CSL candidates go at it on Global

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Côte St. Luc mayoral candidates Mitchell Brownstein and Robert Libman debated the issues last Thursday on Global TV’s Focus Montreal, hosted by Jamie Orchard.

Libman praised Côte St. Luc as an “incredible municipality.

“But I don’t believe we’ve achieved our full potential, we can do a lot better with the right leadership,” he added.

 Brownstein said that since he became mayor a year and a half ago, “I negotiated a deal with the City of Montreal whereby Côte St. Luc will be paying $4.8 million less for essential [island-wide agglomeration] services, reduced our debt by $4 million and we’re running a surplus of $1.9 million in 2016. I settled collective agreements with our three unions.”

The debate dealt with the most prominent issue in Côte St. Luc for the past 50 years — the long-awaited Cavendish Blvd. link with St. Laurent. Libman said he ended the longstanding impasse prompted by former Mayor Bernard Lang’s opposition.

“In 2000, I developed a consensus that I proposed to the Quebec Transport Ministry and the municipalities in the surrounding area were in agreement with us,” he said. “The City of Montreal created a project bureau with a $5 million budget at the time, public studies and environmental tests were prepared and ready to go for the extension to be completed in 2010, and 15 years later, it’s still not there. We need someone with an urban planning and architectural background that I have to really push this file forward.”

Brownstein said the ceding of the Hippodrome land from Quebec to Montreal last June for a housing development has a condition that the Cavendish extension “must go forward.

“It didn’t happen by itself. As soon as I was elected, I made a commitment I would push Cavendish forward, and I met with Montreal executive committee chairman Pierre Desrochers. We had a meeting with our MNA David Birnbaum, four ministers came, and all the five mayors — everyone was committed to moving it forward. I met with CP and CN for the first time together in my office. The result was that Minister Carlos Leitao announced with Mayor Denis Coderre that there will be an extension…”

“That was the biggest non-announcement,” Libman began, before both spoke over each other.

“If Robert [was going to] to move it forward, he would have been able to do it when he was on the Montreal [megacity] executive committee, but now he can’t do it at all,” Brownstein countered.

‘That’s when we announced it,” Libman responded. “The file was going to go ahead, and 15 years later it’s still sitting on the backburner.”

Brownstein then said Libman is a lobbyist for the development company Olymbec, “and there is a reserve on a piece of land owned by Olymbec that is required for the Cavendish extension. He will have to recuse himself from the whole debate!”

“This is so typical of this whole campaign,” Libman said. “All of the allegations, ridiculous comments…”

Orchard asked if the Olymbec land is under reserve, and if it is required for the extension.

“A piece of land owned by Olymbec has been reserved by the City of Montreal, but it doesn’t affect what I do…” Libman said.

“Would you have to recuse yourself from that debate?” Orchard asked.

“To be perfectly transparent, just to avoid any perceived conflict, perhaps I would, but it’s not even necessary, I’ve spoken with ministry officials about that,” Libman said.

Last week, Libman told The Suburban that while he is registered as a lobbyist, “I have no choice —every architect and urban planner that meets with city officials has to do that.”

At another debate at the Or Hahayim Synagogue Brownstein raised the issue of remerger as a “possible” threat. “The threat is not imminent,” he said, “But there have been Mayors who have told me that they’ve heard discussions of the possibility. I wouldn’t want to say more because I don’t want it to happen. I heard it at the municipal level. Certain people at the municipal level would like that to happen.” Brownstein declined to reveal further details.

Libman said Brownstein’s contention is a “scare tactic. “I have tried over and over again to bring issues to the fore that affect Côte St. Luc residents going forward regarding taxation, urban planning challenges, infrastructure and roads, transparency and creative programs for our city and he hasn’t advanced a single idea,” the candidate said. “All he does is try to spin the 15-year-old demerger tale and shy away from the real issues.”

Watch the debate here.

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Cavendish underpass southbound re-opens September 15

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After more than two months of orange barrels blocking the construction zone at the Cavendish underpass a little relief is hours away as the city gets ready to reopen all lanes and the walkway in the southbound direction.

This is the first major renovation to the underpass structure since it was built over 50 years ago, when Cavendish was actually known as King George Boulevard. More than $2.7 million was spent in upgrading this critical infrastructure, much of it through provincial grants.

 

 

Work will continue on the northbound lanes and will completed soon. Thanks to the presence of a flagman the traffic flow has been improved in the construction zone with few delays reported. Safety has been increased as well.

