As many as six COVID-19 cases in Côte-St-Luc, but mayor's quarantine request is denied

Leave a comment

Montreal’s chief public health officer, Dr. Mylène Drouin, said authorities must weigh the possible “collateral damage” of such a quarantine, which was deemed premature at this time.

AARON DERFEL, MONTREAL GAZETTE Updated: March 21, 2020

Coping in a Côte-St-Luc seniors’ residence in the age of coronavirus

Quebec authorities have dismissed imposing a quarantine on Côte-St-Luc — for now — after the west-end municipality reported as many as six cases of COVID-19 among residents at synagogues and an assisted-living facility.

Dr. Horacio Arruda, the province’s chief public health officer, said it was premature to do so despite a request from Côte-St-Luc Mayor Mitchell Brownstein.

“I think it (would) be dangerous for mayors to take that decision without being in touch with us,” Arruda told reporters in Quebec City.

“This is an exceptional situation. We have never had this in the world. This is not a decision that should be taken in a corner because I’m afraid or I don’t have all the information.”

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante supported Arruda’s position, arguing there are many factors to consider before using the last resort of a quarantine.

“For those who are not familiar, Côte-St-Luc is right in the middle of Montreal, so it’s surrounded by different boroughs,” Plante said at a news conference.

“I understand the mayor’s concern and I think he definitely wants to do the right thing, but for me it’s very important to follow the directive (of the public health department).”

Montreal’s chief public health officer, Dr. Mylène Drouin, explained experts must first analyze the extent of the outbreak in Côte-St-Luc before declaring a quarantine.

“I think at this time we cannot take those decisions without having a public health analysis,” Drouin said, adding authorities must weigh the possible “collateral damage” of such a quarantine.

In an interview late Friday afternoon, Brownstein reacted tepidly to the government’s decision not to proceed with a quarantine.

“We’re relying on the (health) ministry, Santé Québec,” Brownstein said. “We’re just putting them on notice that they should be watching Côte-St-Luc. I have other cases that are already coming forward, more and more every day, so I can see what’s going to happen in our city.”

Initially, Côte-St-Luc reported two points of exposure to the virulent coronavirus: the Beth Chabad synagogue on Kildare Rd., where a small wedding was held on March 12, and an assisted-living residence on Trent Ave., Le King David.

This is where the chronology gets complicated. A resident of Le King David tested positive for the coronavirus after attending a large wedding on March 12 at the Shaar Hashomayim synagogue in Westmount.

On Tuesday, the King David resident fell ill. In response, the operators of the private facility quarantined more than 100 residents. In addition, “several hundred people who attended the wedding (in Westmount have been) asked to go into isolation,” Drouin said.

On March 15, Shaar Hashomayim held another wedding, but this time it respected Premier François Legault’s March 12 order prohibiting gatherings of more than 250 people anywhere in the province to stem the spread of the virus.

On Thursday, the Beth Chabad synagogue posted an open letter on its Facebook page stating there were “a few cases in the Beth Chabad CSL who have tested positive (for) the coronavirus.” Côte-St-Luc was informed three Beth Chabad congregants were infected.

By Friday afternoon, Mitchell told the Montreal Gazette that “we have two more cases from different religious institutions. If they’re coming from places where people gather, it’s not a good thing.”

Those two other institutions are Côte-St-Luc synagogues.

“We’re asking Premier Legault to take steps to consider quarantining the entire city,” Brownstein said in the first of three interviews with the Gazette on Friday.

“Right now, we know that there are hundreds and hundreds of people who have been in contact with those who have been diagnosed, and we don’t want those people out in the public.

“They need to be contacted by Santé publique,” Brownstein added. “So we’re facilitating access to guest lists from a wedding, individuals who are members of Congregation Beth Chabad, and ensuring that (the authorities) have everything to reach all those individuals who should be in quarantine, although we’re advising everybody to stay home.”

On Friday night, Brownstein phoned the Gazette to clarify that the word “quarantine” was perhaps a little too strong. The mayor said he received calls from non-residents who feared they might be blocked from delivering food to parents or grandparents during a quarantine.

Instead, he called upon Quebec to “enforce staying at home, subject to certain conditions.”

Sarah Raskin, the wife of Rabbi Mendel Raskin of Congregation Beth Chabad, said the March 12 wedding at her synagogue was arranged through a caterer.

