Reconstruction of City Hall/Library parking lot underway

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Posted by Councillor Mike Cohen

As many people have noticed by now, Côte Saint-Luc has started work on the reconstruction of the parking lot behind the City Hall and Library. We’re doing more than just repaving. We’re improving the way it’s configured in order to remove the excessive turns, which create risks for pedestrians. We’re also adding two charging stations for electric vehicles, a bike path and creating more parking spaces for cars to park.

We have been fortunate to have a parking lot with so many trees not just around the edges but within the parking lot itself. Our goal at the start of this project was to save as many of these trees as possible by transplanting them elsewhere. We are saving approximately 70 percent of the trees and have transplanted 28.

 

Of course, we would have preferred to have saved all the trees. However, of trees that are being cut their roots were too deep to survive transplant or to small to justify the cost while new trees can be planted of similar size or they were sick or damaged in some way. It didn’t make sense to move the sick trees as the cost to transplant a single tree is about $2,000. We decided to transplant the healthy trees, which cost $53,000 in all. All the trees being cut will be replaced with new replanted trees.

To sum up:

-We will have a new, safer parking lot ;
-We saved approximately 70  percent of the trees in the existing parking lot;
-We will replant new trees for all those that were cut;
-We will have two electrical charging stations for electric cars;
-We transplanted 28 trees of the old trees from the parking lot to locations across the city.

Parking Lot

Work begins on the City Hall parking lot reconstruction (Mike Cohen photo).

 

This lot was in desperate need of repair. How many people, the majority seniors and those with limited mobility, have we heard from in recent years complaining about the fact they could not find a spot when attending special events?

As for the benches that many people congregate on, I have now received confirmation that  a crew move the seven benches along the path on the south side of City Hall and have them placed east of the parking in the area between Sir Walter Scott and Marc Chagall to provide seating for the residents of the area. They will be  placed under some shade as much as possible.  If necessary, special umbrellas will be added.

New CSL bylaw changes construction hours for new buildings

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Côte St. Luc council passed a change to the city’s noise bylaw in response to complaints from residents on Marc Chagall and Mackle about ongoing construction, including on weekends, of two rental apartment buildings in the area.

Construction began in late March on Phase 1 of Le Carlyle, which will consist of two 12-storey buildings.

“We’re prohibiting work on weekends for new construction, and after 7 p.m. on weekdays for new construction,” Mayor Mitchell Brownstein explained. “That does not mean if you’re extending or putting something on your house. It’s for a new building.”

But the mayor also pointed out that the existing noise bylaw allows for a process to apply for a special permit to work beyond the limits of the new bylaw.

“For this particular developer, who has certain requirements to work beyond the terms of no weekends and not after 7 p.m weekdays, we negotiated a deal reducing the amount of time he would be working, limiting the amount of days he will be working on weekends, and we have a schedule which we will share with residents, explaining the deal.”

Brownstein explained that in exchange for the special permit being issued to the Le Carlyle developer, “he has a written undertaking with the city that he will not contest the amended noise bylaw.

“In law, when somebody gets a construction permit and there’s an existing bylaw, if we change that bylaw mid-process, there’s the risk of contestation. What we negotiated is good for the residents and the city, and the future of the city, because future developers will know clearly what their limits are and what they’re able to do.”

Area Councillor Mike Cohen said he has received numerous phone calls of complaints about the construction, and he formed a committee of condo and townhouse representatives to meet on the issue.

“Mayor Brownstein and I met with representatives from the condos, and we had the developers in the room, and there was a good consensus.”

Premier Couillard charms his audience at packed Côte Saint-Luc address

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Premier Couillard charms his audience at packed Côte Saint-Luc address

by: Councillor Mike Cohen

It is pretty rare that we see the Premier of Quebec come to speak in the City of Côte Saint-Luc. But this finally did occur on May 12 as Philippe Couillard addressed a standing room only crowd at our Aquatic and Community Centre on Parkhaven Avenue.
Credit is due to our incredible Men`s Club and of course the Member of the National Assembly, David Birnbaum, who made this happen. As event emcee and District 2 resident Sidney Margles pointed out that in his then capacity as new Quebec Liberal Party leader Couillard was slated to address this same group at the urging of Birnbaum`s predecessor, Lawrence Bergman. Something came up at the last minute and his appearance had to be cancelled. The Men’s Club has 560 members and counting.