Pedestrian safety was a major priority and I would like to thank our incredible volunteers from vCOP – Citizens on Patrol – for heeding my call to be present at Fleet and Cavendish during the morning rush hour and afternoons when school children are on their way home.

New walkway gets finishing touches for re-opening this week at the Cavendish underpass

Berku slams STM response to bus stop request

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Launch of the 262 Golden Shuttle in CSL, Oct. 2010. L-R: Charles Senekal, Manager, CSL Engineering, Beverly Akerman, Past President, CSL Senior Social Centre, Sidney Margles, President, CSL Senior Mens Club, Cllr. Michel Labreque, President, MTC/STM, Cllr. Dida Berku, Cllr. Allan Levine, Cllr. Glenn J. Nashen, Tanya Abramovitch, CSL City Manager

Côte St. Luc Councillor Dida Berku criticized the Montreal bus authority for declining to add an additional bus stop on the 262 Or (golden) shuttle, which travels from Côte St. Luc’s Mackle Road to Carrefour Angrignon in LaSalle.

Seniors generally use the shuttle.

Berku said residents of St. Patrick Square, in her district, started a petition to get an extra stop, near the Wal-Mart store in a power mall area across the street from Carrefour Angrignon. The shuttle also goes to Quartier Cavendish, the Côte St. Luc Shopping Centre and the commercial area of Montreal West.

“The residents sent the petition, Charles Senekal from our Engineering Department has been talking with the STM for a couple of years on this subject, simply to add the one bus stop,” Berku explained. “The bus driver understood this. It’s far for the residents to walk from Angrignon to Wal-Mart, and back.”

Golden Shuttle 262

 

The STM responded last month that the authority is reflecting on the issue, and cannot add the one stop at this point.

“They will advise us when they do further studies,” the councillor said. “I want to publicly denounce the STM for what I consider to be an extremely bureaucratic and very narrow approach to the problem, as we’re trying very hard to just provide good service to our seniors.

“Extending the 262 by one stop would not be such a great demand. We will continue to lobby the STM and do everything possible to get this extra stop.”

CP negative on CSL yards residential development

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Canadian Pacific responded negatively to a study released by students from McGill’s School of Urban Planning on the potential for a residential development in the Canadian Pacific railyards in Côte St. Luc, should CP ever vacate the land.

That land is where a Cavendish Blvd link would partially be located. The study was commissioned by the Coalition for the Relocation of St. Luc Rail Yards, among whose members is Côte St. Luc mayoral candidate Robert Libman. The feasibility report was presented to Côte St. Luc council, who forwarded it to CP.

During the August council meeting, Mayor Mitchell Brownstein made public a letter to him by Tony Marquis, CP’s senior vice-president, Operations East Region.

Marquis wrote that the St. Luc Yard in Côte St. Luc is a “critical component” of its rail network.

“The McGill student report… is not a feasibility study on a proposed relocation of CP’s St. Luc Yard, but rather a study of a possible alternative urban plan for the land presently occupied by the yard,” Marquis wrote. “The study offers no serious analysis of the numerous and complex factors associated with railway operations, rail capacity needs present and future, or the strategic location of the St. Luc Yard for CP as well as the larger national network.”

Marquis wrote that right now, there is no “business rationale to support CP relocating this yard to another site.”

Brownstein commented that he has a positive relationship with CP, and Marquis in particular and that the CP official himself had brought up the possibility of the yards moving to Les Cedres, west of Montreal.

“It’s not easy to do, but if we work and put our minds together and work in a collaborative fashion, it could perhaps one day be achieved,” the mayor said.

“Honey does more than vinegar, so the relationship I’ve built with CP allows us to work closely and find solutions,” the mayor added.

Libman told The Suburban he has a copy of the letter from Marquis.

“When I was mayor, I worked very closely with CP on reducing some of the irritants emanating from the rail yards,” the candidate said. “But in 2017, from an urban planning point of view, from an economic point of view, it is completely illogical that these yards, located at the geographic epicentre of the island of Montreal, occupying over 22 million square feet of extremely valuable land, should remain where they are, stifling the potential of the city. Occupying one-third of Côte St. Luc territory, it also impacts our residents as far as noise and access is concerned, and poses a potential security risk.”

Brownstein replied that the CP letter speaks for itself and that Marquis reiterated his points at a meeting the two had Aug. 13.

“He reiterated that the only stakeholder that would help move this matter forward would be a serious developer with the financial capacity to deal with such a large project,” the mayor told The Suburban. “The letter is very clear as to the relocation feasibility studies that would then be required.”

