Volunteers rescue and neuter Côte-St-Luc’s stray cats

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Veterinarian Dr. Marlene Kalin and Michael Cohen, the Côte-St-Luc city councillor responsible for animal protection, with Gidget, a stray cat that is available for adoption, at the Côte-St-Luc Hospital for Animals in Montreal on Aug. 9, 2017. JOHN MAHONEY / MONTREAL GAZETTE

From about March to November, Diane Liebling’s garage is brimming with caged cats that she captures in the wilds of Côte-St-Luc’s suburban neighbourhoods.

“I have a very understanding husband,” Liebling said with a laugh. “Of course, to do this kind of work, you really need somebody who is on board with you, and he really is.”

Liebling is chair of the Côte-St-Luc Cats Committee which, for the last seven years, has been working to stabilize the city’s feral cat population through a trap, neuter and release/adopt program.  Volunteers take the program a step further by providing feral cats with food and shelter.

“We’re a small group of volunteers, but we need more,” said city councillor Mike Cohen, who commended Liebling’s efforts — she has already trapped about 40 cats and rescued 11 kittens this year alone.

It’s not just volunteers who are needed, Cohen added, but more funding as well because, as the program expands, so do the costs.

“In Côte-St-Luc, we estimate that we have thousands of homeless cats,” he said. “Some say there could be as many as 10,000.”

Cohen, the councillor responsible for animal protection, helped found the group when former resident Shelley Schecter approached the council with concerns over the city’s booming feral cat population — a problem, Cohen said, that’s not limited to Côte-St-Luc.

Cats, often living in colonies, have taken up residence in the rail yards, behind restaurants, in the Meadowbrook golf course and in backyards. Cats are abandoned by owners, lost or simply born feral. Cat populations are quick to rise, as females can have two to four litters a year, producing two to four kittens each time.

Feral cats spread disease to fellow felines, whether they’re domestic or wild, and they can be a nuisance in the community. Beyond that, feral cats live extremely short, difficult lives scrounging for food and struggling to stay warm in the winter. They are often found injured and diseased.

Côte-St-Luc requires outdoor cat owners to neuter and register their pets with the city. However, it’s the unlicensed, unneutered cats that committee members are focused on.

Residents are asked to be on the lookout for and report unlicensed cats to the committee via a city-hosted hotline (514-485-6800 ext. 2287). The cats are then caught in humane traps so they can be dewormed, sterilized and vaccinated at the Côte-St-Luc Hospital for Animals.

The hospital offers the committee its services at a low- to no-cost rate. While being operated on, one of the cat’s ears is notched in a painless procedure so volunteers can keep track of treated cats. Cats awaiting treatment or recovering from sterilization are housed in Liebling’s garage.

Kittens and sociable cats are put up for adoption, but volunteers must first foster and help socialize them until a home is found. As for the rest, even after weeks in Liebling’s care, they have no interest in humans. Those cats are released where they were trapped.

The committee provides volunteers with food that they can leave out for feral cats. The committee also offers residents handmade, insulated huts. Tucked away on people’s properties, the huts, constructed of plastic and foam, keep cats warm in the winter.

Once dewormed, sterilized and vaccinated, kittens and sociable cats are put up for adoption, but volunteers must first foster and help socialize them until a home is found. JOHN MAHONEY / MONTREAL GAZETTE

Over the last four decades, trap, neuter and release programs have proven more effective than extermination, explained Dr. Marlene Kalin of the Côte-St-Luc Hospital for Animals. Since 2006, she estimates that she has treated over 1,000 trapped cats in her effort to give back to the community.

“Trap and kill has been shown many times over that it is not a successful program,” said Kalin, noting that cats tend to gather around food sources. “You can trap and euthanize all the cats behind a restaurant, for example, but there’s a vacuum effect. Within a very short time, other cats come in and repopulate the area.”

Trapping and neutering a single cat costs about $100, she said, whereas trapping, impounding and eventually euthanizing them costs about $200. Because trap, neuter and release programs have existed for some 40 years in cities around the world, there is plenty of data proving their effectiveness, she said.

“From a cost perspective, trapping and releasing is the way to go as it is the most effective, long-term strategy to stabilize and reduce the size of the feral cat population,” she said. “It also improves their health.”

Yet the reality is, to make a lasting impact, at least 60 per cent of the cat population must be treated. To do that, more funding and volunteers are needed.

Cohen said the committee gets about $5,000 annually from the city and, through fundraising events like benefit concerts and bake sales, that municipal contribution is matched. The money pays for cat food, supplies and veterinary services.

“We’ve been getting many more calls,” Cohen said. “As a result of that, our expenses have gone way up this year.”