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The Premier shakes hands as he enters the room. (Photo: mikecohen.ca)

This time everything worked out just fine. The Men`s Club began distributing reserved tickets a few weeks ago. When I arrived, there was a strong police presence around the building. Couillard did get to the ACC a little late and like a born campaigner he enter the room by shaking as many hands as possible.
One thing must say about our Premier, who by profession was a former professor and neurosurgeon. He speaks both languages so beautifully. While many of us are upset with the significant budget cuts we incurred early in the Liberal mandate and their gutting of the health system, Couillard has this audience eating out of his hands from the get go. He began with some humour, alluding to the massive flooding in different parts of Quebec and the fact he decided to visit an aquatic center. He drew applause immediately when he announced “I will do this speech in English so we can all follow.” He also introduced Greg Kelley, son of Native Affairs Minister Geoff Kelley, as his new point person for Quebec’s English-speaking community. “Anglophone liaison officer,” is the exact title. I met Kelley after the talk. He’s 31 and presently bunking with his parents in Beaconsfield. He formerly worked in the office of government House Leader Jean-Marc Fournier.
Couillard drew cheers again when he previewed his upcoming trade mission to Israel. “This will be my third trip there…it is the first time a Quebec Premier has gone.” More than 100 Quebec business persons and leaders will accompany him. “Why are we doing this?” Couillard asked rhetorically. “Israel is a start-up nation and an example to follow.”

Couillard mentioned the fact that both Air Canada and Air Transat have direct flights from Montreal to Tel Aviv. He also laughed that when he is in Israel, so will controversial US President Donald Trump.
“Since elected our government is doing exactly like we said we’d do; putting our financial house in order.”

The Premier gave a ringing endorsement for federalism. “Some people are telling me that I cannot be a Quebecer and Canadian. We will stand tall for a strong Quebec within Canada.”
Couillard expressed pride about his government’s job creation program. He also pointed to the investments made at the Jewish General Hospital. “This is a hospital that serves all communities,” he said. “My (late) father was treated there in oncology. So was Mr. Parizeau”
Couillard asked, “How do we build our economy in such an unstable world?” He referred to the three pillars: advance manufacturing, exports and entrepreneurship. “You need a strong educational system to build a proper economy,” he said.

Couillard spoke very excitingly about the planned 67-kilometre, $6 billion electric-train system which will connect downtown Montreal with the South Shore, Deux-Montagnes, the West Island and Trudeau airport. “This will be the equivalent of Expo ’67 in 2017,” he said.

Rather than a straight question and answer period, Margles said that members were asked to submit queries. From the 40 or so obtained, he chose to share a few with the Premier related to assisted living for seniors, the availability of family doctors, special needs children, the sale of marijuana and the Quebec Electoral Commission’s decision to merge the Outremont and Mont Royal ridings and change the boundaries of D’Arcy McGee.

Couillard said that he turns 60 in June so he is sensitive to issues related to seniors. “We are devoting significant dollars to seniors,” he acknowledged. “We have many more doctors than we did before – hundreds of new physicians and they are staying in Quebec.”

As for access to family physicians, Couillard said that right now there are 600,000 people more who have this option compared to 2014.

Turning to the sale of marijuana, which will become legal in Canada in July 2018. “An easy thing for me to say that at first glance I think there is merit to the idea,” said Couillard. “It is now controlled by the black market. There is still a tremendous amount of work to be done. My biggest concern is public health. Smoking pot is probably not good for your lungs. Young people now are smoking a product that much worse than the hippy days.”

