Tuesday, April 4, 2017

April 3 borough meeting highlights

CDN-NDG borough council meeting gets underway April 3 Photo: Isaac Olson
Borough council approves $250,000 emergency housing repair fund
On April 3, the borough council authorized a fund of $250,000, established with management surpluses, that will go toward the emergency repairs of poorly maintained rental housing.

The fund was established so the borough director can have the ability to carry out “certain urgent, one-time” repairs on borough housing that requires immediate attention for “reasons of health and safety and the building owner has failed to do so.”

Jennifer Auchinleck told the council,  “We are very happy to see this proposition.”

Auchinleck is a community organizer with the Community Development Corporation of Côte-des-Neiges. She asked the borough council if there will be “concrete criteria” in place that defines an “emergency situation” requiring intervention.

Copeman said there will be a collaborative effort with borough officials, committees and organizations to establish criteria. He said he wants that criteria to be in place by the time moving season gets underway.

Urban Planning Advisory Committee won’t have citizen question period
The council has nixed a proposal to authorize public questions and discussion periods during Urban Planning Advisory Committee (CCU) meetings.

The motion was proposed by Darlington district councillor Lionel Perez. In 2013, while he was the interim borough mayor, Perez proposed making the meetings public and he pushed that proposal through to fruition, but citizens are still disallowed from participating as the CCU reviews and discusses housing and commercial projects in the borough.

Having no decision-making authority, the committee's mandate is to consider applications for minor exemptions from zoning and subdivision by-laws. The CCU,when in session about seven times a year, may discuss a range of municipal concerns related to land use planning be it urban development, zoning modification, location of equipment, urban planning guidelines, etc.

Perez, who gave an impassioned speech on the topic, said he was pushing for citizen participation in the interest of governmental transparency. It is not unheard of to allow citizen participation in CCU meeting as, for example, the borough of St. Laurent already does it this way.

Councillor Magda Popeanu, president of the committee, noted it is hard to find members as the hope is to attract experienced people, often architects, that are willing to volunteer their time. As it is, she said, the meetings “end very late” and she is “not very comfortable” to have volunteers confronted by questions from the public.

“As far as I am concerned, I am uncomfortable with this motion,” said Loyola district councillor Jeremy Searle. The volunteers, he added, “Are not in a position to be asked questions.”

Searle said, the public has the option to come to the borough council meetings to make observations and ask questions of the council.

Snowdon councillor Marvin Rotrand said he supports open CCU meetings, but allowing a question period would make committee membership a “full-time job” and members would need salaries. He said the reason he is “really voting against it” is because the members have not been consulted on this.

Copeman and Perez are the only two members of Équipe Denis Coderre on the council. After Copeman spoke in favour of the motion, McQueen called on his colleagues to withdraw the motion.

With Popeanu, McQueen, Rotrand and Searle voting against, the motion did not pass.

Motion to protect churches in NDG nixed
McQueen’s motion to protect NDG churches was voted down by the council, with Perez, Copeman, Rotrand and Searle all voting against the proposal.

McQueen and Popeanu, both members of Projet Montreal, continued to voice support for the measure as a starting point when it comes to the issue of protecting churches from development. McQueen said there is concern brewing among residents in the borough as community organizations like the NDG Food Depot need space and people want to protect historic churches from development. This motion, he said, is an effort to do something about those growing concerns. It is an effort, he said, to take action rather than sitting idly by while churches are sold to developers.

Copeman, among his arguments against, questioned why the motion does not include all houses of worship and why it is limited to NDG rather the rest of the borough.

In the audience, several members of the Anglican Diocese, including Executive Archbishop Bill Gray, sat until the vote was cast after 10 pm.

No right on red
The council approved a motion to inform the Quebec government that Côte-des-Neiges―NDG borough wishes to maintain the ban prohibiting drivers from turning right at red lights on the island of Montreal. The motion was moved by Rotrand to express opposition to a collaborated effort by suburban mayors to lift the ban.

Searle said he chaired the committee meetings in 2002 on this issue before the right-turn was outlawed. Searle said,”If you think it is safe to have right-turns on red, just take away the traffic light.”

Copeman said he is against right turns on red as a driver, pedestrian and cyclist.

The motion was approved without a nay vote.

One-time financial contributions
Each of the five councillors and mayor have a discretionary budget which they can dip into and contribute to community organizations and initiatives. On April 3, the council approved a total of $4,300 in contributions. Below are some NDG or close-to-NDG organizations that benefited.

Just north of the NDG border in Snowdon, the Black Coalition of Quebec received $750 ($250 from Copeman, $250 from Councillor Marvin Rotrand and $250 from Popeanu) to help the non-profit organization continue its mission of defending the rights of the black community against racial profiling and discrimination especially in terms of justice and employment.

Lunar New Year celebrations on February 4. Photo: Isaac Olson

The NDG Community Council was awarded $150 from Copeman and $250 from McQueen for a total of $400 to support the celebration of the 2017 Lunar New Year held on February 4 at the St. Philip’s Anglican Church.

A total of $750 was awarded to the NDG Parish to support its summer program for children ages six to 16. In this case, McQueen’s contribution accounted for $500 and Copeman’s for $250.

The NDG YMCA was awarded $400 (Copeman for $150 and McQueen for $250) to help maintain the community service program delivered by teens for purposes of socio-economic integration.

Zerf Productions, based on Harvard Ave., was awarded $300, $200 from Copeman and $100 from McQueen, to support activities for celebrating the 150th anniversary of the community in NDG.

New soccer field coming to Loyola Park
Comeau Expert-Conseils was awarded the contract for professional services in the amount of $115,722.34 (including taxes) to construct a new soccer field in Loyola Park. A total of nearly $140,000 was approved for this expenditure.

Bocce court to get a new roof
The popular, well-used bocce court in Georges St. Pierre Park (commonly called Oxford Park) will be getting a new roof to protect players from the rain and sun. A total expenditure of near $58,000 was approved.

Other spending
An agreement between LogisAction NDG was approved along with a $20,000 payment to the organization.

Eleven grant agreements with nine organizations to hold summer day camps in summer 2017 as approved. Financial contributions in this case will total $258,301.92.

A 10-month memorandum of agreement between the borough and the Jewish Public Library was approved, allowing the institution to carry out community awareness-building activities from May 1, 2017 to April 30, 2018. This agreement comes with a $28,000 contribution.

A total of $86,000 was authorized to go to various organizations for events to be held in 2017 as part of activities celebration Montreal’s 375th anniversary. It was adopted with discussion, but no nay votes.

-Isaac Olson

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