Westmount

Written by  //  April 24, 2017  //  Cities, Peter Trent, Westmount  //  1 Comment

See Westmount on Wednesday-Night.com City of Westmount ; Westmount Independent We commend the Westmount Independent for their excellent coverage of the arena issue, although we still dislike their PDF format which requires lots of scrolling. Marilynn Vanderstaay’s Around Westmount

Le Westmount de Julius Grey – Plus bilingue et cosmopolite qu’autrefois (Le Devoir) Jadis villes ou quartiers, ce sont aujourd’hui les arrondissements d’une cité plus vaste mais qui a toujours pour nom Montréal. Ces entités conservent bien sûr leur histoire et leurs charmes propres. Des journalistes du Devoir sont allés revisiter cette île devenue ville unique, au hasard de promenades en compagnie de personnalités qui l’habitent. Aujourd’hui, Julius Grey et l’arrondissement de Westmount. Flanqué de son chien Vivaldi, Julius Grey a visiblement troqué son habit d’avocat pour celui de fier citoyen de Westmount. Le pied léger (et deux sacs de plastique dans ses poches, chien oblige), il se promène à travers les somptueux parcs de ce qu’il appelle encore «sa ville». (August 2002)

Christina Smith sworn in as Westmount’s new mayor
(Global) Residents packed into Westmount City Hall, on Monday night, to meet their new mayor.
City councillor for District 5, Christina Smith, was elected interim mayor at a special council meeting.
Smith was the only candidate to put her name forward for the job.
While addressing council, the new mayor laid out her priorities for the next few months.
They include strengthening Westmount’s infrastructure, and dealing with the noise associated with the Turcot project.

20 April
peter-trent_westmountmagPeter Trent’s war for Westmount’s autonomy
The “Hands off my city” campaign was a unifying grassroots initiative
By Wayne Larsen
(Westmount Magazine) An entire generation has grown up in Westmount with Mayor Peter Trent occupying that big chair at city hall.
Over the past 26 years, email and texting have replaced a lot of postal and telephone communications, and websites are well on their way to replacing newspapers, advertising, and retail stores. “We don’t even have many public information meetings anymore,” Trent pointed out last week, shortly after announcing his resignation after five terms in office. Now, he added, residents can usually weigh in on matters of public interest via the Internet instead of rushing out to Victoria Hall at an appointed time. “They can log on in the middle of the night if they want – it’s a lot more convenient.”
Today’s ultra-convenient technology would have been a great help during what was certainly Westmount’s most tumultuous period – from about 1998 to 2006 – when it went from being an independent city within greater Montreal to a borough in the Montreal mega-city, and back to an independent city, albeit with reduced autonomy.
Through all these changes, one long-held local tradition has remained firmly in place, and has been a conspicuous catchword throughout Trent’s long tenure: No surrender.

15 April
Opinion: Peter Trent’s honesty and wit will be missed in the mayor’s chair in Westmount
By Wayne Larsen, an adjunct professor of journalism at Concordia University.
(Montreal Gazette) A common problem among public figures is their misconception that the news media are a public-relations machine that only functions properly when portraying them in a favourable light, no matter the story, no matter the consequences.
Newsrooms often receive emails and phone calls from elected officials complaining about how they were covered in what was actually a fair, balanced story. Our best journalists have all received at least one “Why did you print that?!” or “How dare you interview my opponent!” message from politicians at all levels of government, and the epithets can get especially colourful during election campaigns.
But former Westmount mayor Peter Trent, who stepped down two weeks ago, is no such politician. He always understood the role and responsibilities of the news media, and that made it a lot easier to cover his long tenure in the big chair at city hall.
As editor of the Westmount Examiner from 2000 to 2012, I had a front-row seat to Montreal’s dramatic municipal merger and demerger saga, in which Trent played a leading role. In all that time, I never had anything but the best professional relationship with him. He promptly returned all calls and emails, and was always pleasant, articulate and often hilarious in his interviews.

Westmount Mayor Peter Trent stepping down after quarter century

First elected to council in 1983, Trent says demerger victory, sports complex among key achievements
(CBC) Westmount’s longtime mayor, Peter Trent, said getting the city its independence back after it was forced to merge into the Montreal “megacity” is the achievement for which he’ll be most remembered.
Trent, 71, announced Monday he would step down after 25 years as mayor — “or mayor in exile, during the mergers,” he said.
Between 1999 and 2004, Trent was fighting to prevent the merger and then, once it happened, to get Westmount its municipal status back.
Quebec passes mega-city mergers
Also high on his list of achievements is the construction of the Westmount Recreation Centre — the first underground arena in the world, which was completed in 2013.
New Westmount sports centre boasts first underground rinks
Trent said he trusts his instincts, and he thinks this is the right time to pass the role of mayor onto someone younger.
“I didn’t want to get stale, and I’m really quite happy with what I’ve done,” Trent said.
Trent isn’t planning on leaving the city and will be available to help in the transition to an interim mayor.
An election is coming up in November, and Trent said he wants there to be a transition period before a new mayor is elected.
He wouldn’t comment on who he thinks should take his place, but he said he is leaving with the knowledge that the city will be in good hands.
peter-trent-with-his-wife-kathryn-stephenson
Peter Trent with his wife Kathryn Stephenson. “If I were to run again, it would be my sixth term.” Trent says. “At some point, it’s time to hang up the skates.” Christinne Muschi / MONTREAL GAZETTE

Peter Trent is resigning as mayor of Westmount
By Linda Gyulai
(Montreal Gazette) He is bowing out seven months before the municipal elections across Quebec this Nov. 5, saying he wants to leave time for council to choose an interim mayor and make the transition.
Because the next general election is less than a year away, there will be no by-election. Quebec law gives Westmount council 30 days to choose one of its members to replace Trent until the election. That means Trent’s last day on the job will likely be sometime in April.
The Association of Suburban Mayors, which speaks for the demerged suburbs on the island, will also have to find a new president now that Trent is leaving.
Jacques Duchesneau, the former Montreal police chief who has known Trent for 30 years, said his departure will be a loss to Westmounters, but also to anyone looking for positive role models on the integrity front among Quebec politicians.