Couillard also wished to clear up a myth that the province is not going to make a lot of money on this. “If to price it too high you will send people back to the black market,” he remarked. “If you price it too low, you will increase consumption.”

Mayor Brownstein concluded proceedings by thanking the Premier for coming to Côte Saint-Luc and particularly the ACC, which the provincial government contributed one-third of the cost.

Also on hand for Couillard’s speech were provincial cabinet ministers Kathlee Weil, Pierre Arcand and Francine Charbonneau, Mount Royal Liberal Member of Parliament Anthony Housefather, Hampstead Mayor William Steinberg, CSL councillors Sam Goldbloom, Ruth Kovac, Allan J. Levine, Dida Berku and myself and English Montreal School Board Commissioner Bernard Praw.

VE Day commemorated in CSL

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VE Day 2017 was a pedagogical affair

By: Councillor Mike Cohen

Posted: 09 May 2017

For many years the annual Victory in Europe (V-E) Day commemoration took place on a Sunday. In attendance were veterans from the Brigadier Frederick Kisch Branch 97 of the Royal Canadian Legion, dignitaries and members of the community. The crowds were never exceptionally large and what we clearly missed was the younger generation.

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A Merton student reads “In Flander’s Field” as Jordy Reichson looks on.

When fellow Councillor Sidney Benizri and I were appointed co-chairs of this year’s VE Day event, we were committed to making it an educational exercise. So we scheduled it for a Monday morning (May 7) at a centrally located school – the Marymount Adult Education Centre(soon to be renamed Wagar) on Parkhaven Avenue. Principal Jacques Monfette was most gracious in making all of the arrangements. We virtually filled the 350 seat Syd Wise Auditorium with students from the two host schools – Marymount Adult Education Centre and John Grant High School; Merton and Willingdon Elementary Schools; and Solomon Schechter Academy.

The ceremony highlighted the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of Europe from the armed forces of Nazi Germany, on May 8, 1945. Our Public Safety Director Jordy Reichson coordinated much of the ceremony and served as a superb master of ceremonies. He put VE Day into perspective, provided some historical notes and showed this  excellent video.

 

Two students helped lay wreaths at the front of the stage. English Montreal School Board Commissioner Bernard Praw and Mr. Monfette read the Act of Remembrance. Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, Mount Royal Liberal Member of Parliament Anthony Housefather, Israel Consul General Ziv Nevo Kulman and Elisabeth Prass (on behalf of D’Arcy McGee Liberal MNA David Birnbaum) gave remarks. Two students from Merton read From Flanders Field. We concluded with the singing of the national anthem.

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A group photo of dignitaries and the Merton students.

We were fortunate to have with us veteran Sonny Rubin, 92 years young.

“Seventy-two years ago very young men went to war,” said Mayor Brownstein. “You had to be 18 years of age. Some 15, 16 and 17 year olds got fake IDs so they could get into the armed forces. They did this to insure our freedom.”

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Ziv Nevo Kulman

Housefather pointed out that this year’s commemoration of VE Day coincides with the 30th anniversary of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. “No matter who is in power,” he said, “you have rights.”

Regarding VE Day, Housefather noted that when he was our mayor VE Day was coordinated by the veterans. “We had dozens of veterans in their 70s who had fought and come back and created Côte Saint-Luc,” he recalled. “They could have come back jaded or disgruntle. But they came back and built our community.”

The Consul General told the audience that his father was a survivor of the Holocaust whose family hid in a little underground shelter and was liberated by the Soviets. “I would not be here had it not been for the Allies,” he said.

Raising the elections in France, the Consul General expressed deep concern over the fact that Marine Le Pen, a candidate whose party denies the Holocaust, got 11 million votes. “We have a very important role to remedy that so denial and revisionism does not happen again,” he said.

Thanks to staffer Jordy Reichson, Regine Banon, Cornelia Ziga and Laura Trihas for coordinating the event. We will next convene to honour our veterans on Friday, November 10 (11 am) for our Remembrance Day commemoration at Veteran’s Park next to City Hall.

