Statement by Helen Fotopulos

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Photograph by: Allen McInnis, Gazette file photo

Statement by Helen Fotopulos,

Mayor of the Plateau-Mont-Royal Borough

Monday, June 1, 2009

Greetings everyone,

And thank you for coming,

It is of course with a certain sadness, but especially with the firm conviction that I have made the right decision, that I am here before you today.

I have decided not seek a third term as Mayor of the Plateau Mont-Royal Borough. It is an emotional moment for me as on a day-to-day basis, I will as of November 2nd be moving apart from the people whom I represent with pride and affection, and from the team with which I work.

I have notified Montréal Mayor Gérald Tremblay of my desire to step down as mayor, a position I have held since 2002, particularly since I can now pass the torch to a colleague well qualified to fill this position, Michel Labrecque.

I was first elected in 1994 in the Mile End district and have proudly represented Milenders until Michel succeeded me as city councillor. I am quite confident that his efforts will prove equally successful here in the Plateau.

Although my term as mayor will only end after November 1, my record over the past few years speaks for itself. Over the past eight years, key achievements for the borough include:

  • The creation of a set of urban planning by-laws that transformed a situation of “anything goes” to a control mechanism that will ensure harmonious and consistent development that has proved particularly important in helping us preserve and showcase our heritage. Since the entire borough has been granted heritage status, the Plateau now meets the conditions of the Fonds du patrimoine culturel québécois, from which it receives grant funding.
  • Adoption of the Plateau’s urban transportation plan, the first plan adopted under Montréal’s Transportation Plan, which will enable the borough to reduce the pressure of vehicles and through traffic. I would like to make note of Michel Labrecque’s constant involvement in the adoption of this plan.
  • The Plateau has also been a breeding ground for new and original forms of participatory democracy in Montréal. The achievements I have just enumerated largely result from the efforts of our two standing committees of the borough council comprised of borough residents. I would also like to mention the participatory budget experience that has confirmed the importance of investing in projects supported by residents.

All of the preceding achievements, including modern management of urban planning, direct action in terms of quality of life and innovations to the democratic process, have-along with the excellent reputations of our restaurants and our cultural venues and the general vitality that characterizes the Plateau-made our community a pleasant place to live and one of Montréal’s main attractions.

Naturally, these actions, along with the saving of the Carmel convent and our solution for preventing “condos on stilts” from taking root here are part of the Montréal mosaic. We should bear in mind that a borough can only develop as part of the city to which it belongs and vice versa. Furthermore, I am proud that I have been a member of the city’s Executive Committee for the past eight year, because I have contributed to such achievements as:

  • The decision to completely overhaul the Park-Pine interchange, which affects all Montrealers, including the population of the Plateau and visitors, by enhancing the entire area.  I would therefore like to take this opportunity to thank my colleague Michel Prescott, city councillor for the district of Jeanne Mance, for working with me with such determination, tooth and nail on this project. Thank you, Michel.
  • The  creation, via Quebec government decree, of the historic and natural borough of Mount-Royal, part of which is located in the Plateau,
  • The decision to prioritize investments for major infrastructure repairs and greening efforts that were carried out on Saint Laurent and Saint Joseph Boulevards. These initiatives were part of a larger effort by the city of Montreal to proceed with greening projects in other neighbourhoods,
  • The decision to equip Montreal with heritage and culture policies as well as an advisory body dedicated to preserving heritage called the Conseil du patrimoine, which is now forever enshrined in the city’s Charter,
  • The adoption by city council of Montreal’s first Gender Equality policy.

In short, the commitments which I made and the actions that I carried out were always guided by conviction, passion as well as my deep affection for the citizens of the borough, and I must stress, for the many creators, and artists, who not only make up such an important component of the Plateau population and help energize Montreal.

I would also like to thank the Mayor of Montreal, Gérald Tremblay who fully understood my decision today. The mayor has always displayed confidence in me and treated me with respect. I would also like to thank my Plateau Mont Royal colleagues. I have every intention of completing my mandate as borough mayor with the same energy I demonstrated in the past. I also hope my colleague Michel Labrecque will find the same sense of accomplishment that I have as mayor of the Plateau.

I first ran as a candidate for city council in 1978 under the banner of the MCM. Then, 10 years later, I arrived at city hall where I worked as a political advisor. Then, in 1994, I was elected for the first time as a city councillor in the Mile End district.  Today, in 2009, I can look back and say 30 years later that Montreal will always be my ‘patrie’. The next step for me will be to take some time to reflect in private about my future. What I can say for certain is that now, more than ever, the development of my city and the well-being of its citizens remain driving forces for me. I am fully aware that there are numerous challenges that lie ahead and I know all too well that I will never stop thinking about and focusing on them.

Finally, I would like to thank everyone who helped make my passion for Montreal become a reality. Un gros merci from the bottom of my heart. As we head into the upcoming election campaign I can say that I would like to see the re-election of Gérald Tremblay on November 1st along with a greater level of citizen participation.

Thank You.

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