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

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

What I won at the Maccabiah

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The Times of Israel
JULY 23, 2017

Walking into Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem as part of the Maccabiah Games opening ceremony is very special for any athlete. Following your national flag, hearing the roar of the crowd, feeling the excitement of your fellow athletes who are sharing the moment with you, all combine to create a sense of exhilaration. Having experienced this before, in 2017 this feeling was not new to me. What was new, was that when I walked into the stadium this time, our Prime Minister’s video was playing on the big screen in the stadium and when he saluted the Canadian team, he mentioned me by name and wished me luck as his friend and colleague. As the stadium announcer said as we walked by, “that’s some pressure on Anthony with the Prime Minister singling him out.” As far as anyone seemed to know, I was the first Member of Parliament to seriously compete at the Maccabiah Games and I knew that not only were my friends and family and teammates paying attention to how I performed, but so were many others.

While the pressure was on, my enhanced visibility also gave me an incredible opportunity. Maccabiah always allows you to make many friends and have incredible conversations with people from around the world who are competing. But this time, lots more people approached me. Ordinary Israelis who saw me on the street in Tel Aviv, expatriate Canadians living in Israel, athletes and their families from many countries who wanted to better understand Canadian politics and policies. Many of their questions involved Canada’s position with respect to Israel.

I was pleased to let them know that I am one of a record 7 Jewish Liberal Members of the Canadian Parliament. All of us were elected for the first time in October 2015, when our leader Justin Trudeau became Prime Minister.

Prior to 2015 many Israelis had become aware that Canada under our former Prime Minister Stephen Harper had become perhaps Israel’s closest international ally. While I had a number of disagreements with our former Prime Minister on domestic policy, I strongly favoured his support for the Jewish state. So did many other Liberals. And as we had promised in the 2015 election campaign, we have shown uncompromising support for the State of Israel since our election.

Our government has maintained Canada’s votes at the United Nations. We join Israel, the United States, Micronesia and the Marshall Islands as the only countries to consistently oppose the unfair and systematic anti-Israel resolutions brought before the General Assembly each year. We have led the opposition to the unilateral recognition of a Palestinian State at international forums. We have adopted a Parliamentary resolution condemning the BDS movement and those groups in Canada supporting BDS. We have worked to enhance the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement. Prime Minister Trudeau has visited Auschwitz and I was privileged to be part of the audience at the Montreal island’s largest synagogue last Yom Kippur as he spoke to over 2000 people about that experience and his visit to Israel for Shimon Peres’s funeral, on Kol Nidre night. In Canada, like the United States, support for Israel has become a bipartisan consensus supported by both Liberals and Conservatives. I strongly believe Israel should not be an election issue in our country. Jewish Canadians should be able to vote on other issues, with the firm knowledge that whichever of our country’s major parties wins the election, Canada will be firmly in Israel’s corner. Having had the privilege of meeting a number of members of Israel’s foreign service during this trip and others, I know that the Israeli Government is very pleased with its relationship with Canada. I will work hard, as will many of my colleagues, to continue to enhance this vital link.

When talking to fellow athletes and family members from other countries, I know their experience is very different. Whether it comes to security for the local Jewish community or the relationship between their nations and Israel, they have a very different life experience from me and my country’s Jewish community. I look forward to working as part of the World Jewish Congress’s International Conference of Jewish Parliamentarians to help Jewish communities in other countries advance these causes. Relationships I developed at these Games will be very helpful in this regard.

(Courtesy Anthony Housefather)

(Courtesy Anthony Housefather)

In the end, these Games were very successful. I trained really hard and I won five medals in swimming. Going home with these medals gave me a great sense of accomplishment and national pride. But the relationships I made during these Games were equally, if not more important. I know many of them will last a lifetime.

Anthony Housefather is a Canadian Member of Parliament, representing the Mount Royal riding on the island of Montreal. He is also Chairman of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights

Elimination of Mont-Royal perversely penalizes natural communities

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By: Anthony Housefather, M.P. for Mount-Royal

Published in The Suburban, Mar 22, 2017
I want to express my gratitude to the Cote Des Neiges/NDG Borough Council, the Cote Saint-Luc City Council, The Town of Mount Royal town council and the Hampstead town council for their leadership on this important issue opposing the proposed electoral map changes. I join with them and our MNAs Pierre Arcand and David Birnbaum on a matter that negatively impacts the population I represent at the federal level as well as other minority communities in Quebec.