There is hope, he said, that the sixth annual Cat’s Meow Concert will help replenish the committee’s diminished bank account. On Aug. 22 at 7:30 pm, the Musicians of the World Symphony Orchestra will perform in the Syd Wise Auditorium (5785 Parkhaven Ave.). Tickets cost $12.

Meanwhile, Cohen said surrounding municipalities need to do more. There are similar programs found throughout the province, but there’s not enough, he said, especially in the west end.

“More municipalities need to do this,” he concluded. “There should be trap, neuter, release/adopt committees in all municipalities. This problem with homeless cats is not just in Côte-St-Luc. It’s everywhere.”

New CSL cafe opening Wednesday, August 16

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Cote Saint-Luc resident and business owner, Marissa Sidel will be launching the neighbourhood’s first sit-down, storefront coffeehouse, Café de l’avenue, on Wednesday, August 16.

 

“I’ve lived here my whole life and I can’t remember a time in which people weren’t asking for a proper, sit-down, storefront café. We saw the opportunity to partner with the Quartier Cavendish and we jumped at it,” Sidel said.

 

Sidel, who has run her company, National Dispatch Services, out of CSL for nearly five years, enlisted her family and friends to get the café started.

 

“Côte-Saint-Luc is all about family and we’re excited that our own family is able to further cement its place here with this café.”

 

Café de l’avenue is in the Quartier Cavendish, with an outside door and terrace on The Avenue just off Cavendish Blvd. The coffeehouse will feature free WIFI for customers, power stations throughout the seating area, and will have a real neighbourhood feel.

 

“We’ve partnered with great kosher suppliers like Elna Bistro and Mimimelon for all of our food and desserts, and our beans come from Union Coffee – legendary among Montreal coffee drinkers,” Sidel explained.

 

“We’ll be open from 6:30 am to 11 pm Monday to Friday, and 8:30 am to 11 pm on the weekend. We’re open seven days a week so we can always serve the entire Côte-Saint-Luc community. We look forward to seeing everyone there!”

 

Read more: Mike Cohen’s blog

Little Shop of Horrors – A Deviously Delicious Musical in CSL

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Looking for a fun and entertaining outing this weekend? Don’t want to go downtown? Want free parking too? Then head over to the Harold Greenspon Auditorium at Cote Saint-Luc City Hall for “A wonderful twisted and vibrant Broadway-quality horro-comedy musical”.

The CSL Dramatic Society is back for another wildly entertaining show until June 25.

Little Shop of Horrors is a horror comedy rock musical, by composer Alan Menken and writer Howard Ashman, about a hapless florist shop worker who raises a plant that feeds on human blood and flesh. The musical is based on the low-budget 1960 black comedy film The Little Shop of Horrors. The music, composed by Menken in the style of early 1960s rock and roll, doo-wop and early Motown, includes several well-known tunes, including the title song, “Skid Row (Downtown)”, “Somewhere That’s Green”, and “Suddenly, Seymour”.

The musical premiered Off-Off-Broadway in 1982 before moving to the Orpheum Theatre Off-Broadway, where it had a five-year run. It later received numerous productions in the U.S. and abroad, and a subsequent Broadway production. Because of its small cast and relatively simple orchestrations, it has become popular with community theatre, school and other amateur groups.[1] The musical was also made into a 1986 film of the same name, directed by Frank Oz.

 

“Dazzling! Musically delightful and wickedly funny.”
– Pat Donnelly, Arts Writer

“A deviously delicious musical.”
– Stuart Nulman, Montreal Times

“A wonderful twisted and vibrant Broadway-quality
horro-comedy musical.”

– Joel Goldenberg, The Suburban

Directed by Anisa Cameron and produced by Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, the CSL version is hilarious with an all-local, amateur troupe that is so ridiculously talented that this show could easily be Off-Broadway. In fact, I’m thinking of proposing that we change the name of Cavendish Blvd. to Broadway so that every show that Cameron and Brownstein put together is Off-Broadway!

Brownstein stars as the nerdy aging shop owner ready to throw in the towel on his failing florist outlet until his nerdy n’er-do-well sales boy, the nerdy Seymour (Benjamin Warner) comes along with his wacky plant creation that turns everything around. The singers and dancers are as outstanding as their past amazing performances. Hampstead actor Brandon Schwartz is back from his performing arts studies in Toronto for an appearance.

Photo Diane Dupuis

Justin Johnson – Skip Snip and Shaun Nishmas – Mr. Bernstein are back with the CSLDS. Justin previously played Seaweed in Hairspray, while Shaun is a long-time veteran, having performed in Our Town, Hairspray, Catch Me If You Can, and many others.

Sam Boucher, Patrick Park and Brandon Schwartz – are the three Doo-Wops and all return to the Greenspon stage. Sam has been seen in Hairspray and The Producers, while Patrick recently starred as Lionel in Fancy Nancy. Brandon Schwartz has previously played Link Larkin in Hairspray and Frank Abagnale, Jr. in Catch Me If You Can.

