Birnbaum campaign for the new D’Arcy McGee shaping up

2 Comments

D’Arcy McGee Member of the National Assembly David Birnbaum welcomed a crowd of supporters to the Gelber Conference Centre earlier this week as part of a fundraiser to kick off his re-election campaign. The location of the event east of the Decarie Boulevard signifies the changing electoral boundary in the upcoming provincial elections. The riding of D’Arcy McGee will expand beyond its traditional territory of Cote Saint-Luc, Hampstead and Snowdon West. Newly included in  the riding will be a substantial area stretching to Cote des Neiges Road bordered by Cote Saint-Catherine to the south and the CP Railway to the north of Vezina.

Speaking with his customary eloquence and grace Birnbaum said that, “there is only one party in the National Assembly that truly represents all Quebecers,” giving examples of how the CAQ and PQ have not stood up for minority communities. The CAQ has indicated its position on immigrants which runs contrary to the belief of so many of Birnbaum’s constituents and, “the PQ still has its Article 1 that speaks of Quebec without Canada.”

 

 

D’Arcy McGee MNA David Birnbaum speaks to a group of supporters at the Gelber Conference Centre

Mitch Garber was the special guest speaker.  Chairman of the Board of the world-renowned Cirque du Soleil, Mitch was recently named as Chairman of  a new organization, Invest in Canada, which is focused on streamlining and encouraging investment in Canada. Mitch is also the co-founder of Ceasar’s Entertainment,  a world-leading game development company. Closer to home, Mitch is an old school-mate of mine at Bialik High School and McGill University.

Mitch has never forgotten his roots and always speaks proudly of his community and his love of Montreal, Quebec and Canada.

“Mitch and his wife Anne-Marie are doing so much to bridge the gaps between our linguistic communities, between our Jewish community and all over Quebec, with frankness of warmth and compassion,” said Birnbaum.

Speaking about his passion for business and baseball, Garber took care not to make any partisan pronouncements, although it was clear that his support for David Birnbaum was genuine and sincere.

Guest speaker Mitch Garber throws his enthusiastic support to Birnbaum

 

My wife, Dr. Judy Hagshi and I were pleased to show our support for David. I worked closely with him in my capacity as a City Councillor. David’s keen interest in matters affecting municipal life and provincial matters are evident. If he, and his very able staff of Chris and Elizabeth, could do anything to assist his constituents, they would do so with pleasure.

What’s more I was always impressed in his interest in the larger Jewish community and its public establishments, following in the footsteps of Lawrence Bergman, his predecessor. David was front and centre in speaking up in the National Assembly on Yom Hashoah, as was Bergman.

He also went out of his way, literally, in showing great interest in the advancement of the Jewish General Hospital, where I work in public relations on behalf of the West-Central Montreal health authority. The JGH is located in Mount Royal riding, which never stopped David (or Lawrence Bergman before him) from doing whatever he could to help out on any file, along with his neighbouring MNA, Pierre Arcand. As happenstance would have it, with the redrawing of the electoral map, the JGH will in fact be in the new D’Arcy McGee boundaries come October 1.

 

Dr. Judy Hagshi and Glenn J. Nashen supporting David Birnbaum for re-election

We may not agree on every single issue but that doesn’t diminish David’s strong support of his riding and constituents. And we may not agree with all of his party’s platform but that doesn’t take away from their strong handling of the economy and their clear position on Quebec’s place in a united Canada. As David said, that’s much more than we can say about his competitors.

I look forward to challenging David on issues of importance to me such as English-language rights, pre-hospital emergency medical care, public safety and the promotion of electric vehicles and other green initiatives. I know he will always give me an ear and bring my concerns to the seat of power in Quebec City.

Best of luck to my friend, David Birnbaum.

Advertisements

Côte Saint-Luc will save $4.8 million thanks to fairer funding formula for island-wide service | Des économies de 4,8 millions $ pour Côte Saint-Luc grâce à une formule de financement plus équitable pour les services d’agglomération

