2019: The Year in Review

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The Laval News takes a look back at the turbulence last year

Floodwaters in the spring, Trudeau Liberals re-elected in the fall

Martin C. Barry

As Queen Elizabeth said in her annual message to Canadians and other members of the Commonwealth this past Christmas Day, the path we take in life “is not always smooth and may at times this year have felt quite bumpy.”

While Her Royal Majesty may well have been referring to the misfortunes that befell her son Prince Andrew last year, 2019 was indeed a turbulent year for people everywhere – whether it was in Laval or across Quebec and the rest of the country.

January

Despite this, things were going smoothly for at least one local politician. Just before the beginning of the new year, incumbent Laval-Les Îles Liberal MP Fayçal El-Khoury announced he would be running for a second term in the October 2019 federal election.

“I know that in politics the work is never finished,” he said, addressing a large crowd at the Château Royal in Chomedey. “But I also know that since 2015 we have put the situation in Canada back in order.”

The Laval News’s first issue of the year on Jan. 9 also profiled young up-and-coming Laval vocalist Chris Giannini. First discovered on Battle of the Bands, he was then signed by a record label and recorded his first track, “If It’s Me.”

Released in Quebec in 2010, it scored over 30,000 downloads on iTunes Canada, while also leading to TV appearances on Musique Plus/Much, Affaires des Stars, TVA Salut Bonjour, and CTV-Canada iTunes song of the week

“I love experiences working on everything from singing to film sets, and live events to studio and location photography, videography, using various techniques and genres,” he said in an interview with TLN’s Renata Isopo.

A host of federal tax changes came into effect with the new year. Some hit people’s paycheques, while others manifested themselves on bills. If you were a small business owner, there were a few changes for which you had likely been preparing for months. From low-income subsidies to passive cash taxation to the carbon tax, the rules were about to shift.

Starting in January, Canadians’ Canada Pension Plan contributions increased from 4.95 per cent to 5.1 per cent on earnings between $3,500 and $57,400. It was the first of five years of graduated increases that will run until 2023, when the rate will reach 5.95 per cent.

The oft-told story of the engineer who immigrated to Canada only to end up having to drive a cab for a living “is no longer as true as it used to be,” federal Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen told a gathering of community group leaders at the YMCA in Cartierville, as he defended Ottawa’s position on the recognition of academic credentials from foreign countries.

Hussen – who is himself a product of Canada’s immigration system, having come to Canada from Somalia during the early 1990s – was one member of a panel of elected officials from three government levels who took part in a round-table discussion sponsored by Ahuntsic-Cartierville Liberal MP Mélanie Joly.

After hungering for a chance to win the Laval tournament since the beginning of the season, the “Laval Élites Citadelles” finally came through. For those on the team who were not going to play hockey next season, this was their last tournament to participate in. It was also the last tournament as a team and they wanted to bring the cup home.

They started off the game on a rough note, with the other team scoring five minutes into the first period. But they came back to fight and tied the game before the first period ended with a goal from Tristan Rende.

February

Although it would be more than a year before the City of Laval would play host to the 55th Jeux du Québec finals, members of a local organizing committee joined Mayor Marc Demers, city councillors and several provincial MNAs last week to unveil the event’s logo and to announce some of the first commercial and institutional partners.

Michel Allen, president of Sports-Québec which is the provincial association behind the organization of the event, said he had complete confidence in Laval to organize a games event from July 31 to Aug. 8 2020 that will be memorable.

In an interview published in the Feb. 6 issue of the Laval News, federal border security and organized crime reduction minister Bill Blair convincingly defended the Liberal government’s decriminalization of marijuana.

Leading up to the changes by the Liberals the previous October to the country’s longstanding prohibition on cannabis, more than a third of Canada’s population had been breaking the law, said Blair. As such, “we began the process of looking at how do we reduce the harm of this drug,” he added.

“Some people say to me, ‘Well you’ve legalized cannabis.’ And I say no – we’ve regulated the daylights out of it. We’ve brought in all sorts of new rules – enforceable, proportionate, sensible rules – that control every aspect of its production, its sale and its consumption.”