The Director General of Elections has produced a map that unfairly penalizes everyone living on the island of Montreal by eliminating a riding on the island while preserving rural ridings with much smaller populations. This means that a vote on the island is worth less than a vote in other parts of the province. The situation is exacerbated by the choice of ridings they are eliminating. The decision to eliminate the provincial riding of Mont-Royal effectively makes the most diverse riding in the province disappear. Its merger with Outremont creates a riding of almost 57,000 voters, approximately twice the population of the smallest rural riding. More importantly it disproportionately and negatively impacts English speaking cultural communities including but not limited to the Filipino and Bangladeshi communities who wielded important influence in Mont-Royal and now are split between D’Arcy McGee and the newly created Mont-Royal/Outremont riding. Perversely the size of the territory added to D’Arcy McGee now also makes that riding one of the most heavily populated ridings in the province and negatively impacts the Jewish community and the entire English speaking community whose voices are diluted by the added territory. This is not even to address the unfair split of the Hassidic community between the new Mont-Royal-Outremont and Mercier ridings and the unfair split of the Greek community in Laval.
Why natural communities, especially minority language and cultural communities were so disregarded in the new map proposed by the Quebec Director General of Elections is puzzling and somewhat shocking and I want to join my voice to those of my own constituents and others who are denouncing this in the strongest terms. As there appears to be no means other than a court challenge to undo the perverse and negative effects of the electoral map I want to congratulate Beryl Wajsman the editor of the Suburban newspaper who has been raising funds for such a challenge. I pledge to make a personal financial contribution to any such challenge and ask those who can afford to do so to join me in doing so. Our voices are not lost if we join together to fight.

Anthony Housefather,MP

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Thank you to our ever-present Member of Parliament for taking a strong position and effectively communicating (as he always does) right across the region.

Municipal leaders band together to fight Quebec Electoral Representation Commission’s senseless decision

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Municipal leaders band together to fight Quebec Electoral Representation Commission’s senseless decision

By Councillor Mike Cohen | 23 Mar 2017

As a city councillor in Côte Saint-Luc, I always appreciate opportunities to work together with other elected officials in neighbouring municipalities. Such was the case on March 21 when the borough of Côte des Neiges-NDG spearheaded an energizing public meeting at their Community Centre to protest the senseless decision arrived by the Quebec Electoral Representation Commission. This unelected body, which answers to absolutely nobody, inexplicably reversed its February 7, 2017 second report on the electoral map that proposed to maintain the Mont Royal, Outremont and D’Arcy McGee ridings without any change. When the next provincial election takes place in October 2018, Mont Royal and Outremont will be merged and D’Arcy McGee unnecessarily larger in size.

ElectoralQuebec

Dida Berku and Ruth Kovac join other political leaders at the event.

Snowdon Councillor Marvin Rotrand and Suburban Newspaper editor Beryl Wajsman led the charge, first with a press conference and then with this impressive public meeting. Rotrand was joined at the head table by Borough Mayor Russell Copeman, Hampstead Mayor William Steinberg, TMR Councillor Erin Kennedy (representing Mayor Philippe Roy), CSL Councillor Ruth Kovac (representing Mayor Mitchell Brownstein) and Outremont Councillor Mindy Pollak (representing Mayor Marie Cinq Mars) English Montreal School Board Chairman Angela Mancini spoke, with Vice Chair Sylvia Lo Bianco, Commissioner Julien Feldman and Parent Commissioner Joanne Charron in attendance. Allan J. Levine, Dida Berku and I were the other CSL councillors on hand. I saw several of my constituents.

If the Electoral Map had been adopted by Members of the National Assembly, I am certain that the passion and clear facts set out at this meeting would have resulted in an about face. Regrettably, there is nothing elected officials seem to be able to do. In fact, Mont Royal and Outremont are represented by cabinet ministers Pierre Arcand and Helene David. One of them will have to find a new place to run or retire.
I spoke to lawyer Peter Villani after the meeting and we both agreed that the Electoral Representation Commission still has an opportunity to correct this terrible wrong, admit it made a mistake and allow the status quo to prevail.

CrowdCDN

It was standing room only at the event.

The room was packed, something which elated fireball Rotrand. “The large attendance we witnessed speaks to the public interest in opposing the loss of representation that our communities will suffer if the map decreed by the Electoral Representation Commission stands,” he said. “The meeting essentially came together in a very short time so I believe the turnout reflects a broad consensus in our part of the island.”
Now unless the Commission shows some class, this decision will have to be fought in court and initiated by citizens. Ideally, an injunction can be sought. Wajsman has taken the lead by collecting funds for an eventual contestation and former NDG-Lachine Liberal Member of Parliament Marlene Jennings stepped forward to set up a blue ribbon panel. Jennings was chosen by the Quebec English School Boards Association to do the same when the provincial government tried to push through Bill 86 – aimed at abolishing elected school commissioners. The government backed off and they did so because they answer to the public; the Electoral Representation Commission simply marches to the beat of its own drum.

