Community snapshot – Cote Saint-Luc

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Terrific June 11, 2016 article by a talented and creative young writer, Megan Martin, in Community Snapshot in the Montreal Gazette with interview of our indefatigable and theatrical mayor, Mitchell Brownstein .


Gazette | June 11, 2016 | Click to enlarge

Gazette | June 11, 2016 | Click to enlarge



Gazette | June 11, 2016 | Click to enlarge

Gazette | June 11, 2016 | Click to enlarge

A video that could make Bill 14 die – of laughter

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Listen to the Montreal Gazette’s James Mennie and Cote Saint-Luc Mayor Anthony Housefather on the video that could make Bill 14 die – of laughter:

A video that could make Bill 14 die – of laughter.


Lisée building bridges? Is this a joke?

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Ex-journalist has a long history of spearheading and supporting xenophobic campaigns against linguistic minorities






Nobody can say anymore that Pauline Marois hasn’t got a sense of humour.


Not after she assigned Jean-François Lisée on Wednesday to build bridges between her new Parti Québécois government and the English-speaking community.


That has to be Pauline’s prank on her would-be replacement Lisée, or the anglophones, or both, right?


Okay, maybe Marois ran out of things to say to anglos after she read the 30-word, greeting-card message to “my fellow English-speaking Quebecers (sic)” written out for her in her election-night victory speech.


But surely Marois can’t think that, of the 54 members of her PQ caucus, Lisée is the best candidate to gain our trust for her.


If the new premier is really that clueless, then anglos aren’t the only Quebecers who should be worried.


Those bridges Lisée is supposed to build? They’re to replace ones he’s done so much to blow up.


The PQ’s idea of making newcomers to Quebec, even Canadian citizens moving here from other provinces, pass a French test before they can run for even an English school board? It was Lisée who proposed it first.


Or how about the PQ’s proposed “new Bill 101,” which would restrict admission to English-language colleges?


Pfft. Two years ago, Lisée proposed abolishing the English CEGEPs entirely.


You’re a bilingual anglo? Not good enough for Lisée.


Last November, he invited readers of his blog to report encounters with the diminishing minority of anglos who refuse to learn French.


Then came Lisée’s hatchet job on anglos in L’actualité magazine in April while he was doing double duty as a “journalist,” two months after it was announced he had joined a PQ sovereignty-strategy committee.


That was the “dossier” in which he criticized us for not embracing Bill 101, not defending French in Montreal against ourselves and, in the privacy of our own homes, not listening to the pop music of Marie-Mai.


Once he became a PQ candidate for the Sept. 4 election, Lisée became the party’s leading spokesman in its xenophobic campaign against linguistic minorities.


In a PQ communiqué titled “With a Parti Québécois government, Montreal will remain predominantly French-speaking,” Lisée, now the minister in Marois’s government responsible for the city, said:


“We refuse to be the generation that will see Montreal marginalize French! We shall not accept that francophones soon are in the minority on the island and we shall not let French lose its critical mass in Quebec’s metropolis.”


Does that read as anglo-friendly to you?




“While we should be glad at the progress of French as a second language in Montreal, the decline in the proportion of Montrealers for whom French is the language mostly spoken is very worrying.”


That is, it was good that anglos and other linguistic minorities had learned French — but not good enough.


In a radio interview during the campaign, Lisée said the PQ would favour a prospective immigrant from France over one from China, because the one from France “lives in French with their family.”


But even living in French at home wasn’t good enough.


In a communiqué earlier in the campaign, the PQ had expressed concern over declines in the proportion of both Quebecers and Montrealers with French as their mother tongue.


And in another interview that surfaced during the campaign, Lisée said:


“From the moment where there isn’t a majority of people whose first language is French, it means there is no majority to defend it.”


So the only Quebecers who are good enough for Lisée are the ones with French as their mother tongue — which excludes the anglos to whom Marois now would have him build bridges.


Sérieusement, madame la première ministre?




© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette



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Letter to the Gazette: Anglo leaders are not gone

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Letters to the editor

Montreal Gazette

Re: Anglo leaders are long gone, Aubin, Gazette, September, 11, 2012:

Anglo leadership suffered a fatal blow by the withdrawal of federal funding a dozen years ago. Alliance Quebec had advocated forcefully on behalf of English-speaking Quebecers for many years and was a pillar of national unity. While AQ has withered away into the Quebec Community Groups Network, a smaller yet important group for the many rural Anglo communities throughout Quebec, there still exists several outstanding and capable individuals who represent sizable English-speaking communities.

Cote Saint-Luc Mayor Anthony Housefather is a young, dynamic and outspoken rights advocate. As president of AQ he acquired substantial knowledge of Quebec’s vast Anglo communities. Westmount Mayor Peter Trent is an eloquent spokesperson and renowned civic leader. Michael Applebaum is one of the highest ranking elected officials in the City of Montreal, representing the largest borough and most Anglo-populated of districts. These are but three obvious top picks for Pauline Marois to meet with in order to open vital channels of communication.

If Marois truly has the desire to reach out to English-speaking Quebecers she will find leaders willing to dialogue.

If government truly wants to develop Anglo leaders they can inject funds to sustain its advocacy organizations.

What’s truly sad is that the Quebec elections demonstrated that there is no interest on the part of federal or provincial leaders in supporting English-speaking Quebecers.

Glenn J. Nashen


Anglo leaders are long gone

It’s a mystery who Marois could meet because there is a void in the English community


The poll in Saturday’s Gazette asked whether Premier-elect “Pauline Marois and leaders of Quebec’s English community should meet as soon as possible.” Seventy-four per cent of respondents said yes (including 79 per cent of anglos and, encouragingly, 73 per cent of francophones).

An anglo gunman’s deadly outburst outside a Parti Québécois victory rally would have made such a meeting top of mind for many poll respondents. But other issues, too, could benefit from discussion between anglo leaders and Marois, who held herself aloof from the Englishspeaking community during the campaign – issues such as the PQ’s plans to subject small businesses to the same francization rules as big companies, to bar francophone and allophone students from English CEGEPs and to withhold Quebec “citizenship” from immigrants who don’t speak French.

But there’s a problem. The people Marois would meet with is a mystery. Anglo leaders? What anglo leaders?

As a graduate student at the Université de Montréal, Jonathan Lang, noted in The Gazette the day before the poll, there’s a lack of “anglophone leaders popular enough, and who represent this diverse community strongly enough, to be able to speak forcefully on its behalf.”

It’s hardly a new problem. Reed Scowen, a former Liberal MNA from Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, made the same point in 2007, declaring that the English community’s “leadership infrastructure has disappeared.”

Twenty or 30 years ago, the anglo community was teeming with leaders – think, for example, of Alex Paterson, Victor and Michael Goldbloom, Eric Maldoff, Gretta Chambers, Joan Fraser, Peter Blaikie and, to cite a couple of less mainstream figures, Robert Libman and William Johnson. But that period is long gone. Little has changed since Scowen’s observation of five years ago: “Most people, when asked for a name (of a leader), might refer to the director of an anglophone educational institution, health centre or religious organization; these are competent people, but with public interests that do not go beyond their professional mandate.”

Why the 21st-century void? Leaders generally come from the ranks of the educated, and the post-1976 anglo exodus from Quebec included a disproportionately large number of these. A study by William Floch and Joanne Pocock has found that 61 per cent of all anglos born in Quebec who had earned bachelor’s degrees had moved to other parts of Canada by 2001. It’s even more distressing for those with master’s degrees, 66 per cent, and PhDs, 73 per cent. (Note that these figures, based on Statistics Canada data, only reflect moves to other provinces or the territories. That means that if moves to the U.S. and other countries were included, the figures would be even higher.)

The immigrants who are making the anglo community more heterogeneous are often preoccupied with establishing themselves professionally and contributing to their own ethnic community.

Add to that the changing zeitgeist. It was often common among welleducated, relatively well-to-do families to instill a sense of civic responsibility. They agreed with the saying, “Of those to whom much is given, much is expected.” To be sure, this attitude had a whiff of elitism – but of a good kind.

This sense of obligation to the community has given way to a new individualism. To be sure, the trend holds also in French Quebec (sociologist Guy Rocher has noted that the ideal of social solidarity is giving way to the “ideology of personal success”) and to the West in general.

