Historic vote for Montreal Mayor

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What a week at Montreal City Hall!

Michael Applebaum has made the local history books becoming the first English-speaking mayor in 100 years. Also, Montreal has not seen a Jew in the Mayor’s chair since Joseph Shubert was appointed Acting Mayor of Montreal for a period of three months, on August 29, 1927.

Although the vote was a squeaker with Applebaum taking 31 votes to Richard Deschamps’ 29 votes, there were three spoiled ballots which could have shifted the outcome the other way. The vote for interim mayor was a secret ballot of Council members only since Mayor Gerald Tremblay stepped down less than one year prior to the next general election on November 3, 2013.

Councillors Ruth Kovac and Glenn J. Nashen with CDN-NDG Borough Mayor Michael Applebaum

The fact that a by-election was not needed saved Montreal taxpayers about $10,000,000 according to media reports.

Michael Applebaum has shown himself as an honest, hard working and dedicated Borough Mayor and Chair of the Executive Committee. I have seen him in action with regard to the expansion of the Jewish General Hospital as well as other issues in the Cote des Neiges-NDG borough. He is on top of his files and thoroughly understands the needs of his constituents.

Any criticism of his French-language skills is ridiculous. His French is excellent, regardless of his accent. Even Montreal opposition leader Louise Harel said that she wished she spoke English as well as Applebaum speaks French. In fact, he didn’t even speak a word of English during his pre-vote address to Council! (It wouldn’t have hurt).

Applebaum will now lead not only Montreal City Council and his borough, but also the Agglomeration Council responsible for regional services including the Montreal Island demerged municipalities, the Ville Marie downtown borough and the Montreal Metropolitan Community.

Councillors Ruth Kovac, Glenn J. Nashen and Sam Goldbloom discuss local issues with Cote des Neiges – NDG Borough Mayor Michael Applebaum (2nd from left)

Huge responsibilities, demands and expectations lie ahead for Applebaum. If he succeeds in cleaning up the image and reputation of Montreal and setting the course for a solid future as an independent mayor don’t be surprised to see his name on next year’s ballot (regardless of today’s intentions).

So, congratulations Mayor Applebaum. I wish you great success and courage in all the lies ahead. As a Cote Saint-Lucer I’m looking forward to your leadership and vision to benefit all those who reside on the Island of Montreal and across the region.

vCOP to assist Montreal Fire Department in smoke detector blitz

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Members of Cote Saint-Luc volunteer Citizens on Patrol will have the chance to work side by side with the Montreal Fire Department this weekend in a blitz to get all residents to change their smoke detector batteries coinciding with the change to Daylight Savings Time.

vCOP will go door to door speaking to as many residents as possible to remind every one of the importance of keeping their detectors functional year round.

vCOP has assisted CSL Public Security and Montreal Police during its 6 1/2 years of service but this is the first time that it will have the opportunity to directly assist the Fire Department.

While our EMS volunteers used to work closely with our CSL Fire Department that all ended 10 years ago with the forced mergers and the transfer of fire services from CSL to Montreal.

I’m very proud that the services offered by vCOP continues to expand helping to make Cote Saint-Luc the safest community in the region.

When I launched the concept in 2006 I had a goal to recruit 100 volunteers and acquire several vehicles and bicycles to allow these patrollers to circulate at anytime of day or night.  I am so pleased that we have been able to expand our offering in the areas of emergency preparedness, searching for missing persons, distribution of water during service interruption, protecting residents from downed power lines, cables, trees and branches and now with fire safety and prevention.

Hats off to our nearly 100 volunteers and to our team leaders and supervisors.  Their efforts are making a difference in the lives of Cote Saint-Lucers on a daily basis.

If you’ve had any experiences with vCOP and would like to thank them too please click on ‘Leave a Comment’.

Suburbanites felt close to their local police departments

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The Suburban Newspaper, Aug. 15, 2012 – Click to enlarge

 

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

CSL calls on Quebec, Montreal to prioritize Cavendish link

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CSL calls on Quebec, Montreal to prioritize Cavendish link

Joel Goldenberg, The Suburban

March 21, 2012

Côte St. Luc council unanimously passed a resolution last week calling on the Quebec government and the City of Montreal to prioritize a link between Cavendish Boulevard in Côte St. Luc and St. Laurent, via Royalmount in Town of Mount Royal.