“Côte Saint-Luc is proud to express gratitude to the men and women who have fought to liberate Europe,” said Mayor Brownstein. “Our veterans contributed in ending the genocide against the Jewish population of Europe and others targeted by the Nazis. Attending this ceremony is a concrete and visible manner to honour them and to reflect on the sacrifices made.”

Construction begins on Marc Chagall: Update by Cllr. Mike Cohen

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Construction on new buildings on Marc Chagall to begin: here are the facts

By Cllr. Mike Cohen, 29 Mar 2017

Phase One of  construction will begin this week on the first of two 12 storey rental apartment buildings at the corner of Marc Chagall and Mackle. The project will be called Le Carlyle.

It is very important to clarify that zoning for this site has been in place for nearly 30 years. Contrary to some opinions, the present-day city council can do nothing to stop this project from happening.

Let me please make it clear that I am not pleased to see more construction occur on this street. But the zoning for this land was established in 1988 by a former city council.

I would like residents of Marc Chagall to please come back with me to 2000. A sales office was sitting on this land and down payments were being accepted by many people for two – yes two 16 storey condominiums. Eventually, the owners of the land cancelled the project. While city council could not rezone the land, we were able to adjust our master plan. By-law amendment no. 2217-36 brought the density down from 16  to 12 storeys in 2010. Now, seven years later, this new company has purchased the land and as long as they remain in the exact same footprint as the bylaw dictates we cannot stand in their way.

Residents of Le Rothchilds I and II might be interested  to learn that in 1988 it was Mr. H. Glassman and Mr. N. Arnovitz who requested the zoning to allow for two 16 storey multi-family dwellings and a 12 storey plus penthouse facility. Their plans were to  call them “Le Rothchild Condos III and IV.”   Le Rothchild III   became La Marquise and was built in 2005. The owners eventually sold the other piece land, where the new apartments will be constructed.

At no time did I or any member of council advocate for someone to purchase this land or build on it.  I was very pleased to see it remain vacant. But there are very few pieces of land available in our city, so someone was bound to secure it.

Some people have raised concerns about parking. Council has also applied our parking bylaw to the limit. Parking ratios are calculated as follows: one bedroom, one parking stall; two bedroom, 1.5 parking stalls; three and more bedrooms, two   parking stalls,

This project is proposing the following breakdown of units: 140 one bedrooms (140 parking stalls); 147 two bedrooms (221 stalls); and 19 three or more bedroom units (38 stalls).

According to our bylaw then, for the total of 306 dwellings, they are required to provide 399 indoor spots and 40 outdoors. They will actually do better than that, with 402 interior spaces and 44 exterior spaces for a grand total of 446, so five more than required.
We will work closely with the builders to insure they follow the proper noise bylaws and keep the area as clean as possible. I will be meeting with representatives of the different buildings to discuss this development in more detail.

CHAGALL-2

 

 

Un message du conseiller Mike Cohen, District 2

 

La phase 1 de la construction débutera cette semaine sur le premier des deux immeubles d’appartements de 12 étages au coin de Marc Chagall et de Mackle.

Il est très important de souligner que le zonage de ce site est en place depuis près de 30 ans. Contrairement à certaines opinions qui circulent, le conseil municipal actuel ne peut rien faire pour bloquer ce projet.

Je tiens à préciser clairement que je ne suis pas heureux de voir plus de construction sur cette rue. Mais le zonage de ce terrain a été établi en 1988 par un conseil municipal précédent.

J’aimerais que les résidants de Marc Chagall remontent avec moi à l’année 2000. Un bureau de vente était installé sur ce terrain et des mises de fonds ont été acceptées par plusieurs personnes pour la construction de deux — oui, deux — immeubles à condos de 16 étages. Plus tard, les propriétaires du terrain ont annulé le projet. Le conseil municipal ne pouvait pas changer le zonage du terrain, mais nous avons été en mesure d’ajuster notre plan directeur. La modification no 2217-36 aux règlements a baissé la densité de 16 à 12 étages. Aujourd’hui, sept ans plus tard, une nouvelle entreprise a acheté le terrain. Tant qu’elle reste exactement sur la même empreinte que celle dictée par le règlement, nous ne pouvons pas lui faire obstacle.