Photo Diane Dupuis

The list of talented and creative entertainers goes and and can be found on the CSLDS Facebook page.

Tickets are inexpensive and seats are still available for the last week of this 20 show run.

The kids have finished their last exams? Treat them to a family-funny theatrical performance. Looking for that last minute Father’s Day Gift? Wow him with high-level entertainment right around the corner. Click here for tickets and information.

 

 

Read more:

Montreal Gazette

Easter lunch at St. Richards

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Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, Father Peter Laviolette and Councillor Glenn J. Nashen at St. Richard’s Parish Easter Luncheon, Apr. 9, 2017

It’s always a great pleasure to break bread with Father Peter Laviolette and the parishioners at St. Richard’s in Cote Saint-Luc. Such was the case on Sunday, April 9, 2017 at the annual Easter luncheon. Father Peter is the spiritual leader at St. Richard’s, a venerable Cote Saint-Luc institution established back in the 60s during the heyday of our town when construction was booming and young families were flocking to the new, west-end suburb.

CSL City Hall reps at St. Richard’s Easter luncheon

Although a great number of families are of Italian descent, the Catholic parish includes many others from a host of cultural communities. With so many multi-generational members growing up in CSL it is interesting to note that some families have become interwoven in CSL’s large Jewish community.

As Father Peter pointed out, some years, Chanukah and Christmas begin at the same time, as does Passover and Easter.

Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and CSL’s First Lady, Elaine Brownstein, Councillor Allan J. Levine and Rhoda, myself, City Manager Nadia Di Furia and husband Ben and City Hall coordinator Tammy McEwin and longtime city staffer / husband Rob were in attendance representing the city.

The Mayor wished everyone a very Happy Easter in the best community around. “Enjoy every moment of these festive holidays surrounded by family, friends and neighbours,” he said. “Our community is a large, happy family,” Brownstein said.

The St. Richard’s volunteer crew

We enjoyed a wonderful home made feast for the entire congregation. What a beautiful gathering of family, neighbours and friends in celebration. Mr. Biasini’s homemade wine was once again a sweet treat. Former Councillor Joe Panunto acted as host and emcee. The boys on kitchen duty did an amazing, professional job.

Thanks to the St. Richard’s Chefs. Lunch was terrific!

On a personal note I wish to thank Joe and Father Peter for extending the invitation and I send my very best to my constituents and friends celebrating Easter. May this holiday bring love, joy and peace to you and to all people. May your kids find all the Easter eggs and may you enjoy abundant Easter chocolate. Most of all, may you find happiness in your hearts and in yours homes and may it spread around the world.

JGH To be listed on Montreal Stock Exchange: Oh Really?

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Kudos to JGH Senior Editor Henry Mietkiewicz for another creative and foolhardy poke at us gullible readers this past April 1st.

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A big financial boost is on the way for the Jewish General Hospital, the world’s first public healthcare institution to be listed on the Montreal Stock Exchange—a move that will raise tens of millions of dollars for patient services. Read the full article.

Henry, an accomplished journalist with 30 years of experience at the Toronto Star has been goofing around on April 1st at the JGH for more than a dozen years, aside from his brilliantly inspiring articles in JGH News and throughout the new CIUSSS West-Central Montreal.

See all the past April Fools editions here.

vCOP April Fools fools a few vCOPs

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Bravo to my friends and volunteer colleagues at Cote Saint-Luc volunteer Citizens on Patrol who pulled the wool over many eyes this past April 1st. As tradition would have it, a zany, outlandish information piece is sent out to members each April 1 describing some preposterous directive in the interest of “public safety”. This week’s dispatch did just that with several members getting quite excited about the “newest patrol” plan.  Way to go Lewis Cohen and Mitchell Herf, vCOP Senior Supervisors. I also shared this with my fellow City Council members and might have even got them wondering, if for just a second! Enjoy.

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vCOP Patrols Take to The Skies

Posted: April 1, 2017

 

With over 10 years of success being the “eyes and ears” for Cote Saint-Luc’s emergency services, vCOP is always looking forward to advancing its capabilities further, in order to better serve the community. Beginning April 1, vCOP will start training a select number of its members to take to the skies in its first helicopter patrols.

At the core of these patrols will be a Bell 407GX, graciously donated (and refurbished for vCOP) by Bell Helicopter of Mirabel, QC. Since none of the vCOP members are qualified pilots, the helicopter -nicknamed “vCOPTER“- will be flown by a recently retired Canadian Armed Forces pilot who holds a valid Canadian commercial helicopter license. (He also lives in CSL and will be identified as an honourary vCOP.) He has over 5000 hrs. of experience with the Bell 407GX, mostly in a search and rescue role.