Côte des Neiges-NDG council recently passed a resolution asking Quebec to make the link a priority. Town of Mount Royal also passed a resolution. The link has been discussed for more than 40 years. During the merger years, a project bureau was set up specifically for the link, but while it came up with a design for the route, the project has remained on the shelf.

Councillor Dida Berku introduced Côte St. Luc’s resolution, which said that city reaffirms its support for the Cavendish-Royalmount-Cavendish link and that it considers the project “a key element to improving traffic flow in the central portion of the island of Montreal. “The project should be included and designated as a priority in the next agreement between the Quebec Ministry of Transport and the City of Montreal,” the resolution adds.

Copies of Côte St. Luc’s resolution are being sent to Quebec Transport Minister Pierre Moreau, D’Arcy McGee MNA Lawrence Bergman, Montreal’s executive committee, and all mayors and councils in the islandwide Montreal agglomeration. A copy will also be deposited at the next Montreal agglomeration meeting. The resolution was seconded by Councillor Glenn Nashen.

Berku said the concept and the plan for the link exist, and even went to the Quebec environment ministry. “And then the plug was pulled by the city of Montreal at the time of demerger,” she added. “We want to put it back on track, and now that the city of Montreal is negotiating an agreement with the Quebec transport ministry, we want them to put it back as a priority, and we’re very happy Côte des Neiges-NDG has adopted the same resolution. TMR has done the same. We hope our MNA and the transport minister will listen to our mayor and proceed to add this to their entente.”

Earlier at Monday’s council meeting, Mayor Anthony Housefather told council regular Bernard Tonchin that at a recent agglomeration meeting, he was told Montreal considered other projects higher priorities. “I stated this was unacceptable to Côte St. Luc, that there was money in the agglomeration budget for the extension of Cavendish that we pushed to have in when the transport plan was adopted at the last round, and the only impediment was that they didn’t know what the railways were going to do,” Housefather explained, adding that he was also told the railways are staying. “That fulfilled the criteria for Cavendish going ahead, because that’s what was stated in the transport plan.”

The mayor also said he asked for, and got, support from the Association of Suburban Mayors for the link, and that he and TMR’s mayor have written to Moreau, “asking for a meeting to once again discuss Cavendish and ask Quebec to make it a priority in the entente being worked out between the Quebec government and City of Montreal on funding for transport projects. We have continued to lobby our MNAs, and our MNAs advised me they continue to lobby the minister.”

***

CSL asks province, agglo, Montreal to support Cavendish extension

Isaac Olson, The Free Press

March 27, 2012

Right on the heels of a neighbouring Montreal borough’s pro-Cavendish-extension motion, Côte St. Luc also voted to demand Quebec’s support in what would, proponents say, finally give the West End a reliable alternative to the seemingly permanent congestion found on Decarie Blvd. and the expressway.

“Be it resolved that the city of Côte St. Luc reaffirms its support in favour of the Cavendish-Royalmount-Cavendish extension project,” said councillor Dida Berku reading from the motion’s conclusion. The city, she continued, considers “the Cavendish-Royalmount-Cavendish extension project a key element to improving traffic flow for public, private and active transit for the central portion of the island of Montreal.” Berku said a copy of the motion will be sent to provincial officials, all mayors/ councils within the agglomeration and deposited at the next agglomeration meeting.

The resolution states Montreal, by unanimous resolution of the city council, established a project bureau with a budget of $5 million with “a precise mandate to manage the Cavendish extension project, including the adoption of the final route proposal by 2006 and the design and completion of the work between 2007 and 2012.” However, Berku noted, “We are now in 2012 and what we know is, the only thing that has happened is the [project bureau] did do its work and they did conceive of a very good design.”

The concept and plan is there, she said, but things fell apart with the demerger and “we want to put it back on track.”

CSL’s measure goes beyond CDN-NDG’s by also demanding Montreal’s support. It’s Montreal that now needs to get behind the fight, said Mayor Anthony Housefather, as CDN-NDG does not represent the entire city.