Les résidants de Le Rothschild I et II seront peut-être intéressés de savoir qu’en 1988, c’étaient MM. H. Glassman et N. Arnovitz qui avaient fait la demande de zonage pour permettre la construction de deux immeubles multifamiliaux de 16 étages et d’un immeuble d’appartements-terrasses de 12 étages. Leur plan était de les appeler « Condos Le Rothschild III et IV ». Le Rothschild III est devenu La Marquise et a été construit en 2005. Au bout du compte, les propriétaires ont vendu l’autre morceau de terrain, là où les nouveaux appartements seront construits.

Jamais les membres du conseil, dont moi-même, n’avons recommandé que quelqu’un achète ce terrain ou construise dessus. J’étais très heureux de le voir rester vacant. Mais notre ville ne contient plus que quelques terrains disponibles, et il était inévitable que quelqu’un se le procure.

Certaines personnes ont soulevé des inquiétudes concernant le stationnement. Mais le conseil a aussi appliqué notre règlement sur le stationnement jusqu’à sa limite. Les ratios de stationnement sont calculés ainsi : une chambre, une place de stationnement; deux chambres, 1,5 place de stationnement; trois chambres et plus, deux espaces de stationnement.

Ce projet propose la répartition suivante des logements : 140 logements à une chambre (140 places de stationnement); 147 logements à deux chambres (221 places); et 19 logements à trois chambres ou plus (38 places).

Selon notre règlement, donc, pour l’ensemble des 306 logements, l’entreprise doit fournir 399 places intérieures et 40 places extérieures. Elle fera en fait mieux que cela, en offrant 402 places intérieures et 44 places extérieures, pour un total de 446 places, soit cinq de plus que ce qui est exigé.
Nous collaborerons étroitement avec les constructeurs pour nous assurer qu’ils respectent les règlements appropriés concernant le bruit et qu’ils gardent la zone aussi propre que possible.

Je rencontrerai les représentants des divers édifices afin de discuter de ce projet plus en détail.

Member of Parliament Anthony Housefather touches all of the bases at Town Hall meeting

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Thank you to my colleague and friend Councillor Mike Cohen for the excellent summary of the recent Town Hall meeting hosted by our incredible MP, Anthony Housefather

 

Member of Parliament Anthony Housefather touches all of the bases at Town Hall meeting

By Councillor Mike Cohen | 19 Mar 2017

In the 17 months since Anthony Housefather was elected as the Liberal Member of Parliament for the Mount Royal riding, I believe he has exceeded expectations in terms of his performance both within his constituency and in Ottawa.
As an MP he could not be closer to the people who elected him, always present at community events and going the extra mile by having Town Hall meetings throughout the year in different parts of his constituency. Such was the case on March 16 at the Irving Adessky Community Centre in Hampstead.

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Anthony Housefather addresses his Town Hall meeting.

I served as a city councillor under Anthony for 10 years when he was mayor of Côte Saint-Luc before he moved on to federal politics. He is a born leader and a walking encyclopedia on nearly every dossier he must deal with. Speaking notes are never needed and when asked a question, he is able to respond accurately and immediately.

