Suburban exclusive: Quebec in process of changing French-only highway signs to pictograms: Fortin

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Very proud of my friends and colleagues Ruth Kovac, Harold Staviss and David Birnbaum on this important step forward. My readers will recall my many posts and communications with various ministries and agencies of the Quebec government, as well as the city of Montreal (notably the Fire Department) demanding that messages pertaining to public safety be in both French and English, as permitted by the oppressive and dreaded Charter of the French language. Many of these communiques received a polite we’ll look into it with little action or follow up.

The case of the highway road signs proclaiming completely unintelligible warning messages to any non-French-speaker were particularly unjust and illogical. Search my blog for these posts and pictures.

Well, thanks to perseverance and determination of Ruth and Harold they pushed and hounded, and engaged the assistance of our duty-bound MNA, David. The result is favourable in terms of agreeing to pictograms, unfortunately not bilingual signs, but the work is still to be done by the ministry. We’ll continue to follow this important dossier and hold the next government to account and press forward until this gets done in the name of public safety!

Suburban exclusive: Quebec in process of changing French-only highway signs to pictograms: Fortin

Suburban exclusive: Quebec in process of changing French-only highway signs to pictograms: Fortin
From left, D’Arcy McGee MNA David Birnbaum, Hampstead lawyer Harold Staviss, CSL councillor Ruth Kovac and Transport Minister André Fortin at a recent meeting.

Transports Quebec is in the process of changing French-only directive highway signs to pictograms, and will gradually also do so on electronic message boards, provincial Transport Minister André Fortin told The Suburban Saturday.

The changeover is coming about following a 7,000-name National Assembly petition, created by Hampstead lawyer Harold Staviss and Cote St. Luc councillor Ruth Kovac and sponsored by D’Arcy McGee MNA David Birnbaum, which sought bilingual traffic signage dealing with health and public safety. Last year, we reported that Transports Quebec committed to more and better pictograms.

Fortin praised the petition, and pointed out that he recently met with Staviss and Kovac along with Birnbaum.

“In terms of using more pictograms and to make sure highway signs are understood by everybody who uses the roads, there’s a couple of things we have developed,” Fortin said. “It’s important to know that we already use more pictograms on Quebec roads than anywhere else in Canada, but obviously we can go further.”

Some examples already addressed include signs indicating thaw following the winter season, and uneven pavement.

“And there are others that are in the course of being replaced,” Fortin said, including some addressed in the petition such as “incident voie droite bloquée” (right lane blocked because of incident) and “risque d’aquaplanage” (risk of hydroplaning). “So to make our roads safer and make sure everyone understands the warnings, we are moving to using more pictograms.”

Another aspect of the petition was electronic message boards warning of accidents and incidents, and providing directives.

“A lot of them are first-generation message boards and they don’t necessarily allow for the use of pictograms,” Fortin explained. “With the newer boards, the technology is better and it enables us to use less words and more pictograms. We’re changing a lot of these message boards right now to use more pictograms.”

The Minister also pointed out that, as the petition addressed, sometimes there are too many words on the message boards, “and we agree with that.

“We certainly don’t want our message boards to be an added distraction to drivers, so we’ve already given a directive to the various regional sections of the ministry  to leave the boards blank if there’s no particular information of value.

Staviss and Kovac were very happy.

“We are ecstatic with the news that the traffic signage and message boards on Quebec roads dealing with health and public safety are in the midst of being replaced by symbols or pictographs,” they said in an e-mail to The Suburban. “It is welcoming to know that such public safety signage as Dégel shall be replaced by pictographs, which most certainly will be more clearly understood by motorists using our Quebec roads.

“As we have said since the launching of our petition in early December 2016, the change has nothing to do with language, it has all to do with everyone’s health and safety,” they added. “Kudos and many thanks to David Birnbaum, the MNA for the riding of D’Arcy McGee who deposited our petition in the Quebec National Assembly on March 14, 2017, to André Fortin, our Minister of Transport and the MNA for the riding of Pontiac for considering and implementing our petition and someone who gets it, as well as to Elisabeth Prass (Bureau Chief and Political Attaché to Birnbaum) and Caroline Des Rosiers (Press Secretary/Attaché responsible for the file and Political Advisor) for their input. It goes without saying that we are excited and overjoyed that our petition really made a difference. It sometimes pays to stand up for what one truly believes will make a positive change.”