2016

26 July
City of Westmount recognized as site of national historic significance
Deemed ‘exemplary model of suburbs of the Victorian and Post-Victorian eras’
“I hope those people who have gone through the hoops of getting a building permit in Westmount realize the reason we’re getting this recognition is because we’ve been so persnickety about giving out building permits,” Trent said.
The Government of Canada has officially recognized the City of Westmount as a site of national historic significance.
Westmount Mayor Peter Trent was presented with a commemorative plaque from the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada on Monday.
Long the home of Montreal’s anglophone middle and upper classes, the honour recognizes Westmount as an “exemplary model of the suburbs of the Victorian and Post-Victorian eras in Canada,” the Government of Canada said in a news release.
“Its richly developed and landscaped heritage is representative of the architectural styles and landscaped architectural trends that marked the period between 1890 and 1930,” it said.
Trent noted that 2,500 homes in Westmount — about two-thirds of all houses, and most of its schools, churches and civic buildings — are more than a century old.
10 June
From Julien Feldman Proud school trustee:
“All the best people went to Westmount High, needless to say. The class of 1980 was pretty much the best graduating year of them all. Leonard Cohen, Mila Mulroney, Stockwell Day, and Moshe Safdie are among the more memorable WHS grads..”
Westmount High School’s Kamala Harris set to become California Senator
3 June
Westmount: ‘Thanks, but no thanks’ to Montreal granite ‘art pieces’ on its summit
The members of caucus [Council] also agreed they would explain the vocation of Summit Woods, which Westmount considers an urban wildlife as opposed to a park, in their letter rejecting the stumps. The woods contain wild plant and flower species and is a designated bird and wildlife sanctuary.
Westmount, like the other island suburbs, voted against the $3.5-million contract for the granite pieces at the last island council meeting in May. The expense is to be billed to the island council, so the suburbs will foot part of the cost.
Meanwhile, Westmount has a project this year that happens to coincide with the 375th anniversary. It plans to demolish half a kilometre of road that separates Summit Woods from a wooded area to the north by removing the asphalt, signposts and guard rails along Summit Circle, then naturalizing the space.
The project will remove an acre of asphalt and add over half an acre of forest with 75 new indigenous trees, plus a winding gravel footpath. Half of the $800,000 price tag is to be paid by the Quebec government and the other half by Westmount.

2015

31 October
Westmount haunted house puts on final show after 41-year run
Halloween night at 333 Kensington Avenue started out as a family affair, and grew to have a staff of 25
Mark Morgenstern put on his first haunted house in 1974.
“It started when I was 10 with one speaker in the bushes and my uncle Dick’s tape deck … and my father and sister dressed up,” Westmount-native Morgenstern recalls.
This year’s haunted house at 333 Kensington Avenue could be the biggest yet, but it will also be the last.
Morgenstern’s childhood home was sold this year.
“It’s pretty difficult,” he says, choking up. “It’s a big lump in the throat.” Take a tour of one seriously scary Halloween haunted house — Mark Morgenstern held the best — and last — haunted house in his 41 years of scaring children.
15 June
Montreal’s Westmount Square is up for sale
Elad Canada had hoped to convert the Westmount Square tower into residential co-properties, but was blocked from doing so last year by the municipality. In stories posted last year on real-estate websites, Elad Canada also was quoted as saying the complex needed a general renovation to ensure its future and preserve its “architectural integrity.”
Completed in 1967, Westmount Square was designed by famed architect Mies van der Rohe. It’s among the most identifiable office buildings in the city, along with Place Ville Marie and the Sun Life building, both of which recently had ownership changes.
5 June
Allegations of a dark past in gilded Westmount
A class action lawsuit against the wealthy burgh claims as many as 70 boys were abused by a former employee
(Maclean’s) Current Westmount Mayor Peter Trent wouldn’t comment on the motion, though he says the Westmount Police didn’t exist at the time of Bissonnette’s alleged 1993 complaint. “The Westmount Police was disbanded in 1973. They are trying to say we had something to do with his plea in 1993, when of course Westmount Police didn’t exist. It was called the Montreal Urban Community police that was run by Montreal, and Westmount has no control whatsoever over the police at the station.”
22 May
Brian Mulroney’s Westmount Mansion Finally Finds A Buyer
The seven-bedroom, seven-bathroom house on Forden Crescent went on sale in September, 2013, with an asking price of $7.9 million.
But after more than a year on the market, the price was slashed to $5.8 million this past January, and according to the listing agent’s website, that’s what it sold for.
23 March
‘Bait-and-switch’ commonplace in municipal contracts, Peter Trent says
Municipal contracts for professional services are regularly won on artificially low price bids and promises of quality that aren’t kept, Westmount Mayor Peter Trent charged on Monday.
“What happens when they win the contract is there’s a bait and switch that goes on in many cases,” Trent said of his experience with professional consulting firms working at the municipal level. “They say, ‘Oh, the A-team that we bid with, they’ve just been taken off the contract. They have to go somewhere else.’
Trent was reacting to a report in the Montreal Gazette on Monday that examined the formula Quebec municipalities are obliged to use under the Cities and Towns Act to evaluate bids for professional services contracts, such as engineering and architecture. Even though the process of awarding such contracts requires a jury to evaluate the quality of each bid before looking at prices, the Montreal Gazette discovered the mathematical formula to calculate the bidders’ scores was contrived to ensure very low bids win the contract, even if they get only a barely passing grade for quality in a field where other firms were more qualified.
9 March