Leave a comment

Côte Saint-Luc will save $4.8 million thanks to fairer funding formula for island-wide service
The City of Côte Saint-Luc as part of the Association of Suburban Municipalities has negotiated a $4.8 million reduction in its share of payments to the agglomeration of Montreal for island-wide services over over the next three years–savings that can be used to fund local programs, pay down our debt and reduce taxes by paying less interest on debt.
“The new formula will allow us to keep more money in Côte Saint-Luc for programs and services that our residents value as well as allow us to reduce our debt and our overall tax rate,” Mayor Mitchell Brownstein said. “It is extremely good news.”
The ASM has argued for years that the percentages were not fair. Mayor Denis Coderre must be commended for being a fair partner in the City of Montreal that worked with us to find a fairer formula.
Côte Saint-Luc will continue to pay into the island-wide Agglomeration of Montreal for services like police, fire, and public transit but at a lower rate.
Thanks to an agreement between the City of Montreal and the Association of Suburban Municipalities, the formula is changing. As a result, Côte Saint-Luc will be sending less money to the Agglomeration than we do today: $798,541 less in 2017, $1,597,081 less in 2018 and $2,395,622 less in 2019. That’s a savings of between 3 percent to 8 percent each year, compared to what Côte Saint-Luc previously paid the Agglomeration.
* * *
Des économies de 4,8 millions $ pour Côte Saint-Luc grâce à une formule de financement plus équitable pour les services d’agglomération
La Ville de Côte Saint-Luc, de concert avec l’Association des municipalités de banlieue, a négocié une réduction de 4,8 millions $ de sa quote-part à l’agglomération de Montréal pour les services fournis à l’ensemble de l’île au cours des trois prochaines années – des économies qui pourront être utilisées pour financer les programmes locaux, payer notre dette et réduire les taxes en payant moins d’intérêt sur la dette.
« La nouvelle formule nous permettra de garder plus d’argent à Côte Saint-Luc pour les programmes et les services que nos résidants apprécient et elle nous aidera à réduire notre taux de taxation global, a dit le maire Mitchell Brownstein. C’est une excellente nouvelle. »
L’AMB soutient depuis des années que les pourcentages ne sont pas équitables. Le maire Denis Coderre, qui mérite d’ailleurs d’être félicité en tant que partenaire honnête à la Ville de Montréal, a travaillé avec nous afin de mettre au point une formule plus équitable.
Côte Saint-Luc continuera de payer sa part à l’agglomération de l’île de Montréal pour les services tels que la police, la protection incendie et les transports publics, mais à un taux inférieur.
Grâce à un accord entre la Ville de Montréal et l’Association des municipalités de banlieue, une nouvelle formule a été établie. Ainsi, les versements de Côte Saint-Luc à l’agglomération seront inférieurs à ceux que nous faisons actuellement : 798 541 $ de moins en 2017, 1 597 081 $ de moins en 2018 et 2 395 622 $ de moins en 2019. Cela représente des économies de 3 à 8 % chaque année, par rapport à ce que Côte Saint-Luc payait à l’agglomération jusqu’ici.

Discussions needed on value of MMC: CSL councillor

Leave a comment

Côte St. Luc councillors Glenn Nashen and Ruth Kovac visibly grimaced during a council meeting, when it came time to approve the city’s annual contribution to the Montreal Metropolitan Community.

The MMC, created in 2001, represents and speaks for the entire Greater Montreal Region and develops plans, programs and strategies for the community in that area.

Each year, Côte St. Luc council members declare that they are reluctantly and grudgingly paying the bill, pointing out that it is required by provincial law. This year’s payment is $508,000, paid in two installments. Each year, at least two councillors symbolically vote against the payment.

“This year’s payment is a three percent increase over last year,” said Councillor Steven Erdelyi, who introduced the resolution to make the payment. “My personal opinion is we don’t get the value for that money. They do produce some very good reports, and they are helpful on some fronts, but not to the extent of the money we’re paying them.”

Councillor Glenn Nashen, who with Kovac enthusiastically voted against the resolution, called for a discussion on the MMC between different levels of government.

“We don’t see the true value of this extra layer of unelected representation,” Nashen added. “In this day and age, we should look at how to get better value for our money, and it really behooves our MNA, David Birnbaum, the provincial government and the City of Montreal to sit around the table and figure out a better method of providing the services, but for much better value.”

Kovac said the semi-annual MMC report is nice but is only in French.

(We checked and some MMC paperwork is in English. The MMC’s website is mostly in French, except for five documents that can be seen on the site and downloaded. There is no English section per se on the site.)

We mentioned Côte St. Luc’s grievance to Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, as he is also president of the MMC.

“You won’t have a fight between Côte St. Luc and myself,” the mayor told The Suburban.

New bike path and EV charging station coming to City Hall parking lot

Leave a comment

 

The reconstruction of the of the Cote Saint-Luc City Hall parking lot will soon be underway with a new layout to improve vehicular access and visibility while improving pedestrian safety.

The project includes the reconstruction of the sidewalks, the curbs, the asphalt roadway and parking area, as well as the replacement of the lighting and security cameras.

The main improvements include:

– A new drop-off area at the main rear entrance,
– An elevated section of the roadway and pedestrian crosswalks at the intersection of the
main roadway from Cavendish and the delivery ramp for City Hall,
– A new sidewalk on the south side of City Hall, from Cavendish to the main rear entrance,
– A new central sidewalk median for pedestrians in the main section of the parking lot,
– A new bike path from Cavendish to Sir Walter Scott,
– A double charging station for electric vehicles,
– The addition of approximately 23 parking spaces, (143 spaces compared to the current 120 spaces),
– Replacement of the street lighting and cameras for improved safety.

