CSL asked to urge renewal of federal social housing subsidies

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The Suburban
April 22, 2015
Côte St. Luc council was asked by a representative of Project Genesis to pass a resolution urging the federal government to renew and restore subsidies for social housing.
The group’s Molly Tenzer, speaking at the April council meeting, explained that social housing units built before 1994 benefitted from federal subsidies annually, which have been used to reduce the rent of low-income tenants, and for maintenance work. But she said the agreements are ending for those pre-1994 residences across Canada, “be they cooperatives, non-profit or low-cost housing,” and some Côte St. Luc residences are impacted.
“That’s 585,000 units across Canada,” she added. “Two of the Caldwell residences — one of which is in Côte St. Luc — lost their subsidies in 2014. And the other two buildings will lose their subsidies in 2023. Already, new tenants at Caldwell have to pay full market rent. Right now, in Côte St. Luc, two houses out of five pay more than the standard 30 percent of their income towards housing, and tenants wait years before they can have access to social housing. The potential loss of existing social housing projects only worsens the situation.”
Mayor Anthony Housefather said he would personally support such a resolution, but that it has to be discussed with council first.
“It’s a very serious issue,” he said. “The council is now looking at other options to enhance the amount of housing in Côte St. Luc, in different ways with different groups. I’m hoping, in the next few years, there will be more options in Côte St. Luc and allow for a lesser waiting list and a more modern facilities. But I’ll leave it to those groups to eventually announce where they’re going to locate and when, and if the rezonings go through. For sure, I will bring your proposed resolution to an in-committee [council] discussion, and if we have a consensus, we’ll bring it back and let you know.
“But you have my personal support.”

A very expensive line to cross

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Côte Saint-Luc City Council recently issued its annual public call for tender seeking contractor services for line painting and street line markings. There were two conforming bids and as required by law the Council awarded a contract to the lowest conforming bidder, Lignbec, for a total, all-inclusive price of $81,546.

The resolution requires that all paint shall conform to the most recent government norms. What this means is that the paint must be water-soluble as opposed to longer lasting oil based paints that have higher visibility compounds. The reason for this requirement to only use water based paint is to protect the environment as street line markings will eventually wear off and wash into the drains.

And herein lies the problem. The city spends $81,000 every year to reapply paint in the spring that barely lasts to the end of the year, with rain, snow, road salt and snow plows washing and scraping away at all that paint. By the time the next winter has ended there’s hardly a school cross walk, stop line or lane divider left clearly and solidly in place.

Despite sprinkling powdered glass onto the wet paint to increase its reflective nature to improve motorists nighttime visibility, today’s legally required road paints are not terribly effective, not highly visible at night and not very long-lasting.

Some heavy-duty R and D is needed in the paint industry to improve the quality of water based road line paints.

Côte Saint-Luc adopts 2015 budget: city spending stays flat, average residential property tax increase of 1.9 percent

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The City of Côte Saint-Luc has adopted an operating budget for 2015 that kept spending flat and saw the property tax of 1.9 percent for an average single-family home in the city, which is less than the Canadian rate of inflation, which is 2 percent.
“We have again contained costs while maintaining our services,” Mayor Anthony Housefather said. “This is the ninth consecutive year where the tax increase was below the rate of inflation.”
The Côte Saint-Luc City Council adopted the $66.67 million operating budget on December 15, 2014. About 42.3 percent of all taxes collected by Côte Saint-Luc are transferred to the island-wide regional government, which funds services such as police, fire, and public transit.
The property tax bills will be sent to homes on January 28, 2015. The deadline to pay property taxes has been set at February 27 for the first installment and May 28 for the second installment.
“As a responsible city administration sensitive to the financial constraints of our taxpayers we made every effort to meet our target and hold the tax increase to less than 2 percent – with a decrease in water tax rate – all in line with the increase in the cost of living,” 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 $572,300: 1.9 percent
• Decrease in water, residential and non-residential tax rates
• Increase in revenues from taxation: 1.12 percent
• Revenues from property taxes: 85.2 percent
• Revenues from local improvement taxes: 0.1 percent
• Revenues from compensation in lieu of taxes: 1.9 percent
• Other revenues (eg, program fees, memberships, etc.): 12.8 percent
The three-year capital expenditures plan was also adopted on December 15. Approximately $13 million in capital expenses is anticipated in 2015.