I think the decline in church-going might also be a factor. That’s not only because of religious teaching per se (the “Of those to much is given” quote is biblical) but also because of the social dimension. Churches bring people together. They build a sense of community involvement that people can carry into their secular lives.

Though these attitudinal changes transcend English Quebec, they are felt particularly hard here because that community is a minority. Minorities can’t afford a leadership void if they aim to stay robust.

But let’s get back to that Gazette poll. Even though three-quarters of Quebecers might favour a meeting between Marois and anglo leaders, she has given no hint she’d like to meet with them, and there are no such leaders to invite even if she wanted to. The situation is not just absurd but sad.

Given the ongoing exodus of educated anglos and the thinness of respect for civic involvement, filling the leadership void won’t be easy.

© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

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Côte St. Luc a livable, innovative community

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Côte St. Luc a livable, innovative community

Largely residential city has strong education, recreation facilities


BY MEGAN MARTIN, FREELANCE, The Montreal Gazette, FEBRUARY 1, 2012


Côte St. Luc is a bilingual municipality with a diverse population, located west of the downtown core. Featuring ideal real estate for families, the largely residential city is the third largest municipality on the island of Montreal. The town was incorporated in 1903 and graduated to city status in 1958.


The city’s population of roughly 32,500 is spread over 6.95 square kilometres of land. There are around 13,500 households on the territory, divided almost equally between owned and rented properties. A mayor and eight city councillors administer the city, each for a term of four years. Each councillor serves a separate district of the city.




Côte St. Luc has been a leader in health and safety issues, becoming one of the first municipalities in Quebec to ban pesticides. It was also the first municipality in Quebec to outlaw smoking in public places and to require bicycle helmets. Additionally, Côte St. Luc is the only community in Quebec to have a volunteer first responder service, which was created almost 30 years ago. And in 2006, it became the first city in the province to launch a Citizens on Patrol program.




There is no shortage of schools at a variety of academic levels in Côte St. Luc. Moreover, because of the large Jewish population in the city, there are several private, specialized schools. Preschools include the Hebrew Day School on Hudson Ave., and the Jewish People’s and Peretz School on Westminster Ave. Elementary schools include École Maimonides located on Côte St. Luc Rd., Hebrew Academy on Kellert St., Merton Elementary on Robinson Ave., École de la Mosaique on McMurray Ave., and Yeshiva Yavne on Wavell Rd. There are also several high schools in Côte St. Luc including École Secondaire Maimonide on Parkhaven Ave., Bialik High School on Kildare Ave., and Hebrew Academy on Kellert Ave. Lastly, Marymount Adult Centre and John Grant High School for children with special needs share a building on Parkhaven Ave.




The sports and recreation programs offered by Côte St. Luc make it an attractive residential community, especially for families. The Parks and Recreation Department in Côte St. Luc offers residents various leisure, sporting, and cultural programs. It coordinates events year round and runs facilities such as the Samuel Moskovitch Arena.


The city boasts 28 parks and a brand new Aquatic and Community Centre on Parkhaven Ave. The new centre, which opened in September 2011, was created to offer residents access to resources geared toward leading an active and healthy lifestyle. The centre features an indoor competition pool and a separate recreation pool, which provides a year-round venue for a range of aquatic activities, a fitness room for aerobic conditioning and a dance studio.


There is also a teen lounge on site, a satellite library, a game room, kids’ zone and babysitting service available. The venue also offers large, rentable rooms including a catering kitchen for events such as conferences and parties.


In addition, the Eleanor London Côte St. Luc Public Library is widely regarded for its services. The library contains roughly 231,365 books for children and adults, and stocks thousands of videos, DVDs, audiobooks, periodicals and music. The library is so popular, in fact, that an average of 1,144 items are taken out on a daily basis.




The Côte St. Luc Human Rights Walkway was established in 2000 in Pierre Elliott Trudeau Park. The Walkway honours men and women who have, throughout history, been dedicated to the advancement of human rights. It is an attraction and historical monument unique to Côte St. Luc.