During the same interview, Blair ruled out the possibility his ministry would follow the example of the Trump administration in the U.S. and build some kind of wall along Canada’s southern border to keep out intruders. “I don’t believe a physical barrier is either practical on a 9,000-kilometre border or necessary,” said Blair.

As announced in the Feb. 6 Laval News, the Sir Wilfrid Laurier Foundation’s Annual Gala fundraiser in January raised $48,265 for educational equipment, programs and resources at schools and training centres across the Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board’s territory in the Laval, Laurentian and Lanaudière regions.

Held at the Embassy Plaza, the popular event raised nearly $9,000 more than last year’s Gala. “The amount is very good,” SWLF president Christian Fréchette said when asked about the increase. “People are participating in our fundraising efforts and we’re very happy about this.”

With a federal election scheduled to take place in October, the lines were being drawn early in the year by some political parties and candidates. Former Conservative cabinet minister Maxime Bernier was one of the first to get a head-start when he hosted a campaign launch for one of his People’s Party of Canada candidates who was running in a Feb. 25 by-election in Côte des Neiges.

In spite of assurances by Mayor Marc Demers that changes he was seeking to Laval’s municipal charter wouldn’t lead to abuses by his administration, a group of opposition city councillors was urging Quebec not to allow the changes – even though the government already had for five other large municipalities.

In a letter addressed to Quebec Municipal Affairs Minister Andrée Laforest, Laval city councillors David De Cotis (Saint-Bruno), Michel Poissant (Vimont) and other opposition council members said they were “denouncing” Mayor Marc Demers’ attempt to modify two clauses from Laval’s charter.

March

In the midst of a harsh winter that was challenging many municipalities’ road and sidewalk maintenance resources, the City of Laval issued a statement early in March, saying the municipal administration was actively at work assigning crews to take all measures necessary to remove ice from all the City of Laval’s streets and sidewalks.

According to the city, up to Feb. 28 de-icing operations had necessitated the use of all Laval’s reserves of salt and abrasives which had been stocked for a normal winter season. The depletion of the stocks made it necessary to purchase additional salt and abrasives. The city had already gone through an entire season’s worth of supplies — 44,400 metric tonnes (MT) of salt.

In an interview published in the March 6 issue of the Laval News, the Conservative Party of Canada’s lieutenant for Quebec Gérard Deltell outlined the Tories’ plans for the federal election which would be taking place on Oct. 21.

Based on a CPC press statement as well as our interview with Deltell, it seemed that a significant part of the Conservative election plan would depend heavily on disparaging incumbent Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“Quebeckers are fed up with Justin Trudeau, and his lack of understanding towards the bills average people have to pay,” said Deltell. The Member of Parliament for the Quebec City-area riding of  Louis-Saint-Laurent downplayed the potential impact that former Conservative Maxime Bernier’s new People’s Party would have on the CPC on election day.

With predictions being made that immigration would rank high among the issues in the upcoming federal election, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Ahmed Hussen said in an interview with the Laval News that he was prepared to defend the incumbent Liberal government’s policies, while setting the record straight with regard to “misinformation” he said had been spread by the Conservatives.

“The Conservatives have repeatedly misinformed Canadians about the Global Compact,” said Hussen, referring to the United Nations’ Global Compact for Migration, a non-binding international agreement enacted by the UN and agreed to by the Liberal government. In December 2018, Conservative leader Andrew Scheer claimed the agreement would undermine Canada’s ability to decide who immigrates here.

The month of March also saw a seismic shift take place within Laval city council, with an announcement that five Mouvement lavallois city councillors were abandoning the mayor’s party to join the opposition Action Laval.

The five new Action Laval councillors, Paolo Galati (Saint-Vincent-de-Paul), Daniel Hébert (Marigot), Michel Poissant (Vimont), David De Cotis (Saint-Bruno) and Isabella Tassoni (Laval-des-Rapides), joined Aglaia Revelakis (Chomedey), who was elected under the banner of Action Laval in 2013 and re-elected in 2017.

The council chamber at Laval City Hall was packed on March 12 for the monthly public meeting as a large number of residents turned up to complain about poor snow and ice removal from their streets. Council passed a decree for the purchase of additional road salt to deal with the unforeseen sidewalk and road safety problems.