Hampstead Mayor William Steinberg introduced Anthony, noting that the two first met in 1994. “He came to my door and was campaigning to become the youngest councillor in the Town of Hampstead’s history,” he recalled. “He stayed for about a half hour; he was young, enthusiastic and energetic. He has not changed a bit.”
Steinberg went on to explain how their paths crossed again in 2000 when his wife Doris dragged him into politics to fight against the forced municipal mergers and how they worked together to both battle the forced mergers and then fight for demerger. In 2005 Steinberg was elected mayor of Hampstead and Anthony was elected as mayor of Côte Saint-Luc so they continued to work together. “Anthony is a valuable Member of Parliament because as a former councillor and mayor he stays close to his constituents,” he said.
Steinberg hailed Anthony not only for these Town Halls, but his summits with elected officials in the territories he serves (Côte Saint-Luc, Hampstead, Snowdon, Côte des Neiges and Town of Mount Royal). “Sometimes I vote Liberal, sometimes Conservative,” volunteered Steinberg. “I do not vote NDP. One thing I give the Liberals credit for is that they allow free votes for their MPs. I give Anthony credit for he is not afraid to vote against his party.”

That provided the perfect opening for Anthony to explain his leading role in having a bill passed aimed at preventing genetic discrimination. He did so by working with Toronto MP Rob Oliphant to lobby enough members of his own governing party to ensure that more than 100 Liberal backbenchers joined Conservatives and New Democrats to give final approval to the bill, this despite warnings from Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that it is unconstitutional. Housefather noted that in his opinion the bill was constitutional and that the majority of experts who testified before Parliament agreed that it was indeed constitutional.

The bill is aimed at ensuring that Canadians can get genetic tests to help identify health risks and take preventive measures, without fear that they’ll be penalized when it comes to getting a job or life and health insurance. It would make it illegal to require a person to undergo genetic testing, or disclose the results of previous tests, as a condition of signing or continuing an insurance policy or any other contract or agreement. In addition, it would also prohibit anyone from sharing genetic test results without written consent, although there are exceptions for physicians and researchers. This bill has enormous significance for the Jewish community which has a considerable number of genetic mutations such as the BRAC 1 and BRAC2 genes for breast cancer in much higher density than the general population. Having the law adopted was a big priority for Jewish community organizations.

Anthony went on to explain that he has no issues with the federal government referring the question of constitutionality to the Supreme Court.

“Either way, we already knew with statements having been made by the insurance industry that somebody was going to challenge the constitutionality of the law,” said Anthony, the Liberal chair of the Justice and Human Rights Committee that refused to amend the bill to suit the government.

“Having the federal government refer the matter directly to the top court “means that we will have an answer from the Supreme Court far faster than if a challenge is started in a lower court by industry or by someone,” he said.

Anthony credits his years in municipal politics for providing the experience necessary to work with colleagues to have obtained the necessary votes from his fellow Liberal backbenchers and members of the opposition. “It goes to show that even if you are not in cabinet, you can have power,” he remarked.

Anthony was also proud to talk about how his Justice Committee issued a report recommending the Liberal government revive and expand the Court Challenges Program. The Government recently announced it was doing so and accepted most recommendations of the report, expanding the program to allow funding based on challenges to the Official Languages Act as well as additional charter rights.. The new program to fund court challenges will include cases based on freedom of religion, freedom of democratic rights, and right to liberty and security as well as equality and language rights.

Justice Minister Wilson-Raybould said the renewed program will ensure that the government “promotes access to justice for Canadians who need it the most,” adding that Canada’s justice system will need to continue to evolve. The promise to restore the program, which was scrapped by the Stephen Harper Conservatives in 2006, was included in the 2015 Liberal campaign platform and the mandate letters for Heritage Minister Melanie Joly and Wilson-Raybould.

Anthony’s staff both in Montreal and Ottawa receive a lot of e-mail correspondence. He expressed fear about the rising escalation of bigotry. “I have never seen in my adult life more of a prevalence since the United States elections,” he said. “It has now become socially normal and tolerated.”

Anthony alluded to the Quebec mosque terrorist attack, Montreal and Toronto imams who preached anti-Semitic theories, the “Punch a Zionist” comment by a McGill student leader and the ongoing BDS movement on university campuses – the new form of anti-Semitism.

Anthony also discussed the US-Canada relationship, the Syrian refugee issue, Motion 103, the government’s plan to introduce legislation to legalize cannabis this spring and Trudeau in general. “I think he is doing a very good job,” he said. “A lot of people have the wrong perception of him. He is actually one of the smartest people I’ve ever met.”

