Wednesday, May 10, 2017

'Below the Tracks Reunion' planned for NDGers from 50s, 60s, 70s

The “Below the Tracks Reunion” is going to be an exciting event on May 19 at the NDG-based Crowley Arts Centre, bringing together those that grew up in the area in the 50s, 60s and 70s.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime event,” said Nick Patulli, director of operations at the Crowley Arts Centre. “It is a very close-nit community that will come together  for the first time in 30 - 40 years and some even 50 years. It will be a very special evening where we will be celebrating life and paying tribute to friends that have passed away too early.”

Patulli is one of the countless people that have fond memories growing up in NDG, south of the tracks, and he has fostered hundreds of lifelong friendships over the years. While many stayed in the area, still others moved on and this event will bring everybody, near and far, all back together again to remember days gone by. There are several big names that will be attending the event, he said, as a good many people went on to be quite successful in life.

The event will be held at the beautiful Crowley Arts Centre on Crowley Ave., just west of Decarie Blvd. The facility is fully equipped to host events like this that will include live music, an open bar and a free smoked meat buffet. The live musical entertainment will be jamming out tunes from the era, spurring memories as people enjoy first-class food, drinks and fun.

The event begins at 6:30 pm and it will run into the wee hours of the morning. Tickets are $40 presale or $50 at the door. For more information, click this link.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

May 1 borough council meeting highlights - $27 million going to borough roads

Citizens and borough officials gather in 6767 Côte-des-Neiges Rd. for the
May 1 borough council meeting. Photo: Isaac Olson

Kicking off the May 1 council meeting, borough mayor Russell Copeman said that, with the votes coming later in the evening, Côte-des-Neiges–NDG will approve a total of $27 million of road and sidewalk reconstruction work in 2017.

The borough, he said, will be repaving 30 kilometres of roads in 2017, adding to all that has been done since he was elected in November 2013.

The borough, he said, will have redone 35 percent of its streets by the end of 2017. This is a “level of investment never seen before,” said Copeman. His administration, he added, has been committed to the task since taking office.

Most of the money, Copeman noted, is coming from centre city.

Old Orchard Ave. resident complains about parking
An Old Orchard Ave. resident came forward with 54 petition signatures from residents that want reserved parking in their neighbourhood just south of Sherbrooke St.

With an increasing amount of reserved parking around the Vendôme Metro, the resident said metro and train users are forced to park as far away as Old Orchard Ave. That is combined with the two mechanics at the de Maisonneuve Blvd. intersection using some eight to 10 parking spots every day.

While the resident was concerned that the process would take up to two years to get approved, borough director Stéphane Plante said it won’t take more than two month. There was a request in the past, but studies found the parking situation wasn’t that bad. Now, however, if it as bad as residents claim, it won’t take more than two months to get reserved residential parking.

NDG district councillor Peter McQueen said parking is increasingly an issue as far west as Beaconsfield Ave. as reserved parking around the metro station is clearly creating issues in the surrounding neighbourhoods. The garages in de Maisonneuve will eventually move out, he said, and the area has been rezoned for residential. With condos coming in, he said he will insist on underground parking.

McQueen pulls church motion
Councillor Peter McQueen withdrew his motion to protect church green space likely, he said, to be presented at a later meeting. To read more about the motion, click here.

400 Alouettes passes purchased
The borough council approved the purchase of 400 Montreal Alouettes football game passes on June 16 to be be distributed to community and sporting organizations in the borough. The total cost for this purchase is $2,400. Snowdon councillor Marvin Rotrand said the tickets are purchased at a reduced rate.

Pedestrian mall coming to Côte-des-Neiges Rd. 
The southern side of Côte-des-Neiges Rd. between Queen-Mary Rd. and Frère-André St. will be extended to create a pedestrian mall and public square from May 26 to September 8. This will include the installation of sidewalk cafes and “beautification items.”

Councillors make $6,825 in one-time contributions 
Borough councillors and the mayor all have discretionary budgets to tap into throughout the year and give to organizations or initiatives. This month the total of one-time financial contributions reached $6,825. View these images for the break down.

-Isaac Olson

Hebrew Academy students win big for charity

Four students from Hebrew Academy, a private Jewish school based in Côte St. Luc, won $5,000 for Montreal's Donald Berman Chai Lifeline on April 27.  