“It was quite a small wedding, actually,” Raskin said, although she couldn’t provide an exact number. “It was for out-of-town people.”

Raskin added she is aware of only one case of a congregant testing positive for COVID-19, contrary to the synagogue’s Facebook letter stating that there are “a few cases.”

On Tuesday, Côte-St-Luc declared a state of emergency, exercising its powers under the Civil Protection Act. The act allows a municipality to take “immediate action (that) is required to protect human life, health or physical integrity.”

Mitchell said Côte-St-Luc intends to order the closing of all stores, except pharmacies and those that sell groceries.

Lillian Horowitz, a 94-year-old resident of Le King David, is among more than 100 residents who have been in self-isolation.

“Our meals are brought up,” Horowitz said. “I’m not seeing anybody and I’m feeling fine. I’m taking it one moment at a time. I don’t want to panic.”

Horowitz praised the staff at Le King David, saying “everything was just done in an efficient, speedy manner. I was very impressed with how they treated it. The dining room was closed right away so nobody should be mingling with anybody, which was a good idea.”

On Friday morning, the Cavendish Mall posted a notice on its doors advising people the shopping centre “has been shut down.”

Still, people “can access the IGA, Pharmaprix and Bank of Nova Scotia from their front entrances. You can access the CLSC from the doors of the rear parking.”

Glenn J. Nashen, a spokesperson for the centre-west health authority in charge of the Jewish General, declined to comment on the status of the King David resident, saying by email that “I have no information on any specific patient.”

aderfel@postmedia.com

twitter.com/Aaron_Derfel

Coronavirus: Montreal public health races to curb Côte-St-Luc outbreak

Leave a comment

“We have two more cases from different religious institutions,” Côte-St-Luc Mayor Mitchell Brownstein said.

AARON DERFEL, MONTREAL GAZETTE Updated: March 20, 2020

Montreal public health officials are scrambling to contain an outbreak of COVID-19 in Côte-St-Luc while also monitoring hundreds of people across the city who may have been exposed to the highly contagious coronavirus.

“We expected an increase in the number of cases in the last few days, and that’s what we’re seeing,” Dr. Mylène Drouin told reporters at a news conference Friday as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases rose to 31 from 28 the day before.

Drouin cautioned that the number was likely to increase later on Friday as more test results rolled in. Côte-St-Luc Mayor Mitchell Brownstein told the Montreal Gazette that he has been informed his municipality now has four to six cases of COVID-19.

“We have two more cases from different religious institutions,” Brownstein said. “If they’re coming from places where people gather, it’s not a good thing.”

Drouin urged Montrealers to refrain from visiting houses of worship, warning they are “important vectors of transmission.”

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante also called upon people of all faiths to refrain from gathering.

“In the last few days, the city of Montreal has been in communication with different communities,” Plante said.

“The priests of Quebec have decided to close the churches. We have communicated with the council of imams of Quebec. The Hasidic Jewish community has decided to close their synagogues. Therefore, there is good co-operation, but there are still some exceptions, some recalcitrant people, who still want to gather. Whatever your faith, it is really important (to follow these rules).”

Drouin announced authorities will dramatically increase the number of COVID-19 screening tests. On Friday, the number of tests nearly doubled to 920 in Montreal, from 570 the day before.

“Of course, we’re seeing cases that are not linked to travellers,” Drouin explained, noting that the new cases are secondary transmissions — that is, people who contracted the novel SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus from family members or others.

“At this time, we cannot say that we have a sustained community transmission, but we’re expecting it,” Drouin added. On Thursday, Drouin acknowledged for the first time Montreal was reporting small COVID-19 outbreaks in families.

On Friday, she reiterated that “we have family groups that are affected by the situation, schools, student housing, one CHSLD (long-term care centre) and we had cases in a big event that was a wedding.”

It was not clear whether Drouin was alluding to a government-run long-term care centre or the private Le King David assisted-living facility in Côte-St-Luc. Drouin, however, was clear in referring to a wedding held last week at a synagogue.

“I know that there were two cases associated with the event, and we know that there were several hundred people who attended the wedding whom we asked to go into isolation.”

Drouin hinted at new measures, although she declined to elaborate.

“We’re going to take some measures in a couple of days to look at the epidemiological situation for the entire island of Montreal, and to see if there are some sectors, some measures, to take. But those cannot be taken at a local level. We have to make sure that we are aligned with the government.”