Besides Mayor Steinberg, Hampstead Councillors Michael Goldwax, Warren Budning and Leon Elfassy were on hand. I was joined by fellow Côte Saint-Luc Councillor Allan J. Levine.

To reach Anthony`s office call 514-283-0171 or e-mail anthony.housefather@parl.gc.ca. His constituency office is located at 4770 Kent, Suite 316.

Municipal leaders band together to fight Quebec Electoral Representation Commission’s senseless decision

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Municipal leaders band together to fight Quebec Electoral Representation Commission’s senseless decision

By Councillor Mike Cohen | 23 Mar 2017

As a city councillor in Côte Saint-Luc, I always appreciate opportunities to work together with other elected officials in neighbouring municipalities. Such was the case on March 21 when the borough of Côte des Neiges-NDG spearheaded an energizing public meeting at their Community Centre to protest the senseless decision arrived by the Quebec Electoral Representation Commission. This unelected body, which answers to absolutely nobody, inexplicably reversed its February 7, 2017 second report on the electoral map that proposed to maintain the Mont Royal, Outremont and D’Arcy McGee ridings without any change. When the next provincial election takes place in October 2018, Mont Royal and Outremont will be merged and D’Arcy McGee unnecessarily larger in size.

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Dida Berku and Ruth Kovac join other political leaders at the event.

Snowdon Councillor Marvin Rotrand and Suburban Newspaper editor Beryl Wajsman led the charge, first with a press conference and then with this impressive public meeting. Rotrand was joined at the head table by Borough Mayor Russell Copeman, Hampstead Mayor William Steinberg, TMR Councillor Erin Kennedy (representing Mayor Philippe Roy), CSL Councillor Ruth Kovac (representing Mayor Mitchell Brownstein) and Outremont Councillor Mindy Pollak (representing Mayor Marie Cinq Mars) English Montreal School Board Chairman Angela Mancini spoke, with Vice Chair Sylvia Lo Bianco, Commissioner Julien Feldman and Parent Commissioner Joanne Charron in attendance. Allan J. Levine, Dida Berku and I were the other CSL councillors on hand. I saw several of my constituents.

If the Electoral Map had been adopted by Members of the National Assembly, I am certain that the passion and clear facts set out at this meeting would have resulted in an about face. Regrettably, there is nothing elected officials seem to be able to do. In fact, Mont Royal and Outremont are represented by cabinet ministers Pierre Arcand and Helene David. One of them will have to find a new place to run or retire.
I spoke to lawyer Peter Villani after the meeting and we both agreed that the Electoral Representation Commission still has an opportunity to correct this terrible wrong, admit it made a mistake and allow the status quo to prevail.

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It was standing room only at the event.

The room was packed, something which elated fireball Rotrand. “The large attendance we witnessed speaks to the public interest in opposing the loss of representation that our communities will suffer if the map decreed by the Electoral Representation Commission stands,” he said. “The meeting essentially came together in a very short time so I believe the turnout reflects a broad consensus in our part of the island.”
Now unless the Commission shows some class, this decision will have to be fought in court and initiated by citizens. Ideally, an injunction can be sought. Wajsman has taken the lead by collecting funds for an eventual contestation and former NDG-Lachine Liberal Member of Parliament Marlene Jennings stepped forward to set up a blue ribbon panel. Jennings was chosen by the Quebec English School Boards Association to do the same when the provincial government tried to push through Bill 86 – aimed at abolishing elected school commissioners. The government backed off and they did so because they answer to the public; the Electoral Representation Commission simply marches to the beat of its own drum.