Each of the boroughs and municipal councils in the area has or will soon adopt a motion in opposition to the electoral map. All feel that the Commission’s map will mean a serious loss of representation for their citizens, lacks respect for natural communities and does not provide the effective representation that the electoral law indicates must be the basis of any final decision.
The mayors have shared a legal decision written last September by Jean-François Gaudreault-DesBiens, Dean of the University of Montreal Law School, which indicated that the Commission’s proposal of 2015 to merge Mont Royal and Outremont and change D’Arcy McGee was highly questionable. As the Commission’s final decision has reverted to the 2015 plan, the mayors feel the Commission’s proposal will not stand up to a legal challenge.
“We are strongly concerned about the diminished political weight of the island of Montreal,” said Copeman, a former Liberal MNA for NDG. “Our political weight has been reduced in every riding redistribution since 1992 which merged Westmount and Saint-Louis. We have lost four ridings over the decades.
“The merger of Mont-Royal and Outremont creates a very large riding which is expected to see robust demographic growth over the next five years which we anticipate will take it over the legal maximum number of voters allowed by the electoral law.”
The Commission proposes to maintain 125 electoral ridings in the National Assembly with the average number of voters being 48,952 per riding. The electoral law allows ridings to be as much as 25 percent more or less than the average, a maximum of 61,190 or a minimum of 36,714 voters. This legal disparity of up to 24,476 voters or up to a 69 percent legal difference of voters per riding gives some voters in Quebec far more power than others.
While the mayors believe such a disparity in number of voters per riding should only be allowed in the rarest cases, there are many examples in the map of small ridings in the 37,000 to 40,000 range while many others approach the upper limits. Ridings like Duplessis, Dubuc, Rousseau, Megantic and Nicolet-Betancour all have far fewer voters than Montreal ridings such as Nelligan, Saint Laurent, Robert Baldwin or the new D’Arcy McGee or merged Mont Royal – Outremont which have between 55,000 and 59,000 voters each.
“Worse of all is that the Commission proposes six ridings that are exceptions to the law beyond the Iles de la Madeleine, the only exception the law actually permits,” says Mayor Brownstein. “These ridings including Abitibi-Est, Abitibi Ouest, Bonaventure, Gaspe, René Levesque and Ungava have between 26.8 and 44 percent fewer voters than the electoral map average and are below the legal minimum of voters. How do we explain to voters that D’Arcy McGee will now have boundaries that will no longer resemble its historic territory and have 56,245 voters while Gaspe, a riding that will have fewer voters in 2018 than at the 2014 elections, will have a Member of the National Assembly with only 30,048 electors?”
The mayors note that the new map cuts the large Filipino community that had real clout in Mont Royal in half with a large part of the community residing west of Côte des Neiges Road shifted to D’Arcy McGee. The large Orthodox Jewish community in the former Outremont riding is also diluted with those living east of Hutchinson moved into Mercier.

Councillor Kovac presented a strong statement from Mayor Brownstein at the public meeting. Natural communities should be kept together in order to give minority groups a stronger voice,” she said. And yet helping natural communities is not what has happened in the commission’s report. We have the worst of both worlds – they are removing representation from the island of Montreal, making ridings bigger, and breaking apart natural communities. Maybe we don’t need the exact same strict equality rules as they have in the United States. But can we at least apply the same fairness as they have Macedonia, or Yemen, or Belarus?
“When you increase the size of a riding like D’Arcy McGee, you weaken the voice of its natural communities. Allophones, Anglophones, Italian, Filipino, Jewish communities and others will no longer have as strong representation as they did when the riding of D’Arcy McGee was of a reasonable size. Further Mount Royal brought one more vote to the National Assembly for these communities and other minority communities. As the largest city in Quebec continues to grow its voice should not be weakened. It’s up to Quebecers to raise our voices, open their wallets, and help challenge in court decisions that hurt our community. I sincerely hope the Commission reverses its decision without the need for a legal challenge.”

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I agree completely with my esteemed colleague and friend Cllr. Mike Cohen in this excellent resume of this past week’s meeting over local electoral reform. We must not remain silent in the face of this injustice to our linguistic and cultural communities. Thank you to our local elected officials for speaking up on our behalf, spearheaded by Cllr. Marvin Rotrand and supported by editor Beryl Wajsman.

