Aubin: An eye-opener on what ails the city

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Thanks to the Charbonneau inquiry, we’re waking up to long-ignored corruption. The Merger Delusion has the potential to help open society’s eyes to misplanned government structures. The longer we ignore this reality, the longer Montreal will overspend and drift.

This opinion piece by Gazette columnist Henry Aubin is an excellent overview of Mayor Peter Trent’s just-released book “The Merger Delusion: How Swallowing Its Suburbs Made an Even Bigger Mess of Montreal.” 

Aubin: An eye-opener on what ails the city.

Henry Aubin: Loud silence on merger milestone

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Another brilliant column by the Gazette’s Henry Aubin (link below) who has been on the case of municipal mergers and other government blunders affecting our cities.  Aubin wrote about the mergers well before they took place 10 years ago and predicted what a colossal mistake this would be.  He cited examples from across North America and Europe.

This week marks 10 years since this ill-advised event took effect.  Since then we have seen Montreal costs run amuck and the sucking of local/suburban city taxes to feed the insatiable centre city.

We lost our local Fire Department that served our community well in two languages, conducted hundreds of inspections every year, attended every local event and cooperated with our Public Security department and EMS.

With mergers we have experienced a Montreal Fire department with years of labour strife and disinterest in communicating in English on their website despite numerous requests from our Council, unwillingness to cooperate with our Public Security, refusing to advise them of fire calls in CSL, preventing our city from providing maximum services to our residents not to mention a firefighter union that worked hard yet failed to terminate CSL’s all-star volunteer EMS.

We have had almost no fire inspections at all despite pleas by our Council to improve on this dismal and dangerous record.

These are just a few examples of our city’s experience with a single service since merger.  There are so many more examples as oft cited at our Council meetings.

While we are lucky to have broken free from much of the merger disadvantages several continue to haunt us as revealed by Henry Aubin in this Gazette column:  Henry Aubin: Loud silence on merger milestone.

Relocation is not merger

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Letters to the editor

Montreal Gazette

Re: Let Royal Vale stay in NDG, Dec. 7, 2011. Jack Jedwab’s analogy of the forced municipal mergers and criticism of Cote Saint-Luc city council in its support of the proposed move of Royal Vale High School from NDG to CSL is completely flawed and incorrectly lays blame on my council.

Relocating the school to another building is not being forcibly merged. In the forced mergers, the City of Cote Saint-Luc ceased to exist and its council disappeared. With relocation, RVHS will not cease to exist and its governing board does not disappear. It just runs the school at another location.

Most of all, it is not the elected council of Cote Saint-Luc that proposed the relocation of RVHS. The English Montreal School Board long-range planning committee recommended relocation to CSL and this is the only proposal that the EMSB is currently considering.

As a municipal representative and former executive director of Alliance Quebec, I find it regrettable that our embattled English-speaking communities are pitted one against another for the retention or relocation of an English public high school. All neighbourhoods that can support such a school deserve to have one. CSL is unarguably such a community.

Glenn J. Nashen

City Councillor

Cote Saint-Luc

Letters: Let Royal Vale stay in N.D.G

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Let Royal Vale stay in N.D.G

Letters to the editor
THE GAZETTE, DECEMBER 7, 2011
A decade ago, residents and elected officials in Côte St. Luc found it unacceptable to force their municipality to become part of the Montreal megacity.

In the end, Côte St. Luc officials were successful in undoing the merger.

The principle of forcing so many people to become part of something against their will was described as undemocratic.

But the same logic does not seem to apply when it comes to moving Royal Vale High School in N.D.G. into the former Wagar High School in Côte St. Luc, a moved opposed by the overwhelming majority of Royal Vale parents. In this case Côte St. Luc officials have no problem with a forced move that they pretend will be in everyone’s interest.

The move risks bringing into the Côte St. Luc high school a very disgruntled group of parents. Is that really in anyone’s interest?

It is not too late for Côte St. Luc to abandon this idea and allow the high school to stay in N.D.G. In so doing it can remain consistent with the principles it championed in the forced-merger debates.