Workers put up a temporary wall as the Cavendish Mall is shut down for all businesses that do not have a private entrance on Friday, March 20, 2020. ALLEN MCINNIS / MONTREAL GAZETTE

Quebec’s chief public health officer, Dr. Horacio Arruda, said on Friday it was premature to declare a quarantine for the entire municipality of Côte-St-Luc at the request of the west-end mayor.

As much as possible, Drouin recommended, people should stay home. She cited hairdressers and shopping centres as examples of places people should avoid. On Thursday, she appealed to Montrealers to shop for groceries only once a week.

The health department is foreseeing the possibility of expanding COVID-19 testing to health workers following reports that infected doctors have treated patients.

“Health-care workers will be a priority coming soon,” Drouin said. “I’ve always said that if we do not protect them, we will have problems in two or three weeks.”

Should the pandemic grow much worse in Montreal, authorities would consider using hotel rooms to house some people infected with the coronavirus.

“We’re looking at different possibilities of isolating some people who cannot be at home or we do not want them necessarily in hospital,” Drouin said. “In specific cases, we could use hotels. Of course we have to negotiate (with them) and see what the measures are to put in place to ensure the protection of people who work there or who use the services of hotels. This is something we see in other countries and we do not exclude it.”

aderfel@postmedia.com

twitter.com/Aaron_Derfel

CSL outbreak concerns featured on CBC National News

Leave a comment

CBC National, March 20, 2020

COVID-19: Côte Saint-Luc activates state-of-emergency power to help stop mass gatherings

Leave a comment

The City Council of Côte Saint-Luc declared a state of emergency effective today at 3:30pm, which is a power granted to cities under the Civil Protection Act.

The Act states that: “A local municipality may declare a state of emergency in all or part of its territory where, in an actual or imminent major disaster situation, immediate action is required to protect human life, health or physical integrity which, in its opinion, it is unable to take within the scope of its normal operating rules or of any applicable emergency preparedness plan.”

This state of emergency is coming into effect based on Cote Saint Luc’s special demographics including having the highest percentage of seniors in the province, many snowbirds returning from abroad, more places of worship than any city of our size and numerous hospitals and senior residences that need our protection.

The City is taking this step to limit the number of social and religious public gatherings to a maximum of 10 persons and as such, the City is asking Public Health Authorities and the Montreal police department (SPVM) to enforce this rule on its local territory. 

The top priority of a city is the health of its population. 

The state of emergency will allow Côte Saint-Luc to ask Public Health Authorities to use their powers to stop all events and gatherings of more than 10 people with the assistance of the SPVM. The state of emergency will last for a 5-day period and can be renewed should the Quebec Ministry of Public Security so authorize. 

We understand that in the coming three weeks, there are many weddings and celebrations planned before the onset of Passover followed by the seven weeks of the Omer, where weddings and celebrations cannot take place according to the Jewish tradition. While we understand that people have made plans and invited guests, we cannot take the risk of allowing large gatherings in our community at this time. We are confident that the residents will understand and support this effort.

Resolution to declare a local state of emergency due to COVID-19 in the territory of Côte Saint-Luc (PDF)

Meadowbrook developer loses appeal of lawsuit against Montreal | Montreal Gazette

1 Comment

via Meadowbrook developer loses appeal of lawsuit against Montreal | Montreal Gazette

This is indeed good news in this decades long matter. The courts have recognized the actions of the City of Montreal in not allowing construction on the Lachine side to be reasonable and justifiable.

How much longer until we see Meadowbrook as a regional public park for all to enjoy?

West Enders react to CSL Road pothole case

Leave a comment

Many west end residents have been reacting angrily to the recent Suburban report that Quebec Small Claims Court found Montreal at “gross fault” for not dealing with a large pothole on bumpy Côte St. Luc Road near Grand Boulevard in 2017.

CSL resident Eric Choueke was recently awarded $697 plus additional costs for damage to the car he was driving when he hit the pothole. The court found that Montreal was negligent in not dealing with the pothole or warning drivers about it.

Former CSL councillor Glenn Nashen weighed in on his Facebook page, and his posting received numerous responses.

“The sustained negligence of the City of Montreal on this horrible stretch of roadway is a glaring example of incompetence and indifference at every level,” Nashen wrote.

Others were of like mind.

