the 60s, 70s and 80s and he owned the land where the Old Cote Saint-Luc City Hall was eventually built on the corner of Cote Saint-Luc Rd. and Westminster Avenue, following its location at 8100 Cote Saint-Luc Rd. This building was first a school where Michael attended in his early elementary years. Eventually, he transferred to a modern public school built on Parkhaven, now owned by Ecole Maimonides.

CSL resident Michael Dennis displays old photos of the former City Hall

The Westminster Avenue structure eventually became unstable. Large support beams held the corners of the building steady in its final years. The city began to construct the present day City Hall on Cavendish Blvd. in the early 80s.
Berku explained that there were three major influences on the creation of Cote Saint-Luc: The Little Saint Pierre River, the Sulpicians and the Canadian Pacific Rail.
So, how did Cote Saint-Luc became a town in 1903? In the 1800s there were 209 people in the village, more than in NDG. By 1845 the people of Cote Saint-Luc asked for their own chapel and built a parish. In 1903 the church was organizing all civic matters. The people petitioned the government as an early demerger movement to succeed from NDG.
Pierre Lemieux, François Xavier and Jeremie Prudhomme asked for a special law from the National Assembly to create a new municipality which was granted by the government in 1903.

Cote Saint-Luc’s first mayor, Luc Prudhomme

Luc Prudhomme was nominated by Pierre Lemieux and Jeremie Prudhomme to serve as the first mayor of the village of Cote Saint-Luc.

8100 Cote Saint-Luc Road through the years: Home of CSL’s first mayor, Luc Prud’homme, Police Station, Fire Station, Recreation Department, Senior Men’s Club, Emergency Measures Organization, Emergency Medical Services, Public Security Department, Public Safety headquarters

 

The next stop on the tour was 8100 CSL Road. Built in 1927, 8100 was the home of second mayor and first city hall. Before this, city meetings were held in the church.
This building became the Health Department and Recreation Department. I recall as a youngster attending arts and crafts classes on the upper floor where the doorway was decorated with colourful beads, popular in 60s, peace-loving, hippy days.

Present day 8100 CSL Rd. houses the CSL Public Safety Department (AJM Photography)

Luc Prudhomme was the descendant of early brewers and a militia commander. The family owned over half of the land from Westmount to the western end of Montreal. Another Prudhomme relative became mayor of NDG in mid 1800s. The family was very successful and these three families intermarried and retained power for a very long time. Many of their family served on council Cote Saint-Luc for the first half of 20th century.

Jane’s Walk participants on the steps of 8100 Cote Saint-Luc Road (May 2017)

“Despite the rain, we were very pleased to see the turnout of over 25 people from near and far,” said Councillor Berku. “This first walking tour is chapter one in the history of CSL that has yet to be written,” she said.
Some highlights from the Berku-West tour:
  • Research uncovered that Cote Saint-Luc is as old  as Ville Marie. The familiar names of the original farming families like Prudhomme, Decarie and Lemieux trace back their ancestry as far back as 1642.
  • Cote Saint-Luc, and other west-end towns, like Montreal West and Westmount seceded from Montreal around 100 yrs ago in what was then the first demerger movement.
  • The three major factors in the initial establishment of the village of Cote Saint-Luc community was the Sulpician  church, the Little Saint Pierre River and the Canadian Pacific Railyards.

Councillor Dida Berku and Janine West address the crowd and show archival maps of the city in front of historic 8100 Cote saint-Luc Road (May 2017)

 

 Thanks go out to Councillor Dida Berku and Director Janine West, and to the volunteers in the fledgling Cote Saint-Luc Historical Society that I launched a few months ago. We plan to make much more information accessible to all about the place we call home.

CSL City Council supports legal contestation of D’Arcy McGee boundary changes

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Cote Saint-Luc City Council adopted a resolution to support the legal challenge of the electoral divisions of Québec seeking that the electoral map maintain the current divisions of Mount-Royal, Outremont and D’Arcy McGee ridings.

On March 2, 2017, the Quebec Electoral Commission published the final version of the electoral map which substantially altered the boundaries of the electoral riding of D’Arcy-McGee and seriously undermines public confidence in the objectivity and independence of the Commission. The electoral riding of D’Arcy-McGee will have around 56,000 voters, making it one of the most populous constituencies in Quebec and will, therefore, seriously dilute the political weight of the residents of the City of Côte Saint-Luc.

The Commission also decided to merge the electoral divisions of Mount Royal and Outremont. All of these changes will result in the loss of an electoral riding on the Island of Montréal and dilute the political weight of all the residents living on the Island.

Other affected municipalities such as the Town of Mount Royal and the Town of Hampstead have already agreed to financially contribute to a legal contestation being filed by Me Julius Grey.

It is in the interest of the residents of the City of Côte Saint-Luc to oppose the decision and to financially contribute to its legal contestation. Therefore the City agreed to support the legal challenge and authorized an expenditure of $7,000 to this challenge. Additionally, the City will match up to $3,000 from contributions of its residents.

Residents interested in supporting the challenge can make their cheques payable to Julius Grey, In Trust, and drop off or mail to the City of Cote Saint-Luc, 5801 Cavendish Blvd., CSL, QC  H4W 2C2.

Elimination of Mount Royal perversely penalizes communities, A letter by Anthony Housefather, M.P.

 

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