The city has the advantage of being mere minutes away from a major health care institution: the Jewish General Hospital on Côte Sainte-Catherine Rd. Moreover, Mount Sinai Hospital, which specializes in respiratory, palliative, and long-term care, is located on Cavendish Ave. Also on Cavendish Ave. is CLSC René-Cassin; and the Donald Berman Maimonides Geriatric Centre is on Caldwell Ave. There are also many small health clinics throughout the city.


© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette



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Most Quebec cyclists don’t wear helmets

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Most Quebec cyclists don’t wear helmets

No Law Here; 59% forgo headgear compared with 46% nationally

By CHLOE FEDIO, The Gazette, June 16, 2010

More than half of the population of Quebec say they are avid cyclists, but a Statistics Canada survey reveals that the majority of those do not wear helmets when on a bike.

The 2009 Canadian Community Health Survey, made public yesterday, suggests 59 per cent of Quebecers over age 12 never wear a helmet when riding a bike, compared with the national average of 46 per cent.

Cyclists in provinces without bicycle helmet legislation, like Quebec, are less likely to use them, said Amanda Elliott, an analyst for Statistics Canada. Helmet use, according to the survey, was highest in Nova Scotia (66 per cent), the province with the strictest helmet law. Despite this, Suzanne Lareau, president of Velo-Quebec, said that number is proof that helmet laws are ineffective.

“It’s startling that in provinces that hand out fines for not wearing helmets, we’re not seeing 80 or 90 per cent of people wearing helmets. It seems like the laws are not working,” she said.

The Quebec government’s proposal to amend the Road Safety Code in the province to make helmets mandatory for children 12 and younger was frozen at the end of the session and is expected to return in the fall. There are no helmet regulations in Montreal, but they are mandatory for all ages in the city of Westmount and the municipality of CoteSt. Luc.

Lareau said wearing a helmet is a personal choice and that fining those who don’t wear a one might dissuade people from using an environmentally friendly method of transportation.

“We’re not against wearing helmets but we are against a law,” Lareau said. “We’re against the idea of penalizing people for riding their bikes, for doing physical activity. These are people who are using a transportation method that’s good for the environment, that’s good for their health.”

Patrick Morency, a public health specialist in Montreal’s health and social services department, said that while helmets can help prevent injury, a more comprehensive road safety strategy is necessary to reduce the number of injured cyclists.

“What’s killing cyclists in Montreal or seriously injuring them is vehicles -and the bigger the vehicle, the worse the injury,” Morency said. “Generally, cyclists that are killed are either hit at a high speed or by a large vehicle – and in those cases a helmet might not help much.”

Lareau said that better cooperation between cyclists and motorists is the key to preventing accidents.

“What does wearing a helmet actually do? It might reduce the chance of injury in case of an accident, but it doesn’t prevent accidents,” Lareau said. “We need to work on strategies to improve bike safety, like lowering speed limits in the city and sharing the road. That would be more effective than implementing a helmet law and then saying, ‘My job is done.’ ”

© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

To read about my efforts to enact mandatory helmet laws type HELMET in the search window.  Do you agree that helmet laws are needed in Quebec?  Post your comment here.

Read about this in today’s La Presse

Holding school, municipal votes on same day is bad idea


In my opinion:  I agree with Henry Aubin that it is an awful idea to stage school board elections together with municipal elections.  In this article, Aubin explains why it is bad for the school boards.  It is equally bad for municipal elections, particularly in small communities where it is already difficult to gain the attention of the voters.  Adding more candidates from a different election altogether would create more confusion and diminish all candidates’ abilities to present their credentials.  Do you agree?  Post your comment below.

Holding school, municipal votes on same day is bad idea

Increase voter knowledge and the turnout will follow

By HENRY AUBIN, The Gazette  April 8, 2010

Some people have been moaning for years about the pathetic level of voter turnout at school-board elections. Everyone has been saying that “something must be done.” No one, however, has ever defined what that something is – no one, that is, except Education Minister Michelle Courchesne.

The minister says she might ask cabinet later this year to approve her idea of holding school-board elections on the same day as municipal elections. Municipal elections attract many more voters than do school-board elections, so the minister figures that the latter would get a big boost in voters. That wouldn’t be hard: In the last contests, a mere 7.2 per cent of eligible voters cast ballots for French boards and 16.9 per cent for English boards.