0309 city provigoPlans for a 10-storey commercial-residential building near the new McGill University Hospital Centre are raising concerns about increased traffic and noise on the border of Westmount and Notre-Dame-de-Grâce. The complex, to include a Provigo supermarket and 300-unit seniors’ residence, is slated for a vacant lot at the southwest corner of de Maisonneuve Blvd. W. and Ste-Catherine St. W. (Ste-Catherine curves northwest at its western end to join Claremont Ave.) Construction will begin in the fall and be completed in late 2017 or early 2018, said a spokesperson for the Loblaw grocery chain, which has owned the site since 1998 and is partnering with the Groupe Maurice chain of seniors’ residences in the project. But local residents say with the immense hospital set to open in the spring, this is not the time for another major project likely to cause further disruption. [The building will include a mezzanine to house offices of the Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation and provide accommodation for out-of-town families whose children are undergoing treatment at the hospital. The space is being donated to the hospital foundation, Héroux said.] Despite local residents’ grumbles, at first glance it sounds like a good idea to us. The vacant lot has been an eyesore for years.

2014

17 September
Love-in for Coderre in Westmount
Coderre made it clear that he and Westmount Mayor Peter Trent are having a true mayoral “bromance,” with Coderre opening his speech by paying tribute to Trent’s leadership, and Trent calling Coderre truly “refreshing.”
Although Coderre made strong statements about opposing both communal mailboxes and the new tolls planned for the revamped Champlain Bridge, the message he repeated most often is that Montreal needs special status and that his main goal is “to make the city shine again.”
He responded to the plan for tolls for the new Champlain Bridge by saying he’s against any tolls, and he believes it would just prompt people to choose other bridges.
He is equally opposed to Canada Post’s proposed communal mailboxes, which Trent has already vowed to fight in Westmount.
5 August
Our money is on Peter
Community mailboxes an ‘improvised’ plan: Westmount mayor
Westmount Mayor Peter Trent says he intends to try blocking installation of Canada Post boxes
Westmount Mayor Peter Trent will do everything in his power to stop Canada Post’s community mailboxes, including denying permits for their installation on his turf.
Trent told CBC News that the Conservative government’s decision to cut Canada Post’s door-to-door delivery service was “improvised.”
“I would like to try to stop this very retrograde idea of simply requiring people to go and collect their own mail,” Trent told CBC News.
Not only is the move unfair to elderly people and people with limited mobility, Trent said, but it’s also not very environmentally friendly.
He said people who are inclined to drive everywhere will now drive to collect their mail. He said having one or several letter carriers delivering the mail is far more ecological.
Trent also said that removing door-to-door delivery in densely populated areas doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Trent called on the federal Liberals to make a campaign promise to reverse the stop to door-to-door delivery in the 2015 election.