Each of the boroughs and municipal councils in the area has or will soon adopt a motion in opposition to the electoral map. All feel that the Commission’s map will mean a serious loss of representation for their citizens, lacks respect for natural communities and does not provide the effective representation that the electoral law indicates must be the basis of any final decision.
The mayors have shared a legal decision written last September by Jean-François Gaudreault-DesBiens, Dean of the University of Montreal Law School, which indicated that the Commission’s proposal of 2015 to merge Mont Royal and Outremont and change D’Arcy McGee was highly questionable. As the Commission’s final decision has reverted to the 2015 plan, the mayors feel the Commission’s proposal will not stand up to a legal challenge.
“We are strongly concerned about the diminished political weight of the island of Montreal,” said Copeman, a former Liberal MNA for NDG. “Our political weight has been reduced in every riding redistribution since 1992 which merged Westmount and Saint-Louis. We have lost four ridings over the decades.
“The merger of Mont-Royal and Outremont creates a very large riding which is expected to see robust demographic growth over the next five years which we anticipate will take it over the legal maximum number of voters allowed by the electoral law.”
The Commission proposes to maintain 125 electoral ridings in the National Assembly with the average number of voters being 48,952 per riding. The electoral law allows ridings to be as much as 25 percent more or less than the average, a maximum of 61,190 or a minimum of 36,714 voters. This legal disparity of up to 24,476 voters or up to a 69 percent legal difference of voters per riding gives some voters in Quebec far more power than others.
While the mayors believe such a disparity in number of voters per riding should only be allowed in the rarest cases, there are many examples in the map of small ridings in the 37,000 to 40,000 range while many others approach the upper limits. Ridings like Duplessis, Dubuc, Rousseau, Megantic and Nicolet-Betancour all have far fewer voters than Montreal ridings such as Nelligan, Saint Laurent, Robert Baldwin or the new D’Arcy McGee or merged Mont Royal – Outremont which have between 55,000 and 59,000 voters each.
“Worse of all is that the Commission proposes six ridings that are exceptions to the law beyond the Iles de la Madeleine, the only exception the law actually permits,” says Mayor Brownstein. “These ridings including Abitibi-Est, Abitibi Ouest, Bonaventure, Gaspe, René Levesque and Ungava have between 26.8 and 44 percent fewer voters than the electoral map average and are below the legal minimum of voters. How do we explain to voters that D’Arcy McGee will now have boundaries that will no longer resemble its historic territory and have 56,245 voters while Gaspe, a riding that will have fewer voters in 2018 than at the 2014 elections, will have a Member of the National Assembly with only 30,048 electors?”
The mayors note that the new map cuts the large Filipino community that had real clout in Mont Royal in half with a large part of the community residing west of Côte des Neiges Road shifted to D’Arcy McGee. The large Orthodox Jewish community in the former Outremont riding is also diluted with those living east of Hutchinson moved into Mercier.

Councillor Kovac presented a strong statement from Mayor Brownstein at the public meeting. Natural communities should be kept together in order to give minority groups a stronger voice,” she said. And yet helping natural communities is not what has happened in the commission’s report. We have the worst of both worlds – they are removing representation from the island of Montreal, making ridings bigger, and breaking apart natural communities. Maybe we don’t need the exact same strict equality rules as they have in the United States. But can we at least apply the same fairness as they have Macedonia, or Yemen, or Belarus?
“When you increase the size of a riding like D’Arcy McGee, you weaken the voice of its natural communities. Allophones, Anglophones, Italian, Filipino, Jewish communities and others will no longer have as strong representation as they did when the riding of D’Arcy McGee was of a reasonable size. Further Mount Royal brought one more vote to the National Assembly for these communities and other minority communities. As the largest city in Quebec continues to grow its voice should not be weakened. It’s up to Quebecers to raise our voices, open their wallets, and help challenge in court decisions that hurt our community. I sincerely hope the Commission reverses its decision without the need for a legal challenge.”

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I agree completely with my esteemed colleague and friend Cllr. Mike Cohen in this excellent resume of this past week’s meeting over local electoral reform. We must not remain silent in the face of this injustice to our linguistic and cultural communities. Thank you to our local elected officials for speaking up on our behalf, spearheaded by Cllr. Marvin Rotrand and supported by editor Beryl Wajsman.

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