Still, it’s a poor idea.

Yes, twinning the elections would certainly produce more school-board votes, but whether these would be more intelligent votes is another matter.

Many voters would have gone to the polls simply to vote for candidates for mayor and city or borough councillor. They’d know next to nothing about education issues. They’d check off a name of a school-board candidate more on whim than on the basis of information.

Democracy thrives with an electorate that’s informed (or at least somewhat informed). Better for citizens not to vote at all than to vote blindly, stupidly.

Here’s a second problem: Municipal parties exist in the larger cities. Were school-board elections to be held at the same time as city elections, it would be easy for them to co-opt the school-board scene. They’d endorse a slate of school-board candidates and finance their parallel campaigns cheaply because of economies of scale.

What would be wrong about that?

I’ve often called these municipal parties the bane of local democracy. In most cases, its political bosses behind closed doors who pick candidates for the various seats; this is the antithesis of grassroots politics in which ordinary citizens with reputations for a civic conscience run for office. This latter kind of candidate, the kind of person you’d like to see making decisions on education, would rarely stand a chance against a party-picked candidate: The latter’s campaign would have the big bucks.

Why would a municipal party care to get involved in school boards? Contracts. A contractor who donates to a municipal party in expectation of snagging contracts might also want work on some of those vast school-board real-estate holdings.

But here’s the most important problem with Courchesne’s plan: Coupling elections to raise the stats on voters is like treating the symptom of a disease instead of the disease itself.

The disease that underlies voter inertia has many causes: The people most motivated to vote are parents, and there are fewer people today with kids; many of those parents send their kids to private school; especially in Montreal, many parents who do have kids in public schools are immigrants unfamiliar with school-board democracy; the boards and candidates often do too little to publicize issues.

If the minister were to treat the disease, she’d publicize the relevance of school boards – and not just to immigrants but to everyone, even to people without children. She’d press the boards to deliver to every home a pre-election newsletter in which candidates would be invited to spell out their competing visions. She’d get the boards to hold candidates’ debates; many boards overlook this elementary step, which is often a way to get media coverage.

Twinning the elections would only make this more difficult. Municipal elections would hog the spotlight.

The way to increase voter turnout at school-board elections is to increase voter knowledge. And the electorate will never get that if these elections were to lose their own space.

Henry Aubin is The Gazette’s regional-affairs columnist.

© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

Green is good for you

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Green is good for you

Living close to natural areas can improve health, many studies show

By STEPHEN VIDA, Freelance, The Gazette, April 14, 2010

Many Montrealers want to save Meadowbrook from the construction of a 1,500-unit housing project. It is easy to see why. Located in Côte St. Luc and Lachine, Meadowbrook is a 57-hectare area, now a golf course, with ancient trees and wildlife such as foxes, rabbits, and a variety of birds. It is beautiful, irreplaceable, and one of the few natural green spaces Montreal has left. Knowing that destruction is forever, citizens understandably ask why build on a natural area when there is so much other land that can be used for housing. Why not turn Meadowbrook into a nature park open to all?

While green spaces have intrinsic natural value, they are also important for health. They reduce air pollution and absorb carbon dioxide and noise. They encourage healthy recreational activities such as walking, running and cycling. They absorb less solar heat and can be as much as eight degrees cooler than surrounding built-up areas, decreasing the urban heat-island effect. In the Montreal heat wave of 1994, non-traumatic deaths rose from an average of 45 per day to 100, spiking upward right along with the temperature. Important points all, but is there any research evidence linking urban green space and health?

Several studies suggest that urban green space is good for our health, especially for disadvantaged citizens. Because socio-economic factors are linked with health outcomes and with where people live, they are usually considered in studies of green space.

An early study compared patients assigned to rooms with views of a natural setting with matched patients in similar rooms facing a brick wall. The former had shorter and more favourable post-operative hospital stays and required fewer painkillers. In Japan, the practice of staying or walking in forests, known as shinrin-yoku, is a popular relaxation practice. One study comparing subjects on forest visit days and control days found their emotional state significantly better on forest days, especially among highly stressed people.

