Former Côte-St-Luc mayor Bernard Lang dies at 88

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Mayor Bernard Lang

Mayor Bernard Lang

Bernard Lang, the former mayor of Côte-St-Luc, died on Thursday. Lang was 88.

First elected as a councillor in 1963, Lang was then elected mayor in 1976 and served his community for a total of 35 years. He retired from politics in 1998 but came out of retirement in 2005 to again run as mayor. Borough councillor Anthony Housefather claimed the mayor’s seat with a convincing victory over Lang, then 80 years old.

Former Côte-St-Luc mayor Bernard Lang dies at 88. (Montreal Gazette)

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CTV News

CSL pushed for sprinklers in senior homes more than 25 years ago

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27 years ago Cote Saint-Luc tried to force foster homes to install sprinklers to protect its ageing and vulnerable residents. You’d think nothing could be easier than trying to protect seniors? Think again.

The bylaw was contested by foster home owners and the health and social service agency and brought to court. Surprisingly, the court ruled against the city.

Instead of strengthening safety bylaws to protect senior’s lives across Cote Saint-Luc, and ultimately throughout Quebec, we now see the horribly tragic consequences of these decisions.

Fire experts have said that sprinklers act as “24-hour firefighters” and that lives would be spared in the case of fires in seniors residences. How sad to watch the events of L’Ile Verte last week and to learn of the loss of 32 lives, a quarter century after we tried to bring in measures to prevent such tragedy.

The Quebec government must take swift action to make mandatory fire sprinklers in all such residences, including foster homes. I am proposing that Cote Saint-Luc council urge the provincial government to do so.

This CTV Pulse News report features then Mayor Bernard Lang and former CSL Fire Department inspector (prevention) Doug Lion.

Cavendish link a longstanding issue

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The Suburban looks back at 50 years in our community

Cavendish link a longstanding issue in The Suburban

April 18, 2012

Joel Goldenberg, The Suburban

 

Sometimes, when I go out into the community and identify myself as being from The Suburban, longtime readers will frequently bring up the Cavendish extension issue. And why not? The issue of the link, or lack thereof, between St. Laurent and Côte St. Luc is almost as old and perhaps even older than the paper itself, and has become synonymous with us.

At a recent press conference announcing the ceding of the Hippodrome land from the Quebec government to Montreal and the resultant resurfacing of the Cavendish link, I inwardly chuckled as a local reporter said she has been hearing about the issue since she started reporting about 16 years ago. That’s only a fraction of the time the matter has been discussed.

For the last 45 years, motorists from Côte St. Luc, Hampstead, NDG and St. Laurent stuck in traffic on the Decarie expressway have been dreaming of an alternate north-south route. But it always seemed elusive. Côte St. Luc was opposed for many years (”We don’t want it, we don’t need it and we can’t afford it,” former mayor Bernard Lang famously said) and then supportive under the Robert Libman and current Anthony Housefather administration.

The link resurfaced during the merger years – with a project bureau even being formed – and was seemingly placed on the shelf again after demerger.

Yet, in recent weeks, Côte des Neiges/NDG, Town of Mount Royal, Côte St. Luc, Montreal West, St. Laurent and Hampstead have passed resolutions calling on Quebec and Montreal to prioritize the link. And some believe the future development of the Hippodrome land gives the project new hope.

Hopes of this sort were temporarily dashed in one of the earliest stories The Suburban had on the Cavendish link. The front page of the June 16, 1966 issue carried the story “Cavendish WILL NOT be extended.” The story quotes an A. Branchand, chief engineer for the department of roads; and Jean-Paul Matte, project director for what was to be a second bridge from Montreal to Laval, as saying there was “no intention” to extend Cavendish from Côte St. Luc to Côte de Liesse in St. Laurent. Both told The Suburban that bigger priorities were the second bridge, the Décarie expressway then nearing completion and what became the Rockland overpass north o f Van Horne and south of Jean Talon. Matte even said that Montée de Liesse in St. Laurent was more of a possibility for an extension, to be linked northward with the second bridge.

To this day, there has been no Montée de Liesse extension to Gouin and there is no span west of the Lachapelle Bridge in the area where an extended Montée de Liesse would be.