When asked to confirm where Montreal stands on the issue, city spokesperson Darren Becker said the extension has been listed on the urban transportation plan’s to-do list since 2008 and the plan outlines a need to connect CSL’s Cavendish Blvd. with St. Laurent’s Cavendish Blvd. and Royalmount.

There is $45 million set aside in the budget for the some $150 million project, he continued, but it is up to the Quebec government to back the rest. While a few projects involving Metro and East End road renovations are topping the priority list, the Cavendish extension is still very much part of the transport plan, according to Becker, but Quebec needs to finance the project.

This is not the first time CSL’s council has voiced strong support for the extension nor is it a new issue. The borough of St. Laurent first passed a similar measure back in 1981 and, more recently, TMR hopped into the fray with a motion of its own.

“Remember, we are having more homes built behind the Cavendish Mall,” Bernard Tonchin told the council at the start of the March 12 meeting. “There are only two exits to get in and out of Côte St. Luc, and Decarie is impassable with all the construction going on now.

We desperately need Cavendish.” Housefather said, since 1998, CSL has been at the forefront of efforts to realize the extension. Housefather reported that he has been in touch with Montreal officials, like CDN-NDG mayor and executive committee chair Michael Applebaum. Applebaum said Montreal’s priorities were elsewhere, said Housefather.

The association of suburban mayors is supporting the extension, he said, and a joint letter has been sent to the Quebec government asking for support. The mayor pledged to continue bringing the issue up during agglomeration council meetings as, he said, there is money in the agglomeration budget to realize the project.

***

Extract from: Quebec to cede Hippodrome land to Montreal for ‘city within a city’

Bachand commits to Cavendish link

Joel Goldenberg, The Suburban

March 28, 2012

••• Bachand also said constituents of the Outremont (Côte des Neiges} and D’Arcy McGee ridings should also be pleased, as part of the announcement reiterates Quebec’s commitment to the Cavendish-Cavendish link. As part of the Quebec-Montreal agreement, part of the funds gathered from land sales could be reinvested towards the extension project between St. Laurent, Town of Mount Royal and Côte St. Luc.

“There are reserves of $45 million that the city has already put in, in capital investments, and that is protected,” the minister said. “The city will make studies, in terms of updates on the cost of the project and then we’ll take it from there in future years.”

Bachand told The Suburban that recent resolutions from Côte des Neiges-NDG, Côte St. Luc and TMR played an important role in the link resurfacing again. The resolutions asked Quebec to prioritize the link. “For us and our MNAs, Cavendish is very important,” Bachand told The Suburban.  “The resolution passed in Côte des Neiges-NDG is very, very important, because it shows that a consensus exists now. Now, it’s time to update the studies on the cost of the project, for engineering. As part of the agreement, the city undertakes to update the studies to see what the project should look like at the end of the day.”

Bergman, the D’Arcy McGee MNA, was pleased with the Hippodrome and Cavendish announcements. “The Hippodrome will be good for ecology and modernize the west end of the city, and attract to the west end some wonderful housing, properly planned, with parks, playgrounds, schools and commerces to serve families,” he said. “This will help our family policy. “We’re also in a step in the right direction for Cavendish- Cavendish,” Bergman added. “The studies will be updated, looked at and certainly be part of the mix of this development. With the increase of housing in the Namur triangle and now with the development of the Hippodrome section, certainly north-south arteries will have to be further developed and this brings Cavendish into the mix. I’m delighted.”

CSL Police station 9 managing overnight patrols again

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CSL Police station 9 managing overnight patrols again

By Joel Goldenberg, The Suburban

February 22, 2012

Montreal police Station 9, which serves Côte St. Luc, Hampstead and Montreal West, recently resumed managing overnight patrols after several years, it was announced at the Montreal West and Côte St. Luc council meetings.

“We have increased surveillance overnight by Station 9,” said Montreal West Councillor Julie Tasker-Brown, in charge of the security portfolio on council. “We used to have to share the services of [NDG’s ] Station 11, which had a big territory, and now we get Station 9 back at night. That’s good news.” The overnight service resumed in late January. Station 11 had been managing the overnight patrols for more than three years.