Birnbaum praised Staviss and Kovac, and those who signed the petition, “which I was pleased to present in the National Assembly. And, frankly, I commend The Suburban for having kept this issue in the news.

“I’m really encouraged that my colleague, Minister Fortin, has taken concrete and prompt action to respond. We’re talking safety and security, for all Quebecers and for all visitors to the province. André has spelled out specific measures to replace unilingual wording with easily understandable pictograms on key road and traffic signs and on electronic billboards. Furthermore, he’s given instructions to have those changes implemented promptly.”

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Birnbaum goes for #2 in D’Arcy McGee

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D’Arcy McGee MNA David Birnbaum looks on as he is announced as the official candidate for the Quebec Liberal Party in this year’s general election

 

A political and community ‘Who’s Who’ turned out Monday night for the nomination meeting for the Quebec Liberal Party candidate for D’Arcy McGee riding where incumbent Member of the National Assembly David Birnbaum is seeking a second mandate.

 

Flanked by Deputy Premier Dominique Anglade, Finance minister Carlos Leitao, English-speaking community relations minister Kathleen Weil and MNA Rita De Santes, Birnbaum was clearly beaming with pride on having served his constituents well over the past four years.

From right: David Birnbaum, John Parisella, Carlos Leitao, William Steinberg, Mitchell Brownstein, Kathleen Weil, Dominique Anglade

Special guest speaker John Parisella, chief of staff to Premier Robert Bourassa and decades-long senior adviser to the QLP introduced Birnbaum as a man with great focus and an excellent representative for the riding. He noted, as I have on several occasions, Birnbaum’s eloquence in choosing the very best words in making his point.

 

Said Birnbaum, in accepting the nomination and becoming the official QLP candidate, “We’re working hard in building Canada.” He pointed out how his government is not only looking inward at Quebec but seeking ways to strengthen the entire country, for example through bilateral work with other provinces.

 

“It’s rewarding to contribute to the rest of the country,” the liberal member said.

 

With regard to the work the QLP is doing for the local community and the Jewish community, he singled out the Jewish General Hospital and the government’s recent decision to fund “Phase 4” of the multi-million dollar redevelopment project.

David Birnbaum at the Jewish General Hospital

“The JGH is a model, as our health minister has said many times, and now has funding for the next step of its major expansion,” Birnbaum said.

 

“I’m doing my piece to move the Cavendish dossier forward,” Birnbaum announced, citing his many meetings with municipal and provincial leaders. “In 2024 you’re going to see something happen,” he stated.

More locally, “We recently announced one million dollars in funding for the Cote Saint-Luc Samuel Moscovitch Arena.”

Quebec Liberal leader Dr. Philippe Couillard introduces D’Arcy McGee candidate David Birnbaum (2014)

“I presented a resolution by Cllr. Ruth Kovac concerning safety on signs,” Birnbaum mentioned. In fact, Cllr. Ruth Kovac and Harold Staviss have been remarkable in their consistent advocacy for bilingualism in the retail and commercial arena. It was yours truly that began a local push for bilingual safety messages on Quebec road signs and English content on provincial department websites. I must say that it is still quite disappointing that not only is there far too little English on road signs as well as in commerce it is quite sad that Ruth, Harold, myself and many others must advocate in the first place for something that is already within the law.

MNA David Birnbaum and Councillor Ruth Kovac

Birnbaum stated, “As MNA you need to be present for the constituents each and every day… solving problems, serving the community.” To that end he thanked his two very accessible and effective attachés, Chris and Liz.

 

Among other issues, Birnbaum also highlighted:

  • last year’s economic mission Historic mission to Israel, the first time a Quebec Premier made such a visit.
  • The Premier’s three visits into the riding, including last week for Yom Hashoah and a previous appearance at the CSL Men’s Club. “There’s no tougher place in Quebec for hard questions than from the 600 men of the CSL Men’s Club,” he said to applause, with a nod to past president Sidney Margles who was present.

 

In considering the opposition in the upcoming October 1 general election Birnbaum said, “Ask the CAQ why a judge in Quebec cannot discharge his duties while wearing a kippa. Or ask why the CAQ wouldn’t continue funding the English community secretariat, or why they’re against current immigration levels.”