Cavendish extension included in Montreal capital budget

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November 11, 2014 | Free Press | Click to enlarge

November 11, 2014 | Free Press | Click to enlarge

Côte Saint-Luc adopts 2014 budget: city spending stays flat, average residential property tax increase of 0.9 percent

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 The City of Côte Saint-Luc has adopted an operating budget for 2014 that kept spending flat and saw the property tax of an average single-family home in the city equal to the Canadian rate of inflation, which is 0.9 percent.
“We adopted a budget that controls costs and maintains all our public services across the city,” Mayor Anthony Housefather said.
The Côte Saint-Luc City Council adopted the $65.2 million operating budget on February 3, 2014. The adoption was delayed because Côte Saint-Luc needed to know how much Agglomeration of Montreal budget would be. About 42.8 percent of all taxes collected by Côte Saint-Luc are transferred to the island-wide regional government, which funds services such as police, fire, and public transit.
The property tax bills will be sent to homes in mid-February. The deadline to pay property taxes has been set at March 28 for the first installment and June 27 for the second installment.
“As a responsible city administration sensitive to the financial constraints of our taxpayers we made every effort to meet our target and hold the tax increase to less than 1 percent – with no increase in water tax – all in line with the increase in the cost of living,” said Councillor Dida Berku, the council member responsible for finances.
Budget and tax highlights include the following:
  • Average increase in taxes for single-family home valued at $572,300: 0.9 percent
  • No increase in water tax and non-residential tax
  • Increase in revenues (due to growth in property roll): 1.46 percent
  • Revenues from property taxes: 86 percent
  • Revenues from local improvement taxes: 0.22 percent
  • Revenues from compensation in lieu of taxes: 2.48 percent
  • Other revenues (eg, program fees, memberships, etc.): 11.3 percent
The three-year capital expenditures plan was adopted at a public meeting on December 16, 2013. Approximately $8 million in capital expenses is anticipated in 2014.

Council votes to pay MMC

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Free Press. Feb. 13, 2013. Click to enlarge.

Free Press. Feb. 13, 2013. Click to enlarge.

 

I have always voted against payments to the Metropolitan Community.  Cote Saint-Luc derives very little value for its nearly half-million dollar annual expense.  Of course, we are also bound by law to pay this amount and therefore have no choice.

I feel it is better for this expense not to be adopted unanimously and for the public to be aware of how we are overburdened with multiple layers of regional government costing us in dollars, in bureaucracy and in confusing, complex and contradictory regulations and services.

Quebec is the most heavily taxed territory in North America.  This has an impact upon our economy, job creation and personal and corporate wealth.  Do we really need to be spending $500,000 on the MMC?

CSL budgets modest tax increase

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At last night’s public meeting, Côte Saint-Luc City Council adopted its 2013 budget for local and agglomeration operating expenses.  An average single family home (valued at $470,000) will see a modest increase of $78 in taxes or 1.32 percent, well below the rate of inflation.

The total budget amounts to $65M which breaks down as $37M in local costs and $28M in island wide agglomeration costs.

The City will continue to invest in critical infrastructure (water distribution network, roads, sidewalks, etc.) as well as in rejuvenating its oldest park equipment.

As Councillor responsible for Public Safety I am quite pleased that the city will continue its important investments in this area ensuring top quality volunteer EMS response, the steady expansion of the volunteer Citizens on Patrol as well as Public Security, Emergency Communications and Emergency Preparedness.

Also, the CSL Cycles program will continue to roll out with new bike lanes stretching from Cavendish, along Baily toward the Cote Saint-Luc Shopping Centre, to tie in to the NDG network running up West Broadway.  A new lane will also be painted along Kildare Road from Westminster to Shalom and through Ruth Kovac Park to reach the Cavendish Mall.