At the February Côte St. Luc council meeting, Councillor Glenn Nashen, who has the security portfolio on his council, made the same announcement, pointing out that the patrols “are now run out of Station 9 vehicles in our territory. “This means it’s likelier we have more manhours being covered, not into NDG, but right here in Côte St. Luc, so we appreciate Commander Sylvain Bissonnette listening to us and our neighbours, and advocating on our behalf to bring this back after a hiatus of a few years,” Nashen added.

Mayor Anthony Housefather pointed out that after advocacy by Côte St. Luc helped save Station 9 from elimination, one of the agreements involved in keeping the Cavendish Blvd. station open was to have the night shift run out of Station 11.

“I guess it’s the same with demerger – the argument was ‘you lose it, you lose it,’ and eventually you get it back,” the mayor added.

Henry Aubin: Demerger has served suburbs well

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Henry Aubin: Demerger has served suburbs well

 

Support is growing for the re-consolidation of Montreal: Here’s why doing so makes no sense whatsoever

 

By HENRY AUBIN, The Gazette February 14, 2012

 

 

Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/Henry+Aubin+Demerger+served+suburbs+well/6148032/story.html#ixzz1mPbnkkVh

 

Jean-Paul L’Allier is one of most esteemed figures in urban affairs in Quebec. The stunningly ambitious and beautiful transformation of Quebec City’s old quarter took place largely during his lengthy stint as mayor (1989-2005). He’s Mr. anti-immobilisme.

 

So it’s interesting to know what he thinks of municipal government in Montreal.

 

In a speech Sunday at a meeting of Projet Montréal, he said the megacity’s 2006 demerger has “weakened Montreal.” L’Allier, who oversaw the relatively successful merger of Quebec City, says Montreal’s demerger of 15 towns and the simultaneous decentralization of power to the city’s remaining 19 boroughs prevent Montreal Island from bringing all its players (“forces vives”) together. “Some day,” he said, “this must be corrected.”

 

L’Allier thus lends more respectability to the wacky notion of a forced re-merger. Vision Montréal’s Louise Harel, who designed the original merger when she was municipal affairs minister, adores the idea. A popular La Presse columnist is touting it. I’m also starting to hear ordinary Montrealers scapegoating the demerger for the city’s problems and favouring re-merger.

 

This reminds me of how the whole merger concept began more than a decade ago. A few politicians spoke up for it; most people paid little attention because the idea seemed preposterous. Then the francophone media embraced the bigger-is-better premise, the politicians got bolder and before you knew it, whamo, it was done.

 

There was no public debate then. Promoters spewed nonsense (“economies of scale,” “lower taxes”) and refused to respond to fact-based counter-arguments (that have since proven accurate). They dealt with critics by ignoring them.

 

And that’s what’s happening all over again as the remergerites try to build public support. They deal with contrary arguments by pretending they don’t exist.

 

I invite these promoters not to hide from such critiques but to address them. Here are some:

 

–The demerger itself is not a problem. The megacity still claims 87 per cent of the island’s people, and the megacity can impose its will on the remaining 13 per cent when it comes to all intra-municipal matters (police, transit, arteries, fiscal help to poor areas, etc.). Note that not even Jean Drapeau, the most powerful Montreal mayor of our time, had such clout over the entire island.

 

–Granted, because of the decentralization of power to the boroughs, a mayor of Montreal has less power than his predecessors over the city proper. Borough power has created certain problems not in the public interest (for example, duplicated jobs, policies that are not co-ordinated with neighbouring boroughs). But it has also brought real benefits (citizens have a greater voice, services are better tailored to neighbourhoods’ needs). True reform would entail prudent, nuanced adjustments – not a wholesale return to centralization.

 

–Don’t blame the immobilisme on the demerger or on decentralization. The central city has had its hand in virtually all the major projects that have been stopped or delayed: the Casino, Griffintown, the extension of Cavendish Blvd., the covering of the Ville Marie Expressway, the modernizing of Notre Dame St.

 

–Empowered boroughs and demerged towns have almost nothing to do with the scandals staining Montreal. The waterworks contract, the SHDM mess, city hall’s roof and the auditor-general’s emails all reflect on the central city. That’s where the main rot is.

