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Borough changes public question period rules
Article mis en ligne le jeudi 14 avril 2011

Photo: Marie Cicchini

Neighbour Rosa D’Agostino says that the insurance company will raise its premiums when the high-rise is built close to her home.

CDN-NDG is streamlining public question periods at council meetings and mayor Michael Applebaum is asking councillors and citizens to closely follow the new rules next month.

Only 15 of the 35 people registered at the last council meeting had a chance to speak during the 90-minute public question period. When a large number of residents is registered, citizens will have one minute for each of their two questions, with answers from councillors and staff capped at two minutes.

About half of the 80 participants at the Apr. 4 council meeting, held at Le Manoir in NDG, were from Snowdon or Hampstead. They were invited by Snowdon councillor Marvin Rotrand, who is taking up the cause of Montreal residents opposed to the 16-storey condo project to be built in Hampstead on the boundary of Snowdon.

The Snowdon Committee, a group of citizens, was present to enquire about the status of a minor variation request for the condo project on Queen Mary, which will force ethnic restaurants and businesses to relocate by the end of April. They learned that Lev Development submitted a second request to the borough, and that it was also rejected.

Closer to NDG, Sharon Leslie asked whether mayor Applebaum had given further thought, as promised, to the idea of joint planning of services in the three new or improved NDG cultural facilities. She made the request three months ago, as did Carmen Bourassa last September at the forum organized by the community council.

Applebaum mentioned that the Empress Cultural Centre is not expected to reopen over the next 18 months, as there is still no funding in place. Gilles Bergeron, manager of culture, sports, recreation and social development, said that the new library and cultural centre opening in 2013 will try to make more room for community groups and cultural recreation. As for Le Manoir, La Maison de la culture and the community centre in the eastern part of NDG, there should be a compromise solution by the end of 2011. A committee composed of all involved will address the major issues around the venues that will remain around Botrel St. The borough also wants a body involving artists as well as a non-profit organization to help manage the venues. The selection process is starting in April.

The borough authorized increases in financial contributions to 15 non-profit partner organizations in charge of leisure and recreational activities, vacation clubs and management of centres for the borough. This increase (3% or more) represents a total investment of $62,500. Peter McQueen mentioned that this initiative will allow pay increases for the young people working at homework help drop-in centres and day camps, who haven’t had a raise in many years.

Speaking on behalf of the Loyola Centre and its sister centres like the Walkley, the Westhaven, the Saint-Raymond, and the Benny centres, Deborah Forde wholeheartedly thanked the Applebaum administration. “In the last couple of years, we had some serious concerns about the health of the smaller centres. The fact that this decision has come within less than a year, at a time when you are not facing an election, speaks clearly to your values around our centre and our youth,” said the community developer.

Applebaum said that community organizations are extremely important because they give local services to the population. The borough is committed to making sure that they thrive with the necessary funding and their own premises. “We want to make the chalets accessible 12 months a year so that the local community is able to access them, like we did for Gilbert-Layton Park,” added the mayor.

Council approved a list of local streets and sidewalks targeted for attention under the 2011 road repair program. Resident Stanley Grunfeld asked if anything can be done on a long-term basis, like in Westmount, when resurfacing the streets. He decried the cold patch repairs, which don’t last. “People are driving through an obstacle course after having paid taxes many times,” he said. “Experts say that by digging down to a certain level and laying down a good foundation of concrete, there is less of a chance for potholes to happen.”

The mayor pointed out that Westmount streets are in major disrepair. Applebaum said that the work involves replacing broken sidewalks, redoing manhole covers and drains, removing asphalt and repaving the roads that are in the worst condition. The renovated roads will be good for about a
10-year period. “Pothole problems occur on roads that have deteriorated for
30-40 years,” he said.

Council also awarded a
$24,000 contract to Environnement routier NRJ Inc. The borough will be using new technology for repaving work at various places in the borough. Basically, the asphalt will be melted and replaced on a 6 x 6 foot square area. However, cold patching is the way to deal with potholes from mid-March until weather conditions change.

Recently, the borough started using automated pothole patching trucks that use hot asphalt and compact it.

[ Marie Cicchini ]

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