2013

Peter Trent was acclaimed Mayor – Victor Drury and Nicole Forbes also acclaimed. More results
4 October
Trent to run for mayor
The incumbent will seek re-election on the Nov.3 municipal election (Westmount Examiner) Three days before the Oct. 4 deadline to submit his nomination papers, Mayor Peter Trent announced during a Tuesday night council meeting he will seek re-election. Trent told The Examiner before the announcement he had unfinished business to resolve and looked forward to the next month of campaigning. “I think the council we had the last four years set a number of goals. I think we’ve done some of them, but we do have some unfinished business. After building the Westmount Recreation Centre, it’s going to be important to get that up and running, as well as Westmount up and running,” said the mayor. Among his long-list of items he’ll either look to improve or initiate: continue to represent mayors of cities outside of Montreal; decrease taxes Westmounters pay to Montreal; fine tune Westmount’s administration; and begin to implement the city’s master traffic plan, which he deemed as “extremely difficult and challenging.”
19 September
Westmount’s underground hockey arena inaugurated
$40-million sports complex expected to open in late October Video: Quebec underground ice rink leaves room for green space
(Yahoo! News) A Montreal-area town has found a way to build more hockey facilities and create green space at the same time — by constructing an arena underground. Westmount’s mayor says the technique saves room in densely populated places.
3 January
We ask: what was the standout moment of 2012, and what’s coming up in 2013?
(Westmount Examiner) Peter Trent: 2013 will be the year the Westmount Recreation Centre opens up. It is bigger than any project Westmount has ever taken on. The fact that we are on schedule and more or less on budget is extremely good news, and I can’t wait to have a formal opening next year. I think that now that’s it’s gone, people start to realize how big and clunky that old arena was. We have more green space, we’ve opened up the area visually. The idea that we are pioneering a new way of building a recreation centre is really very exciting to me. Jacques Chagnon, MNA for Westmount-Saint-Louis In 2012 my biggest surprise has been seeing what is going on at the McGill University Health Centre, and the allegations of financial mismanagement. I will be watching that closely in the upcoming year. The New Year will be a great one for Westmount, with the opening of the new arena and pool project.
27 November
Nicholas Hoare’s final goodbye
(Westmount Examiner) To residents of Greene Avenue, it’s the end of an era. After 40 years on the street, Nicholas Hoare book store will close its doors forever on December 31st. The independent bookshop specializing in high-end British books decided not to renew its lease, which expired in June.  Strong community support was not enough to overcome the fact that times are changing, owner Nicholas Hoare said. All that remains is the business of closing.  Hoare says the store will officially close at the end of December, but will stay open on an ‘ad hoc’ basis throughout January, to allow customers to redeem gift certificates and make exchanges.  The books themselves will be packed up and sent back to the warehouse.
See also Nicholas Hoare.com
18 October
Ex-Montreal city engineer spent $250K in kickback cash at casino
‘I’ve always been uncomfortable with this money,’ says Gilles Surprenant (CBC) … Surprenant was in charge of plans and specifications for construction contracts. He said he received his first payment from entrepreneur Frank Catania for a job in Westmount in the early ’90s. He estimated the amount as $3,000 or $4,000. The contract estimated to be worth $250,000 was for a water main system for the City of Westmount. Catania allegedly bid $500,000 for the project and offered Surprenant the money to earn the contract.
16 October
Will the future MUHC hospital exacerbate Westmount’s traffic problems?
(Westmount Examiner) The coming of the MUHC hospital and the rebuilding of the Turcot interchange will mean significantly more traffic for Westmount if actions are not taken to mitigate it, NDG borough councillor Peter McQueen warned yesterday.
2 October
Westmount is not immune to collusion and bid-rigging: Trent
(Westmount Examiner) With the Charbonneau commission investigating the widespread problems of corruption and collusion in the construction industry, Westmount mayor Peter Trent took the microphone at Monday night’s city council to state what might be an obvious truth: Westmount is not immune. Trent said that Westmount faces many infrastructure problems, beginning with the streets, which are in poor shape. “The concrete looks like it has been gnawed by rats,” he said. “The quality of the work has not been up to snuff.” Trent said that part of the problem stems from the merger period, when capital works was cut back, and debt skyrocketed. Still, he says he cannot rule out the possibility that there may be other issues at play. “Certainly if there’s collusion, if there’s bid-rigging, it’s likely that could also lead to problems with the quality of the work,” he said. Trent said that in Westmount, at least two companies received a large share of contracts, and described himself as “concerned.”
28 August
Westmount Municipal Association asks Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission to reconsider proposed riding name
The Westmount Municipal Association, representing the interests of Westmount residents, businesses, and taxpayers, is asking the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission to reconsider its proposal to drop Westmount from the name of the newly redistributed riding which includes all of Westmount. The name change is opposed by many residents of Westmount, as well as residents of Montreal West and Notre-Dame-de-Grace. Westmount City Council has passed a resolution strongly objecting to the name Wilder Penfield and insisting that Westmount be included in the name of the riding.
13 August
Liberal Jacques Chagnon runs for an eighth term
(Westmount Examiner) Chagnon has been serving as an MNA continuously since 1985 – first in the riding of Saint-Louis, then in its successor, Westmount-Saint-Louis. He has formerly held the posts of Minister of Education (1994) and of Minister of Public Security (2003-2005), and is currently serving as Speaker of the National Assembly. In his campaign launch, he highlighted what he sees as some of his recent accomplishments: working on the MUHC project, securing funding for the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, his work as President of the Parliamentary Confederation of the Americas, and securing $20 million in funding for Westmount’s arena project. In Westmount, the most complicated short-term issue is erecting a sound wall [between Westmount’s southern border and the Ville-Marie expressway]. At one point they were going to put up a sound wall, but it did not include the railway. It’s pointless to have a sound wall that protects us from the Ville-Marie autoroute, but if a train goes by, you hear it. So I had to meet with people within the ministry, to make sure that we make a wall, but in the right place. I want to take advantage of the rebuilding of the Turcot interchange, because they will redo that part of the Ville-Marie at the same time; they will probably dig it under Westmount. But they are going to re-think the commuter train patterns at the same time. That will probably involve more trains. And people don’t want more trains, more noise. So we have to make more moderns trains.
7 August
Mayor Trent vows to fight electoral district redistribution
(Westmount Examiner) Westmount mayor Peter Trent is promising to fight a proposed redrawing of the federal electoral map which would place the city in a new, radically altered riding which would not bear Westmount’s name. Trent called the idea of dropping Westmount’s name from the riding “an attempt to eradicate history.” The name Wilder Penfield (after the famous Canadian neurosurgeon) “doesn’t tell anybody where the riding is,” the mayor said. A resolution passed at Monday’s city council stated that “the proposed changes to the riding name of Wilder Penfield ignores Westmount as a community of interest and a community that is integral to the riding’s identity.” The resolution also pointed out that since 1914, the name of Westmount had been included in the various electoral districts’ names (with a brief exception from 1924-1933). It went on to describe Westmount as an ‘iconic neighbourhood’ with historic and architectural value, and also pointed out that Doctor Penfield Avenue, which runs through downtown, is not even part of the new district.
30 July
[Our former neighbour] Albert Millaire loves the stage and Westmount
(Westmount Examiner) You might not know it but in one of the quiet homes, tucked away on Mount Pleasant Avenue, lives Sir Wilfrid Laurier. Okay, not the real person, but the actor who played him on TV, Albert Millaire. The Westmount resident spoke to us recently about his love for the theatre, the stage, the golden era of television and his current play Dear Liar now running in the Eastern Townships.
9 July
New Westmount by-law echoes controversial Bill 78 City Councilor Patrick Martin remarked, almost at the last minute, that there was an oversight in the draft legislation. It turns out that the wording was not identical to the Montreal version after all. Section 1 was missing a phrase mentioning that the assemblies to be regulated are only those, which occur in a public place.
28 June
The Westmount Municipal Association and participatory democracy
(Westmount Examiner) As opposed to representative democracy, where citizens vote and assume that their representatives will do the right thing, participatory democracy implies more involvement on the part of citizens than simply casting their votes. An article in the March 12, 2012 Gazette shows this trend is continuing in the Plateau and describes how residents can have input into where they want their money spent. One type of democracy does not preclude the other, in fact, participatory democracy should enhance representative democracy by making it even more effective. – Currently the Quebec government is trying to improve citizen participation by using technology to give and receive information to and from citizens. The Gautrin report on how to bring open governance to Quebec has as one of its recommendations, sessions to offer help in mastering the technology.
Nicolas Hoare bookstore gets new lease on life The Nicolas Hoare bookstore is getting a new lease on life, and all the businesses on Greene Avenue are breathing a sigh of relief, as the renowned bookshop that was set to close its doors at the end of its lease on July 1st, will now remain open for the foreseeable future.
26 March
Wayne Larsen: And so it goes… Well, it’s been a great ride… This will be my last column for The Examiner, as I have opted to move on after 14 years of writing about Westmount in what I reckon works out to nearly 600 editorials and countless articles, features and reviews – not to mention about a dozen editorial cartoons. No sappy De Profundis here, folks, just a few memories and heartfelt thanks to all who have made this entire experience a great pleasure, from the 1998 ice storm crisis to the current Westmount Recreation Centre controversy, through five office moves and an array of personnel changes at the paper. There has never been a shortage of events and issues in this community, and that has kept things interesting throughout my tenure. What a loss for the Westmount Examiner, the City. Wayne’s professionalism, journalistic integrity and love of the community will be sorely missed.
20 January
Westmount deemed a historically significant community Parks Canada recognizes opulent architecture and landscape heritage From the Communities in Bloom competitions to numerous municipal merit awards, Westmount is no stranger to receiving accolades from across the country. Another honour was bestowed upon Westmount this week through Canada’s program of historical commemoration, when Parks Canada included this community as one of four places declared to have historic significance. The announcement, made on Tuesday by federal Environment Minister Peter Kent, included praise for Westmount based on its “opulent architectural and landscape heritage,” as well as its overall integration into an urban setting.