The work is scheduled to start in July and be completed by mid-October 2017.

Public tenders were opened by the Purchasing Department on June 7, 2017. Six tenders were received ranging in price from $1,941,716.78 to $2,322,010.66 all taxes included. The lowest tender was received from Groupe TNT Inc. is conforming to the tender documents for a total of $1,941,716.78 taxes included.

A previous purchase order was issued for electric vehicle charging stations at the Aquatic and Community Centre and at City Hall. The City Hall EV double charging station will be installed during the reconstruction.

 

Cote Saint-Luc adopts 2017 budget: City spending stays flat, average residential property tax increase of 1.9 percent

2 Comments

The City of Côte Saint-Luc adopted an operating budget for 2017 that kept spending flat and the property tax at at 1.9% percent for an average single-family home in the city. This is in line with the Conference Board of Canada inflation rate forecast for the greater Montreal region.

“We do our very best to keep property taxes as low as possible,” Mayor Mitchell Brownstein said. “It was a challenging exercise this year given the higher than expected bill we received from Agglomeration of Montreal, the island-wide government.”

The Côte Saint-Luc City Council adopted the $68 million operating budget on December 12, 2016. About 42 percent of all taxes collected by Côte Saint-Luc are transferred to the Agglomeration of Montreal, which funds services such as police, fire, and public transit.

The property tax bills will be sent to homes by the last week of January. The deadline to pay property taxes has been set at February 27 for the first installment and May 29 for the second installment.

“The Council and senior staff worked very hard to balance our budget and to minimize any property tax increases for our residents,” said Councillor Steven Erdelyi, the council member responsible for finances.

Budget and tax highlights include the following:
  • Average increase in taxes for single-family home valued at $584,600: 1.9 percent (or $121)

  • 52 percent of single-family homes and condos will see a reduction in taxes

  • Increase in revenues from taxation: 3 percent

  • Revenues from property taxes: 87.7 percent

  • Revenues from compensation in lieu of taxes: 1.9 percent

  • Other revenues (eg, program fees, memberships, etc.): 10.3 percent

The three-year capital expenditures plan was also adopted on December 12. Approximately $14 million in capital expenses is anticipated in 2017. It will be used for projects such as water and sewer rehabilitation and repairs, renovations to the outdoor municipal pool, underpasses, improvements of facilities and parks and updating the aging vehicles in the municipal fleet.

Birnbaum hosts Finance Minister

Leave a comment

Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, Cllr. Allan J. Levine, MNA David Birnbaum, Finance Minister Carlos Leitao, Cllr. Dida Berku, Cllr. Ruth Kovac, Cllr. Glenn J. Nashen

Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, Cllr. Allan J. Levine, MNA David Birnbaum, Finance Minister Carlos Leitao, Cllr. Dida Berku, Cllr. Ruth Kovac, Cllr. Glenn J. Nashen

Quebec Finance Minister Carlos Leitão was the guest speaker at a reception hosted by D’Arcy McGee MNA David Birnbaum earlier this week. The event, a Liberal Party gathering, was held at Ecole de la Mosaique on McMurray Ave in Cote Saint-Luc. For decades the building housed the PSBGM’s Westminster School. A new, government funded wing was the locale for the get-together.

Leitao stressed that despite being labeled with the negative term of “Austerity” what the Liberal government has been doing in repairing the economy is far from austere. “Austerity is what is going on in Greece and Spain,” the minister said, indicating that the term refers to reduced government spending. “What we are doing in Quebec is ensuring that we don’t spend more than we have.”

The minister cited the recent rating by Standard and Poors. Despite having the highest ratio of debt to GDP, at nearly 55%, and the highest taxes on the continent, Quebec had its ratings improve for three reasons, the minister said.

First we have strong control of spending. Second we have excellent professional management of our finance department, the best staff anywhere in North America. And third, the economy is doing very well, Leitao said.

David Birnbaum, greeted the assembly as his friends, family and supporters, expressing appreciation for the confidence and trust placed in him. In his usual eloquent and soft-spoken style he welcomed the minister to the riding.

D'Arcy McGee Chief of Staff, Elisabeth Prass, Glenn J. Nashen, Ruth Kovac

D’Arcy McGee Chief of Staff, Elisabeth Prass, Glenn J. Nashen, Ruth Kovac

Leitao described Birnbaum, the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Education, as being tenacious in keeping the cabinet focused and on track.

Cote Saint-Luc Mayor Mitchell Brownstein along with Councillors Ruth Kovac, Allan J. Levine, Mike Cohen and I were in attendance along with Liberal riding president Orna Hillberger, CSL Men’s Club President Syd Kronish, past president Sidney Margles, and several more community leaders and supporters.

The mayor pressed the minister to act now on the Cavendish extension. This long anticipated project has become a top priority for council as all levels of government have come onside. 

