Excessive number of stop signs in Hampstead contribute to pollution: Letter to Suburban Newspaper

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The following is a letter to the editor to the Suburban from District 6 resident Leslie Satenstein, my most notable commentor on this blog. Leslie makes the point that municipalities have a responsibility to safeguard the environment through strategic traffic planning (while ensuring pedestrian and motorist safety, no doubt).

I have written extensively about Fleet Road in this blog. Search “Fleet”.

 

  • Suburban Newspaper, Aug 16, 2017
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For what seems a century, or at least since 1985 when I moved to Cote Saint Luc, I have had the annoyance and been angered at the number of Hampstead stop signs along VanHorne/Fleet.

Bringing a car to a “stop sign” emits brake pad and tire dust, Average acceleration of a vehicle from a stop sign consumes a quarter of a teaspoon of gasoline per vehicle.

Given the stop signs are for each direction, you can be assure that daily, several tens of gallons of spent gasoline are emitted into the air. We know the importance of fresh air. In this short strip of the route to the borders of Cote Saint Luc, Hampstead’s contribution is one of being a major co-polluter. I call Hampstead’s lack of a remedy, shameful.

One could say, “Big deal, Hampstead’s pollution is the cost of living in CSL” and Cote Saint Luc should cover any remedy costs. That is a consideration for cost sharing.

I look at the luxury homes built on either side of the stop signs, and you will note “the owners can’t use the front of the house, and they cannot leave open, a window for fresh air”. For the residents of those homes, use of the front of the house is limited to receive mail and the Suburban, and to provide access to the car garage, nothing more.

In my high-school years, I lived at a similar intersection. The tire-dust that would settle on the front stoop, on the front window ledges was substantial. Daily, if you swiped your hands across a “early morning cleaned” surface, you would find you palm coated with black tire-dust. During periods of bumper-to-bumper traffic, the smell of spent fuel was horrific.

Mayor Steinberg prides himself on technology. When is Hampstead going to invest, as did Town of Mount-Royal, on installing synchronized traffic lights. A vehicle that travels at a fixed speed and does not brake and accelerate emits much much less combined pollution.

I would be very very interested to know the health claims made by the and former residents living in proximity to those intersections. Start from the year 1985.

Hampstead, it’s time to do something.

Leslie Satenstein

Montreal

CSL recognized by B’nai Brith for zero tolerance racism, anti-Semtism

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CJN | July 27, 2017 | Click to enlarge

Opinion: Canada desperately needs a cellphone alert system

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MONTREAL, QUE.: OCTOBER 14, 2011-- A man holds a newly purchased iPhone 4s on the launch day of the Apple phone outside the St. Catherine street Apple store in downtown Montreal on Friday, October 14, 2011. (Dario Ayala/THE GAZETTE) Dario Ayala, The Gazette

Emergencies come in all shapes and sizes. In Quebec, unpredictable weather is a fact of life that can have devastating effects on people and property. Then there are the man-made ones such as gas leaks, chemical spills, terror attacks and child abductions.

You’re either prepared for emergencies or you’re not. Simply put, we are not. At least, not as well as we could be.

Canadians currently receive emergency warnings through every major medium except cellphones. That might seem like a small piece of the puzzle, but cellphone alerts have become increasingly necessary to emergency preparedness in an age when so many people are cutting the cords of traditional media.

Today, 85 per cent of Canadian households have mobile phones while just under a third have cable subscriptions. Even without those figures, all you have to do is spend some time on a bus or in a coffee shop and you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone not glued to their phone, tablet or laptop.

This points to the necessity of expanding public alerts to include cellphones, particularly with unpredictable weather patterns and natural disasters on the rise. Emergency management officials always point to early warning systems (EWS) as the best way to prevent loss of life. It’s not difficult to imagine how an alert on your cellphone in a time of emergency could save you, your family and friends or even total strangers.

It’s worth noting that Canada is not alone on this. At a May 24 meeting in Mexico, the United Nations Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction focused on the need to shift from managing disasters to managing the risks of disaster. That included not only making EWS more effective and efficient but also coordinating government and telecom efforts to ensure alerts are universal.