 

–The megacity’s first four years – that is, the time before the demerger – were no Golden Age. Operating expenses grew by 16.3 per cent, 2½ times the inflation rate. Real World 101: Units of governance get more inefficient the bigger they are. Demerged suburbs are using small size to make economies. Why stop them?

 

–What people expect most from municipal government is decent services. Angus Reid polls have shown that residents of demerged suburbs are consistently happier with their services than are residents of areas that were merged into Montreal. That’s no accident: Small units of government not only deliver services more cheaply, but better, too. They have closer supervision.

 

The case could be made that many people might gain if Montreal were to allow a further demerger.

 

That would make for a stimulating debate.

 

But we’ll never see one, not so long as serious, thoughtful deliberation over Montreal’s governance is taboo.

 

haubin@montrealgazette.com

 

© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

 

 

Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/Henry+Aubin+Demerger+served+suburbs+well/6148032/story.html#ixzz1mPbdN1oy

Cavendish finally extended… in the wrong direction

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Henry Aubin: Loud silence on merger milestone

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Another brilliant column by the Gazette’s Henry Aubin (link below) who has been on the case of municipal mergers and other government blunders affecting our cities.  Aubin wrote about the mergers well before they took place 10 years ago and predicted what a colossal mistake this would be.  He cited examples from across North America and Europe.

This week marks 10 years since this ill-advised event took effect.  Since then we have seen Montreal costs run amuck and the sucking of local/suburban city taxes to feed the insatiable centre city.

We lost our local Fire Department that served our community well in two languages, conducted hundreds of inspections every year, attended every local event and cooperated with our Public Security department and EMS.

With mergers we have experienced a Montreal Fire department with years of labour strife and disinterest in communicating in English on their website despite numerous requests from our Council, unwillingness to cooperate with our Public Security, refusing to advise them of fire calls in CSL, preventing our city from providing maximum services to our residents not to mention a firefighter union that worked hard yet failed to terminate CSL’s all-star volunteer EMS.

We have had almost no fire inspections at all despite pleas by our Council to improve on this dismal and dangerous record.

These are just a few examples of our city’s experience with a single service since merger.  There are so many more examples as oft cited at our Council meetings.

While we are lucky to have broken free from much of the merger disadvantages several continue to haunt us as revealed by Henry Aubin in this Gazette column:  Henry Aubin: Loud silence on merger milestone.

Relocation is not merger

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Letters to the editor

Montreal Gazette

Re: Let Royal Vale stay in NDG, Dec. 7, 2011. Jack Jedwab’s analogy of the forced municipal mergers and criticism of Cote Saint-Luc city council in its support of the proposed move of Royal Vale High School from NDG to CSL is completely flawed and incorrectly lays blame on my council.

Relocating the school to another building is not being forcibly merged. In the forced mergers, the City of Cote Saint-Luc ceased to exist and its council disappeared. With relocation, RVHS will not cease to exist and its governing board does not disappear. It just runs the school at another location.

Most of all, it is not the elected council of Cote Saint-Luc that proposed the relocation of RVHS. The English Montreal School Board long-range planning committee recommended relocation to CSL and this is the only proposal that the EMSB is currently considering.

As a municipal representative and former executive director of Alliance Quebec, I find it regrettable that our embattled English-speaking communities are pitted one against another for the retention or relocation of an English public high school. All neighbourhoods that can support such a school deserve to have one. CSL is unarguably such a community.

Glenn J. Nashen

City Councillor

Cote Saint-Luc

Letters: Let Royal Vale stay in N.D.G

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Let Royal Vale stay in N.D.G

Letters to the editor
THE GAZETTE, DECEMBER 7, 2011
A decade ago, residents and elected officials in Côte St. Luc found it unacceptable to force their municipality to become part of the Montreal megacity.

In the end, Côte St. Luc officials were successful in undoing the merger.

The principle of forcing so many people to become part of something against their will was described as undemocratic.

But the same logic does not seem to apply when it comes to moving Royal Vale High School in N.D.G. into the former Wagar High School in Côte St. Luc, a moved opposed by the overwhelming majority of Royal Vale parents. In this case Côte St. Luc officials have no problem with a forced move that they pretend will be in everyone’s interest.

The move risks bringing into the Côte St. Luc high school a very disgruntled group of parents. Is that really in anyone’s interest?