“Every time I’m forced to drive on this miserable stretch of Côte St Luc Road, I really fear for my life and the stability of my car,” wrote Ronnie Roter. “When will we take charge of fixing this?”

Nashen responded that the “we” is the City of Montreal.

“Despite outcries from suburban mayors and residents, not much has been done,” he added. “Residents who continue to point fingers at suburban councils should get down to Montreal City Hall Council meetings and raise the issue there.”

Alisa Clamen wrote that her daughter “blew a tire and a rim on the same stretch. I had to pay to replace both — it was not pleasant.”

Harvey Levine wrote that his office is on Côte St. Luc Road “and since 2017 I have blown two tires and bent two rims. There is absolutely no reasonable excuse for this main road to be in such horrid condition. I pray that there will not be a horrible accident due to drivers constantly swerving to avoid the craters rather than paying attention to other cars, bikes, etc.”

Ruby Deen called the situation “absolutely disgraceful.

“It’s been like this for a very long time! Wake up … City of Montreal and take responsibility!”

Louise Ferland wrote that she “busted a tire and lost a hub cap on the Decarie south underpass between Jean Talon and Vézina on Super Bowl Sunday evening. I filed a complaint and claim with the CDN-NDG borough, and received a letter back that they are not responsible for my damages.

“The road there was just like Côte St. Luc Road.”

Nashen responded that Ferland should take her case to Small Claims Court and cite negligence, as Choueke did in his own case.

CSL council regular Sidney Margles suggested that CSL, CDN-NDG, Hampstead and Montreal West residents get together to demand a solution.

“Let’s invite [CDN-NDG Mayor] Sue Montgomery and [Montreal Mayor] Valerie Plante for a drive.”

Nashen pointed out that CSL Road is to be resurfaced this year, but Margles responded that this is a “stop-gap measure.

“That road needs reconstruction.”

joel@thesuburban.com

Toronto cop weighs in on “armed police for hire” debate

1 Comment

Toronto cop weighs in on armed police for hire debate
Toronto police sergeant Lawrence Sager, Facebook

Toronto police sergeant Lawrence Sager weighed in regarding a Suburban report that Hampstead is pressing for local Montreal Torah Centre congregants to be able to hire armed off-duty SPVM police officers to provide security.

“Police Paid Duties have always been an extremely effective way to provide security to an event,” Sgt. Sager wrote on Facebook this past weekend. “Few would try and cause trouble with highly visible uniformed police officers present. The only pitfall is the cost.”

As we reported, Hampstead councillor Harvey Shaffer was told by the SPVM that the MTC congregants would not be allowed to hire officers. The SPVM declined to comment to The Suburban, when asked the reason for the refusal. Mayor William Steinberg is working on the matter as well, in light of recent shootings in synagogues in the U.S. and religious institutions around the world.

Sgt. Sager posted as part of a Facebook discussion on our article initiated by former Côte St. Luc councillor Glenn Nashen.

“Toronto Police have done paid duties at synagogues for many decades, as well as funerals and many other large private events,” the sergeant, who attended Wagar High School in Côte St. Luc, explained. “The paid duty office determines the number of officers required, depending on the venue and can also provide cruisers for funeral escorts.

“The drawback is that paid duty officers are quite expensive,” he added. “You get what you pay for. A police officer is armed, well trained, has other use of force options and is equipped with a police radio, in touch with the police dispatcher, capable of calling for immediate police backup without delay. We actually have difficulty filling all the paid duty requests due to manpower shortages.”

Nashen responded to Sager by saying that paid armed off-duty officers “would be a viable option in Montreal for those that can afford it. Unfortunately, the cost couldn’t be sustained by community organizations already struggling.”

Sgt. Sager further wrote that he does not know why Montreal police have not provided the service, “but I suspect it has to do with the Quebec Police Act.

“In Ontario, it’s called the Ontario Police Service Act and every province has its own laws governing what their police can do,” he wrote. “Toronto Police do paid duties in order to bolster our numbers rather than using on-duty officers and it’s allowed in Ontario.

Sgt. Sager also pointed out that the Toronto police’s 32 Division “has the largest Jewish community in Toronto with many synagogues.

“During the High Holidays, there were so many paid duties that they filled its own binder. Once no more could be given out because we ran out of officers to do them, they were offered to the rest of the service outside our division. …. Despite the high cost, there’s no shortage of requests and in many cases insurance companies require that paid duty officers be hired.

joel@thesuburban.com

Older Entries