Unfortunately, Cote Saint-Luc is obliged to spend about half-a-million dollars on the Montreal Metropolitan Community, an added level of regional government for which we have very little input and see very questionable results.  I concur with the Gazette’s civic affairs columnist Henry Aubin who has argued for years that the Montreal region is overburdened with layers of bureaucracy from multiple transit authorities, government departments and agencies, all adding to our tax burden at one level or another.

Fortunately, with the municipal demergers in 2005, Cote Saint-Luc controls well over half its local taxes and sets priorities locally on services closest to the resident.

Here is a detailed copy of the CSL 2013 budget presentation.

Aubin: An eye-opener on what ails the city

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Thanks to the Charbonneau inquiry, we’re waking up to long-ignored corruption. The Merger Delusion has the potential to help open society’s eyes to misplanned government structures. The longer we ignore this reality, the longer Montreal will overspend and drift.

This opinion piece by Gazette columnist Henry Aubin is an excellent overview of Mayor Peter Trent’s just-released book “The Merger Delusion: How Swallowing Its Suburbs Made an Even Bigger Mess of Montreal.” 

Aubin: An eye-opener on what ails the city.

CSL Mayor’s Annual Report on the Financial Situation of the City

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This week, Cote Saint-Luc Mayor Anthony Housefather delivered his annual report on the 2012 Financial Situation of the city and the general orientations for 2013 and the three-year Capital Expenditures Program for 2013-2014-2015.

You can read the full document here.

As in previous years, the established priorities for the 2013 operating budget will continue to focus on quality services for the residents of the City.

The 2013 capital budget priorities will continue to be investments in our parks, aqueduct infrastructure and maintenance of roads/sidewalks with priority for those projects that are eligible for government grant programs.

I am particularly pleased that we will invest in our parks and playgrounds, many of which have not been renovated in a generation.  As our priority continues to be to attract young families to CSL, attention to our facilities most used by youngsters is very important.  The popularity of the Aquatics and Community Centre proves the demand for these services is there.  The creation of Imagination Park has been a tremendous addition to our parks and playground rejuvenation plan with major expansion projects just ahead.

 

CSL to approve Code of Ethics for city employees

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by Joel Goldenberg, The Suburban

October 17, 2012

Côte St. Luc council will soon be approving a Code of Ethics and Good Conduct for city employees to follow, after having previously approved a similar code for themselves as council members. As part of the process of approving a Code of Ethics for themselves, council last year took a collective oath to abide by the code, which prohibits council members from doing anything that “improperly further his interests or the interests of another person.”

Last month, Councillor Dida Berku gave a notice of motion that the code will be approved for employees at a future meeting.

“By law, in the province of Quebec, by December of this year, we need to adopt an ethics bylaw related to the employees of the City of Côte St. Luc,” said Mayor Anthony Housefather. “Looking at private industry and minimum norms of the Quebec government, looking at all the values of Côte St. Luc that we thought we should put in this ethics bylaw for the employees, the same as we did for the members of council, we then did consultations with the different employee groups, which culminated in a full employee consultation, and now we’re ready to adopt the bylaw on time to meet the Quebec government’s requirements.”

The City of Côte St. Luc’s values, as included in their Code of Ethics, includes human rights, “being committed to the equality of the English and French languages within the city,” encouragement to be “good will ambassadors to promote the city services” and conducting oneself “with integrity, loyalty, honour and prudence in pursuit of the public interest of the city and the pursuit of equality and fairness for all our residents.”

Cavendish Blvd. extension on ice, disappears from city budget | CTV Montreal

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Cavendish Blvd. extension on ice, disappears from city budget | CTV Montreal.

CTV Montreal
Published Sunday, Sep. 16, 2012 7:37PM EDT 

MONTREAL—It’s been talked about for years: the extension of Cavendish Blvd. But just when it seemed like ground was going to be broken, another road block hit when the city announced plans to pull the project from its latest budget.

When the city’s 2012-2013 budget will be presented this week, the $44 million project to extend Cavendish Blvd. north towards St-Laurent will be absent.

