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.

Demerger doomsayers proven wrong

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Demerger doomsayers proven wrong.

How did it come to this?

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How did it come to this? (Henry Aubin, Montreal Gazette)

The verdict on the mergers is in: Things are worse

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The verdict on the mergers is in: Things are worse  (Henry Aubin, Montreal Gazette)

She’s ba-a-a-ck! Louise Harel might run for mayor, Henry Aubin, The Gazette

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She’s ba-a-a-ck! Louise Harel might run for mayor

Authoritarian former PQ minister brought you the megacity

By HENRY AUBIN, The Gazette   May 28, 2009

Louise Harel says that, despite earlier denials, she is thinking of running for mayor of Montreal. Oh boy.

Let’s check out her record as it affects this city.

That record spans 1998 to 2002 when she was the Parti Québécois minister of municipal affairs with special responsibility for Montreal. Inspired by mayor Pierre Bourque’s vision of une-île-une-ville, Harel spearheaded the Bouchard government’s forced merger of Montreal Island’s 28 municipalities.

The minister’s promotion of the merger reveals a striking approach to leadership.

Harel spurned the opinion of the people most affected.

More precisely, she disregarded a demonstration in which tens of thousands of residents demanded that she consult them. She shrugged off five suburbs’ non-binding referendums in which the vote against a merger ranged from 94 to 99 per cent. And she dismissed the fact her party had been elected without a mandate to carry out such a controversial step. Indeed, premier Lucien Bouchard had even disavowed any such intention before the previous election.

Harel rejected not only public opinion but also expert opinion.

The consensus of impartial research in North America and Europe is that forced mergers are counterproductive. Experience shows that as cities get bigger, their per-capita costs rise, their services become harder to manage, and citizens feel more remote from local government (as reflected in declining voter turnout). The minister did not heed this.

Indeed, when the Bédard task force – which she had set up – echoed this consensus, she ignored its advice against making the island a monolithic municipality.

Harel misled the public about the merger’s benefits.

She argued that to be a global city Montreal had to keep up with “what is being organized” in other metropolises. She pointed in particular to Boston, touting it as an example of how a big municipality can attract prosperity. Her government even took out full-page newspaper ads suggesting that the formula of municipal organization that was working for Boston would work for Montreal.

The argument was preposterous. Fact: The municipality of Boston (pop. 560,000 at the time) was one-third as populous as Montreal Island. As well, its metropolitan region – more populous than Montreal’s region – was divided into 238 municipalities, more than twice as many as here. In reality, then, Boston was practising exactly the reverse of what Harel claimed.

This was part of a pattern of half truths and absurdities. She claimed that a merger would keep Montreal in step with European cities (never mind that 34 European countries had signed a charter that repudiated forced mergers as undemocratic). That it would save money (Toronto’s merger experience was showing the opposite). That it would curb urban sprawl (predictably, it has not). And that it would spread wealth from rich parts of the island to poor ones (when mergers were unnecessary to achieve such an end).

Harel rebutted critics by resorting to anglo-bashing.

An example occurred during a National Assembly debate. When Liberal Roch Cholette quizzed her on such non-ethnic, non-linguistic aspects of her proposed merger as taxes and local democracy, Harel erupted. She accused the Hull MNA of defending Westmount and its “anglo-British character, its old stench of colonialism.”

Critics of mergers became running dogs of WASP culture. Never mind that such other anti-merger hotspots as Hull, Quebec City and the South Shore were largely francophone. (In all, the PQ merged 42 urban areas across Quebec.)

So much for how Harel oversaw the process leading up to the merger of Jan. 1, 2002. As for the actual product – the new city itself – it has achieved none of its goals.

Harel admits mega-Montreal is now “dysfunctional,” but she blames this on the Liberal government’s decentralization of 2004. Never mind that the megacity’s problems had already started emerging by then: inefficiency, a net increase in bureaucrats across the island and degradation of services – everything the experts had prophesied.

Harel is a superb campaigner. She comes across as charmingly soft-spoken and gracious. But heed the record, not the smile. She is capable of authoritarian use of power, of rejecting empirical evidence if it does not suit her, of manipulating public opinion through far-fetched claims, and of vilifying adversaries with demagogic ethnic slurs.

All of this while leading Montreal in a counterproductive direction.

haubin@thegazette.canwest.com

© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

Taking powers from boroughs would be hard to do, Gazette

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Taking powers from boroughs would be hard to do

16 May 2009, The Gazette, HENRY AUBIN

The 2004 referendums were fought on decentralizing of power from city

A growing chorus of critics is arguing that Montreal has become ungovernable thanks the decentralization of power to boroughs.