“Both Mr. Branchaud and Mr. Matte agreed that ‘Cavendish was not a provincial problem,’” the 1966 story concludes.

But today, the municipalities involved are very much looking to the province to finally resolve this issue. As the years go by, many have told us they wonder whether the Cavendish link will ever be completed in their lifetimes. At least there is a little more hope now than in 1966.

Cavendish mall: Seeking a retail renaissance

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Cavendish mall: Seeking a retail renaissance

About 40% to become housing for young families

By ALLISON LAMPERT, The Gazette

July 3, 2010

Hobbling over to Roy Salomon in the Cavendish Mall, a petite, elderly woman makes a suggestion that drives the smile from his face.

“You should have a store for canes and walkers, that’s your clientele,” she tells Salomon, a spokesperson for mall owners’ Cavendish Shopping Centre Co. Ltd.

Salomon sighs as she walks away.

“That’s the type of remark that’s a killer for us,” he tells a reporter. “We value our seniors. Many are very good customers. But they’re just one part of our customer base.”

His point is made when a woman with a child and baby walk by -one of a growing number of young families that managers like Salomon, 73, are counting on to revitalize the 37-year-old Cote St. Luc mall.

Over the last two decades, with the exception of several strong stores, retailing has been in decline at the mall, the victim of competition, an aging demographic in Cote St. Luc, the demise of Eaton department stores and the failure of the city to extend Cavendish Blvd.

“Merchants are very sad about the mall,” one former retailer said. “In the 1970s the mall was very cool; 25 years later it became your grandfather’s mall.”

But Salomon and his dozen partners have a plan to bring back the hordes of teens who once flocked to the so-called “shmall” in the 1980s – a time when the now defunct Discus was the place to shop for Bon Jovi cassettes, and when restaurants like Pumpernicks and Cattleman were the places to eat.

About 40 per cent of the 400,000 square foot mall -which once had up to 80 stores -is being demolished and coverted into housing targeting young families. The project is expected to clear regulatory hurdles by July 12.

The scaled-down mall, with about 250,000 square feet of leasable space and 45 stores, will get a new indoor playground.

Plans for the new development, including townhouses, semi-detached homes and the sale of 39 lots for single-family homes, are affixed to the outside of a now empty Canadian Tire store.

Even now, a reporter spotted several strollers, in addition to wheelchairs, during a recent visit.

While nearly one-third of Cote St. Luc residents are aged 65 and older, according to Statistics Canada, the city’s median age actually dropped from 51 during the 2001 census to 49 during the 2006 census.

“I see that younger famillies are moving back into Cote St. Luc,” said Anthony Housefather, mayor for the city of about 32,000.

“Just last year, we had to find space for a daycare for 70 Cote St. Luc kids.

“I know that the city is different from the way it was 10 years ago.”

Back in the 1970s, when the mall was in its infancy, Cote St. Luc was a thriving community filled mostly with young anglophone and allophone families.

Salomon, a Brooklyn, N.Y., native who settled in Montreal, would drive to his Cote St. Luc home with his late brother Richard Salomon and an architect friend, when they passed a large tract of empty land.

“We thought, what a good spot for a mall,” Salomon recalled.

Best of all, there was no Carrefour Angrignon at the time, or Decarie Square, so competition for a new mall was limited to downtown and the Rockland Centre.

They formed a partnership with several businessmen and took options on the land, which was divided in parcels with about 10 different owners, including the former grocery chain Steinberg’s and Ford Motor Co. They managed to assemble the land, which formed the site for the new mall.

The Cavendish Mall opened in August 1973, substantially leased with stores like Eaton’s, Steinberg’s, discount general merchandisers Miracle Mart and Warshaw’s -the retailer’s first store outside the Main.

“The cars were flowing in,” recalled Salomon, who spent the opening day directing traffic.

Sales stayed strong throughout the 1980s, with the mall drawing in families and their children from Cote St. Luc, Snowdon and other parts of west-end Montreal.

“Back then it was like a community centre for kids,” recalled Yann Toledano, 33, an Internet marketer who used to spend time at the mall while growing up. “The kids would hang out while mom went shopping at Steinberg’s.”

What hit the shopping centre was a combination of events beginning in the early 1990s. The decade had been marred by economic recession, competition from new malls and the exodus of young anglophones from the West End.