At least three important studies come from Holland. One found that the more green space available within a three-kilometre radius of home, the better were several measures of mental and physical health. People felt less well in urban environments, but the positive effect of green space was stronger than the negative effect of the urban environment. Effects were stronger among housewives, the elderly, and the uneducated. The authors concluded that “assuming a causal relation between green space and health, 10 per cent more green space in the living environment leads to a decrease in the number of symptoms that is comparable with a decrease in age by five years.”

The second study reported similar findings, again stronger for poor, uneducated, the elderly and the young. The authors concluded that “Green space seems to be more than just a luxury and consequently the development of green space should be allocated a more central position in spatial planning policy. Healthy planning should include a place for green space and policy-makers should take the amount of green space in the living environment into account when endeavouring to improve the health situation of the elderly, the youth, and lower socio-economic status groups, especially in urban environments.”

The third study found that the rates of several physical and psychological ailments were lower in areas with more green space within a one-km radius. These effects were strongest for anxiety disorders and depression and strongest in children and the poor.

In Britain, researchers found that better health was generally associated with increased green space, particularly in urban areas, but cautioned that the type of green space might be important. Meanwhile, a Danish study reported less stress and obesity near green spaces, perhaps related to outdoor activities and healthful modes of travel.

Evidence on mortality rates is also emerging. A Japanese study of urban senior citizens showed significantly greater lifespans if they lived near walkable green space. The authors suggested that accessible and walkable greenery-filled public areas should be encouraged in cities.

All these studies suggest links between urban green space with better health. Moreover, researchers convincingly argue that green space actually improves health.

Finally, this effect might be stronger among disadvantaged populations and may help reduce socio-economic inequalities in health.

On this basis, surely Meadowbrook should be preserved.

Stephen Vida is a Montreal doctor.

© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

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Côte St. Luc residence to close

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Côte St. Luc residence to close

By Jan Ravensbergen, The Gazette    April 14, 2010

MONTREAL – A vacancy rate exceeding 40 per cent and a continuing five-year decline in occupancy that was about to get much worse have spelled the end of the line for the Griffith-McConnell Residence in Côte St. Luc – just short of a half-century of caring for primarily anglo Montreal seniors.

Opened in 1961, the non-profit, 290-bed home will be emptied and shut June 30, it announced last night in a press release.

A total of 170 seniors, with an average age in the mid-80s, will be uprooted.

The home was increasingly being bypassed by potential residents because of wide availability of many more modern and attractive seniors’ homes at comparable prices, said Peter McAuslan, board chairman for the past two years.

Anglo seniors usually don’t move to a elder-care home until their mid to late 80s, he added – unlike francophones, who generally tend to leave their long-time family residence about a decade sooner.

Calling the shutdown decision “painful,” McAuslan added it was also necessary, given “a deficit running at about $100,000 a month, which is unsustainable.”

The death knell was sounded because a steady, years-long drop in residents was about to accelerate.

A decision by the Montreal Health and Social Services Agency to move public-sector occupants of extended-care beds at the home to elsewhere in its network, announced by the agency to the home’s management last August, was the catalyst for a longer-term review. The number of those government-paid beds is usually around 75 but at times as high as 92.

As well, a required renovation would have cost $13 million, McAuslan said: “To stay open, we would have had to have been putting aside $500,000 a year for capital expenditures, every year for the last 30 years.”

This wasn’t done. Instead, the home has been simply breaking even. As a result, “we simply can no longer make a go of it…. There’s no money in the till when you are running almost half-empty.”

Located on Parkhaven Ave. between Kildare and Mackle Rds., the residence has no endowment and doesn’t get Quebec grants.

The home has two towers. The extended-care tower has 120 patients with an average age of 87, about half with some symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

It is currently one-quarter empty.

Another 50 residents, average age 84, have their homes in the autonomous-living tower.

But that one is half-empty, McAuslan said.

Both towers are shutting. They will be returned to the owner, the United Church of Canada, for a fate McAuslan said has not yet been undetermined.

Asked about assistance for residents and families to manage the transition – a particularly difficult issue for the many residents with varying degrees of dementia – McAuslan responded that “residents’ needs are being focused on as well as staff,” the latter numbering more than 200. The United Church “is fully engaged in this closing both pastorally and financially,” he added.