Vision Montréal’s Benoît Labonté, Projet Montréal’s Richard Bergeron, megacity founder Louise Harel and many pundits cite the declining quality of snow clearance, street repair and other services for which boroughs are mostly responsible. They also say boroughs’ overly powerful mayors contribute to the inability of the mayor of Montreal to give strong leadership to the city as a whole.

I agree with much of this complaint. But what I reject is the widespread assumption that fixing things will be easy. The circumstances by which Montreal became decentralized could make it tough to reverse the process.

It’s worth recalling the runup to the 2004 referendums on demerging from Quebec’s forced amalgamation of all Montreal Island’s municipalities in 2002.

The Quebec Liberal government tried six months before those referendums to take the steam out of the demerger movement with a law, Bill 9, that offered a carrot to those people opting to stay in the megacity and a stick to those wanting to secede.

The carrot was the granting of a high degree of autonomy to boroughs. This turned them into what Harel now derides as “quasi-cities” with the power to levy taxes, manage urban planning, run many services and even elect their own mayors. The stick was putting demergerites on notice that any parts of the island that did bolt would never regain the powers of normal towns. They’d still be under Montreal’s yoke.

The question posed in the referendums of June 2004 referred explicitly to that law. The question was: “Are you in favour of the de-amalgamation of Ville de Montreal and the constitution of (insert the name of your part of town here), in accordance with the act” – that is, Bill 9.

In the weeks prior to the referendum, Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay campaigned largely on the basis of Bill 9: If you want your part of town to have a high degree of self-rule, he argued, it’s better off staying in mega-Montreal. Tremblay and the Charest government told the public that the law was chiseled in granite.

To claw back a significant amount of this self-rule now, as the critics now demand, would be to tell megacity residents: “Oops, we’re going to take away much of the borough autonomy that was used to woo you.” Bait and switch. It would violate the solemn terms on which the referendums were fought.

I don’t know if such change would be legal. But it would be grossly undemocratic.

Now, however, that a consensus is emerging that a clawback would be good for Montreal, the question is how to do this in a just manner.

I see three options. The simplest would be to hold a citywide referendum asking in effect, “Is it OK to make the following changes to Bill 9?”

Some people, however. might object. They’d say, “If that had been the deal that had existed in 2004, my part of town would likely have voted to demerge. We deserve a second demerger referendum.”

getimage.aspxThere could be quite a clamour for this. The table shows seven ex-suburbs in which the demergerites racked up far more than the simple majority of Yes votes required for secession. (They failed to demerge only because of a high-hurdle second requirement: To quit the megacity, 35 per cent of all eligible voters in a part of the city had to vote to demerge.)

Note, too, that the populous ex-suburbs of Lachine, St. Léonard and Verdun held no referendums in part because their political leaders had traded their earlier antimerger stances for seats on Montreal’s executive committee.

The megacity has compiled a disappointing record of inertia, inefficiency and sleaze since the first referendum. So given the chance, more parts of Montreal might well quit.

This second option would be the last thing any megacity politician would want. It would put the city through another divisive debate.

And yet the demand would be legitimate. If you want to change a contract you have to renegotiate it.

The third option would be to ask Quebec to change the law willy-nilly without going to the people.

But there’d be a problem with that, too. Tremblay and Quebec have insisted they cannot make substantial changes in the way Bill 9 lets Montreal hold the demerged suburbs in an autocratic grip, because that would be unfair to those people whom the law’s stick intimidated and who stayed loyal to the megacity.

But if you change Bill 9 to recentralize power in the megacity, the law is no longer sacrosanct and unalterable. You can change it for the suburbs, too. The granite slab becomes, then, a can of worms.

Tremblay, more than anyone, must know how the boroughs’ great power weakens his city. Yet he is the only mayoral contender not seeking to curb borough power. Strange? No. I suspect he knows just how excruciating it would be to fix this mess.

In my opinion:  Terrific article, as usual, by Henry Aubin. More evidence that CSLers made the right choice in demerger. He sums up what Anthony Housefather, Ruth Kovac, Mitchell Brownstein and I have told you all along.  As the leaders of the CSL Demerger Committee we said that only in a smaller, autonomous unit, independent of the City of Montreal megacity, could we run an efficient, dynamic municipal organization at a reasonable tax rate.  Montrealers are starting to realize this too!

