Too much snow? Melt it away!

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With technology advancing faster than ever I’ve often wondered why snow clearing operations haven’t changed very much since I was a kid. I recall watching in utter amazement back in the ’60s as a parade of snowplows, dump trucks, sidewalk plows and snowblowers worked their way down Cork Avenue.  Sure they landed a man on the moon… Heck, I’m even named after the first man to orbit the moon! But this was happening right on my street. Snow clearing was really out of this world.

I never spent a moment thinking about the cost of acquisition and maintenance the rolling equipment, the manpower cost, the pollution spewing from the roaring engines or the danger to pedestrians as these trucks barreled down Guelph and Kildare headed to the snow dump. I didn’t know that there was more equipment to push the dumped snow up a mountain to await the great thaw. The noise caused by this whole procession didn’t bother me back then.

Fast forward a few decades and as a City Councillor I was responsible for millions of dollars in expenditures for everything I’ve described above. How much do we pay in our municipal tax bill just to cart away and pile up the snow? Millions upon millions. And now residents have pressured City Hall to hire even more equipment and labour to break down those mountains of dirty snow every spring to speed up the melting. An absolute waste of tax dollars, a danger to pedestrians, and environmental hypocrisy to those who proclaim to be a friend of the earth. There’s got to be a better way.

Click to enlarge

I discuss issues of technology with my friend Mitchell Herf and we thought a lot about it. What if we could melt the snow as soon as we pick it up and avoid the parade of additional expensive vehicles, reduce our manpower costs, eliminate the mountains of dumped snow and reduce the danger to pedestrians and the environment? Too good to be true? Actually, some towns are doing it already.

SRS-M150 snow melter by SRS Snow Removal Systems


It’s time for our progressive, innovative, smart city, Cote Saint-Luc, to test out one of these 21st Century solutions. Plow it, blow it, melt it and flush it down the sewers with just one truck and one operator. I know that Councillor Ruth Kovac wants to melt the snow on heated sidewalks so this should grab her attention and that Cllr. Dida Berku is all about environmental concerns and Cllr. Steven Erdelyi would like find ways to reduce expenses. Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and Public Works Director Bebe Newman are also reading this post and I hope they’ll all take up the challenge of researching new solutions for an age old problem and make our city safer, cleaner and cut down on costs.


The snow removal truck melts the snow and water is dumped into the sewers


Large snow melting dumpsters can be installed strategically during snow clearing

operations to cut down on unnecessary dump truck trips



A tough commute in Montreal may eventually be a thing of the past

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On a morning where my  12 minute commute took over an hour I’m inspired to share this lecture from the Consumer Electronics Show going on in Las Vegas about Smart Cities. It speaks to the democratization of transportation whereby all vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians are linked to one another.

Congestion can be mitigated by connectivity and data sharing. The whole system needs to be made more intelligent. Cities need to get connected to new technology and use data to manage traffic flow and to improve citizens’ quality of life, local business, the environment and even public safety.
In this conference, Ford Motor Company’s President and CEO Jim Hackett focuses on mobility solutions as the world progresses toward smarter cities. Ford’s vision is to become the world’s most trusted mobility company, designing smart vehicles for a smart world.
I hope our friends and neighbours from the Cote des Neiges – NDG Borough Hall also take note about smarter cities and avoid blocking Van Horne for snow clearing during rush hour, resulting today in gridlock across Snowdon West, Hampstead and Cote Saint-Luc.
Speaking of Hampstead, please clear BOTH lanes on Fleet. 1.5 lanes of snow clearing doesn’t really help the flow.
And kudos to the CSL Public Works Department under the leadership of Director Bebe Newman. Bebe’s crews practically catch the snow before it hits the ground. You’d never know that 36 centimetres fell in CSL driving down its main streets today.

City purchases two stream receptacles

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In an attempt to provide City residents with the opportunity to sort their waste on the streets, twostream waste receptacles have been purchased to replace some old, tired and one stream cans that are around the City.
“We are hoping to clean up the streets and direct the right waste into the right bins. We received many requests for street recycling bins, as our residents like to run/walk/bike and then get thirsty and have nowhere to throw their bottles,” said Public Works director Bebe Newman.

City Council authorized the purchase of 120 receptacles, partially paid out of a provincial grant, that were installed at almost all bus stops throughout the City and at several other locations on main streets, at certain parks and public spaces (bordering the street).

“We have had strong and positive reaction from the public,” said Newman.

Council approved  the purchase of an additional 50 receptacles for the City at a recent public council meeting.