2011

18 August We have resisted posting reports of the never-ending bickering over Westmount’s ‘arena project’, however Wayne Larsen’s thoughtful editorial There’s nothing tony about misinformation in response to the Gazette article of  9 August (see below) puts things into perspective, as does a calm and well reasoned letter from Nigel Penney in support of Wayne’s position. Bravo both! 10 August Project to replace aging rink in tony Montreal enclave viewed as unnecessary When three levels of government get together to pay for a spiffy new rink for local amateur hockey players and figure skaters, it’s usually the type of project that skates untroubled to the goal. But this is no ordinary hockey rink, and Westmount, with some of Canada’s most exclusive postal codes, is no ordinary community. With shovels poised to cut into the earth early next year, an outcry has suddenly arisen against a plan to build two full-size underground hockey rinks right on the edge of the bucolic ponds and paths of Westmount Park. 9 August Opposition to Westmount mega-complex swells Too late to change $37M plan for pool and hockey rink, councillor says (Gazette)Critics are calling on the City of Westmount to rethink its plan for a $37-million megacomplex featuring two underground NHL-sized hockey rinks, an outdoor swimming pool and a green roof, a concept believed to be unique in North America. The ambitious Westmount Recreation Centre project for Westmount Park has prompted brawls at recent council meetings, filled up the letters page in the Westmount Examiner and generated an online petition titled Change Westmount Arena Plan. On Monday evening, the petition had 1,552 signatures. Westmount Mayor Peter Trent said last week that it’s too late to modify the plan at this stage and that bids for the construction project will start at the end of 2011 or beginning of 2012. Opponents of the project deplore what they see as a lack of transparency by city council, excessive costs, and a faulty needs analysis for the demographic of Westmount. They say the arena project caters more to kids who attend private schools in the area, like Selwyn House, than the actual aging population that lives there and uses the park now. But also see Eada Rubinger‘s fine letter to the editor of August 15, which will disappear from the Gazette website, so we reproduce it here: “I am a resident of Westmount who supports the new arena/pool project. I read your article with some dismay. Let’s start with the inflammatory headline. Just because a petition gets a bunch of names on it does not mean “opposition” is actually “swelling.” I was approached by a person on the street seeking signatures on that petition last week, and her utter misrepresentation of the project verged on outright lies and hysteria. As for the “mega-complex,” we are essentially adding half a skating rink and dramatically improving and upgrading the other facilities (outdoor pool, teen centre, tennis courts etc.) as compared with what exists now. As well, the proposal calls for the utmost respect for the surrounding parkland, greater environmental concerns and neighbouring residents. Opponents make it sound like the Olympic village. Let’s look closely at your article: 1.You write that the debate has prompted brawls at recent council meetings” – what? Fisticuffs? You would be hardpressed to find a municipality where civility and open democracy are more obviously at work. This is a community where residents are engaged and participatory and the mayor and city councillors respectfully welcome all input. There has never been a “brawl” at any council meeting. Moreover, there have been invitations to public-consultation meetings throughout this entire process during the past two to three years, and several changes were brought to the project in response to concerns raised. Mayor Peter Trent is showing conscientious leadership on this issue in making every opportunity available for constituents to weigh in on the subject. 2. Opponents say “the arena project caters more to kids who attend private schools in the area .. than the actual aging population that lives there and uses the park now.” Check the actual demographics of Westmount. This is a family oriented community absolutely teeming with kids, a huge majority of whom, regardless of what school they attend, use our athletic facilities for sports and recreation throughout the year. Adults – young and not-so-young – play hockey and love to skate, too. And they prefer not to start their games at 11 p.m. when the kids have finally finished playing. Our rinks are in demand and will be used by a large cross-section of the population. When I was approached by the breathlessly outraged opponent to the project on the street last week, she objected to the survey having been circulated when “everyone was on holiday” as a pretext to argue that all constituencies were not fairly consulted. Actually, it was in April. This is another example the misinformation used to garner signatures.” Eada Rubinger Westmount planning $37 million arena and pool (CTV) — The City of Westmount is planning a $37 million rebuild of its arena and pool, but critics say the project is too big, too expensive, and not suitable for Westmount Park. Daphnee Azoulay is one of those critics who loves the park just the way it is. .. CTV also gives air time to the critics However, as one letter points out: why is this news now. This has been planned for years and Westmount residents knew this was coming. It’s already been discussed to death in our own local papers as well. Slow news day? 27 July A charming tribute to Westmount from Barbara Kay Giving the family home one last hurrah (The National Post) Tonight will be our last night in the big Edwardian pile of a house my husband Ronny and I have called home for 32 years. The movers come tomorrow morning. Months ago we bought a downsizer, a bright, modern, no-nonsense box of a house with just enough room for us and two visiting grandchildren. It needed, and got, a full renovation, and now it is perfect. I have always lived in big cities and can’t even imagine living in the ‘burbs or a town. And yet, in all the ways that matter emotionally and psychologically, I need to live in a “village.” So I didn’t even bother house-hunting beyond a very small radius, because I knew I couldn’t be happy anywhere else but my particular ‘hood.