One of the Montreal region’s leading manufacturers of landing gear for the global aerospace industry got a financial boost from the federal government on March 13 when Marc-Aurèle-Fortin MP Yves Robillard announced a $1.2 million repayable subsidy to Laval-based Mecaer America.

April

Laval mayor Marc Demers was among those saying they were pleased with the new Coalition Avenir Québec government’s first annual budget which was released last month by CAQ Finance Minister Éric Girard.

Demers said he was impressed by the $16.6 billion amount over 10 years that the government allotted to public transit.

“This measure squares perfectly with the vision at the Forum on Mobility and public transit to develop an integrated network of transport for Laval-Lower Laurentians with the goal of countering road congestion,” said Demers.

As reported in the April 3 issue of the Laval News, the organizing committee for the 55th finals for the 2020 Jeux du Québec taking place in Laval this year announced the winners of a contest to name their mascot.

Dynamik was the name chosen by children from grade schools all over Laval who had been invited to help make the choice. The winning name was submitted by two students: Flavie Pauzé of École Hébert in Saint-François and Raphaël Bélanger of École l’Envol in Saint-Vincent-de-Paul.

In a report on the Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board’s most recent Council of Commissioners’ meeting, the board’s members came out swinging in condemnation of Bill 21 (religious symbols).

“Council believes that Bill 21 will alter the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, and for this reason owes it to its communities to take a stance against this legislation,” the SWLSB said in a statement. “The SWLSB is proud to be part of a diverse community and has long embraced values of inclusion and respect.”

In the same issue of TLN, the Quebec English School Boards Association (QESBA) also expressed its deep disappointment with and opposition to Bill 21. “Bill 21 is a divisive and an unnecessary piece of legislation that can only lead to societal discrimination,” said QESBA president Dan Lamoureux.

The head of Montreal’s largest taxi service predicted that the region’s traditional taxi industry would cease to exist within three years after the CAQ government passed Bill 17 to overhaul the taxi industry and level the ground for alternate taxi and ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft.

“It’s an inhumane law,” said George Boussios, president of Champlain Taxi. “It is going to get 22,000 families, 8,000 permit holders into bankruptcy.”

A late winter ice storm that roared through the Laval, North Shore and Montreal regions left many residents of the areas without electric power as hundreds of transmission lines snapped under the weight of fallen tree limbs laden with hardened snow and ice.

For many who were around more than 20 years ago, the pandemonium was a jarring reminder of the far greater ice storm that roared through the Montreal and Laval regions, the province of Quebec and large parts of eastern Canada in January 1998.

With the federal election only months away, the incumbent Liberal government’s Minister for Families, Children and Social Development said he was concerned a Conservative government would make drastic cuts to a vast array of family-oriented and social welfare programs.

“Conservatives are known for two things,” Jean-Yves Duclos said in an interview with TLN. “First they cut the benefits and services to middle-class Canadians. And second they give tax advantages to the wealthiest Canadians.”

May

Spring showers usually bring May flowers, although in recent years they have also been causing major floods. Record-setting spring floods in Laval and the surrounding regions were the page one focus of our May 1 issue.

Provincial, municipal and public safety officials in the Laval region were on high alert as spring flooding – bringing together melted snow runoff from the Laurentians along with days of steady rain – combined to create one of the biggest weather-related crises ever seen in Quebec and eastern Canada.

As early as the weekend before, meteorologists and experts in river and watershed flows were predicting that levels in the water bodies surrounding the Laval and Montreal regions would grow higher than the peaks they reached in 2017 when flooding problems last assailed the area.

As the City of Laval was beginning to deal with the spring flooding, Lt. Col. Stéphane Tremblay, commander of operational forces in the greater Montreal region for Canadian Armed Forces, and Master Warrant Officer Patrick Barriault visited the city’s Emergency Measures Coordination Centre.

The two stated their support and the determination of the troops under their command to provide assistance to Laval residents during the time of crisis. Laval Police director Pierre Brochet, who also coordinates civil security in Laval, was on hand to welcome them.

With six seats now on Laval city council, the Action Laval opposition party continued to express their concerns on local issues, including the Demers administration’s strategy for implementing new bicycle paths.

On Saturday May 11, Action Laval supporters took part in a demonstration march along parts of Saint-Elzéar and des Laurentides boulevards to protest alleged negligence by the City of Laval when it set up a network of bike paths without (according to Action Laval) taking into account local safety concerns.