“Suddenly the City of Montreal is saying they want it removed. All of the other cities on the island, the demerged cities don’t, want it removed. We think it’s very important for all Montrealers and all people that live on the island,” said Cote-St-Luc mayor Anthony Housefather.

The two phased extension was supposed to connect the road between Cote-St-Luc and St-Laurent and ease traffic along the congested Decarie highway. The project seemed like it would finally happen in March as it was made a condition of the Blue Bonnet race track deal struck between the City of Montreal and the province.

But the extension was dependent on the re-election of the Liberals and since that didn’t happen, the city can’t guarantee it will get the funding.

“It was clearly indicated in the capital budget that the realization of the Cavendish project, like the Tramway, is dependent on government grants,” said Michael Applebaum, the mayor’s main lieutenant, in a statement.

“We have removed these projects from the budget to avoid inflating the budget unnecessarily.”

Talked about for decades, millions of dollars have been poured into feasibility studies to somehow connect the one kilometre gap between both stretches of Cavendish Blvd.—now divided by one of the island’s main east-west railroad trunks.

Housefather says he refuses to allow the project to go on the backburner again.

“I am confident that the logic is there for this to happen and that anybody who tries to put their blocks on it is going to get pushed out of the way because the vast majority of the people on this island want this project to happen,” said Housefather.

It will be up to the new Parti Quebecois government to decide if the road can go anywhere. The PQ’s MNAs will be sworn in on Monday.

 

Read more: http://montreal.ctvnews.ca/cavendish-blvd-extension-on-ice-disappears-from-city-budget-1.958562#ixzz26rX2iV1m

 

City of Montreal ‘pulls plug’ on Cavendish extension

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MONTREAL — The long-awaited Cavendish extension, which was part of a deal between the city of Montreal and the province, has suddenly disappeared from the three-year capital budget with no explanation, charges a Côte St. Luc city councillor.

Dida Berku calls the withdrawal of the $44-million project “a flagrant violation of a resolution unanimously adopted” by Montreal city council in March 2012.

And the move means the city is reneging on the deal it signed in March 2012 with the provincial government to develop the former Blue Bonnets race track land for the construction of between 5,000 and 8,000 homes, she said.

But Michael Applebaum, mayor of Côte des Neiges—Notre Dame de Grâce, said the deal was conditional on the money coming from the provincial government, and since there’s no indication that will happen, he had to take it out of the budget.

“I’m going to work very hard to get the money from the (provincial) government and when they do that, we’ll put it in the budget,” said Applebaum, chair of the city of Montreal’s executive committee.

The deal between the city and province called for the completion of phase one of the extension that would connect Cavendish Blvd. in St. Laurent to Royalmount Ave., and be built in five to 10 years at a cost of $44 million. It was included in the 2012-2014 three-year capital budget, but has mysteriously disappeared from the 2013-2015 budget released this week.

“I’m being realistic and not putting in the infrastructure budget if the money isn’t there,” Applebaum said. “(Those upset about this) should be asking the provincial government and the new minister of transport if this will be a priority for them.”

The proposed budget is to be presented to Montreal city council for adoption next week.

Anthony Housefather, mayor of Côte St. Luc, said the city would do everything to oppose the change.

“The proposal by the city of Montreal to remove these amounts … is a complete reversal of commitments made only months ago and is completely unacceptable to those living and working in the west end and West Island of Montreal,” he said in a statement.

The second phase of the extension, to link Royalmount Ave. to Cavendish Blvd. in Côte St. Luc, was to begin only after 2017.

Construction of the homes was only to start in 2017 and the city would use profits from the sale of the land to reinvest in the area as well as cover costs for studies to build the extension.

The 102-year-old Blue Bonnets racetrack shut down in 2009.

The Cavendish link was meant to ease traffic along the congested Décarie highway by connecting the northern and southern portions of the disjointed artery between St. Laurent and Côte St. Luc.

“It’s been one step forward and two steps backwards since the demerger,” Berku said. “What’s going on here?

“They just pulled the plug on it.”

Montreal council approved the $140-million extension in 2004, opened a project office and assigned it a $5-million budget to draw up plans.