In April, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission announced it was giving telecom companies “approximately 12 months” to implement cellphone emergency alerting systems. My initial thoughts were: “It’s about time and I’ll believe it when I see it.” You see, we’ve been down this road before with the CRTC.

In 2004, the Senate Committee on National Security and Defence issued what was to be the first of many recommendations to establish a national public alerting system. In 2007, the committee adduced evidence from the CRTC’s Scott Hutton that a system featuring interruptive television alerts would be in place by 2009. He repeatedly undertook that if an alert system was not in place on a voluntary basis by 2009, the CRTC would take the necessary steps to put one in place.

But that deadline passed and Canadians had to wait another six years before the CRTC compelled broadcasters to create a national alert system. Even then, some broadcasters dragged their feet on meeting the deadline, and Bell Canada and others were still not fully compliant for several months.

Hence my skepticism about the CRTC’s latest pronouncement. Littered with the seeds of delay and obfuscation, it began with a supposedly firm deadline of next April 6, but then goes on to say that a number of kinks would need to be worked out before emergency alerts can begin. Then it ends by stating that “the Commission expects that this new capability will be available in approximately 12 months.”

Talk about a soft deadline.

The thing is, this isn’t exactly new technology. Smartphones have been in widespread use for more than a decade. The U.S. has had a cellphone alert system in place since 2013 as part of a matrix of alerting technology (cellphones, sirens, TV, radio).

I commend the CRTC for finally calling on telecom providers to get on board with cellphone alerts, but I’d sleep a little better if Canadian Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly put the full weight of her office behind the initiative too. Canadians lives may well depend on it.

Colin Kenny is former chair of the Senate Committee on National Security and Defence.

Kennyco@sen.parl.gc.ca

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CSL inaugurates Shalom Bloom Sculpture garden

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On hand for all of the events celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday were Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and the entire Côte St. Luc council, Mount Royal MP Anthony Housefather and D’Arcy McGee MNA David Birnbaum. The chairs of the Canada Day event were councillors Glenn Nashen and Ruth Kovac, and the MC for the events were CJAD personalities Dan Laxer and Laurie Betito.

The Shalom Bloom Sculpture Garden is in an area of the park with stunning, lifelike sculptures of various wildlife animals, including white-tailed deer, cougar, bighorned sheep and others. The sculptures were a donation by Bloom, who left his successful business in 1980 to devote himself full time to sculpting.

“This city is a wonderful place and the two mayors (Brownstein and his predecessor Housefather) really worked hard to bring this about,” Bloom said at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the garden. “This is Phase 1, and hopefully, eventually, we’ll have another phase with a lot more sculptures in this magnificent park.”

Marco Pendenza of Super Excavation did the stonework, and Ron Williams was the consulting landscape architect.

“I was involved with the overall concept and design,” Williams said. “The early ideas were a natural environment where the animals would feel at home. It turned out great, I’m really pleased.”

Snowdon Councillor Marvin Rotrand also praised Bloom during the unveiling ceremony.

Later on, Birnbaum showed the winning videos of his riding-wide student competition, Canada 150: Your Story, My Story; and Lt-Gen. (Ret’d) Roméo Dallaire was inducted onto Côte St. Luc’s Human Rights Walkway for his work in preventing mass atrocities in Rwanda, his advocacy against the use of child soldiers and his general work for human rights. Dallaire’s son Willem was on hand for the dedication.

While most activities took place on July 2 because of weather concerns, the traditional citizenship ceremony, took place July 1 at the city’s Aquatic and Community Centre, and was presided over by former Canadian citizenship judge Barbara Seal. She, Brownstein, Housefather and Birnbaum welcomed the 39 new citizens from 18 countries. A “welcome home to Canada” video from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was also played.

The July 2 event also included entertainment by indigenous performers and the retro band Replay, who alternated between Beatles and ‘60s hits sets. Brownstein himself sang John Lennon’s Imagine, which he linked to Côte St. Luc’s own advocacy for tolerance and respect.

The evening ended with a fireworks and laser show display, with musical accompaniment.

CSL Golden Shuttle to Walmart Lasalle?

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Côte Saint-Luc seniors want STM shuttle service extended

Group says adding 5 minutes to current route would make a big difference

CBC News Posted: Jul 12, 2017 

A group of seniors in Côte Saint-Luc are asking the STM to extend a shuttle bus service that runs to Angrignon mall.