“We’re not against bike paths,” said city councillor for Saint-Bruno David De Cotis. “We think it’s important to get people to be out there with their bikes having physical activity. But it’s got to be done in a very responsible way to make sure that the cyclists are secure, the pedestrians are secure, the motorists are secure.”

The latest annual report filed by Laval’s Ombudsman confirmed that more complaints about city services were dealt with by the Ombudsman’s office than in any other year since the office’s creation six years ago.

“When I started in 2013 the office wasn’t very well known,” said Ombudsman Nadine Mailloux. “What I have worked at since then is making the Ombudsman’s service more and more well known.”

Homeowners living on a stretch of Guillemette St. alongside Autoroute 15 in Laval’s Marc-Aurèle-Fortin district would soon no longer have to put up with the constant roar of highway traffic, following word that the provincial government and the city agreed to share the cost of a new $5.12 million anti-noise barrier.

“Those living alongside on Guillemette St. will be able to celebrate now that this anti-noise screen is going to be re-built, offering them more comfort while benefiting a large number of residents,” said Sainte-Rose CAQ MNA Christopher Skeete during a ceremony held near the site.

With the federal government poised to release a “digital charter” outlining Canada’s plans to deal with hate speech and misinformation on the Internet, Liberal Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez told TLN that his department was near the point of announcing an anti-racism strategy that would also take abuses committed over the Internet into account.

“Nobody is saying that Canada is a racist country, but racism does exist here,” he said in an interview. “We have to combat this rise in hate and anti-Semitism and all kinds of different forms of discrimination online and in the real world.”

June

In a report on the City of Laval’s management performance that was politely restrained despite its criticism, Laval auditor-general Véronique Boily raised questions about the Demers administration’s continuing failure to protect Laval’s once vast agricultural lands – some of which had been snapped up in recent years by development speculators, said Boily.

According to Boily, in 2012 alone more than 84 hectares of land zoned agricultural in Laval were purchased “with the possible aim of speculation by businesses whose activities have nothing to do with the agricultural sector,” she said. As well, in 2018 at least 62 hectares of agricultural lands were acquired by two buyers “who were not agricultural entrepreneurs,” added Boily.

The 13th annual Laval Firemen’s Festival, which took place from May 31 – June 2 at the Centropolis, delivered all the excitement festival-goers had grown used to since it all started back in 2007.

The ever-popular parade of fire trucks, with sirens and warning signals blaring, was on Saturday morning, starting around 9:30 am from Laval’s industrial park, slowly making its way towards the rendez-vous point at the Centropolis an hour later.

The outlook was positive for students with anxiety disorders and special needs at the Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board’s Laval Junior Academy and Crestview Elementary School with the official arrival of two service dogs to provide comfort and focus in moments of stress and emotional need.

As reported in our June 12 issue, Laval-based Asista and the SWLSB, with the help of partner Nutrience pet foods, held a launch for the service dogs on May 27 at Laval Junior Academy, where one of the dogs has been providing assistance for the past two and a half years.

According to LJA interim-principal Eric Ruggi, Wall-E’s role among the students is diverse. “He helps students in difficult situations, either social or educational,” he said. “His presence allows students a chance to interact in a controlled setting with an animal to overcome their fears and apprehensions.”

Construction got underway earlier this month on Espace Montmorency, a towering residential and commercial building complex in Laval’s downtown core that will be the city’s largest-ever mixed-use project when completed in 2022.

The modernistic $450 million urban hub is being built near Collège Montmorency, next to the University of Montreal’s Laval campus, as well as Place Bell, and will be directly connected to the Montréal region’s expanding multimodal public transit system via the Montmorency Metro station.

The Sir Wilfrid Laurier Foundation’s 2019 Lobster Gala, which took place at the Château Royal in Laval on June 13, raised $25,125 to pay for educational projects and resources at Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board learning centres and schools over the coming year.

In an annual report tabled on June 17, Tourisme Laval, which promotes tourism in the Laval region, said tourist traffic and spending in Laval in 2018 beat expectations in several key sectors of activity.