David Birnbaum, MNA, welcomes Cllrs. Dida Berku, Mitchell Brownstein, Allan J. Levine, Acting Mayor Glenn J. Nashen and Chief of Staff Bonnie Feigenbaum (2015)

“As to the PQ, despite a referendum on sovereignty is not on the agenda it keeps coming up time and again.”

 

He also referred to PQ leader Jean-Francois Lisée’s “stupid question”, as Leitao called it, last week on Yom Hashoah. Lisée questioned why Birnbaum should have more rights than Lisée is being allowed to wear a kippa in the assembly while Lisée was singled out for wearing a political symbol in his PQ lapel pin, something not permitted by assembly rules. A political three-party free for all ensued for several days that doesn’t look like it will be over soon as the “identity” question boils over, yet again.

Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, Cllr. Allan J. Levine, MNA David Birnbaum, Finance Minister Carlos Leitao, Cllr. Dida Berku, Cllr. Ruth Kovac, Cllr. Glenn J. Nashen (2016)

Birnbaum called the Liberals, “Inclusive, compassionate and proudly Canadian.” While some may call that an exaggeration, Birnbaum is quite convinced, to be sure.

 

The evening opened with Hampstead Mayor William Steinberg welcoming everyone to his town and throwing his full support behind the candidate. CSL Mayor Mitchell Brownstein was close-by in showing his ongoing support for the MNA, along with Councillors Mike Cohen, Ruth Kovac, Steven Erdelyi and Dida Berku as well as myself and Allan Levine, as former CSL Councillors. Veteran Montreal Councillor Marvin Rotrand was also on hand as was former MNA Judge Herbert Marx and many community leaders.

 

It was clear from this friendly crowd that although D’Arcy McGee doesn’t tend to be a nail-biter in provincial elections they were plenty pleased to have David Birnbaum selected as the local superstar.

Station 9 conducts Senior Safety Day

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Police officers from CSL Station 9 at their information booth together with Cllr. Ruth Kovac

 

Thank you to Police Station 9 officers Marie-Christine Norbert, Vincent Deangelis, and more, for educating and reaching out to our residents at the recent Senior Safety Day at the Cavendish Mall.

“Your visibility instills confidence and the little gifts are valued and useful,” said CSL Councillor Ruth Kovac who visited the kiosk.

Ruth and I have worked on every major (and most minor) safety campaigns since we began volunteering at the CSL Emergency Measures Organization in the early 1980s. Thanks to our first class security programs CSL remains the safest place on the Island of Montreal. We need to be vigilant, always looking to improve and expand these services to ensure we stay in this position and that just what Ruth and I speak out on throughout the year.

Celebrating Canada Day 2017 with our local police officers. Thank you to these fine officers for their vigilance in CSL.

Farewell to Jack Budovitch

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Jack Budovitch (Photo Glenn J. Nashen)

 

Jack Budovitch was a proud Cote Saint-Lucer, a volunteer and leader and active in the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 97. Jack would often be seen selling poppies to help support charities throughout the city.

Jack was a founder of the Cote Saint-Luc Senior Men’s Club and served as its president. He was extremely devoted to the success of this organization and was instrumental in encouraging the city to eventually move the group from its old location in the CSL Shopping Centre to its current place in the Aquatic and Community Centre.

Jack passed away on September 1, 2017 at the age of 95.

Jack budovitch, CSL Senior Men’s Club founder and Past President and Councillor Glenn J. Nashen (Oct. 2009)

 

Anthony Housefather, Member of Parliament for Mount Royal recalled, “Jack was an incredible guy. His contributions to the Men’s Club and the City of CSL will not be forgotten. His warmth and good cheer made everyone around him feel good.”

Mayor Mitchell Brownstein said, “On behalf of my wife Elaine and the entire City Council, we mourn and remember Jack as a wonderful friend of our city, who was a great volunteer always expressing positive thoughts and bringing joy to all he would meet. We will miss him dearly.”

Councillor Ruth Kovac added, “A great smile and gentlemanly manner defined my friend Jack.”

“Our deepest sympathy to the family from your comerades at Branch 97 Frederich Kisch RCL. Jack was our number one poppy person. His adoring smile won the hearts of every customer at the CSL IGA. Always a pal to everyone with boundless emery to raise funds for every good cause. His adoring fans will greatly miss this charitable celebrity,” said Councillor Allan J. Levine.

Jack was such a delightful person. He always had a smile and a positive comment. His interest and involvement in the civic life of Cote Saint-Luc was substantial. He was well respected and appreciated by the members of City Council. He will be remembered and missed.