Jack Jedwab

Montreal

© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

Gerard Deltell: Montréal est ingouvernable

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This article in La Presse about the ADQ leader’s desire to reopen the municipal merger debate is very worrisome.  The idea of re-centralizing power in Montreal, at the expense of the boroughs, and potentially the demerged suburbs would be foolish at many levels.  Politically, the public mood has moved well beyond mergers and demergers.  Financially, the analysis has shown that mergers did not achieve any of the stated goals and objectives and served to do damage the citizen’s attachment to their local government.  If anything, those interested in examining municipal structures ought to consider how to decentralize to a greater extent since the local level of government is best equipped at service delivery, not the other way around.

 

 

Gerard Deltell: Montréal est ingouvernable
Karim Benessaieh
La Presse, 14 octobre 2011

Montréal compte trop d’élus, trop d’arrondissements, trop de pouvoirs qui échappent à son maire. Ce verdict sans détour, c’est celui du chef de l’Action démocratique du Québec, Gérard Deltell. Cinq ans après les défusions, selon lui, la preuve est faite: «Montréal est ingouvernable.»
C’est la première fois qu’un parti politique provincial prend position de façon aussi claire dans ce débat, a souligné M. Deltell lors d’une entrevue avec La Presse dans ses bureaux du Vieux-Montréal. «J’invite le Parti québécois, le Parti libéral, Québec solidaire à prendre une position claire là-dessus […] Il faut une nouvelle gouvernance, qui permettrait au maire et à l’exécutif d’avoir de véritables pouvoirs, plutôt que d’être perpétuellement otages des conseils d’arrondissement qui ankylosent l’action du maire.»

Le mois dernier, le parti de l’opposition Vision Montréal, dirigé par Louise Harel, a proposé de réduire le nombre de conseillers municipaux, qui est de 103. Ce geste impliquerait la fusion de quelques-uns des 19 arrondissements. La motion a été battue au conseil municipal par 36 voix contre 23.

Mais le débat n’est pas mort, estime le chef de l’ADQ. «Tout cet épisode de fusions-défusions nous a coûté un demi-milliard de dollars et, au bout du compte, on se retrouve avec les mêmes préoccupations. Ce qu’on a voulu éliminer avec les fusions municipales, les batailles sans fin entre roitelets, on l’a recréé avec les arrondissements.»

Le feuilleton du Plateau
Combien d’élus faut-il? Quels arrondissements devraient disparaître? Questionné sur les détails de cette réforme, M. Deltell affirme ne pas vouloir imposer ses vues. «On veut que le débat se fasse. Ce n’est pas à nous, à Québec, de dire qu’il y aura tant d’échevins, tant de conseils d’arrondissement. Laissons les gens en place décider.» Quand on lui rappelle que la démarche ne plaira pas aux anciennes banlieues, il réplique en invoquant le devoir de «veiller au meilleur intérêt des citoyens». «En fin de compte, on n’est pas là pour protéger des structures. On pense que les citoyens seront mieux desservis avec un conseil central qui a plus de pouvoirs que par des conseils d’arrondissement qui peuvent faire ce qu’ils veulent dans leur coin.»

Le feuilleton de la circulation sur le Plateau-Mont-Royal, les frictions chaque hiver entre les arrondissements et la Ville sur le déneigement, voilà deux exemples qui démontrent que les Montréalais ont besoin d’une administration centrale plus forte, soutient M. Deltell. «La métropole, c’est la moitié de la province, c’est le poumon économique du Québec. Quand la moitié de la province souffre, c’est toute la province qui en paie le prix.»

Il rappelle la proposition de son parti de nommer un ministre dont la seule responsabilité serait Montréal. «Quand on est ministre des Finances, on en a pas mal sur les épaules, on a pas mal de dossiers à gérer. Il est clair que dans la situation actuelle de Montréal, il faut prendre le taureau par les cornes. Et ce n’est pas un luxe que d’avoir un ministre qui se consacre à plein aux questions montréalaises.»

Municipal merger: It only makes sense

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Suburban columnist David Lisbona published the following column in last week’s paper.  I’ll take the time to respond to his assertions that municipal mergers make sense in the coming days.  You can already guess what my response will be.  Check back and let me know what you think by clicking on the comment button.