CSL digs out from biggest snowfall in years

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In Côte Saint-Luc we are very proud about how we handled snow clearing

by: Cllr. Mike Cohen

Posted: 18 Mar 2017 02:59 PM PDT

As we continue to dig out from the biggest snow storm the Montreal area has seen in years, I would like to applaud the work done by the City of Côte Saint-Luc`s Public Works Department.

CityTVsnowmarch2017

I have received a great deal of kind comments from residents in regards to how well  we  handled the snow clearing.  In fact, most of the Montreal media praised the work we did on the main roads. Please understand that this is a very difficult task and I was among the motorists on the Thursday morning stuck trying to get past the underpass on Cavendish. It was unavoidable and inconvenient, but later in the day all cleared up

“It was an emotional day for many residents,”  Public Works Director Beatrice Newman reported to city council. “Please help us help your residents understand why things appear to be a certain way while in the background, the city is working fervently to provide safe passage-ways in the city.”

The light on Guelph Road broke Thursday morning and stayed green. This meant that Westminster stayed on a red light. Traffic began to build up, employees rushed to help traffic. Public Security  directed traffic and electricians worked on determining and fixing the light. “Things like this happens when there are drastic changes in weather,” Ms. Newman said.

Cavendish Boulevard was congested, southbound. Our snow removal operations provided clear roads for our residents, but unfortunately once they hit CSL Road and Cavendish, they were faced with congestion. NDG kept their side of Cavendish at one lane. Therefore, our three lanes had to squeeze into their one lane. “Et voilà, major traffic accumulation on Cavendish and  CSL,”  Ms. Newman explained.

Fleet was at one lane from our city right through Hampstead. The objective at first is to clear the road with one lane for access. Then approximately 24 hours later, the blowing began. “We cannot start our operations earlier in the morning or traffic issues would be inevitable,” said Ms. Newman. “Only one lane would still be available in this case. We must consider the safety concerns first. This was not a regular snow storm. This was a blizzard with white out conditions, dangerous road conditions and more. We must have patience. Close to 40 centimeters fell and the process to remove it all will not be quick, we must work efficientlyand safely.”

We had five  teams working all day Thursday, five sidewalk cleaners, five loader/blowers, five 10 wheelers, five walkers and two salt trucks remained to follow the contractors as they salted the roads once the contractor blew the snow. Once snow falls on the asphalt  we secure it with abrasives.

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Our snow dump after the storm.

 

Two teams worked at the municipal buildings and one  worked on our special calls such as  snow blown accidentally on personal walkways, emptying public garbage, etc. One  employee was stationed at the snow dump on Marc Chagall in District 2, which now looks like an Olympic ski hill.

The balance of the areas around Yavne, Merton and Maimonides schools were done on Friday.

We are working hard to do our best in operations and customer service.

“In Public Security, our agents have seen their call volume go up by a factor of 2.5,” explained Public Safety Director Jordy Reichson. “Our agents have responded with professionalism and tact despite trying circumstances, horrible road conditions and lots and lots of snow. They have always kept the safety of our residents at the forefront and I have been impressed by their ingenuity and dedication.

“Our Dispatch Centre has been flooded with calls and complaints about everything from traffic to snow removal to cars blocking driveways. Despite being screamed and sworn at, they have maintained their composure and professionalism.”

Mr. Reichson noted that while  we did not activate our emergency plan, we kept it close at hand. We ensured that our evacuation routes remained as accessible as possible and were prepared to activate elements of the plan as required. “Despite what some residents have posted online, our response has been as strong and efficient as it can be,” he said. “ This was not just another storm, but rather an opportunity for our employees to shine and from what I have seen, all have risen to the occasion.

Are you ready for clock confusion?

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I’ve said it many times before on this blog. Leave the clocks alone! We’re back on Daylight Savings Time where it should be. All the time.

Meanwhile, thanks to Joel Goldenberg who came across this Washington Examiner article published earlier this week that says what I’ve been saying for years: Don’t touch that clock. Actually, this piece argues from the perspective of staying on standard time, all the time. But what it really means, to me, is just pick one, only one, and leave it be.

Studies “have found that the time change interrupts sleep cycles, causing fatigue, lack of productivity and sadness,” the article added. Even worse, medical studies showed that daylight saving time also can lead to death. “Other studies show that the number of heart attacks spikes in the days following the March time change, and after the November time change, the frequency of heart attacks decreases,” the article reads.

So come on Canada. Let’s stay on DST.

Do you agree with me? Please share your comments here.

Search Daylight Savings Time to see my blog posts on this subject.

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Read more:

Washington Examiner: Daylight saving time may be killing you

Fifty-eight per cent of Quebecers take up to a week to adjust to Daylight Savings Time

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