It is not too late for Côte St. Luc to abandon this idea and allow the high school to stay in N.D.G. In so doing it can remain consistent with the principles it championed in the forced-merger debates.

Jack Jedwab

Montreal

© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

Gerard Deltell: Montréal est ingouvernable

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This article in La Presse about the ADQ leader’s desire to reopen the municipal merger debate is very worrisome.  The idea of re-centralizing power in Montreal, at the expense of the boroughs, and potentially the demerged suburbs would be foolish at many levels.  Politically, the public mood has moved well beyond mergers and demergers.  Financially, the analysis has shown that mergers did not achieve any of the stated goals and objectives and served to do damage the citizen’s attachment to their local government.  If anything, those interested in examining municipal structures ought to consider how to decentralize to a greater extent since the local level of government is best equipped at service delivery, not the other way around.

 

 

Gerard Deltell: Montréal est ingouvernable
Karim Benessaieh
La Presse, 14 octobre 2011

Montréal compte trop d’élus, trop d’arrondissements, trop de pouvoirs qui échappent à son maire. Ce verdict sans détour, c’est celui du chef de l’Action démocratique du Québec, Gérard Deltell. Cinq ans après les défusions, selon lui, la preuve est faite: «Montréal est ingouvernable.»
C’est la première fois qu’un parti politique provincial prend position de façon aussi claire dans ce débat, a souligné M. Deltell lors d’une entrevue avec La Presse dans ses bureaux du Vieux-Montréal. «J’invite le Parti québécois, le Parti libéral, Québec solidaire à prendre une position claire là-dessus […] Il faut une nouvelle gouvernance, qui permettrait au maire et à l’exécutif d’avoir de véritables pouvoirs, plutôt que d’être perpétuellement otages des conseils d’arrondissement qui ankylosent l’action du maire.»

Le mois dernier, le parti de l’opposition Vision Montréal, dirigé par Louise Harel, a proposé de réduire le nombre de conseillers municipaux, qui est de 103. Ce geste impliquerait la fusion de quelques-uns des 19 arrondissements. La motion a été battue au conseil municipal par 36 voix contre 23.

Mais le débat n’est pas mort, estime le chef de l’ADQ. «Tout cet épisode de fusions-défusions nous a coûté un demi-milliard de dollars et, au bout du compte, on se retrouve avec les mêmes préoccupations. Ce qu’on a voulu éliminer avec les fusions municipales, les batailles sans fin entre roitelets, on l’a recréé avec les arrondissements.»

Le feuilleton du Plateau
Combien d’élus faut-il? Quels arrondissements devraient disparaître? Questionné sur les détails de cette réforme, M. Deltell affirme ne pas vouloir imposer ses vues. «On veut que le débat se fasse. Ce n’est pas à nous, à Québec, de dire qu’il y aura tant d’échevins, tant de conseils d’arrondissement. Laissons les gens en place décider.» Quand on lui rappelle que la démarche ne plaira pas aux anciennes banlieues, il réplique en invoquant le devoir de «veiller au meilleur intérêt des citoyens». «En fin de compte, on n’est pas là pour protéger des structures. On pense que les citoyens seront mieux desservis avec un conseil central qui a plus de pouvoirs que par des conseils d’arrondissement qui peuvent faire ce qu’ils veulent dans leur coin.»

Le feuilleton de la circulation sur le Plateau-Mont-Royal, les frictions chaque hiver entre les arrondissements et la Ville sur le déneigement, voilà deux exemples qui démontrent que les Montréalais ont besoin d’une administration centrale plus forte, soutient M. Deltell. «La métropole, c’est la moitié de la province, c’est le poumon économique du Québec. Quand la moitié de la province souffre, c’est toute la province qui en paie le prix.»

Il rappelle la proposition de son parti de nommer un ministre dont la seule responsabilité serait Montréal. «Quand on est ministre des Finances, on en a pas mal sur les épaules, on a pas mal de dossiers à gérer. Il est clair que dans la situation actuelle de Montréal, il faut prendre le taureau par les cornes. Et ce n’est pas un luxe que d’avoir un ministre qui se consacre à plein aux questions montréalaises.»