Four semi-finalist student groups representing the Starlight Foundation, Friendship Circle, Yaldei Developmental Centre and Chai Lifeline presented their charities before their peers and a panel of student and parent judges that included Liberal MP Anthony Housefather, states a school press release.  The winning team was awarded a big fat cheque for the Chai Lifeline.

"The nail-biting face-off signified the climax of students’ months-long participation in the Youth Philanthropy Initiative (YPI), a project of the Toskan Casale Foundation that encourages teens to research and advocate for a local charity for the chance to win it a $4,000 grant," states the release. "Hebrew Academy will donate $500 and the students are raising another $500."

Touting it as a real-life educational experience, the school's lead YPI teacher Celia Natanblut incorporates the initiative as part of her Grade 10 Ethics and Religious Culture (ERC) curriculum.

Based on their research, students prepare a request for funding proposal on behalf of their charity, along with a presentation to introduce their cause to their peers. Charities the teens advocated for include Sun Youth, MADA Community Center, Friendship Circle, Chai Lifeline, Share the Warmth, Starlight, Make a Wish, Auberge Shalom and The Donald Berman Yaldei Developmental Centre.

YPI Social Impact Coordinator Rachel Paris flew in from Toronto to facilitate the event and present the winners, Grade 10 students Isaac Safran, Nathan Benizri, Kyle Fallenbaum and Yehuda Bessner with a giant cheque.

“The Hebrew Academy community has truly gone above and beyond in supporting our Chai Lifeline Warriors,” said Montreal's Chair Lifeline coordinator Stu Guttman. “We feel privileged to be able to count them among our trusted friends in fighting illness with hope and love.”

Chai Lifeline is a charity for ill children, helping parents cope by offering a range of services.

Citizen push for green bridge over incoming highway, Turcot yards heating up

This Transports Quebec image of a green bridge dates back to 2010.
By Isaac Olson
The push for a green bridge over connecting NDG to the Southwest borough is heating up, with a protest planned for June 4.

Montreal’s city council approved a plan to construct a bike path down the falaise St. Jacques in southern
NDG as that is clearly under city jurisdiction, said NDG district councillor Peter McQueen during the May 1 borough council meeting.

However, he said, Transports  Quebec needs to commit to building a bike bridge over the incoming Highway 136 which will replace the 20. There is a video on Facebook that discusses this issue in French. It can be found here. In the video, it outlines the disappearance of a "dalle parc" or green bridge plan that was promised to cyclists back in 2010.

That plan has since been taken off the table and now people are fighting to make it a reality. The original plan called for a large concrete overpass decorated with trees and vegetation. Read Andy Riga's article the Montreal Gazette to learn more.

“Once the new highway comes into use in the next two years, the old highway will still be there,” said McQueen. “We’re asking Transports Quebec to plan that bicycle path now.”

Cyclists want to be able to access the Lachine Canal, St. Lawrence River, Angrignon Park and everything else that can be found in the Southwest Borough and beyond. As it stands, cyclists and pedestrians must head east into Westmount or west into Montreal West to get south of the highway and Turcot yards.

“This is a major goal,” he said. “We must continue to push for this.”

In that continued effort to push for a bridge, a protest is planned for May 21 at the Vendôme Metro station, he said.

“Come to NDG on Sunday, May 21 at 11 am for the demonstration in front of the Vendôme Metro station,” said McQueen.

To stay updated on these issues, follow the Association of Pedestrians and Cyclists NDG on Facebook.

Team Inspirations raises $5,500 for charity as contributions continue to pour in until May 22

With 35 members, Team Inspirations participated in the Scotia Bank Charity Challenge on
April 22, raising $5,500 for Inspirations so far and the money will continue to roll in until the May 22 deadline.

What is Inspirations? According to The Inspired Blogger, it's "the hub of special needs news in the greater Montreal and surrounding areas, providing a voice to people with special needs and a valuable platform for collaboration and sharing of resources."

Team ambassador and NDG resident Jay Jones-Doyle walked five kilometres during the event despite having cerebral palsy. The newspaper's managing editor, Wendy Singer, reports that, while walking with Jones-Doyle, he did fall a couple times during the journey and he was the last to finish, but he pushed on to the end, determined to complete the challenge.