The first annual APGA Tour golf tournament, held at the Atlantide Golf Club in Île Perrôt on June 9, raised more than $23,000 for the Hellenic Chronic Care Hospital Foundation. Nick Liounis, vice-president of the Hellenic Chronic Care Hospital Foundation, said the foundation “could never foresee raising so much money at one event and we are truly, truly grateful for this.”

July

In our July 10 issue (the last before a summer vacation break), we reported that Mayor Marc Demers was demanding Action Laval opposition members David De Cotis and Michel Poissant apologize and rectify statements in which they claimed the city was administering reserve and surplus funds in a way they referred to as “illegal.”

In a tersely-worded letter addressed to the two following the allegations made during the June 4 city council meeting, Demers told De Cotis and Poissant their claims were “totally false and unfounded.”

Demers maintained the two made a “gross error” in interpreting the city’s 2018 financial results by stating that a financial reserve for water services could reach $600 million. The mayor said the maximum amount the reserve fund could contain was in fact $343 million.

“Given the recent history of Laval, after everything we changed, and knowing that the people we have working for us now are honest people, I cannot accept an allegation suggesting illegality,” Demers said. “I mean, that is the boundary.”

Demers claimed that neither De Cotis nor Poissant was present at a closed-door pre-council meeting held on May 21, when all council members were invited to go over the business and issues that would be dealt with at the June 4 council meeting. He said they would have had the opportunity to raise their issue then, but chose not to.

There was an eerie sense of déjà-vu when officials from the Quebec government were in Laval for a public information meeting with property owners who were seriously impacted by the flooding in April.

The last time flooding of this magnitude happened was in 2017 and the drill then was pretty much the same: a panel of bureaucrats facing hundreds of sometimes irate Laval residents (albeit fewer than last time) at the Château Royal.

Several Laval residents from areas seriously affected by the spring 2019 flooding (including Laval-sur-le-Lac, Île Verte, Laval-Ouest, Fabreville and Sainte-Rose) expressed their disillusionment – or in some cases outrage – over the way municipal and provincial authorities dealt with the aftermath.

Thousands of people with Hellenic roots from all over Quebec had the opportunity to return to their cultural origins on Canada Day weekend when the Laval Greek Orthodox Community held its annual Hellenic Summer Festival at Holy Cross Church in Chomedey.

Among the dignitaries who turned up were Laval city councillor for Chomedey Aglaia Revelakis, Laval-Les Îles Liberal MP Fayçal El-Khoury, Quebec Liberal MNA for Chomedey Guy Ouellette, Fabre Liberal MNA Monique Sauvé, Action Laval interim-leader Archie Cifelli, Consul General for Greece in Montreal Michalis Gavriilidis, former Hellenic Community of Greater Montreal president Annie Koutrakis and Former Laval city councillor Jocelyne Guertin.

Independent Chomedey MNA Guy Ouellette, who sat as a Quebec Liberal until October 2018 when he was expelled from the Liberal caucus, told the Laval News this month that he hoped to represent the PLQ in the National Assembly once again, although he was waiting for his name to be cleared in the UPAC affair.

August

In our Aug. 14 issue, we reported that Quebec provincial police were still trying to determine the cause of a deadly domino-effect collision at one of the most dangerous exits on Highway 440 on the afternoon of Monday Aug. 5.

Around 3:40 p.m., a small car collided with a semi-trailer truck on the westbound section of highway near the exit to Highway 15. The two vehicles then hit a second truck, starting a pileup involving another six vehicles.

“The problem is it’s coming all from four lanes to one lane to an exit to go on a service road and, after, go back to another entry for the 15 North,” longtime truck driver Daniel Beaulieu explained. “So, everybody is getting to the same place. That’s why there’s a lot of pileups, a lot of backup, and it’s really dangerous and should change. It has to be changed.”

The organizing committee for the 55th Final of the Jeux du Québec-Laval 2020 held a ceremony at the Restaurant 1909 at Place Bell to mark exactly one year to the day before the competitions were set to begin this summer.

“This will be a unique occasion for all the people of Laval to gather together and carry the torch towards an event of the magnitude of the Jeux du Québec,” said Mayor Marc Demers. “Its success will reflect the effort made by all, be they financial partners, volunteers or citizens.”