 

 

Municipal merger: It only makes sense

The Suburban, March 30, 2011

By David Lisbona

There is a street fight going on in Hampstead and truthfully, I want no part of it. Who’s right who’s wrong, I’ll leave that to the voters of the town, who are more than capable of deciphering this for themselves. While The Suburban has become newspaper non-grata in the town, which is scary unto itself for a whole variety of reasons, I am more interested in the business case for the Town of Hampstead merging with its neighbor, Côte St. Luc.

Allow me to suggest right off the bat that the impetus for such a merger will not come from the provincial government as was the case of the failed mergers imposed upon the municipalities in 2002, nor will it be decided in either council chambers. No, such a move can only be spearheaded by the citizens of the municipalities involved through referenda and will not be decided by the elected members of either council.

There are compelling reasons why CSL and Hampstead should get together and here are some of them:

Geography: If you look at a map, the Town of Hampstead looks as if it has been carved out of CSL by a five-year-old who didn’t want to eat the crusts or by a gerrymandering politician, it simply makes little sense. Every time a CSL public vehicle services either MacDonald Avenue or the area known as “North of Hampstead” (which ironically is in CSL), it has to drive the entire length of Hampstead to do so. While I have no doubt that there are sharing arrangements between the municipalities, why place that impediment there in the first place? One geographic entity, one planning department and all of the economies of scale to be derived from that.

Representation: Between the two municipalities, there are two mayors and 14 councillors representing approximately 38,000 people. While I have no doubt that many of them perform yeoman’s work, the business reality is that no organization needs that much middle management. A combined municipality would surely need no more than 10 councillors between them, while I would argue that a mere six or 6,333 citizens per councillor in this technologically advanced day and age, where “meeting” your constituents consists of a text or e-mail as much as face-to-face encounter, is more than sufficient.

Public Services: Without its own library and arena, the Town of Hampstead has always had to rely on the facilities of others to ensure that its citizens had access to similar public services as those in other municipalities. With a merger, the citizens of Hampstead would no longer be guests at the Montreal West Arena or the CSL Library, they would have facilities of which they could take ownership and have some input. More importantly, the combined municipality could explore the possibility to construct a second rink at the site of the Samuel Moskovitch arena, something that each municipality alone could not do. The marginal cost to the library facility would surely exist but once again the scale economies to be derived would be significant as well. Further, a joint municipality would be better able to regulate traffic flow toward Decarie, instead of having two separate councils with differing interests creating confusing and inconsistent rules for drivers.

Inter-city Competition; Let’s not forget the increased competitiveness of their intercity teams. Both municipalities have had to rely on neighboring municipalities, namely LaSalle and Montreal West. A larger combined municipality will increase the pool of players and ensure more competitive hockey and baseball inter-city teams.

As I said, I am not interested in wading into the battle that is being waged right now in Hampstead, I am simply trying to present the business case and what I see here is a compelling one for combining these two municipalities. However, this time, unlike the forced mergers, the impetus has to come from the bottom up — the citizens — or else any merger idea will prove as unlikely as a left turn off Fleet during the morning rush hour.

The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are provided for informational purposes only. They are meant to stimulate and challenge your financial advisor/ broker/lawyer and/or accountant to examine the issues raised and to determine whether they can be used in your best interest.

via Municipal merger: It only makes sense.

Why is Robert Libman still talking of a merged CSL, Hampstead, MoWest?

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Former Cote Saint-Luc Mayor, CSL-Hampstead-Montreal West Borough Mayor and Montreal Executive member Robert Libman was hired to write a report on the future of Hampstead’s town hall, fire station and Hampstead Park.

As reported in the Suburban, Hampstead wants 16-storey high rise at fire station site, Libman was quoted as saying:

“A number of people I spoke to said that if a major change is made in Hampstead Park, keep in mind if one day it becomes an entity such as Côte St. Luc-Hampstead-Montreal West, the facilities should be adaptable to a larger population.”

With well over 90% of our local voters having cast ballots in 2004 to demerge (putting an end to the Borough of  CSL-Hampstead-Montreal West) it is unclear which people Libman consulted, and why, for him to make such a statement? 

The forced mergers were a failed experiment in Quebec and ought to be banned completely. Let’s leave Pandora where she belongs.

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