CSL State of Emergency aims to limit spread of virus

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Cote Saint-Luc Mayor Mitchell Brownstein has been extremely active in putting into action decisive measures to mitigate risks associated with the coronavirus pandemic. CSL has been an early actor to declare a State of Emergency and in shutting down municipal services and facilities. The mayor has been communicating on an urgent basis with residents through its mass calling system.

Leading a city is difficult enough during normal times. During a crisis this is especially true. I was deeply involved in every CSL disaster for the last 40 years and playing a leadership role as City Councillor for Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. Ice Storm, power failures, home fires, apartment evacuation and underpass floods. CSL has been a leader in emergency measures for decades and is known across the region for its outstanding emergency services and readiness plans.

Currently, I am neck deep (and at times over my head) heading up communication efforts for the West-Central Montreal health authority, which includes the Jewish General Hospital as well as CSL’s Mount Sinai Hospital Centre, Maimonides and CLSC Rene Cassin. My team has been in crisis response mode for almost two weeks. More on that in another post.

Our all-volunteer EMS is unique throughout Quebec offering a 24/7 rapid response to medical emergencies. These life-saving volunteers are deserving of praise on ordinary days. What they are facing now, in keeping us safe, is nothing short of heroic.

Our volunteer Citizens on Patrol provides an extra layer of protection across the community. These 90 volunteers give us a sense of comfort and peace of mind as they circulate up and down every street in our city, watching over us and our property and acting as an early warning system to police, fire, ambulance, Hydro Quebec, public works and more.

Out of abundant concern for its older volunteers, many of whom are over 70 years old, the city has decided to halt this service for an indefinite period. This policy is unfortunate as there are still plenty of younger volunteers ready to do what is necessary and others in the community prepared to offer their time and to be trained to help their community in patrolling with vCOP. Our residents need to see these brightly identified patrollers, especially during times of crisis.

Fortunately, Public Security continues its patrols with professional agents around the clock.

The ill-advised and poorly communicated merger of police stations should be shelved for this year. Our populations and its leaders are poised in another direction and this is not the time for structural reorganization.

Emergency communications is a vital lifeline to our residents. CSL has a superb outbound calling platform that it has begun using during this crisis. The latest call from Mayor Brownstein succinctly and accurately describes the severity of the situation ordering snowbirds to stay home for 14 days and religious communities not to congregate at this time.

Cote Saint-Luc Mayor Mitchell Brownstein warns seniors to “stay at home” on CBC National News

As well, the mayor’s continuous presence in local and national media and the city’s declaration of a State of Emergency (by video hook up of City Council) has helped to focus attention on crucial preparation procedures such as self-isolation and shuttering religious and retail facilities.

Beth Chabad Cote Saint-Luc shuttered, along with all religious other institutions

It will be vital to the overall health of each and everyone of us, those around us and all across the country to heed the warnings and to prepare. It’s not too late.

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

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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)

CSL to be ‘at table’ for Montreal-CP Cavendish link talks

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Côte St. Luc council passed a resolution at last week’s public meeting ensuring it will have a “seat at the table” in current talks between the City of Montreal and Canadian Pacific regarding the long-awaited Cavendish link between CSL and St. Laurent.

Councillor Dida Berku, who read the resolution, explained that Montreal has been negotiating with CP as to how the planned link will be “routed through the yards,” such as through an underpass, overpass, trench or tunnel.

“These discussions are ongoing, and we have been apprised of many of them, but we wanted to be part of the non-disclosure agreements, that we would be part of the negotiations,” she added. “This resolution allows us to be part of that.”

Mayor Mitchell Brownstein said CSL has a very good relationship with CP Rail, which whom he has spoken about the link on many occasions, and with Montreal.

“CP Rail was more than happy to have the City of Côte St. Luc participate in the discussions and negotiations of the exact configuration, and the manner in which our traffic and other types of traffic, like public transit, would be using the Cavendish extension,” he explained. “This file has been going on for a very long time, but it is good to be sitting at the table with all the players, making what appears to be the final decisions with respect to how the road will be built.”

The Mayor emphasized that this new development “doesn’t mean [the link is] being built any time soon — I don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up —but at least we’re at the table and moving forward on the file and being informed of what is going on.”

Asked about the reference in the resolution to a non-disclosure agreement, Brownstein told The Suburban it refers to allowing CSL to be at the table for the discussions “without making them public until we all come to an agreement as to the final configuration.

“There are also issues of public transit, will there be a rapid train, a bicycle path, one lane or two lanes for cars? All of these issues have to be agreed upon with respect to CP and Montreal in order to build the road.”

The Suburban pointed out that it appears the discussions of an overpass, underpass or any other type of passage in the yards, has been going on for years.

“There’s also the purchase price — the two things that are not that easy to finalize are the price [of the part of the land Montreal will buy from CP for the passage of the link] and what type of road will go above or below the tracks. They’re really getting close, but they’re not seeing eye-to-eye on the final details,” the Mayor said.

“Now that I’m at the table with them, hopefully, it will be my job to mediate this and finalize the deal. I’ll do my best.”

Berku pointed out that the Cavendish link project also has to go to the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE).

“It will be sent there by the City of Montreal sometime in 2020.”

Brownstein said the project is moving forward.