Birnbaum assured us that he is listening to his constituency and that our voice is being heard in Quebec City. The constituency office is expertly managed by Chief of Staff Elisabeth Prass, Chris Savard and Fran Guttman.

Tales of an Accidental Mayor

2 Comments

My first public council meeting as Acting mayor of Cote Saint-Luc, November 9, 2015

My first public council meeting as Acting mayor of Cote Saint-Luc, November 9, 2015

As my term as Acting Mayor of Cote Saint-Luc drew to a close I sat down to ponder this unique experience.

Cote Saint-Luc follows a tradition typical in many municipalities by having each of its councillors alternate as Acting Mayor should the duly elected mayor be unable to fulfill his or her functions. My latest turn in the eight-person rotation covered the last three months of 2015 so with the resignation of Mayor Anthony Housefather on November 4, 2015 subsequent to his election as Member of Parliament for Mount Royal I immediately and seamlessly assumed the role of Mayor of the City of Cote Saint-Luc.

What a time of year to take over! We went straight into intensive planning for the next year’s budget which has ramifications for all residents and taxpayers, for employees and contractors. Presiding over such meetings is no easy feat as passions flare, opinions clash and nerves get frayed. Thankfully, our City Council functions quite harmoniously.

Public Council meeting November 2015

Public Council meeting November 2015

In planning for the $67 million budget and much more in the triennial capital expenditures we needed to consider services to residents, infrastructure upgrade and maintenance, staffing, fleet acquisition, service contracts for snow clearing to name some of the major issues. There was also the little matter of requesting a ministerial extension on the prescribed election period in order to allow enough time for the majority of our snowbirds to be back home in time to vote for our next mayor.

Dealing with human resource issues is never an easy topic. With personnel expenses reaching 70% of our operating budget it’s not possible to look at trimming budgets in difficult years without affecting staff. This was the sad reality that we had to confront.  Decisions were made based upon business plans and economic factors despite the inevitable emotional tone.

I dealt with many emails and inquiries on the change in library opening hours and wrote an opinion piece that was published in the Suburban Newspaper.  Several emails praised the city for its superb handling of the first snow storm of the season. I was updated on two late night major house fires as well as an early morning bank robbery with suspects at large. A ride up in the city’s “cherry-picker” to light the Chanukah Menorah and greeting residents in four languages was quite special. I also attended a Russian holiday festivity and caroled outdoors to welcome Christmas while lighting the tree in front of City Hall.

High above the crowd, Acting Mayor Glenn J. Nashen prepares to light the giant Chanukah Menorah and sing the prayers

High above the crowd, Acting Mayor Glenn J. Nashen prepares to light the giant Chanukah Menorah and sing the prayers

Back inside I presided over several public meetings, keeping decorum, steering the agenda and fielding questions from the public and media. Most inquiries were rather pleasant and positive. Unfortunately, some were downright aggressive and nasty. I presented the Annual Report of the Mayor, a lengthy speech about the city’s performance over the past year and predictions of financial intentions and plans for the next year. The “In-Committee” meetings go on for hours and hours, usually to midnight, sometimes beyond.

All this takes place after hours, as mayors and councillors in all but the largest cities typically have careers that are the mainstay of their livelihood. So, for those of us with families, young children and responsibilities at home this means lots and lots of time away. I cannot thank my wife, Judy, enough for constantly supporting my political activity and managing an extremely busy household alongside her own 24/7 practice. My children, Jeremy, Nathalie and Nicole are usually rather forgiving having experienced (since birth) that daddy is constantly checking emails, taking calls and out at meetings and events, missing dinner, playtime and unfortunately some special moments. This harrowing routine continues late into the night and into the weekends. It follows you on vacation. It’s never-ending.

A very happy Nasen family receives the election results at City Hall, November 2013

A very happy Nashen family receives the election results at City Hall, November 2013

On the whole, serving as Acting Mayor has been an immense privilege and honour, an experience that was both personally and professionally rewarding. Thank you Allan, Dida, Mike, Mitch, Steven, Ruth, Sam, Nadia and Anthony too! Although it only lasted eight weeks I must say it was one of the most interesting periods in my 25 years since being elected. The demands are unending and thanks to the support of council and a truly dedicated administration the job is manageable and incredibly interesting.

I pass the torch to Councillor Dida Berku for the next three months. Council and management will continue to be there to back her up and keep the city on course until the elections when we choose our next mayor.
Cote Saint-Luc City Council: Nov. 2015 to April 2016

Cote Saint-Luc City Council: Nov. 2015 to April 2016

And thanks to all of you who wrote, called, asked questions and engaged your elected representatives in the best interest of our wonderful city. Thank you for this wonderful opportunity. I look forward to getting this chance again some day, preferably not by accident.

Older Entries