The shutdown follows a quietly conducted eight-month review of ”our overall strategic direction.”

Competing homes for the elderly that have sprung up in recent years have such basic amenities as private bathrooms – which the Griffith-McConnell doesn’t – along with other in-demand facilities including swimming pools, computer and family-celebration rooms.

Private patients at the home are currently charged $4,900 for extended care.

Rumours were apparently percolating about a shutdown. “Rumours often start in the absence of information,” Annette Rudy, the home’s executive director, said in a message in the residence’s winter bulletin.

The shutdown press release was issued at 6:14 p.m.

Staff “started telling families on a confidential basis” Tuesday night, said residence spokesperson Jonathan Goldbloom.

© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

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Patchwork of patrollers has Côte St. Luc covered

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Patchwork of patrollers has Côte St. Luc covered

Volunteers ranging in age from 17 to 84 keep an eye on their neighbourhood day and night

By MONIQUE MUISE, The Gazette  April 10, 2010

On the surface, the streets of Côte St. Luc resemble those in most other communities in Montreal. Street lights blink on as the sun sets, kids push their scooters down the sidewalks, and through nearby windows, families can be seen sitting down to dinner.

Glenn J. Nashen and Mitchell Herf patrol Cote Saint-Luc streets during the evening

But there is something unique about this place – and it’s exemplified by the large white minivan that rolled slowly past the parks, paths, and playgrounds on Thursday night.

The van is one of several vehicles operated by the city’s Volunteer Citizens on Patrol (vCOP) – a small group of dedicated residents who keep an eye on Côte St. Luc day and night, seven days a week.

“The police provide a heavy blanket of security, and the community security patrols lend a second layer,” said municipal councillor Glenn Nashen, who founded the group almost four years ago based on a similar program he saw in the U.S.

“We’re really like a thin quilt on top of all of that.”

That quilt is actually a patchwork of 75 volunteers from every background and walk of life, ranging in age from 17 to 84. Some are retirees who need something to occupy their time; others are people like Mitchell Herf, who already works full-time but was looking for a unique way to give back to his community.

“People find out about it primarily through word of mouth,” Herf said during Thursday evening’s patrol. “In my case, I saw the van pass by one day while I was out walking.”

The program gets about $7,000 a year from the city but is mainly funded through donations and some fundraising activities. The patrollers always work in pairs during their three-hour shifts, and deal with everything from scraped knees to lost children.

Sandra Segal, who has been a part of the group for nearly three years, said there’s something extremely gratifying about the work.

“I can’t really explain it,” she said, strolling toward a nearby park with a flashlight in hand.

“You just get some sort of satisfaction out of it … and people always thank us.”

Segal had just gotten off the radio with the local dispatcher after calling in to report a wire hanging near a home. Turned out it was a harmless television cable that had come loose.

“That’s a good example of something that could have been quite dangerous,” said Nashen, overhearing the call over his own two-way radio. “It’s good she spotted it.”

The patrollers go through nearly 12 hours of intensive training, learning everything from how to administer basic first aid to how to navigate Côte St. Luc’s maze of residential streets. But while they may be highly visible and do interact regularly with the public, vCOP volunteers shouldn’t be mistaken for vigilantes, Nashen said.

“We act as observers, and we don’t intervene,” he explained.

“If (patrollers) see something that’s not right, they will alert the proper authorities.”

The fact that Côte St. Luc currently boasts the lowest crime rates in the city is an indication that the program is working, Herf said.

“It’s not like people see us in their rearview mirror and think, ‘What have I done wrong?’ ” he said, waving at a little girl playing on a nearby swing set.

“They see us and think, ‘Oh, it’s good to see them out.’ ”

© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

Meadowbrook Golf Course site tug of war

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Meadowbrook Golf Course site tug of war

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

By Monique Beaudin, The Gazette


Groupe Pacific, which owns the west end site, is planning a 1,500-unit development for the part of the golf course in Lachine. Groupe Pacific, which owns the west end site, is planning a 1,500-unit development for the part of the golf course in Lachine. Groupe Pacific, which owns the west end site, is planning a 1,500-unit development for the part of the golf course in Lachine.