“I just don’t like people to think it’s going to happen ‘tomorrow’ — it takes a long time, people are frustrated, but it is happening now more than ever because they need it more than we need it. [The planned Royalmount Mall] needs it, the Hippodrome project needs it, the Midtown project, Décarie Square. Everyone wants some other way to travel, which has to include not only cars — public transit, bicycles, pedestrian pathways, and cars.” joel@thesuburban.com

joel@thesuburban.com

Urging the government to put seatbelts on school buses

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You may know that I have joined with Gary Lillico and his advocacy group Seatbelt’s for Canadian School Buses Now to urge Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau to require seatbelts on all school buses. Thousands have signed a petition in support. Read details on this campaign and watch an incredible CBC report for background information.

Tonight, Mount Royal Member of Parliament, Anthony Housefather, rose in the House of Commons to ask about this important issue. Thank you Anthony for pressing forward. We hope to see solid action by the Minister early in the new year to increase safety for school children from coast to coast.

I’ll continue to call upon Minister Garneau to move the necessary regulations or legislation. I have already spoken with him on three occasions on this topic over the last 12 months and I believe that he is interested in making good on this important subject that falls within his ministerial mandate.

Meadowbrook developer loses appeal of lawsuit against Montreal | Montreal Gazette

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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?

School bus safety advocates sounding the alarm

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Advocacy across Canada calling for mandatory seat belts in school buses is picking up steam with support from some members of Parliament and the launching of a new petition to the House of Commons.

I wrote about this issue in this blog last December following a CBC Fifth Estate report exposing the serious risks to children because of the lax rules across the country.

A new petition, sponsored by Rachel Harder, MP of Lethbridge, Alberta, calls upon the Minister of Transport to make it mandatory by law to have 3-point lap and shoulder seatbelts installed in every Canadian school bus, and that it be legally required to wear these seatbelts while riding on a school bus of any size. At time of this writing, 654 signatures have been gathered. The petition will close on June 8, 2019.

I strongly encourage you to sign the signature and show your support. Discuss this important issue with other school parents, friends and neighbours. If you have any doubts watch the CBC report.

And hats off to Gary Lillico who started a petition several months ago on change.org that is nearly at 100,000 signatures. You can still add your name to this growing list.


The picture above cost a child’s life because Canadian school buses have no seatbelts.

“Thousands of Canadian children are being injured and in some cases killed because school buses aren’t equipped with seatbelts. If they were, these tragedies could be prevented,: Lillico said.

“I started this petition because I’m a school bus driver and I’m the only one to buckle up. Does that make sense? It’s a dollars over safety issue!”

A previously unreleased 2010 Transport Canada test crash study revealed that school buses failed safety tests and failed to prevent serious injuries in the event of side-impact or rollover crashes. The tests were done on the heals of an Alberta teenager who was killed after being ejected out of the bus and dying on impact with the ground. The results of the test and study were not released until CBC’s investigative report show The Fifth Estate made them public in October 2018, Lillico said. “The report concluded that more needs to be done to “reduce or eliminate the serious injuries” and Transport Canada’s chief of crashworthiness research said seatbelts are “a good first step”towards improving school bus safety.

Lillico adds, nine states in the USA are required by law to have three-point seatbelts for all riders. Why can’t we do the same in Canada? Liability laws for school boards, schools and drivers in the USA have been implemented and are working nicely! Canada has already borrowed seatbelt rules and regulations for seatbelt installation on school buses from the USA. With these already in place we only need to legislate usage to law! This hasn’t been done as our government doesn’t want to spend the money. They say here’s how you must do it, if you want too, However offering no funds, help or legislation. 

“It’s time for Canada to realize that seatbelts save lives and protect our children,” Lillico said. “You can potentially save a child’s life by just signing this petition! Please SIGN and SHARE today.” 

I cannot think of a greater priority than safeguarding our children, especially as they make their way to and from school.

Please sign these petitions:

Update on Dec. 9, 2019

CSL developing plan to ensure CO detectors in every local home | thesuburban.com

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Côte St. Luc’s staff directors will be presenting a plan to the city council “to ensure that every home in [the city] has carbon monoxide detectors,” Mayor Mitchell Brownstein told The Suburban.

We asked for Brownstein’s reaction to the deaths last Wednesday of a couple identified in the media as Roger and Simone Banon of Cavendish Blvd. According to media reports and interviews, it appears the couple, 88 and 84 years old respectively, forgot to shut off their car motor and it is suspected they died of carbon monoxide poisoning. We have heard that the couple’s bedroom was directly above the garage of their home.

“This is a terrible tragedy and the city shall be proactive to ensure something like this does not happen again,” the Mayor added.

No criminality is suspected in this tragedy.

Former CSL councillor Glenn Nashen, who used to have the public safety portfolio on council, wrote on his blog page that there should be a law requiring CO detectors in every local home, “regardless of the year it was built.

“These devices are cheap and readily available at hardware stores and pharmacies, easy to install— many simply plug in — and alert you once the device has expired in 7-10 years,” Nashen wrote. “They also save lives.”

The CSL website fire safety page strongly recommends CO detectors.

“Ideally, you should install one on the same level as the bedrooms, on the ceiling of the common corridor serving those bedrooms,” the page says. “An additional unit is strongly recommended in the area where the potential source of carbon monoxide is situated —furnace room or family room fireplace.”

The Quebec Coroner’s Office told us the investigation is still underway into last week’s tragedy, and that we will be advised when their report is ready.

Source: CSL developing plan to ensure CO detectors in every local home | City News | thesuburban.com

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