The event was held in Jean Drapeau Park with 10k and 5k races. Be sure to read more about Jones-Doyle and the race by clicking here. 

On his fundraising page, Jones-Doyle writes, "It gives me great pleasure to be participating in this charity walk as the ambassador of Inspirations.  Inspirations is a Montreal-based publication dedicated to showcasing the successes disabled individuals, and much more. The publication runs solely on ad revenue and donations, so please help me to support this wonderful cause by giving whatever you can."

To donate before May 22, visit here.

Jay Jones-Doyle 

Borough testing electronic, remote locks on park bathrooms for more efficient opening hours

NDG Park Chalet in March 2016. Photo: Isaac Olson
The Côte-des-Neiges–NDG is testing electronic locks on bathrooms in an undisclosed park this summer with hopes that it could solve the problem of public toilets not always being reliably open on time during the summer months.

Borough director Stéphane Plante says the locks are a test run because, as it stands, borough workers have to go around to all the parks and open the doors manually. They sometimes get distracted by emergencies or other issues and the bathrooms are not always unlocked in timely manner.

These remote-operated electronic locks could be the solution, he said, as it would allow the borough to open all the bathrooms at the touch of a button from a remote location.

Meanwhile, while the chalet in NDG Park is under renovation this summer, there will be an effort to ensure toilets are always available, he said. It may be necessary, he said, to install portable toilets for a time if the bathrooms need closing, but there will always be an effort to supply the public with bathrooms of some kind.

There are no plans to change the operating hours of park bathrooms this summer, Plante said. Park bathrooms are closed for the winter and generally begin opening in early May.

-Isaac Olson

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Spring thaw reveals litter-strewn parks, citizen cleanup initiatives coming

Sylwia Bielec posted this photo of Confederation Park on April 20 to
the popular Facebook group Parents NDG.
By Isaac Olson
While there is plenty of rejoicing when the spring thaw comes, there's also plenty of cleaning up needing to be done as the melting snow reveals months of uncollected litter in yards, parks and streets.

There are at least four city sponsored cleanups of parks, bike paths and streets scheduled for NDG in the coming weeks and dozens more throughout the city.

On April 19, Sylwia Bielec posted a photo of litter in Confederation Park to the popular Parents NDG Facebook group. The photo shows a split garbage bag and plenty of clutter pushed up against a fence with playground equipment in the background.

"Do parks get cleaned, or do citizens have to clean them?" She wrote. "This is Park Confederation, just now. I'm just posting one pic, but it's representative. It's gross and I feel as though it gets worse every year."

Gayle Laird notes the park is busy with St-Luc High School students that eat their lunch there and then "leave their garbage behind. I often pick up what I can while I'm there with my kids."

French school board commissioner Marie-José Mastromonaco states that she will speak with the student council about the issue  and, she adds, " I am sure they will be ready to find a way to help."

There are other parks in NDG, like Trenholme, in similar condition. Antonio da Mota says the garbage cans are overflowing there.

Marlo Turner Ritchie notes that the Éco-Quartier NDG does support citizen cleanup initiatives. The organization will get community groups and schools involved with cleanups.

By the morning of Apirl 20, a Facebook post by Karen Martin was circulating, touting a city sponsored cleanup of Confederation Park scheduled for April 30. The plan is to assemble at the Dug Harvey Arena at 10 am and break up into groups to target. For more information and to register, click here.

A cleanup is also coming soon to NDG Park and Sherbrooke St. Scheduled for April 29 from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm, the cleanup will begin in NDG Park and head west on Sherbrooke St. To learn more about this initiative, visit the Facebook event page here and, most importantly, don't forget to register here through this city page.

It's important to register with the city, writes Melissa Fuller, "So the city can send us a shirt and materials for you."

The annual cleanup of the de Maisonneuve bike path is taking place on May 6. Click here for details. For a list of upcoming cleanups in the NDG area, click here.

The city's annual cleanup day, dubbed Grande OpérationMontré, brought  politicians
and residents out to places like Royal Vale School to clear all the litter on April 30, 2011.
Photo: Isaac Olson