CSL Trudeau Park overflows with Canada D’Eh pride

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Was I really in Cote Saint-Luc last night? Where else can one find a culturally diverse entertainment line-up, a homage to world-class leaders and artists, a gastronomical cornucopia, and a children’s wonderland all topped off by a spectacular fireworks and laser show in your own back-yard?

Beatles cover band Replay belts out classic 60s tunes at Canada Day 2017

 

The end of a beautiful rainbow: right here in CSL

 

The Buffalo Hat Dancers belted out traditional aboriginal chants, danced up a storm (literally) at Canada Day 2017. The rain started falling during their dance and ended when they were finished? Miracle? Maybe not.

 

Crowds were a plenty at Canada Day 2017

 

As co-chair of the event along with Councillor Ruth Kovac I was proud to add words of reconciliation during my address to the crowd in stating we were on the traditional territory of the Iroquois Nation. Ruth added native greetings as well.

The City of Cote Saint-Luc Council and Staff put on a show worthy of Canada’s Sesquicentennial. If you missed it here are some highlights:

The extraordinary, world-class Shalom Bloom Sculpture Garden is unveiled in Trudeau Park

 

The newly inaugurated Shalom Bloom Sculpture Garden can be enjoyed during a leisurely stroll through the park

 

Canada Day 2017 Fireworks and laser light show was spectacular

I must take this opportunity to give a shout out to the vCOP (volunteer Citizens on Patrol) squad, celebrating 11 years of invaluable service to our fine community. I launched this service with a dozen residents (most of whom are still going strong) and we’ve since grown to 92 amazing volunteers.

My vCOP team celebrates 11 years at Canada Day 2017. Assistant Supervisor for Events, Susie Schwartz, in black, took care of all coordination.

 

vCOP Supervisor Mitchell Herf patrols the park at Canada Day 2017 on electric scooter

 

Security and safety were top of mind last night and CSL EMS (Emergency Measures Services) and Public Security in conjunction with Police were out in full force ensuring that everyone felt safe and secure while enjoying the many varied activities and delights.

The volunteers from EMS are always full of pride in service to our community at Canada Day 2017

 

CSL Public Security was out in full force, under the watchful eye of Lt. Anthony Tsakon (left). Longtime patroller Scott Hunt joins me in this snapshot at Canada Day 2017

 

The Station 9 crew is back in blue, Celebrating Canada Day 2017 with our local police officers

 

Public Safety Director Jordy Reichson walks the beat with the new EMS mascot at Canada Day 2017

 

Public Security Agent Erwin Luden stands on guard for thee at Canada Day 2017

 

How fortunate we are to live in a vibrant community and a world-class metropolitan city all in a tolerant and generous country. Our residents seemed to share the same sentiment.

 

Such a lovely family: The Ullmans enjoy the festivities at Canada Day 2017

 

Food trucks abound at Canada Day 2017. From cheese treats to loads of lobster and everything in between. My wife, Judy Hagshi, prefers a good cheese (but where’s the wine?) at Canada Day 2017

 

Library Director Janine West and volunteer Carol Mindel join me at the CSL Historical Society booth. Old photos were on display. Volunteers and vintage pics are wanted!

 

MP Anthony Housefather had us chanting out C-A-N-A-D-A like our country was a Rockstar. Well, in that case I am a huge fan!

Jeff and Cheryl Nashen with their favourite MP, Anthony Housefather. Canada Day 2017

 

An honour to meet Wilem Dalaire, son of Canadian hero Lt. General Romeo Dalaire at Canada Day 2017

 

 

Wonderful, dedicated emcees Laurie Betito and Dan Laxer of CJAD 800

 

Ruth Kovac and I co-chaired this year’s Canada Day 2017 festivities in Cote Saint-Luc. Ruth, a Dutch immigrant, epitomizes the proud Canadian, and literally wears her Maple Leaf on her sleeve, and displays the Red an White all year long.

Judging from the smiles and cheers and the general good mod of the crowds pouring out of the park late at night a good time was had in celebrating Canada Day 150 in Cote Saint-Luc. Thank you to all the wonderful city staff headed by Nadia di Furia, Jonathan Shecter, Cornelia Ziga and Bebe Newman. Thanks as well to Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and Councillor Ruth Kovac for their leadership.