Demerger will kill EMS: Libman

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2004-05-04 Suburban demerger will kill EMS: Libman

Blue Ribbon Committee Launched, Demerger

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Cote Saint-Luc Demerger Committee  –  Press Release

Blue Ribbon Committee Launched

First step to prepare for demerger register.

Cote Saint-Luc, December 8, 2003: Following the release of the latest amendments to Bill 9 local residents and leaders have launched the CSL Demerger Committee. The group’s initial meeting brought together business leaders, community activists in the recreation, leisure and cultural sectors, former city councillors and others from the community. The co-chairs now include Cote Saint Luc/Hamsptead/Montreal West Borough Councillor Anthony Housefather, former Cote Saint-Luc Councillors Glenn J. Nashen, Ruth Kovac, Mitchell Brownstein and Joseph Panunto.

The committee is calling upon City Councillor Dida Berku and Borough President Robert Libman to clearly state their position with respect to demergers. “We elected them because they opposed the forced mergers in the megacity elections two years ago,” said Ruth Kovac. “Residents want to know exactly where they stand now,” she added.

“The CSL Demerger Committee will begin distributing blue ribbons and are urging all residents to tie a ribbon around the trees in front of their homes, from their lamp posts, balconies or front doors to signify their desire to reconstitute the City of Cote Saint Luc, “ said Glenn J. Nashen. Such ribbons are now seen throughout Hampstead, Montreal West and many West Island suburbs.

“The committee is working closely with demerger committees across the island and will soon distribute materials to explain the registration and referendum process to residents and make clear the benefits of demerging under Bill 9, “ said Mitchell Brownstein, adding “Information sessions are also planned for the spring.”

Residents may pick up their Blue Ribbons at Maxie’s in the Cavendish Mall for a voluntary contribution. Donations are needed to help defray costs. Cheques may be made payable to the Cote Saint-Luc Demerger Committee c/o 1310 Greene Ave, Suite 750, Montreal, QC H3Z 2B2. Volunteers are also required. For more information call 939-9559 ext. 229 or email csldemerge@hotmail.com.

Local Leadership to Urge National Assembly on Future of Cote Saint-Luc

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Press Release

Local Leadership to Urge National Assembly on Future of Cote Saint-Luc, Hampstead, Montreal West

Brief presented by former Mayor and Councillors.

Cote Saint-Luc, September 22, 2003: Former elected officials from the former municipalities of Cote Saint-Luc, Hampstead and Montreal West have joined forces in preparing a brief on Bill 9 to be presented Tuesday, September 23, 2003 before the Commission de l’amenagement du territoire at the National Assembly.

The brief is co-signed by former Hampstead Mayor Irving Adessky and Councillor Abe Gonshor, former Montreal West Mayor John Simms and Councillor Howard Barza, and former Cote Saint-Luc Councillors Mitchell Brownstein, Ruth Kovac and Glenn J. Nashen.  The brief will be presented in the Legislative Council Room at the National Assembly at 16h30 (Sept. 23, 2003) by Adessky, Barza and Brownstein, symbolically representing the three former municipal councils.

“We have all served our respective communities for many, many years,” said Irving Adessky, who served as Mayor of Hampstead from 1974 until the merger on January 1, 2002.  “We strongly believe our residents want their cities and towns reconstituted,” he said.  Speaking on behalf of the group, Adessky added that it was their belief that the characteristics of a free and democratic government is to have free and independent cities and towns.

A resume of the brief regarding Bill 9 is as follows:

1) Register to be opened in each former municipality town hall or, school or public building;

2) Provision be made to assist seniors living in senior residences and in hospital residences;

3) Registers be opened for five (5) consecutive days from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and on a weekend day;

4) Update electoral lists to ensure no errors and their accuracy;

5) Register and referendum to be held in spring months in 2004;

6) Information viz. Register, signing location etc. to be sent to each eligible voter – fifteen (15) days prior to opening registers;

7) Threshold of ten percent (10%) of qualified voters for referendum is high;

8) Referendum question must be clear and unambiguous;

9) No cost sharing by reconstituted municipality;

10) Role of Transition Committee in tandem with borough councillors;

11) Regional Bodies to operate regional services; fire services and first responders to be left to municipality;

12) Threshold for bilingual status based on the language of use or the language of use in the home.

The committee has also contacted other similar groups throughout the province with an eye to forming a coalition of former municipalities for demerger.  Thus far meetings have included several former Mayors and Councillors and interested residents from across the region.

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