Following one of the rockiest municipal elections campaigns in Montreal history, it was back to business as usual for Côte des Neiges - NDG city councillors on Monday evening, Nov. 16th. The meeting began at 7 p.m. and took place at the Cummings Building on Côte-St-Catherine St.
The first post-election borough council meeting featured many new faces. With the exception of borough mayor Michael Applebaum and longtime Snowdon councillor Marvin Rotrand, the council was made up of newcomers.
Despite the scandals that plagued Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay’s Union Montreal party, NDG. voters elected many Union representatives. The sole non-Union councillor elected was Notre-Dâme-de-Grace councillor Peter McQueen. The local activist was elected under Richard Bergeron’s Projet Montreal banner, defeating Union candidate Marie-Josée Mastromonaco by10 percentage points.
Other new councillors included Darlington’s Lionel Perez, Loyola’s Susan Clarke, and Côte-des-Neiges councillor Helen Fotopoulos, former borough mayor of the Plateau.
After introductions from the mayor and councillors, residents had the opportunity to voice their concerns. Tenant’s rights and crosswalks were priority concerns. “Buildings are so ill-maintained that TV cameras show up to film them,” said NDG Community Council’s Leslie Bagg. She was referencing the apartment building at 2290 Girouard St., which recently made headlines when mayor Applebaum was forced to intervene on behalf of tenants whose heat had been cut off.
Bagg was followed by Phillipe Bergeron-Burns, a former resident of 2290 Girouard. He accused the landlord of conspiring to drive longtime tenants with low rent from the building so as to charge higher rent to new renters. He told the audience how the landlord had taken him behind the building to show where the heater had been ripped out from the wall. “I got freaked out and decided to move to another apartment,” said Bergeron-Burns.
The mayor acknowledged that the building in question had been on the borough’s radar for some time, but said that the city services department needs to make sure that they have solid proof against a landlord before they can take legal action.
A proposed crosswalk outside Royal Vale Academy was another hot topic, with several residents asking the council to take action. “I am requesting...a crosswalk to be placed on the corner of Somerled and Royal,” said Kirsten Voss, a mother of two whose children attend Royal Vale.
Voss submitted a petition with roughly 150 signatures to mayor Applebaum and McQueen, and asked how long it would be before the borough made a decision on the matter. The mayor said that the local circulation department needed to study the matter and see if it is feasible. He was unable to give a firm deadline regarding the decision, and urged patience.
That wasn’t good enough for Aliya Ahmad, another parent who spoke about the issue. “Please do not wait,” she asked the council, urging them to act “before something bad happens.” Ahmad said that the current situation outside the school is chaotic, with both parents and children crossing in the middle of the street. “It’s like a jungle, every morning and every afternoon,” she said.
Overall, the mood of the council was one of collegiality, with Union members vowing to work with McQueen to help NDG residents. “The thing with municipal politics is that we have four-year mandates, so there’s not too much partisanship - the voters appreciate it,” said Fotopoulos. That sentiment was echoed by McQueen. “I don’t have personal problems with people for no reason,” he said. “I am concerned with the end facts, and look forward to working together to bring progress to NDG.”