With some of the richest agricultural soil in Quebec located on a large swath of its territory, the City of Laval had plans to expand a marketing program for locally-grown produce to large grocery stores, according to a member of the executive-committee at city hall.

While many Laval residents were on vacation in mid-July, officials from the city as well as from grassroots community groups gathered in a green space near the Cartier Metro station to mark the opening of a small open-air market that would be selling locally-grown fruits and vegetables for the rest of the summer.

“One of the big advantages we have in Laval is that we have some of the most fertile land in Quebec,” said Sainte-Dorothée city councillor Ray Khalil, who sits on the executive-committee, while also chairing the city’s Agricultural Consultative Committee (CCA).

Superb weather with lots of sun and just a smidgen of rain provided many residents of Laval as well as visiting tourists with an opportunity to appraise and buy some of Quebec’s finest art, sculptures and paintings during the 24th annual Symposium de Ste-Rose.

As reported in our Aug. 14 issue, the exhibition in July of works by 90 artists from all over Quebec and other areas of eastern Canada was seen by more than 20,000 people.

Mayor Marc Demers, Quebec Tourism Minister Caroline Proulx and Cavalia founder Normand Latourelle met at Cavalia’s offices on Aug. 20 to unveil Illumi, a spectacular outdoor light show that would be held in Laval from early November through the Christmas holidays.

“I am very happy to have Cavalia returning to our city with a new, unique, world-class artistic concept that will make Laval shine,” said Demers, noting that the City of Laval entered into an agreement for the production of the event over five years through an investment of $750,000.

September

In a new development that took at least some local political observers by surprise, the Liberal Party of Canada announced that Annie Koutrakis, who was known in the greater Montreal Greek community, would be running for the Liberals in the Laval riding of Vimy in the Oct. 21 federal election.

The Liberals’ choice of Koutrakis to represent the party in Vimy came after the party had announced that incumbent Vimy Liberal Eva Nassif would not be chosen to run for a second term.

The twelfth annual Notte in Bianco, a dress-white fundraising event held on Sept. 4 at the Terrebonne home of Maria and Vincent Guzzo of Cinémas Guzzo fame, raised more than $250,000 to help support innovative children’s mental health research.

Held for the benefit of the Guzzo Family’s initiative in youth mental health, funds from the event would be distributed to the Jewish General Hospital, the Shriners Hospital and Youth Mental Health (Literacy for Dyslexia).

With two Quebec cabinet ministers and three generations of the Nadon family on hand to mark the Riviera Residence’s sixty years of dedication to golden agers, guests at an anniversary celebration optimistically inaugurated the seventh decade by releasing monarch butterflies.

The gathering was the first of four events the Riviera’s administration is holding with employees, residents and families over the next year to commemorate the important milestone.

Thousands of moms, dads and children from all over Laval observed an annual ritual that has become associated with the end of summer when they went to the city’s Centre de la Nature on Sunday during Labour Day weekend to have fun at the Fête de la Famille.

Families were front and centre – even if there was no mistaking for even a moment that the day belonged to the kids – at the festive and free gathering that featured shows, activities, a teen zone, inflatable structures and colourful characters.

On Sept. 15, members of the Royal Canadian Legion’s Branch 251 in Chomedey announced the donation of a cheque in the amount of $3,000, collected by the branch during last year’s RCL poppy campaign, to the Jewish Rehabilitation Hospital.

“Every year we donate to a different cause,” said Shannon Westlake, second vice- president/ membership/poppy chairperson at RCL Branch 251. “This time around it happened to be the Jewish Rehab.”

Laval-Les Îles Conservative candidate Tom Pentefountas unleashed a blistering attack on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the incumbent Liberals during an election campaign launch in Chomedey.

“Somebody who’s been here for many years was telling me their father worked for 50 years, he is retired, but there are people arriving by taxi with suitcases at Roxham who make more money than their father and their mother,” he said, referring to the Canada/U.S. border crossing where refugees have been streaming into Quebec.

The Chomedey Soccer Club was wrapping up a very successful summer season. Their most noteworthy success came from their under-16 girls AAA team. On Sept. 7, they won the Coupe du Québec, defeating CELTIX HAUT-RICHELIEU by 3-1 during a final match at complex Bois de Boulogne.