But Mayor Gérald Tremblay’s $8.1-billion, 20-year transportation plan, made public in May 2007, put the project on the back burner.

Berku said when they asked Applebaum why the project was no longer in the budget this year, he told them ‘it was complicated.’

“But there’s nothing complicated about it, they just removed it from the budget,” Berku said.

smontgomery@montrealgazette.com

© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/City+Montreal+pulls+plug+Cavendish+extension+C%c3%b4te+councillor+Dida+Berku+says/7249065/story.html#ixzz26dn8Sbxr

City of Montreal pulls the plug on Cavendish again

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Côte Saint-Luc, September 14, 2012 – Only six months after announcing the Blue Bonnets agreement, which included the funding for Cavendish Blvd. road extension project, the City of Montreal has reneged on its undertaking and put the project on the back burner.
In March 2012, the City of Montreal and the Quebec government signed an agreement to transfer the Blue Bonnets race track land to the City of Montreal. One of the conditions of the transfer was an undertaking by the City of Montreal to set aside $44 million for phase 1 of the Cavendish Blvd. road extension project in its three-year Capital Works Budget. This agreement was ratified by the unanimous vote of the Montreal City Council on March 26, 2012.
Notwithstanding this undertaking in the agreement to set aside $44 million for this project and notwithstanding the unanimous resolution of Montreal City Council ratifying the agreement, the Tremblay administration has withdrawn the Cavendish Blvd. road extension project from the proposed three-year Capital Works Budget for 2013-2015, even though it was included in the last year’s three year budget (2012-2014). The proposed budget—without the funds for the Cavendish Blvd. road extension project—will be presented to Montreal City Council for adoption on September 20, 2012.
“The City of Côte Saint-Luc has worked very hard with our neighbouring cities and boroughs to convince the Tremblay administration that the Cavendish extension be made a priority,” said Anthony Housefather, Mayor of Côte Saint-Luc. “We worked with the local Liberal MNAs to find means of funding the project and over the last six months the announcements related to the Blue Bonnets site had pushed the project forward. The proposal by the City of Montreal to remove these amounts from the PTI is a complete reversal of commitments made only months ago and is completely unacceptable to those living and working in the west end and West Island of Montreal.  We will use all means at our disposal to oppose this reversal.”
As well, the new Capital Works Budget does not provide for the completion of the feasibility studies that the City of Montreal also undertook to do. Since 2005, it has spent $2.5 million on these studies but so far has refused to make them public and now is refusing to complete them.
“This omission is in total violation of the Blue Bonnets agreement and the unanimous vote of Montreal City Council,” said Côte Saint-Luc Councillor Dida Berku. “This flies in the face of the will of all the councils of the boroughs of St. Laurent, CDN-NDG and cities of Côte Saint-Luc, Town of Mount Royal, Hampstead, and Dollard des Ormeaux, which have systematically called for the extension of Cavendish to be included in the Agglomeration of Montreal Transport Plan and in the Capital Works Budget of the City of Montreal. As well it flies in the face of the conditions in the Blue Bonnets agreement with the Quebec government and is a reversal of the public commitments and pronouncements of the Tremblay administration, made six months ago.”
When the Blue Bonnets agreement was announced, Minister Raymond Bachand said that one of the conditions of the transfer was that the proceeds would be used to finance the Cavendish Blvd. road extension project and that the City of Montreal would commit to proceeding with the feasibility studies in order to advance this project.
“We encourage residents to attend the meeting at Montreal City Hall on Thursday, September 20 and voice their concerns during question period,” said Councillor Berku.
Copies of the Blue Bonnets agreement, the 2012-2014 Capital Works Budget, and a press release from the City of Montreal announcing the commitment to build the Cavendish Blvd. road extension project are available at www.CoteSaintLuc.org/CavendishExtension.

Canadian cities’ president in Cote Saint-Luc

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Welcoming FCM President Karen Leibovici to Cote Saint-Luc City Hall

Last June, several members of Council were on hand at the annual general meeting of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities in Saskatoon where Edmonton Councillor Karen Leibovici was elected FCM president for a two-year term.  At that conference I invited the newly elected president to visit Cote Saint-Luc.  With a regional meeting of the FCM this past week, in Laval, the president did indeed take me up on my offer.