CSL helping neighbours in need


CSL Public Works crews feed the wood chipper in NDG to help out in the major cleanup


In response to last week’s major storm that devastated parts of the Cote des Neiges –  NDG borough, toppling 100 year old trees and causing major havoc in several parks, Cote Saint-Luc Public Works Director Bebe Newman reached out to her colleagues in NDG and offered assistance to their Public Works department in the disaster clean up.
NDG was very grateful for the collaborative efforts and CSL sent its tree cutting crew earlier this week in the spirit of being a good neighbour.
A 2-man Arboriculture team was sent to NDG to work on the clean up of the damaged and fallen trees. Our team went out with a wood chipper and handled 25 areas of NDG between Cavendish and Sherbrooke in the western part of the borough.

The mess was all over NDG. CSL Public Works crews assisted at 25 such locations in a single day this week.

Thank you to CSL employees Robert Lacroix and Marc Piterelli who worked hard for our neighbours. They commented that they very were glad to help out.
In response, the NDG division chief of parks thanked our team for their collaboration and professionalism and said they would accept and welcome whatever help they could get.
Bravo to CSL Public Works and to Director Bebe Newman for this wonderful gesture of friendship and togetherness. It’s wonderful to reach out and help others in need.

New electric utility vehicle for Cote Saint-Luc

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Polaris electric vehicle makes demo debut at CSL Public Works in November 2016

Cote Saint-Luc will be obtaining a grounds and turf crossover electric vehicle to add to our growing electric fleet. This small pick up can enter park areas on the grass, over walkways and throughout the parks without causing damage. It provides easier maneuverability than a large pick-up when carrying products such as grass, earth, equipment through small areas. The parks team can travel throughout the parks quietly and efficiently.

The EV pick-up seats two and comes with a trailer attachment. It can be used during the four seasons. The life span for this vehicle is predicted to be at least 10 years.

Public Works Director Bebe Newman and her team are very keen in supporting EV acquisitions and in finding sustainable solutions throughout her operations.


7 mature maple trees planted along Kellert Ave

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Seven mature maple trees sprung up like magic along Kellert Ave in District 6 thanks to the creativity of Public Works Director Bebe Newman.

“We are in the midst of saving many mature trees from our City Hall parking lot renovations by transplanting these trees throughout the city,” said Newman. “We started on Kellert. Drive by to see the difference. You will be quite pleased.”

28 have already been transplanted throughout the City. “Our intention is to install a small plaque identifying these trees as those transplanted from our City Hall parking lot,” Newman said.
Transplanted trees are now in these locations:
  • 4 trees on Freud
  • 6 maples on Kellert
  • 3 pines on Kellert
  • 2 pines in Ruth Kovac Park – Shalom side
  • 5 maples on Cavendish – some replacing those that were felled in front of the townhouses, the residents were very pleased
In addition, we have also enlarged our tree canopy this week by planting 51 trees in front of residents’ homes.
Councillor Ruth Kovac said, “Thank you to Bebe and the entire horticulture team! You are making a difference. The new residents will be delighted to have these.”
Mayor Mitchell Brownstein was extra pleased that the doomed trees in the soon-to-be-renovated parking lot were saved and instantly changed the landscape on several CSL streets. “We can be proud that our staff go the extra mile in creating and beautifying our community that brings us so much joy and happiness,” Mayor Brownstein said.

Thank you to Director Newman and to her dynamic team of the tree-loving Public Works Department. You have gone above and beyond and our residents are grateful for your dynamism and creativity and for prioritizing the environment be it for tree planting, flowers, park maintenance, our urban forest or for beginning our electric fleet and public charging stations.

See the video of the planting here.

CSL crews clear snow almost as fast as it falls


Cote Saint-Luc's newest snow plow blazing a clear path on this sunny Wednesday afternoon

Cote Saint-Luc’s newest snow plow and sand trailer blazing a clear path on this sunny Wednesday afternoon


“After the freezing rain from last night we ended up with light rain, cloudy skies and warmer weather this morning,” said the woman behind Cote Saint-Luc’s major snow clearing operation. “The side streets are covered with a thick layer of accumulated snow and ice but graders were called in at 3am this morning to start breaking up and clearing the catch basins on all the arterial streets. As of early this morning, all main streets were beautifully scraped and cleaned for residents to travel safely to work and to school,” Bebe Newman said. “We appreciate the collaboration from our contractors who together with our night shift, worked very hard last night to produce crazy clean streets this morning.”
Bebe Newman, Cote Saint-Luc Public Works Director

Bebe Newman, Cote Saint-Luc Public Works Director

Bebe Newman is the director of CSL Public Works. She is a tireless leader. Creative to the core, she is always looking for ways to implement innovative, novel solutions to everyday problems. Customer service is in her veins. She knows what riles up residents as well as how to provide superior services to put a smile on the face of a frustrated winter motorist or slip-sliding pedestrian.
Public Works crews clear the catch basin of ice and snow so water can drain away