October

Mayor Marc Demers announced the winner of a multidisciplinary contest to create a new plan for the design of Laval’s downtown core. The winning architectural team was a consortium made up of the firms Conscience urbaine, Collectif Escargo and Petrone Architecture.

The president of the jury, Ayana O’Shun said the jury was impressed by the narrative theme presented by the architects, bringing together citizens around an art and design project with the power to ignite the imagination. “Thanks to this competition, we can finally see the outline of a future and important quadrant for the city centre,” said Mayor Marc Demers.

Beginning on Friday Oct. 4, BIXI’s well-known rental bikes were available in Laval. The availability came as a result of an agreement struck between the Montreal-based BIXI organization and the City of Laval.

“The City of Laval is proud to join the BIXI network and to add bike sharing to the cocktail of transportation means put at the disposal of Laval residents in order to improve mobility on its territory,” said Laval city councillor for L’Abord-à-Plouffe Vasilios Karidogiannis, who was responsible for the dossier.

The head of Canada’s largest chain of vaping supply shops told the Laval News he wasn’t concerned about a wave of negative publicity that had impacted the vaping industry. All the same, he and other vaping shop owners launched a trade association to counter what they regard as misinformation.

“What’s needed at this time is for the electronic cigarette business to work with the government and to have the proper information, reports and studies delivered the proper way,” Daniel Marien said in an interview published in TLN’s Oct. 9 issue.

Supporters of incumbent Laval-Les Îles Liberal MP Fayçal El-Khoury gathered at his campaign headquarters on Notre Dame Blvd. to take in one of the pre-election day leaders’ debates. In the televised event, Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau exchanged views with Conservative leader Andrew Scheer, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh and Bloc Québécois leader Yves-François Blanchet.

“I found that Mr. Trudeau did very well,” said longtime Liberal organizer Claudette Lessard, while maintaining that she thought the Bloc Québécois leader outperformed Scheer. “Our Prime Minister seemed comfortable, and that is also how I feel,” said El-Khoury, who went on to win his seat on election day.

Anglo group leaders from the Laval, Laurentian and Lanaudière regions who took part in a consultation in Laval by the CAQ government’s secretariat for English-speaking Quebecers say they were pleased overall by the experience, although some remained uncertain where the process is leading.

Kevin McLeod, executive-director of the Chomedey-based Agape social services association, said he was happy that the provincial government was showing enough interest to inquire about the needs of Laval’s English-speaking community.

“The fact they are doing a consultation does show their interest in how they can improve services for English-speakers,” said McLeod, who also raised issues during the meeting.

Among these, he said, are constraints being enforced under Bill 101 which prevent some English-language health-related information from being posted in public areas at hospitals and other health-care establishments.

November

Having learned only in early September that she would be replacing incumbent Eva Nassif as the Liberal Party’s candidate in Vimy, Liberal Annie Koutrakis won the Oct. 21 election easily with more than 47 per cent voter support.

“This is like an impossible dream since I didn’t even know two months ago that I would be the candidate, much the less that I would win,” Koutrakis, former president of the Hellenic Community of Greater Montreal, said following her victory. “We worked very hard over the three weeks of intensive campaigning.”

At Laval-Les Îles Liberal campaign headquarters on election night, champagne corks popped and there was jubilation all around as the voting returns indicated beyond a doubt that incumbent Fayçal El Khoury was re-elected and would serve a second term.

While the Liberals lost their House of Commons majority, falling short by 13 seats, El-Khoury remained hopeful the party would somehow still be able to make up for it and form an effective government.

“We will continue to serve Canadians the way our Prime Minister taught us to do,” he said. “We did a lot for Canadians. But there is still also a lot to do and we will do it.”

A year after the City of Laval`s decision to postpone construction of a new aquatic complex, the city’s unofficial but largest opposition group was denouncing the administration of Mayor Marc Demers for being without a coherent plan for the facility, even though Laval would be hosting part of the Jeux du Québec in the summer of 2020.

“Field of Dreams was a 1989 film in which a farmer heard a voice telling him, ‘If you build it he will come,’ said Action Laval councillor for Saint-Bruno David De Cotis. “The aquatic complex is not the Field of Dreams. Marc Demers should stop dreaming and face reality and get into action and solution mode.”