Last evening I welcomed Leibovici to City Hall.  She is no stranger to our city having grown up in the Cote des Neiges neighbourhood of Montreal and with close family still residing in Cote Saint-Luc.

Our informal meeting included Mayor Anthony Housefather and Councillor Ruth Kovac along with Hampstead Mayor Bill Steinberg and Councillor Bonnie Feigenbaum.

We discussed the important subject of the renewal of billions of dollars in federal funding for municipalities when the latest 10 year agreement expires in 2014. Leibovici indicated that funding for municipalities across the country needs to be “predictable, flexible, long term and sustainable.”

Current funding sources from Ottawa include the community infrastructure fund and gas tax.  Such funds were instrumental in the financing of the new Aquatic and Community Centre on Parkhaven Avenue.  With an aging infrastructure in Cote Saint-Luc, such as water pipes, underpasses, municipal buildings and parks, it is crucial that we find sources of revenue from the provincial and federal governments to prevent these assets from slipping from good or fair to poor condition and to ensure that we constantly upgrade to good or excellent condition as has been our tradition.  All this, without having to rely solely on property taxes.

Close to 2,000 communities across Canada have come together to speak with one voice as the FCM. FCM has been the national voice of municipal government since 1901. Members include Canada’s largest cities, small urban and rural communities, and 21 provincial and territorial municipal associations. Municipal leaders from all parts of Canada assemble annually to establish FCM policy on key issues. Today, FCM carries on the tradition of actively advocating to have the needs of municipalities – and their citizens – reflected in federal policies and programs. Year after year, FCM’s work has benefitted each and every municipal government and taxpayer in Canada.

Enjoy the summer by Mayor Housefather

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CSL Corner, Anthony Housefather

Free Press, July 10, 2012

Summer in Côte St. Luc is my favourite time of year. Sporting and cultural activities abound for people of all ages and it is so nice to see crowded parks, pools and tennis courts. We live in a climate where it is nice to enjoy our time outdoors and this year we are all taking full advantage of it.

If you have not purchased your CSL Fun Card, now is the time to do so. It is an affordable way to allow you and your family to enjoy all that the city has to offer. In addition, if you are a tennis player, the CSL Tennis Club still has memberships available in one of the best facilities on the island of Montreal.

Over the course of the summer, infrastructure work is occurring. We are spending millions of dollars to improve our roads, sidewalks and water network. We are trying to do this work sensibly and in a controlled manner and to communicate effectively both the timing and purpose of the work. Nonetheless, we know that any such work yields temporary inconvenience to those affected and we will try to mitigate any impact as much as possible and to communicate with you as early and as often as we can.

Our CSL website is a great source of information at http://www.CoteSaintLuc.org and I would also encourage you to sign up for our email blasts if you want more frequent information from the city.

Canada Day at Trudeau Park attracted thousands again this year and the dedication of our premier baseball field to Gary Carter made the festivities even more memorable. We also swore in 36 new Canadians from 19 countries at a citizenship court. Watching people take their oath of citizenship for the first time reminds us all of how lucky we are to be citizens of a country that treats us all equally. Whether our families came here yesterday or 200 years ago, whether we speak English or French or other languages, whatever our race, religion, gender or sexual orientation, we are all equal before the law and have the same rights and responsibilities as Canadians. I thank my lucky stars each day that my ancestors chose to come to this country of opportunity and enormous promise that we need to celebrate more than one day each year.

Over the last few weeks I have been amazed at the number of people who have approached me to tell me they have moved back to Côte St. Luc after years away in the United States or Ontario. We are enjoying a renaissance not only in Côte St. Luc but on the island of Montreal and the economic security and political stability of the last decade is primarily responsible for people moving back here.

With a provincial election on the horizon, I hope we all keep this in mind and work to make sure that we retain this economic and political stability that is to all of our benefit.

Anthony Housefather can be reached at ahousefather@cotesaintluc.org.

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