 

 
Completely refurbished 407GX awaiting vCOP decal installation

We expect the vCOPTER patrols to take to the skies 2-3 days per week (weather permitting), with each patrol lasting 1.5 hrs. A maximum of 3 vCOPs (in addition to the pilot) will be permitted aboard. A vCOP radio will also be permanently installed in the vCOPTER, as well as the usual equipment. One notable change will be the addition of a Laser Guided Air-Deployable Ejected Safety Cone (LGA-DESC). This smart device allows the pilot or vCOP to directly target and drop a safety cone from the vCOPTER and have it parachute down to the ground and place it exactly at the scene of an incident, such as an open manhole cover. In addition, vCOPs will be able to better see at night by using the vCOPTER’s built-in forward-looking infra-red (FLIR) camera system. Finally, with the knowledge that these helicopters may be obtrusive and noisy when operated at low altitudes in a bedroom community, Bell Helicopter has retrofitted the vCOPTER with its new “Whisper Mode” noise-cancellation technology. (“Whisper Mode” is currently being used on the US Air Force attack helicopter, the Bell ARH-70.) Bell has informed the City of Cote Saint-Luc that the vCOPTER will be as quiet as a Hoover vacuum cleaner heard at a distance of 100ft!

 
FLIR camera on bottom of vCOPTER
 
LGA-DESC dropping safety cone at night

Training will begin this month for vCOPS interested in participating in the vCOPTER patrols. The training sessions covers airborne observation techniques, safety procedures, LGA-DESC operation, FLIR usage and parachuting techniques. Binoculars, helmets and parachutes will be provided upon completion of the in-class and in-air training.(Members should contact supervisor Susie Schwartz with their helmet and parachute sizes.) Members who successfully complete the training program will additionally receive a unique LED vCOPTER badge for their uniform. All flights will originate from a helipad (currently under construction) on top of the ACC gymnasium. Note thatdue to the helicopter pilot being observant, there will be no vCOPTER patrols on the Sabbath or Jewish holidays.

When asked about the new vCOPTER program, Councilor Glenn Nashen enthusiastically noted, “For over 10 years, we have been well-known and appreciated as the ‘eyes and ears’ of Cote Saint-Luc’s Public Safety department. Now, I’m proud to say that we’ll be the ‘eyes and ears and wingsof the city, and add yet another innovative layer of security and watchfulness for the residents.”

For more information about the vCOPTER training program, please contact supervisor Mitchell Herf (mhherf@gmail.com).

WWII story of love and loss has roots in CSL

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She gave him hope. He gave her a promise.

When I first read about the film by Naomi Jaye entitled, The Pin, all I knew was that it was a unique cinematic production given that it was recorded in Yiddish. I did not know that it was a Canadian funded film nor that there were any connections to Cote Saint-Luc. But I knew enough that I though a copy ought to be purchased for the Cote Saint-Luc Public Library. All it took was one quick call to Chief Librarian Janine West.

The copy arrived and I was fortunate to be the first to withdraw the DVD from the massive film collection. And last Sunday I popped some popcorn and cranked up the DVD player so that my parents, son and I could sit down to our first inter-generational Yiddish movie, thankfully with English subtitles. I must say, I was impressed how much Yiddish I actually understood, so a big shout out to JPPS and the late principals Yaacov Zipper, Leib Tencer and Nachum Wilchesky, not to forget so many famous teachers like leren (teacher, miss)) Rose, leren Chava, leren Laya, lerer (teacher, Mr.) Shwartzberg and of course the world-famous Yiddishist from 1970s Bialik High School, Aaron Lansky.

The Pin is a wonderful story about two young people who experience love and loss while in hiding in the same barn during the horrible days of WWII. After a life of regret, the young man, now old, is faced with an opportunity for redemption.

This touching romance in Yiddish is a universal story of love and devotion over the years.

The film starts are Grisha Pasternak and Milda Gecaite.

What caught my attention though was something quite obscure. In one of the final scenes, when the main protagonists were running to jump on a passing train I noticed that an old, faded logo of CP Rail was noticeable on the aging boxcar. At that point I realized there was a Canadian connection and the film must have been shot here. As the credits rolled I noticed that funding by the Ontario Arts Council and Canada Council for the Arts supported this film.

Final credits also acknowledged a Montreal Yiddish initiative and thanks were offered to Cote Saint-Luc natives Jack Wolofsky and his daughter Sandy.

In the audio clip below, Naomi Jaye, director of The Pin, shares the story behind this 2013 film. The Pin is the first Yiddish-language film (with English subtitles) to be shot in Canada, and the second in North America in over 70 years.

 

 

The Pin was nominated for Best Foreign Romance Trailer in the Golden Trailer Awards in 2014.

The Pin (85 minutes) is available on loan, free of charge to members of the Cote Saint-Luc Public Library under filing code DVD FOR P645.

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