Royal Canadian Legion members from Branch 251 were out selling Remembrance Day poppies in preparation for the annual Remembrance Day commemorations taking place in Laval as well as across Canada on Nov. 11.

As reported in TLN’s Nov. 6 issue, Legion members along with supporters, including Air Cadet program participants from Laval, held an official launch for the campaign at Branch 251 headquarters on Curé Labelle Blvd.

Several new development projects were announced on Nov. 7 during the City of Laval’s 5th annual real-estate forum, including one that will see a large landmark at the corner of Curé-Labelle and Notre-Dame demolished and replaced with an eight-storey residential rental project.

Project Récréathèque, which is being promoted by Montreal developer Shafiraman Weiss (Vertex Construction) and designed by architect David Smith, will rise to eight stories and have 347 housing units, 532 interior parking spaces, 13 more spaces outside, as well as additional parking for motorcycles and bicycles.

As reported in our Nov. 20 issue, Mayor Marc Demers announced that the city had succeeded in recovering nearly $50 million illicitly billed to the city as a result of elusive practices used by construction contractors and exposed by the Charbonneau Commission.

December

Residential property owners in Laval were told they will be paying around 1.4 per cent more in taxes in 2020 – an average $50 extra on a tax bill for a typical house – according to the city’s latest annual budget which was presented to the media at Laval city hall.

A single-family house owner who was paying $3,054 in property taxes in 2019 would be paying $3,104 in 2020, according to the new budget. The Demers administration’s seventh budget since first being elected in 2013 allotted $921.4 million to pay for expenses in 2020.

In a municipal by-election which took place in the Laval district of Marc-Aurèle-Fortin on Nov. 24, Parti Laval leader Michel Trottier succeeded in winning the seat with more than 35 per cent support.

Mouvement lavallois candidate Bruny Surin came second, Action Laval candidate Francine LeBlanc finished third and Progrès Laval candidate Gabriel Vellone was in last place.

As reported in the Dec. 4 issue of the Laval News, members and friends of the FILIA Association for Senior Citizens gathered at the Château Royal convention centre in Chomedey on Nov. 24 to celebrate a rare milestone – the organization’s 35th anniversary.

Since its establishment in February 1984, the FILIA Senior Citizens Association had been promoting the care and well-being of senior citizens. Initially it was in Montreal’s Park Extension neighbourhood. In more recent years it has been active in Chomedey and Laval.

“Not enough attention is paid to older people,” FILIA founder Joanna Tsoublekas said in an interview. “We are an organization that has a mission and dreams to build and meet the needs to make life easier for the older generation.”

There are shopping extravaganzas and buying sprees of legendary reputation that defy the mind’s eye. But as incredible as it sounds, these experiences would pale when going up against the PopUp2 Shop held in December in downtown Laval.

Conceived, organized and presented to the community by the dynamic duo of Angelia Mantis and Claudia Valiante, the first-ever shopping event of this type on Laval island featured 60 vendors in a classy setting that transformed Laval’s Palace Convention Center into a veritable shopping mall.

What should you do if you suspect that you or a loved one may be having symptoms of an on-coming stroke? According to an expert who spoke at the Agape English-speaking Senior Wellness Centre in Chomedey, you shouldn’t hesitate to call 9-1-1.

That’s because what you do during the first few hours after the onset of a stroke will make all the difference in the severity of an attack, said Suzie Gagnon, a nurse/clinician at the Chomedey-based Jewish Rehabilitation Hospital.

Officials from the City of Laval were joined by family members and friends of one of the greatest hockey coaches ever to emerge from Chomedey for a ceremony on Dec. 6 marking the official renaming of the Chomedey Arena in honour of former Pittsburgh Penguins coach Pierre Creamer.

Residents from Sainte-Dorothée and other Laval neighbourhoods got the opportunity on Sunday Dec. 7 to take their children to meet Santa Claus, while also donating toys and gifts for needy families to open on Christmas morning.

A special place was set up for the jolly old man in red in the middle of the Place Publique public square in the middle of Vieux Sainte-Dorothée. Children’s books in good condition were accepted as gifts. All the gifts would later be donated to community groups in Laval for distribution to the needy.