40 years in the mayor’s seat of Saint-Lin-Laurentides

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Meeting Mayor André Auger

Yesterday I had the good fortune of a chance meeting with Mayor André Auger of Ville de Saint-Lin-Laurentides.

Saint-Lin-Laurentides was created in March 2000 with the merger of the municipality of Saint-Lin (founded 1836 and first settled in 1807) and the city of Laurentides (founded 1883). The population now stands at more than 16,000 inhabitants.

The current mayor  will celebrate 40 years of political life in October 2011. The town is named in honour of St. Lin, who was the second Pope.

I met Mayor Auger quite by chance having stopped in at the local tourist office in search of a map and some tourist guides to the Lanaudiere region.  It was St. Jean Baptiste Day, also known as La Fete Nationale, and we were out for a rainy day drive toward the Laurentians.  On my way out of the quaint centre a distinguished, well dressed man extended his hand to welcome me and introduced himself as the mayor.

“Well, what a coincidence, I’m also municipally elected,” I responded in French as I shook his hand. Mayor Auger proudly told me about his lovely town and promptly invited me to his gala 40th anniversary dinner that will be held in his honour in the autumn. “40 years?  How many other mayors are there with such seniority in Quebec?” I asked with great interest.  “There’s just me,” Mayor Auger replied.

Home of Canada's seventh Prime Minister, Sir Wilfred Laurier

St. Lin is also made famous as Sir Wilfrid Laurier is a native son. He was the first francophone to become Prime Minister. He was also son of the first mayor of Saint-Lin, M. Carolus Laurier. Since 1938, the birthplace of Sir Wilfred Laurier has been a national historic site, open to visitors at 945, 12th Avenue.

Although my visit here was very short I noted  how lovely the town seemed, just a short distance from the Laurentian Autoroute.  The Rivière de l’Achigan (translates as Bass River) crosses the city. The park located in the heart of the village is a beautiful spot with several picnic tables and opportunities to cast off for fishing enthusiasts.

The mayor pointed out that the river is transformed in winter into a 2 kilometre skating rink along with a walking trail and cross-country skiing along the shores; in summer, boats fill the docks that are available for free.

I will definitely return to spend some relaxing time in this beautiful corner of Quebec.  Congratulations to Mayor Auger on this important anniversary year and Happy Fete St. Jean!

Bonne 40ieme anniversaire Maire André Auger

Fire chief responds to hot issues

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Councillors Dida Berku and Glenn J. Nashen with Fire Department Director Serge Tremblay

In my capacity of City Councillor responsible for Public Safety I recently had the opportunity to welcome Montreal Fire Department Director Serge Tremblay to City Hall.

Joining me in this informative and productive meeting were Councillors Ruth Kovac, Dida Berku, Public Safety Director Jordy Reichson and City Manager Tanya Abramovitch.

Foremost on my mind was to dramatically improve fire inspections in our city.  In pre-merger Cote Saint-Luc there were 1800 inspections each year.  CSL firefighters were involved in carrying out inspections nearly every day of the year in homes and highrises, commercial centres, religious establishments and schools.  No facility was left uninspected and high traffic places of gathering were verified as frequently as every single week!

The 2002 merger dismantled the CSL FD into the new, enlarged Montreal FD, with their island-wide, powerful union.  Inspections in our City fell to practically nil (around 80 post inspections to be fair). Unfortunately, the demerger law did not permit reconstituted city’s to regain their fire departments.

Nearly 10 years later the situation with inspections is still rather dismal.  The fact that firefighters have been without a contract and on a limited work-to-rule campaign for half of the last decade has not helped in stabilizing this awful record.  This meeting provided us with the opportunity to voice our great dissatisfaction.  Our dialogue was received loud and clear and we are hopeful that Director Tremblay will make the long-overdue changes to increase inspections dramatically.

I also addressed the fact that  the amalgamated Montreal Fire Department has had 10 years to create their new website yet there is still not a word in English to be found there – it  is totally in French only.  I told the director that this is simply unacceptable to us as an officially bilingual city and to the thousands of Montrealers who are English-speaking.  As well, there is a great need for bilingual educational and promotional material.  We will monitor this situation for signs of progress as well.

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