 

See all the photos and videos here.

See Councillor Mike Cohen’s blog here.

 

 

New wildlife sculpture garden and plaque honouring Lt. Gen. Roméo Dallaire mark Canada 150 celebrations in Côte Saint-Luc

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Newly-renovated Pierre Elliott Trudeau Park is home to Côte Saint-Luc’s celebration of the 150th anniversary of Canada on July 1, as the city honours the Canadian general who saved tens of thousands people, unveils a one-of-a-kind wildlife sculpture garden, and plays host to thousands of residents and visitors.
“We’re putting the finishing touches on our renovation of Pierre Elliott Trudeau Park and our Canada Day celebration will be the first of many memorable events at the park over the coming years,” Mayor Mitchell Brownstein said. “We’ll be joining thousands of communities across the country on July 1 in marking the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation.”
The main Canada Day event begins at 4pm at Pierre Elliott Trudeau Park (6975 Mackle Rd.) with the official unveiling of the Shalom Bloom Sculpture Garden.
“Ten life-size bronze sculptures of wildlife animals were donated to the city by Canadian artist Shalom Bloom, who lives in Côte Saint-Luc,” Councillor Ruth Kovac said.
Canada Day staples such as live music, inflatables, a petting zoo, a pony carousel, a caricaturist, a photo booth, and food trucks will be open from 4pm onwards.
The Canadian citizenship ceremony takes place at 5pm at the Aquatic and Community Centre at 5794 Parkhaven Ave.
“At 9:30pm, Côte Saint-Luc will unveil a plaque on its Human Rights Walkway for Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire (Ret’d), who is a celebrated advocate for human rights, especially in regards to child soldiers, veterans, and the prevention of mass atrocities,” Councillor Glenn J. Nashen said. “In 1994, Gen. Dallaire disobeyed a command to withdraw UN forces from Rwanda and remained to fulfill the ethical obligation to protect those who sought refuge. More than 32,000 people were directly saved by Gen. Dallaire’s actions.”
Mayor Brownstein will kickoff the fireworks and laser light show at 9:45pm.
The masters of ceremony for the event will be Dan Laxer and Laurie Betito of CJAD 800. The event co-chairs are Councillors Kovac and and Nashen.
A boat and airplane exhibit takes place from 10am to 1pm at the park.
In the event of rain, the unveiling of the Human Rights Walkway plaque will take place at the Aquatic and Community Centre, following the 5pm Canadian citizenship ceremony. Activities will take place under the roof of the Confederation Annex at Pierre Trudeau Park. The fireworks will be postponed until July 2 at 9:45pm. The Shalom Bloom Sculpture Garden unveiling will be moved to July 13 at 6:30pm.

7 mature maple trees planted along Kellert Ave

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Seven mature maple trees sprung up like magic along Kellert Ave in District 6 thanks to the creativity of Public Works Director Bebe Newman.

“We are in the midst of saving many mature trees from our City Hall parking lot renovations by transplanting these trees throughout the city,” said Newman. “We started on Kellert. Drive by to see the difference. You will be quite pleased.”

28 have already been transplanted throughout the City. “Our intention is to install a small plaque identifying these trees as those transplanted from our City Hall parking lot,” Newman said.
Transplanted trees are now in these locations:
  • 4 trees on Freud
  • 6 maples on Kellert
  • 3 pines on Kellert
  • 2 pines in Ruth Kovac Park – Shalom side
  • 5 maples on Cavendish – some replacing those that were felled in front of the townhouses, the residents were very pleased
In addition, we have also enlarged our tree canopy this week by planting 51 trees in front of residents’ homes.
Councillor Ruth Kovac said, “Thank you to Bebe and the entire horticulture team! You are making a difference. The new residents will be delighted to have these.”
Mayor Mitchell Brownstein was extra pleased that the doomed trees in the soon-to-be-renovated parking lot were saved and instantly changed the landscape on several CSL streets. “We can be proud that our staff go the extra mile in creating and beautifying our community that brings us so much joy and happiness,” Mayor Brownstein said.

Thank you to Director Newman and to her dynamic team of the tree-loving Public Works Department. You have gone above and beyond and our residents are grateful for your dynamism and creativity and for prioritizing the environment be it for tree planting, flowers, park maintenance, our urban forest or for beginning our electric fleet and public charging stations.

See the video of the planting here.

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