Potential new location found for CSL synagogue

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A potential new location has been found for the Fondation Sepharade Kollel Avrechim synagogue in Côte St. Luc, on the site of the city’s public works yard on Mackle Road, Mayor Mitchell Brownstein announced.

“There’s a very large parking lot, and it’s the area closest to the dog run in that parking lot,” Brownstein told The Suburban. “The parking lot has about 80 to 100 spots, and it’s at the far end.”

The mayor said the city and the synagogue are now in the preliminary stage of looking at the alternative locale.

“I met with Rabbi Yehouda Benoliol and his group, and we gave them the size and configuration, and Urban Planning has given them the configuration documents in terms of what they can work with, and now they have to present a proposal to the Planning Advisory Committee.”

During the July 4 council meeting, several residents asked about the synagogue, in light of a recent register which 23 residents signed, calling for a referendum on a rezoning for the original location elsewhere on Mackle Road.

Seventeen signatures were needed to prompt a referendum. But as the result would be clear — enough to reject the original location — and a referendum would be costly, no vote will be held.

As a result, Côte St. Luc council withdrew the original rezoning bylaw at last week’s meeting, with seven councillors approving and Councillor Dida Berku abstaining because she is a lawyer in a case, unrelated to the zoning, involving Rabbi Yehouda Benoliol.

At a previous meeting, Brownstein said the community would work together to find a new location for the synagogue.

No referendum for new synagogue

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At its July 4 public meeting Cote Saint-Luc City Council voted to withdraw a bylaw dealing with a proposed rezoning of residential property for a new synagogue. Council has ended the process that would have lead to a potentially divisive referendum. Instead, the city and the congregation leadership have been in discussions on a more desirable piece of land on Mackle Road.

“I am very proud of our community in rallying together to respectfully discuss, in a positive manner, and to find solutions in seeking a new home for the Kollel,” said Mayor Mitchell Brownstein. “We will work together to make this a reality as quickly as possible within the provincial legal process.”

District 6 Councillor Glenn J. Nashen said. “The city will do its utmost to help its residents and support its institutions,” in support of choosing to work toward a new location for the Kollel.

A register for a rezoning bylaw to enable the new synagogue to be created on Mackle Road by the Fondation Sepharade Kollel Avrechim was held on Thursday, June 15 at City Hall. 24 people signed the register. Only 17 were required to sign in order to call for a referendum.

The register was called for, under provincial law governing rezoning, after 33 out of 56 eligible residents signed a petition to demand the register last May.

“As the Councillor for the area (District 6) I believe it is important to keep our residents united and supportive of one another. I am confident that we are looking at a better solution to meet everyone’s needs,” Nashen added.

Mayor Brownstein, Councillor Nashen and city staff have met with the rabbi, Kollel leadership and with concerned residents after the register closed and assured everyone that we shall work together as a community to find the congregation a more suitable place for them in our City.

Mayor Brownstein said we are, “Moving quickly to find solutions and all parties are pleased with our proactive approach. We are a beautiful, proud community that shall always find solutions to accommodate each other through consensus building.”

New bike path and EV charging station coming to City Hall parking lot

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The reconstruction of the of the Cote Saint-Luc City Hall parking lot will soon be underway with a new layout to improve vehicular access and visibility while improving pedestrian safety.

The project includes the reconstruction of the sidewalks, the curbs, the asphalt roadway and parking area, as well as the replacement of the lighting and security cameras.

The main improvements include:

– A new drop-off area at the main rear entrance,
– An elevated section of the roadway and pedestrian crosswalks at the intersection of the
main roadway from Cavendish and the delivery ramp for City Hall,
– A new sidewalk on the south side of City Hall, from Cavendish to the main rear entrance,
– A new central sidewalk median for pedestrians in the main section of the parking lot,
– A new bike path from Cavendish to Sir Walter Scott,
– A double charging station for electric vehicles,
– The addition of approximately 23 parking spaces, (143 spaces compared to the current 120 spaces),
– Replacement of the street lighting and cameras for improved safety.

The work is scheduled to start in July and be completed by mid-October 2017.

Public tenders were opened by the Purchasing Department on June 7, 2017. Six tenders were received ranging in price from $1,941,716.78 to $2,322,010.66 all taxes included. The lowest tender was received from Groupe TNT Inc. is conforming to the tender documents for a total of $1,941,716.78 taxes included.

A previous purchase order was issued for electric vehicle charging stations at the Aquatic and Community Centre and at City Hall. The City Hall EV double charging station will be installed during the reconstruction.

 

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