Public Works crews clear the catch basin of ice and snow so water can drain away

Newman routinely updates City Council and directors with the very latest forecasts. Her weather monitoring reports are precisely pinpointed for the CSL area.
“From around 6pm tonight until 6am tomorrow, we are looking at cloudy skies with a potential for lightening – crazy! Temperatures will range from -4 to about -14 tomorrow morning,”Newman advised city leaders this icy afternoon. “From 6am tomorrow until 6pm tomorrow night, it looks like more clouds and maybe more lightening – still crazy! Temperatures will range all day around the -14 mark. We’re looking at even colder temperatures after that, up to -20. I’m thinking about becoming a meteorologist!,” Newman added.
This grader scrapes away the ice the accumulated on the last 24 hours

This grader scrapes away the ice the accumulated on the last 24 hours

We’re lucky to have such a dedicated and passionate city director along with her loyal crews from Public Works and city contractors. They keep our streets and sidewalks, parking lots and pathways clear of snow and ice to the best of their abilities. And by all accounts, they do an excellent job.
Merci à tous nos équipages et entrepreneurs. En raison de votre travail acharné et de votre dévouement, notre ville est l’une des mieux entretenues dans le déneigement de toute la région.
The weather outside need not be frightful as CSL snow plows clear the road

The weather outside need not be frightful as CSL snow plows clear the road

What do you think about Cote Saint-Luc’s snow clearing operations? If you’re one of our very satisfied residents, please share your views and appreciation for our team.

CSL looks to next electric vehicles


Polaris electric vehicle makes demo debut at CSL Public Works in November 2016

Polaris electric vehicle makes demo debut at CSL Public Works in November 2016


“Designed to travel along narrow pathways and tread upon soft terrain like park areas, Public Works is trying out Polaris Gem electric vehicle for one week to see if it meets our needs,” said Public Works director Bebe Newman. “I requested that Polaris lend us the Gem with the trailer and they complied.”
“We built the box on the back of the pickup to increase the potential to carry more volume. Together with the trailer, we are confident that the horticulture team will be able to use the vehicle effectively throughout their tasks,” Newman said. This vehicle can also be given to our parks clean up crew.
This vehicle can be charged overnight (6 hours to charge from empty) on 110 volts, a standard electrical outlet and will travel 60 km on a full charge. With a maximum speed of 45 km/h it is perfectly suited for municipal use.
As the City Councillor promoting EVs in our municipal fleet I will look forward to moving this resolution in the next few months.
Meanwhile, we await installation of EV charging stations at Public Works and at the Aquatic and Community Centre in the near future. The ACC station will be connected to the Electric Circuit at a cost of $1 per hour.

vCOP begins its second decade of serving CSL


Last night Cote Saint-Luc’s volunteer Citizens on Patrol (vCOP) marked 10 years of service by handing out lapel pins to its long serving members. I am very proud of what we’ve built here in CSL – a large and strong corps of dedicated volunteers ready to serve our community at all hours of day or night. We are the only volunteer group of this sort in Quebec.
The men and women of Cote Saint-Luc volunteer Citizens on Patrol

The men and women of Cote Saint-Luc volunteer Citizens on Patrol

Back in 2005 I had the idea to import this concept from the Broward Sheriff’s Office as seen on my Florida vacation. I marched into the police office and spent an hour with the officer in charge of the volunteers and left with a few pounds of documents and loads of plans for CSL. Once we reconstituted CSL after the forced mergers, and with the elections behind me, I got busy building this service, in consultation with our Public Safety department and local police commander.
Ten years later and 82 volunteers strong we now enter our second decade.
At last night’s bi-monthly patrol meeting two patrollers were recognized for their outstanding service. Allan Greenberg was singled out as the Patroller of the Month for June and the miraculous Ron Yarin for July.
vCOP Ron Yarin receives the Patroller of the Month by Supervisor Mitchell Herf

