CSL, Hampstead not consulted on Montreal-area pipeline ‘consensus’

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The Montreal Metropolitan Community, headed by Montreal mayor Denis Coderre, recently announced that its 82 member municipalities were opposed to the Energy East pipeline that would transfer oil from Alberta, through Quebec, to New Brunswick.

But Hampstead mayor William Steinberg and Côte St. Luc acting mayor Dida Berku, who both head municipalities close to the CP railyard, say they were not consulted before the MMC announced the “consensus” opposition to the pipeline.

One alternative to pipelines is transport by rail, but a derailment of an oil-transporting train killed 47 people in Lac Mégantic in 2013.

Steinberg told resident Sonny Surkes Monday night that Hampstead was not consulted by the MMC. The mayor added that council does not yet have an official opinion on the issue yet, but that he personally agrees with the federal and Quebec Liberal governments’ position.

“There must be appropriate environmental assessments and safeguards for any pipeline, and we must look at both the economic and environmental issues, and then come to a decision,” Steinberg said. “I also believe this is not really a municipal issue, certainly not for Hampstead, no pipeline is going under our town.”

Councillor Leon Elfassy pointed out that the town has expressed itself before on issues affecting higher levels of government. Steinberg responded that this is for council to decide.

Berku told The Suburban Tuesday morning that Côte St. Luc was also not consulted by the MMC.

“In fact, I did get quite a few emails and reactions from residents who were surprised, saying ‘Coderre doesn’t speak for us because we have oil by rail, we’re concerned about it and would like to see more oil by pipeline.’”

Berku said council, while it is concerned about transport of oil by rail, agrees with the federal Liberal stance on the pipeline issue.

“We support the new federal standards for review, which combines stricter environmental assessment with community consultation.”

Berku said it is likely less expensive to transport oil by pipeline.

On the other hand, “these are not easy environmental choices. It’s not always clear which is the safest. …. The pipeline will obviously not run through Côte St. Luc.”

Council votes to pay MMC

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Free Press. Feb. 13, 2013. Click to enlarge.

Free Press. Feb. 13, 2013. Click to enlarge.

 

I have always voted against payments to the Metropolitan Community.  Cote Saint-Luc derives very little value for its nearly half-million dollar annual expense.  Of course, we are also bound by law to pay this amount and therefore have no choice.

I feel it is better for this expense not to be adopted unanimously and for the public to be aware of how we are overburdened with multiple layers of regional government costing us in dollars, in bureaucracy and in confusing, complex and contradictory regulations and services.

Quebec is the most heavily taxed territory in North America.  This has an impact upon our economy, job creation and personal and corporate wealth.  Do we really need to be spending $500,000 on the MMC?

CSL budgets modest tax increase

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At last night’s public meeting, Côte Saint-Luc City Council adopted its 2013 budget for local and agglomeration operating expenses.  An average single family home (valued at $470,000) will see a modest increase of $78 in taxes or 1.32 percent, well below the rate of inflation.

The total budget amounts to $65M which breaks down as $37M in local costs and $28M in island wide agglomeration costs.

The City will continue to invest in critical infrastructure (water distribution network, roads, sidewalks, etc.) as well as in rejuvenating its oldest park equipment.

As Councillor responsible for Public Safety I am quite pleased that the city will continue its important investments in this area ensuring top quality volunteer EMS response, the steady expansion of the volunteer Citizens on Patrol as well as Public Security, Emergency Communications and Emergency Preparedness.

Also, the CSL Cycles program will continue to roll out with new bike lanes stretching from Cavendish, along Baily toward the Cote Saint-Luc Shopping Centre, to tie in to the NDG network running up West Broadway.  A new lane will also be painted along Kildare Road from Westminster to Shalom and through Ruth Kovac Park to reach the Cavendish Mall.

Unfortunately, Cote Saint-Luc is obliged to spend about half-a-million dollars on the Montreal Metropolitan Community, an added level of regional government for which we have very little input and see very questionable results.  I concur with the Gazette’s civic affairs columnist Henry Aubin who has argued for years that the Montreal region is overburdened with layers of bureaucracy from multiple transit authorities, government departments and agencies, all adding to our tax burden at one level or another.

Fortunately, with the municipal demergers in 2005, Cote Saint-Luc controls well over half its local taxes and sets priorities locally on services closest to the resident.

Here is a detailed copy of the CSL 2013 budget presentation.