2010

18 November Westmount halts McGill super hospital construction (CBC) The city of Westmount has shut down part of the construction site for the new McGill super hospital after builders failed to get a building permit. Westmount Mayor Peter Trent said builders had no right to start work without getting the paperwork sorted out first. He accused hospital officials of evoking the “important persons act” by ignoring a legal process that everyone, right down to homeowners, must follow. 4 October Roslyn reunion organizers use Facebook to track down the Class of ’78-’79 Chalk up another one for social networking. When former Roslyn School students Eric Rosen, Marc Creel and Lynn Nikides first got the idea to organize a reunion of their grade six graduating class, they knew they had their work cut out for them. Contacting every member of the Class of 1978-79 meant a long, often frustrating search that began last February. Addresses and phone numbers had changed over the years — not to mention names — as the students scattered far and wide. … In the end, more than 30 former classmates reunited on the weekend of Sept. 25-26 for a series of events that included dinners and a tour of their old school. 17 August Westmount plan gets cold shoulder Bylaw allows city to borrow $37 million (Gazette) Some residents are accusing Westmount’s city council of playing dirty pool by adopting a bylaw allowing the city to borrow $37 million to build a sports complex in Westmount Park. Westmount Mayor Peter Trent responded yesterday, however, that residents were informed the bylaw vote was coming three months ago and it should not have come as a surprise. 29 June Westmount, Montreal feud over MUHC traffic Using Glen Rd. could save city $9M: Bergeron (Gazette) Montreal’s urban-planning point man is appealing to Westmount to allow McGill’s future superhospital to use Glen Rd. as a key entry and exit point for trucks during construction, and for employees and deliveries once the hospital opens. 14 June Westmount’s 5 Saisons signs 20-year leaseanother thorny issue resolved by Mayor Peter Trent On Monday, RAMCO unveiled its plans for a six-storey condominium building with 25 residential units and some commercial space. The 5 Saisons will occupy about 10,000 square feet of the ground floor – roughly the same amount of floorspace that it currently occupies. The building’s terrace will be converted into a public square, which will be leased to the city of Westmount for $1 a year. The city will manage the square. (Westmount Examiner) Condo project will include Les 5 Saisons 14 April Mayor asks citizens to support latest arena concept Going underground! In a radical new approach to Westmount’s arena/pool project, Mayor Peter Trent this week revealed a $37-million proposal to build the arena underground – a concept believed to be unique in North America. The plan, still at the conceptual stage, includes two NHL-size rinks, changing rooms and other amenities at the current site in Westmount Park. All would be buried under grass and tennis courts to create “the ultimate green roof,” the mayor states in an information mailing to all residents this week. Skylights would bring natural lighting into the arena. Council allows demolition but demands no-build servitude Aberdeen garden wins out City council has reversed the ruling of its Demolition Committee and will allow the owner of 20 Aberdeen Ave. to knock down the 1932 house to create a side garden for his family home to the north at number 24. [The decision] was based on condition he provide the city with a servitude of non-construction in perpetuity.