vCOP Ron Yarin receives the Patroller of the Month by Supervisor Mitchell Herf


The guest speaker was Beatrice Newman, Director of Public Works. Affectionately known as Bebe, she described her love for the city and how the majority of her family of 30 Newmans still reside in CSL.
Bebe Newman
Bebe has been with the city administration for nine years, moving up from administrative services to manager of operations and customer service in PW, to assistant director and most recently director of PW. Having taken on responsibility to manage garbage collection, Bebe outsourced the service in 2015, saving over $1 Million for taxpayers. She has participated at conferences in Canada and the US and won international public works awards three years in a row.
PW receives over 1200 calls each month. “They’re all complaints,” Bebe commiserated. “It would be nice to receive a call saying, ‘Hey PW, you guys have done a great job.’ No matter how many calls come in, Bebe’s staff are  geared toward solving problems, big and small, for the residents of CSL.
Lots of discussion centred around the problem of the Emerald Ash Borer and the number of trees dying and requiring to be felled. “The city is now offering to allow residents to cut down a dead tree and to leave it on the front yard. The city will cut it up and transport it away,” she said. “A permit is required to cut down a tree, but there is no cost.” Bebe continued, “If your tree has no leaves, in the summer, it’s dead.” The city has a revegitation program and it is important to replace felled trees and to maintain the tree canopy.
Bebe explained that there is currently a problem with Sand Wasps in playgrounds. “They’re harmless and hover around the sand and feed off bugs. They won’t sting,” Bebe said, “but they’re frightening.” Signs have been posted in problematic parks to allay concerns of residents. “They’ll all be dead by end of August.”

Sand Wasps have taken over some play areas in CSL this summer


If you have overflowing recycling in your blue bin call PW before noon on Monday, Bebe told the crowd, and the recycling contractor will send a foreman to pick it up.

New rolling blue bins introduced this spring in CSL

“You can bring recyclables to the PW yard every weekday. We can recycle everything. Even styrofoam, computers, #6 plastics, anything,” Bebe explained. There are even battery disposal bins in City Hall, ACC and library.
“Public Works really appreciates the good work done by vCOP, ” Bebe concluded. “So much so that to mark your 10th anniversary we will plant a tree in your honour,” she announced to great applaud.
Cote Saint-Luc is lucky to have such a dedicated and affable director in Bebe Newman.
The Fall Recruitment Drive was announced. The vCOP Orientation Meeting takes place October 25 at 7pm in City Hall auditorium.
Morris Stelcner spoke about the vCOP Vacation Spot Check Program which has 13 trained members inspecting the properties of residents vacationing for 30 days or more. Information and application forms are available on
Thanks again to all of our tremendous volunteers and wishing them all happy patrols and a safe summer. Please give them a friendly wave as the make their way down your street keeping an eye out for your protection.
vCOP logo

Mrs. Smiley’s class visits City Hall

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Mrs. Ellen Smiley and Councillor Glenn J. Nashen with JPPS Grade 5 students and participating moms

Mrs. Smiley’s Grade 5 class from Jewish Peretz and Peoples Schools visited Cote Saint-Luc City Hall as part of this year’s studies on municipal government and city services.

I was doubly pleased to officially welcome the class to City Hall and to introduce them to the civic system in CSL in my capacity as the City Councillor for District 6, responsible for Public Safety, and also as Nicole’s dad, one of the Grade 5 students.  

I began with a history of our city dating back to the 1600s and showed archival photos from the 1800s and early 1900s.  We fast-forwarded to 2010 and discussed all the modern services that we offer to our residents highlighting those of special interest to kids, such as sports facilities, parks and playgrounds, the library and of course, emergency services.

City Manager and Chief Librarian Tanya Abramovitch spoke about all the moms and dads and other people who work in all the city services.  She then gave the class a tour of the Children’s Library, touted as one of the best in all of Quebec.  Many kids from the class had never seen this library before and were excited by the interactive toys and the huge selection of books, movies, music and the kid-friendly decor.

The class learned all about public safety with Director Jordy Reichson.  Jordy spoke about CSL’s unique all-volunteer EMS first responder service.  Check out their lipdub just below this post for a cool musical intro to EMS.  He discussed all the services you can reach when you call 911, but only if it’s a real emergency!

Bebe Newman, Public Works manager of Administration and Customer Services gave a presentation on all the aspects of her department that work behind the scenes, and out in plain view to keep the city functioning well in terms of facilities, grounds, roads, lights and so much more.

Alvin Fishman from Parks and Recreation gave a talk about sports teams, the new Aquatic and Community Centre slated to open next year, the arena and CSL’s Fun Card.


The class also had a rare visit to the Mayor’s private office where they took pictures looking quite mayoral.  They sat at the Council table, speaking into the microphones, holding the gavel and snapping shots in front of the flags.

This was an exciting opportunity for JPPS grade 5 to learn, up close and personal, how local government functions and how services are provided.

On the way back to school we got to see some of the snow clearing crews actively engaged in battling the snowbanks!


Thanks to Regine Banon, CSL Communications Manager, for setting up the visit.  I wish all of Mrs. Smiley’s students good luck as they continue in their learning about cities and I invite them to join CSL’s newest innovation for kids, the Junior Council, which will be launched in 2011.  Thanks for visiting, boys and girls of Grade 5!