And as Cote St. Luc’s population aged, the number of people per household steadily dropped, eroding the area’s customer base.

Meanwhile, smaller apparel retailers were being hit with competition from big-box stores and the arrival of cheap imported clothes from Asia.

Gino Scandale, owner of Ralphs Mens Wear -the last store still in existence from opening day -pointed out many of the suits he sold in 1973 are the same price as his current models.

“People in the 1970s and 1980s, they wanted quality,” Scandale said.

“People don’t want to spend as much on one suit today, because they don’t want to be seen in the same clothes. Also, with casual Fridays, people aren’t dressing up the way they used to.”

But owners, Salomon said, were still committed to the mall’s success, investing $7 million in 1992 to renovate the shopping centre, replacing the drab brown decor with skylights and pastels.

Their optimism turned to worry when Eaton’s closed its doors in 1998, taking away the mall’s anchor tenant.

“That closing was huge,” he said. “It affected people, it affected traffic.”

They suffered a second blow when Gap Inc. and later Gap Kids closed.

Although management has been criticized for not doing enough to find new tenants, Salomon said he’d met with countless retailers.

“Our main goal was to get someone to replace them (Eaton),” he said.

“We met with Wal-Mart (Canada Corp.), we met with the (Hudson’s) Bay (Co.), we met with Simons (Inc.). We used every vehicle at our disposal to get people in here.”

Sipping coffee at Bistro Cavendish, Salomon smiles and waves at an old friend, even though the two have had their differences of opinion.

During most of his career, former Cote St. Luc mayor Bernard Lang was staunchly against extending Cavendish Blvd. and making it accessible from Highway 40. Lang feared the extension would create traffic gridlock.

But mall owners said they needed the extension to bring in new customers. Retailers wouldn’t sign leases without it.

By 2006, Salomon and his partners decided the extension wouldn’t happen quickly enough-if ever-and they needed to make a tough decision over the mall’s future. Over takeout, they debated different scenarios in the boardroom of Salomon’s nondescript, third-floor offices and came up with the scaled-down version of the shopping centre.

“There’s a certain amount of sadness,” he said. “We were young guys when we built this mall. But there’s a lot of optimism, too.”

Since the decision was made, a number of stores were relocated, while others have closed. Several tenants, including the Centre de Sante et des services sociaux Cavendish, are expanding.

The stores that have survived over the years are still there because they have found a niche market, or offer specialized services. At Ralphs, Scandale spends $ 40,000 a year to keep a tailor on site.

Women’s fashion store Boutique Delevanti Inc., which opened in the early 1980s, carries hard-to-find, high-end lines.

In fact, Delevanti owner Ruth Ohayon-Haim, 57, is expanding. She recently opened the children’s apparel store Bambini to attract families and fill the void left by Gap Kids.

“I built my clientele,” she said of the teens who used to visit the mall during the 1980s. “They were 16 then and they still come back today. And now, they can afford my stuff.”

Lang Centre Wrong, but name will stay on building

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lang-civic-centre-suburban-2006-01-01

Housefather leading 2:1

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Housefather leading 2:1

2005-09-28

Suburban poll

By Joel Goldenberg, The Suburban

CôteSt.HampWest demerger activist-turned-Côte St. Luc mayoral candidate Anthony Housefather would win the mayoralty of the demerging municipality if the municipal election were held this week, according to a Suburban poll of Côte St. Luc residents carried out on the second full day of the Nov. 6 municipal election campaign.

Some 68 percent of respondents said they thought the

35-year-old Housefather would do a better job than longtime Côte St. Luc mayor Bernard Lang. Lang, now 80, came out of retirement after seven years to seek re-election after current Côte St. Luc/Hampstead/Montreal West borough chairman Robert Libman announced in August he would not run for the mayoralty of the demerging City of Côte St. Luc, a job he held for three years prior to the forced mergers.

However, Lang’s political experience appeared to sway some voters when they were asked which of the two mayoral candidates they thought would be better able to represent the reconstituted city on the post-demerger island-wide agglomeration council. Housefather still retained the support of nearly two-thirds of respondents, but support for the veteran politician jumped several points.