2009

22 December Westmount millionaire denied demolition permit (Gazette) A Westmount resident who purchased a $1.5-million house next to his so he could tear it down for a better view and a garden was denied a demolition permit Monday by the city. Scott Jones, a steel-company executive, bought the Depression-era house at 20 Aberdeen Ave. in July. Since November 2007, Jones and his family have been living in a larger house at 26 Aberdeen, which directly overlooks the more modest cottage built in 1932. 1 December Reprieve for the 5 Saisons (Westmount Independent) Efforts to save Les 5 Saisons have resulted in a six-month reprieve. It was slated to close at the end of its lease this Saturday, December 5, to make way for redevelopment of the Greene Ave. site. Mayor Peter Trent told the Independent the “stay of execution” would allow time for the city and property owner Jacob Attias to work out an agreement. This could lead to finding a way to incorporate the retailer into the proposed development. Mix of old and new form council (Westmount Examiner) While most Montrealers were glued to their computers and televisions to watch the big showdown between Gérald Tremblay and Louise Harel on Sunday night, Westmount city hall was abuzz with activity as local officials and residents gathered to watch an unfolding drama of their own — the incoming results of Westmount’s 2009 municipal election. Official Election Results 27 October City receives arena/pool grant contract Project deadline pushed to 2015 (Westmount Independent) With only a few days remaining until Westmount elects its new council, the city has received a much-awaited draft contract for its $20-million arena grant that extends the building deadline to 2015 from 2011. “My reaction is spelled out in capital letters: RELIEF,” said Mayor Peter Trent in announcing the news last week. “We will still have to move quickly on the project, however.” The grant, he said, is based on the old design that was presented at public information sessions last April. “But I feel confident we can make some changes and would hope to have a large scope for change.” 22 October Wayne Larsen: This week’s Meet the Candidates evening in Victoria Hall was a rousing success, in fact it may go down as one of the more memorable that the Westmount Municipal Association and the Examiner have organized over the past 10 years — ranking up there with the time an enraged Keir Cutler sprang from his front-row seat to refute a point made by borough mayoral candidate Richard McConomy, and the time everyone went home humming after a homeless federal election candidate presented his platform in the form of a rousing song. More 15 October Swearing-In of Peter F. Trent, Mayor of the City of Westmount Today, Thursday, October 15 at 12 p.m. at Westmount City Hall, the swearing-in ceremony of Peter F. Trent was held, acclaimed Mayor of Westmount (sic). Also elected without opposition were Mr. Victor Drury and Mr. Patrick Martin, who were sworn in as Westmount City Councillors. Acclamations: A failure of democratic process?  Government statistics may suggest otherwise (Gazette) When word spread in Westmount that Peter Trent was planning to run for his old job of mayor, people who had been planning their own mayoral bids put their political ambitions on hold. 2 October Trent acclaimed mayor (Westmount Examiner) Peter Trent, Westmount’s former mayor who spearheaded the successful struggle to demerge from the megacity, has been declared the winner by acclamation of the 2009 mayoralty race, nearly a month before the Nov. 1 municipal election. Trent received word at city hall late last Friday afternoon, along with incumbent District 1 candidate Patrick Martin and District 3 candidate Victor Drury. Like Trent, they won when no one else filed candidacy papers for their positions. According to new electoral rules, elected officials have 30 days to decide when they want to be sworn into office. “At this point, I’m still undecided as to exactly what date I’ll be sworn in,” said Trent. More on Westmount elections Other districts are contested: 1 October Young to challenge Lulham, Samiotis taking on de Castell With the filing of papers for District 7 on September 25, Mavis Young entered the municipal election against incumbent councillor Cynthia Lulham. Young, a resident of the ward, has a science background and works for Health Canada in regulatory affairs. She is a founding member of Save the Park! A profile of Young will appear in next week’s issue. As the Independent went to press, it found out that Theodora Samiotis intended to run against incumbent councillor John de Castell in District 8. 29 September Canada-Quebec Investment of $19,969,440 to the City of Westmount for the Arena/Pool Renewal Project The Honourable Denis Lebel, Minister of State for Canada Economic Development, today joined Jacques Chagnon, Member of the National Assembly, for Westmount-Saint-Louis, acting on behalf of Laurent Lessard, Quebec’s Minister of Municipal Affairs, Regions and Land Occupancy, in announcing that the City of Westmount will receive $19,969,440 in joint government funding under the Communities Component of the Building Canada Fund – Quebec for infrastructure works. The project involves the construction of a sports complex on two levels, with a surface area of approximately 8,000 square metres. This building will mainly comprise two indoor skating rinks, a 25-metre outdoor swimming pool, a leisure pool, multi-purpose rooms and a youth centre. See Westmount Independent page 24 for comments) 28 September Westmount Park sports complex plans draw applause and criticism (Gazette) It took years of lobbying and a world-wide economic downturn, but Westmount officials were smiling yesterday when they learned two-thirds of the cost of the city’s new sports complex will be shared by Ottawa and Quebec. Westmount will receive a total of $20 million in federal and provincial government stimulus funding in order to replace the 50-year-old rink and outdoor swimming pool in Westmount Park. 26 September Arena meeting reveals many unanswered questions (Westmount Independent .pdf  page 1) Surprise! Grant almost $20M It was later revealed during citizen questioning, however, that many aspects had not yet been studied. As well, the costing did not include a number of related costs such as street, sewer and water work, and relocation of the junior tennis courts. Management fees are also excluded. Some 40 citizens’ questions and comments ranged from hearty endorsement to a number of concerns that included overbuilding the site, noise from the relocated pool, assessments of future needs and demographics, an indoor pool, optional sites and alternatives to chlorine use at the pool Arena/Pool Renewal Project: Public Information Meeting Stuart Robertson had far-reaching impact on Westmount (Westmount Independent .pdf p.2) Robertson was a former president of the Westmount Municipal Association (WMA), and the founder of most of the city’s horticultural and conservation programs including the first initiatives to prevent erosion on Summit Park. He was instrumental in the hiring of a city horticulturist, the start of the first community garden, the walking tours and the plant exchange. He founded the Horticultural Advisory Committee and co-founded the Westmount Horticultural Society where he was quick to pinch hit as a guest speaker on sudden notice. “Summit Park was one of his passions,” recalled Peter Trent, who served with Robertson on the council of mayor May Cutler. “He did a lot of work to mark paths and initiate steps to stop the degradation of the park.” CBC’s Stuart Robertson dies at 65 He was the co-founder and former president of the Westmount Horticultural Society. From 1987, until he was hired by the CBC, Robertson also served as a city councillor in Westmount. Gazette’s longtime gardening columnist Stuart Robertson has died He served as president of the local chapter of the Periodical Writers Association and as local rep for the Garden Writers Association of America. A long-time resident of Westmount, Robertson served as president of the Westmount Municipal Association and as a Westmount city councillor, and he was the founder of the Westmount Horticultural Society. 