Photographed by:

Gazette File Photo,

MONTREAL – The fight over the Meadowbrook Golf Course is back on.

At issue are two visions of sustainable development – a new green space in a part of the city where residents have little access to nature vs. housing in a new residential community with a small environmental footprint.

Groupe Pacific, which owns the west end site, is planning a 1,500-unit development for the part of the golf course in Lachine.

The company wants to build a sustainable community, with smaller homes and a stronger emphasis on public transit than conventional developments, said Groupe Pacific’s Suzanne Deschamps.

“We believe that we are trying to do the right thing both for the environment and the health of people and plants and biodiversity,” she told The Gazette yesterday.

People who have been trying for years to keep the golf course green fear this might be Montreal’s last chance to stop the site from being developed. Patrick Asch, of the environmental group Héritage Laurentien, describes it as a green space emergency.

“Development there is imminent,” he said yesterday.

For more than two decades, the fate of the golf course, which straddles Côte St. Luc and the Montreal borough of Lachine, has been up in the air. Canadian Pacific Railway bought the former farmland in 1917 to act as a buffer between its rail yards and nearby residential properties, and as a recreational space by its employees. It became a golf course in the 1930s.

In 2000, Côte St. Luc changed the zoning on its part of the golf course from residential to recreational. The golf course’s owner at the time launched a $20-million lawsuit against the city, but the case has been dormant since then. Deschamps said the company doesn’t plan to build on the Côte St. Luc side of the golf course.

The group Les Amis de Meadowbrook will today unveil its new action plan to preserve the site, which includes increasing pressure on municipal officials. Montreal has yet to act on a recommendation made by the agglomeration council last June, which said the city should take steps to preserve the 57-hectare site as a natural space.

City spokesman Bernard Larin said yesterday there have been no new developments since the agglomeration council’s recommendation last year. Montreal will have something to say about the golf course in the “coming months,” he said.

Deschamps said there have been no discussions with city officials about the agglomeration council’s recommendation. She dismissed the possibility of the company swapping the Meadowbrook site for land elsewhere, as some environmental groups have suggested, saying it has already spent millions of dollars working on its project.

Montreal has not approached the company about purchasing the site, she said.

“I think the city would very much like to see green space, and I think we offer maybe the best of both worlds,” Deschamps said.

Jo Ann Goldwater, of Les Amis de Meadowbrook, disputes the construction of housing on the golf course as environmentally-friendly.

“We’re not against environmentally-friendly developments, not at all,” she said. “We just question why you would destroy a beautiful green space for an environmentally-friendly development when there are (other) lands that could be reclaimed and have beautiful developments there.”

According to Asch, the golf course is a valuable green space for all Montrealers, especially those living in the densely-built southwestern part of the island. The health and economic benefits of protecting the site are great, he said. Natural spaces reduce pollution, offset heat-island effect and offer recreational opportunities to residents.

Meadowbrook still looks like the old farmland it once was, Asch said, with a pond that’s home to a native population of frogs. It is on the migratory path for birds and ducks and frogs spawn there. Vegetation is typical of what was found in the area 100 years ago, he said, including flowers, ferns and trees.

Over the next 8 to 10 years, Groupe Pacific plans to build a combination of townhouses and condominium in four-to-six storey buildings on the site, Deschamps said. The density of the development would be similar to that of the Plateau Mont Royal borough. Europeans live in smaller, more compact homes, Deschamps said, and the company hopes that the Meadowbrook development will be an example of that in North America.

Access to the site would be from Côte St. Luc along Côte St. Luc Rd. Deschamps said the emphasis would be less on car access than on access by public transit.

Groupe Pacific hopes to submit the plan to the city for approval this year, Deschamps said.

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In my opinion:  I have spoken out in favour of preserving this magnificent greenspace for over 20 years.  Look at the incredible vast parks that stretch across Toronto and Boston and so many other major North American cities that enrich the lives of local residents.  The scores of thousands of people who live all around Meadowbrook, from Cote Saint-Luc, Hampstead, Montreal West, NDG, Ville St-Pierre and Lachine as well as LaSalle, Dorval and St. Laurent would benefit tremendously by having a recreational area within walking or cycling distance.  Montreal should take immediate steps to stop any planned development.