A group of seniors in Côte Saint-Luc are asking the STM to extend a

shuttle bus service that runs to Angrignon mall. (Simon Nakonechny/CBC)

A group of seniors from Côte Saint-Luc say they rely on the STM shuttle bus service that goes to Carrefour Angrignon shopping centre, but right now, it doesn’t go far enough.

The current route drops passengers off in the mall parking lot, making it more difficult to access nearby big box stores on the other side of a busy intersection on foot.

“To cross the Angrignon Boulevard, you take your life into your hands,” said Maureen Deery, a resident of St. Patrick Square, an apartment community for those 55 and up on Côte St-Luc Road.

As it stands, the shuttle’s last stop is at the mall. The group wants the STM to add a stop in front of the Walmart across the street. From there, they would have easier access to other big box stores.

The proposed stop would be about a kilometre away, which doesn’t seem far, but it’s a long way to walk for those who aren’t as spry as they used to be.

Shuttle provides ‘vital access’

The bus line is one of the STM’s last remaining “Navette Or” services designated specifically for seniors. It only runs three times a week and many passengers use it to get all their shopping done in one trip.

“The shuttle is a vital access,” Deery told CBC Montreal’s Daybreak.

csl seniors

The group of women live in the same apartment building and

use the shuttle service frequently. (Simon Nakonechny/CBC)

Another St. Patrick Square resident, Jackie MacDonnell, says crossing the six-lane intersection, especially when loaded up with heavy shopping bags, can be a struggle.

“It’s hard to get to Walmart because it’s quite a long walk, we have to cross busy streets and all that,” she told CBC.

Some of the users have been pushing for the change since 2015, and even submitted a petition.

The STM declined to give an interview on the topic but did issue a statement saying that there’s a moratorium on changing seniors’ shuttle bus routes and that no changes were being considered for the 262.

‘Huge gain for the seniors’

Côte Saint-Luc city councillor Dida Berku told CBC that she plans to put pressure on the STM to reconsider.

The proposed change would mean “a minor modification for a huge gain for the seniors,” she said.

csl shuttle

Some of the 262 bus users peruse the schedule.

They have been asking for the new stop for two years, with no success. (CBC)

 

Berku said the extra five minutes could be easily accommodated by cutting another, rarely used stop on the 262 line.

“It wouldn’t take much to simply modify the route,” she said. “This is why this shuttle was created.”

With files from Simon Nakonechny, CBC’s Daybreak

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The City of Cote Saint-Luc strongly supports this request. Indeed, we have been in contact with the Montreal Transit Corporation / STM over the last few years to expand the Golden Shuttle service from CSL to reach more shopping centres as well as the hospital district. So far, they have not acceded to our requests.

Montreal police launch pedestrian awareness campaign

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Montreal police have launched an awareness campaign after two fatal collisions involving pedestrians in the city’s west end in the last two years.

The aim is to alert the public about the dangers of crossing street intersection without being careful.

Dubbed Operation Intersection Safety, the campaign targets both pedestrians and motorists alike, and runs until July 14 in Côte Saint-Luc, Hampstead and Montreal West.

According to Montreal Police Commander Jean O’Malley, of stations 9 and 12, the aim is to reach as many people as possible.

“We have police officers stationed at various intersections, mostly at rush hour or at lunchtime, when we can reach most of the people,” he said.

“It is mostly elderly people in the area and they are grateful that we are giving them this information.”

In fact, O’Malley explained that the pedestrians who died in the last two accidents were seniors – the last one, just a few months ago.

However, the problem of high collision rates at intersections aren’t just limited to that part of the city.

Police note that “[o]n the island of Montreal, 77 per cent of personal injury collisions occurred within five meters of an intersection or directly at the intersection,” and perhaps the biggest cause, O’Malley explained, were distractions.

Additionally, many people don’t know when it’s permissible to cross at a traffic light.

O’Malley explained that “a lot of pedestrians think that just because there’s a green light that it’s OK to cross.”

Yet, crossing when the red hand is flashing is an infraction and pedestrians can be ticketed for doing it.

This is the first time that  police are conducting this pedestrian safety campaign and, according to O’Malley, “all we want to do is to keep people safe.”

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