The mayoral campaign was originally set to be a continuation of the demerger fight, as Housefather was supposed to be pitted against CôteSt.HampWest borough chairman Robert Libman, who supported the No side in last year’s demerger campaign. The occasionally hostile atmosphere at council meetings in the past 18 months was supposed to set the stage for an especially volatile race.

But Lang’s entry into the race has shifted strategies. Housefather’s camp is now claiming that Lang’s involvement in the demerger campaign was considerably less than that of other activists, although others saw Lang’s support altogether as a significant validation of the demerger cause. Lang was also on hand at several demerger events and commented for news stories.

Lang’s age and Housefather’s youth are both seen as issues in some quarters. Housefather is also seen as a newcomer to Côte St. Luc after seven years as a Hampstead councillor; Lang’s strategy has been to portray his opponent as a candidate whose heart remains in Hampstead, which Housefather strongly denies.

More than a year after 40 percent of Côte St. Luc’s eligible voters voted 87 percent to demerge from the megacity, demerger is still very much a factor in the campaign. Housefather heads a loose coalition that includes Glenn Nashen, Ruth Kovac and Mitchell Brownstein, former Côte St. Luc councillors and all prominent demerger activists. Other candidates and residents believe that these and other demerger activists are forming an unofficial party, a perception fuelled by Housefather, Nashen, Kovac and Brownstein’s sharing of a Cavendish Mall campaign office and the presence of other candidates at Housefather’s campaign launch. Housefather countered the allegations by insisting that all candidates are independent, and said it is common on councils for loose alliances to form.

In the individual races, candidates Dida Berku, Nashen, Kovac and Brownstein remain unchallenged, while other districts have several contenders. These extremes — acclamations and seats with numerous contenders — have become a tradition in Côte St. Luc.

Thus far, at least publicly, most of the individual campaigns have been low key and are concentrating on specific issues, such as traffic and cleanliness. District 2 candidate Howard Silbiger is an exception, making a clear disassociation from the current CôteSt.HampWest council by referring to it as a “City of Montreal council.”

Methodology:

We polled 100 residents, both over the phone and in face-to-face interviews, with the following questions:

On November 6, the residents of Côte St. Luc will be voting for a mayor and eight councillors. Do you know who your local mayoral and council candidates are?

Exactly 60 respondents said they knew who their local mayoral and council candidates were, while 40 percent knew some or none of the candidates.

I’m going to give you the names of the mayoral candidates: Anthony Housefather and Bernard Lang. Who, in your opinion, would do a better job as mayor of Côte St. Luc?

Out of a total of 63 respondents, 43, or 68 percent, said they thought Housefather would do a better job, while 20, or 32 percent, said they favoured Lang.

Who, in your opinion, is better equipped to represent Côte St. Luc in the new regional body which will govern Montreal Island, Anthony Housefather or Bernard Lang?

Out of 61 respondents, 40, or 65 percent, said they thought Anthony Housefather was better equipped to represent Côte St. Luc on the agglomeration committee, while 21, or 35 percent, said they considered Lang to be the better choice.

• • •

Between now and Nov. 2, The Suburban will be publishing a series of polls in the boroughs and de-merging municipalities we cover. Because of how the Island of Montreal is now divided electorally, our polling team is using two separate lists of questions, one for the 15 demerging boroughs, where there are individual races for the mayoralty and council seats, and another to measure voter support for the mayoral candidates and party slates in the megacity boroughs.

Cool on Lang

Comments Off on Cool on Lang

Cool on Lang

By Stephen Becker, Letter to the editor, The Suburban  Aug. 17, 2005

Re. your article hinting that Bernard Lang might seek re-election as Côte St. Luc mayor. While Mr. Lang did some good things as mayor, I can also remember his ongoing disputes with Hampstead and neighbouring municipalities, his opposition to the extension of Cavendish and his lack of interest in saving Meadowbrook as a greenspace.

Moreover, as an active volunteer on the demerger committee, I noted Mr. Lang’s absence from the fight for demerger last year. While nominally supportive of demerger, he did very little other than lending his picture and name to some ads and billboards. The real leadership on demerger was provided by Councillor Anthony Housefather and former councillors Glenn Nashen, Mitchell Brownstein and Ruth Kovac who worked tirelessly for years to get Côte St. Luc back.

Stephen Becker

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