10 September Never known as retiring, Trent’s back on the ballot Municipal merger foe re-emerges (Gazette) When Peter Trent holds a news conference next week to announce his return to local municipal politics, there will be no question of him trying to reinvent himself. Trent is a stable political compound with plenty of goodwill in the demerged Montreal suburbs and the English-speaking community of Quebec as a whole. 10 September Drury, Ikeman step up The race for Westmount city council heated up this week with word that lifelong Westmounter Victory Drury is seriously considering making a run, while Ste. Catherine Street resident Gary Ikeman has confirmed that his name will also be on the Nov. 1 ballot. 26 August Westmounters ready to welcome back Peter By P.A. Sévigny (The Suburban) If former Westmount mayor Peter Trent finally decides that he will, after all, present himself as a candidate to become the city’s once and future mayor, he could be one of the city’s few politicians who will have nothing to worry about once the polls are closed and the votes are counted. 11 August He’s back! Trent prepares to run (Westmount Independent) People have been calling for his return. And last Friday, Peter Trent revealed he is “very seriously” looking at running for mayor in Westmount’s November 1 elections. 6 August Wayne Larsen: PR firm fumbled media event Jonathan Goldbloom & Associates, the public relations firm hired to handle the press conference, dropped the ball big time when it came to announcing it to the local papers. My first and only official notification of the event was a “reminder” e-mail I received at 9:20 a.m., just over an hour before Mayor Marks was due at the microphone. Luckily, I was already on my way to city hall by then, having caught wind of the impending announcement on the 7 a.m. radio news and confirming the starting time with a city councillor. 4 August Wayne Larsen: Marks steps down Mayor won’t seek re-election in November The long-time community leader has announced that she will not seek a second term as mayor, capping an 18-year career at city hall in which she served as city councillor, borough mayor and most recently mayor of the reconstituted City of Westmount. Westmount Mayor Karin Marks won’t seek re-election (Gazette) As Marks leaves municipal politics, there are signs that small town independence might be trumped by big city pragmatism. The centralization of city services is already an election issue in Montreal, and Louise Harel, the former PQ minister who oversaw the mergers is now running for the mayoralty of Montreal. Does Marks think Westmount and its sister suburbs are living on borrowed time? “I think, given the political fallout of the last merger, no one wants to hear the word ‘merger’ again,” she said. “That doesn’t mean there isn’t a real concern over what sort of changes could be made by the back door.” Westmount: Karin Marks quitte la politique La mairesse de Westmount, Karin Marks, tourne la page: elle ne se présentera pas aux prochaines élections municipales. (La Presse) Mme Marks était la représentante des 15 villes de banlieue de Montréal qui ont défusionné à la suite de la décision du gouvernement de Jean Charest de revenir sur les fusions municipales de 2001. Elle avait été élue pour la première fois conseillère en novembre 1991. 23 June 2009 Henry Aubin: Winners, losers in the demergers The fifth anniversary of the demerger referendums, one of the most convulsive times in local politics in memory, slid by quietly last weekend. The dust still hasn’t settled from this event in which 15 of the 28 suburbs that were forcibly merged with Montreal in 2002 voted to secede. The Nov. 1 election will be for not only mayor of Montreal but for the ruler of all Montreal Island, including the 15 suburbs. The same person wears both hats. Yet suburbanites are ineligible to vote. The principle of “no taxation without representation” is sacred elsewhere in the democratic world. But, thanks to Quebec’s demerger law, it won’t apply here for the second straight election. Note the only legislator who nagged the government on this issue, Mario Dumont, left politics in March. Expect this democratic outrage to continue for a good long time. 1 June 2006 Andrew Sancton: Municipal Mergers and Demergers in Quebec and Ontario .pdf Jean Charest and Dalton McGuinty were both elected as premiers of their respective provinces of Quebec and Ontario in 2003; they had both opposed municipal mergers while they were in opposition; and they both had promised while in opposition to create a mechanism for municipal demergers. Charest followed through on his promise and demergers have taken place; McGuinty reneged. Most observers would probably judge that McGuinty has handled the issue more effectively than Charest. The purpose of this paper is to describe the similarities and differences in the political context in which both leaders were working, to explain their different responses, and to assess the relative merits of the different approaches taken by the two premiers. 1 January 2005 – Inroads: A Journal of Opinion Montreal demergers: an update. INROADS15 WE DESCRIBED THE PROCESS LEADING UP TO THE JUNE 20 demerger referendums in Quebec municipalities. (1) We paid particular attention to developments in Montreal where a new administration under Gerald Tremblay came to power in January 2002 in the “One Island, One City” that had been created by the PQ government. The Tremblay administration was soon confronted with changes following the 2003 provincial election campaign, in which Jean Charest’s Liberal Party promised to submit the mergers to the people directly concerned for their approval. The changes took the form of a law, Bill 9, which opened the door for old municipalities to revert to their former status as separate, independent entities, albeit with much reduced powers, and set out a series of stages through which it could take place, the last being a referendum. As a result of the June referendums, opponents of the Montreal megamerger managed to carve out a large chunk of their new island-city, including a huge crescent-shaped piece at its southwestern end, comprising 28 per cent of its land area and 15 per cent of its population. 22 June 2004 – Inroads: A Journal of Opinion Breaking up is hard to do: merger and demerger in the Montreal megacity. In NOVEMBER 2000, PREMIER LUCIEN BOUCHARD’S PARTI QUEBECOIS government introduced Bill 170 to merge a number of Quebec municipalities. The PQ forced the bill through the National Assembly over angry opposition. There were large and noisy (but peaceful) street demonstrations by citizens of smaller municipalities condemned to disappear through the creation of “megacities” in Montreal and Longueuil (just south, across the St. Lawrence River), Quebec City and Levis (also just south, across the St. Lawrence River), Sherbrooke, Trois-Rivieres and the Outaouais and Saguenay regions. Elsewhere in the province, many rural towns and villages were also merged. Montreal’s immediate neighbour to the north, the city of Laval, created by a 1960s merger, was spared.

One Comment on "Westmount"

  1. Andy Froncioni September 18, 2010 at 3:21 pm · Reply

    If you’re looking for a complementary view of Westmount, visit http://westmountwatch.org. We don’t mean to be as complete as the Independent by any stretch, but we are at least better than a PDF file.:-)

    Andy Froncioni
    Editor, WestmountWatch.Org

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