Notes – Council Meeting 12 February 2019

Regrettably, Citizen Marat was unable to attend last night’s meeting on your behalf and a stand-in correspondent could not be recruited in time. Accordingly notes on the meeting are very sparse.

However, much of this months agenda related to “housekeeping” matters – with the exception of formal notification that the Councillor for Seat #4 (Michel Beauchamp) has had to resign his seat for health reasons. Everyone wishes him all the best for his recovery.

We have been given to understand by someone who was present that it was said the election for a new councillor (which we understand must be held within 4 months) will cost the town an estimated $100K. Inevitably, it probably costs as much to arrange an election for one seat as it does for 6 seats plus a mayor … nevertheless, it is earnestly hoped that this will not prevent the seat being contested properly. Filling a seat by acclamation might save money but is not ideal for democracy.

If anyone has more details of matters discussed last night please forward them to us to share here or add them as a comment at the foot of this post.

Normal service will be resumed in March.

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Friday 15th: Councillor Gilpin put together some brief notes about the meeting – as follows:

Andrea Gilpin, Councillor/Conseillère, Baie-D’Urfé, Seat/Siège 55

Didn’t have a chance to attend the Public Council meeting on February 12th, 2019? Here is a partial summary of the meeting. The official Meeting Minutes will be up on the web site once approved after the next Council meeting in August. A gentle reminder that if there is a discrepancy, the Town’s official minutes supersede this summary. Bonne lecture.

The Mayor”s Report
• Tax bill sent out. Payable in two installments: first due Feb 25, 2019 and the second due May 27, 2019
• A solid majority of houses sold above evaluation last year (74/86) resulting in additional tax revenue for the Town
• Rescue squad helped Pointe Claire when water main had broken and citizen’s basements were flooding. The Rescue Squad continues supporting our community and is being recognized for their efforts outside of our Town.
• Mayor Tutino said a few words about Michel Beauchamp’s resignation from the Town Council and also mentioned some of his contributions since he became Councillor in 2013.

Councillor Lowensteyn reported that the PRAC has received 216 responses from all areas of Town. This represents greater than 15% of households.

DG Report & Varia
• Problems with ice formation on street some streets worse than others. With the freeze thaw cycles that we have experienced, the Town now needs to do an ice removal operation with special machinery. Once it reaches near zero this operation can begin (as of Feb 12 2019).
• Linguini is an ongoing file and during the course of the last week, the the owners reject the proposal from the Town and now the matter will be settled in court. 
• New website is launched! Easier to find information. Please go see it!
• Michel Beauchamp resigned from Council due to health reasons. The Town Clerk informed citizens that this will require a by-election. More news to come regarding timelines etc. The Town Clerk indicated that the by-election could be early in June possibly the 2nd but this needs to be approved by the powers that be a the provincial level.
• The cost of the by-election is anticipated to be $108,000. Approximately $50,000 is to run the actual election which would be the magnitude of a full election as the election will cover the entire town. The remainder is to hire individuals to perform the routine regular work that will run in parallel to the election preparations. This is quite a different situation from a typical election, where Council is suspended and the Town Clerk Department can focus all its efforts on the election. 
• The Town Clerk who was also Director of HR, has resigned from her HR duties to focus on the election and the HR responsibilities will now be temporarily managed by the DG.

Berm
• Two bidders submitted bids; however, only one qualified based on the submission criteria
• The one tender that did not qualify due to not having greater than 10 years experience
• The one company conformed will have three major objectives: 1) perform geotechnical work to determine the soli capacity, 2) to do the proper design of the Berm and 3) supervise the contractor who will be doing the work.

Placement of human and pet ashes.

The following letter on a sensitive and personal matter for many people has been sent to the Council by a citizen of Baie-DUrfé. It will be tabled at the Council meeting to be held on 12 March.

The writer has asked that the content of the letter be shared in advance with the residents of our town so that those interested or concerned might formulate their opinions on his proposal and share them if you so wish. The writer’s contact details are to be found below.

____________________________________________________________________

Feb 2nd, 2019 – Letter to: Baie-d’Urfe Town Council,

Subject: Placement of human and pet ashes.

Dear Mayor Tutino and councillors

Sometime in 2019 I will be getting the ashes of our daughter who died October 22nd 2018. Presently she is currently being examined by the “McGill Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology.

I would like to propose that Baie-d’Urfe set aside one of the town’s vacant properties for the specific purpose of using it to bury loved one’s ashes in “Living Urn’s”.
(Please see attached information on Living Urn’s)

As more and more people are opting to be cremated, a personal choice in life, the challenge starts when the person or family who receives the ashes now has the dilemma as to where to put them if not already indicated in a will.

Quebec’s Bill 66 leaves this option of disposing or spreading of the ashes (human) wide open with very little guidelines in this area.

Baie-d’Urfe could be a pioneer in this area by setting aside land which presently has no practical use and assign the land where residents could go to deposit living urns there.

To make this even more attractive to our residents, Baie-d’Urfe could identify this area as a “Living Urn Grove” where ashes, both human and pets, are put into an urn specifically used to grow trees.

Where benches could be placed so families could go and reflect on the loved ones and view the scenery around them.

I have looked into this area of dealing with the ashes and have chosen this final resting opportunity for our daughter who died October 22, 2018 from GIST cancer.

I see it as a win-win situation for Baie-d’Urfe and our families. Families get to have a place to put “Living Urns” and the town gets some trees, specifically suited for our climate, for the idle land.

I would like to propose one of the two water front properties that Baie-d’Urfe owns for a start and if successful expand over to the second one. This way, the purchase of these two lots would become a superior asset for the town.

Before writing this letter I did a personal survey around town about this idea to see what opinions were out there that I hadn’t thought of and everyone thought that it was a great idea for our residents.

Here are some useful and informative links:

Living Urn Canada : https://thelivingurn.ca/
Quebec law 66: http://www.complexeaeterna.com/en/ash-scattering-what-are-the-legal-formalities/

Note; I do know of one Baie-d’Urfe family that has ashes in the basement with no final place to place them so I am pretty positive that there are other families with no option of a place to go.

I do realise that rules and regulation will be needed to be put in place so let’s take the first step in showing what other towns could do for their citizens in this growing area of need.

On the planting of Living Urns, I have been in contact with the Living Urn Canada and they would like to work with us to develop a viable Living Urn Grove that could be a showcase for other communities.

There is a growing need as CBC reports – “Fast-forward to today and more than 70 per cent of Quebecers opt for cremation. And in some cases, families may not know what to do with the ashes. We see ashes being abandoned in all sorts of places,”

Looking forward to your response

Bill and Ardeth Wexler
729 Victoria, Baie-d’Urfe, H9X 2L2
T; 514-457-9444
C: 514-928-9445

Resources:
Living Urn Canada : https://thelivingurn.ca/
Quebec law 66: http://www.complexeaeterna.com/en/ash-scattering-what-are-the-legal-formalities/

BERTOLD PARK (NOT About dogs)

CITIZEN SURVEY

Yesterday Canada Post delivered a “Citizen Survey” from the Town’s Parks and Recreation Committee to town addresses asking for comments about the future of Bertold Park outside the new dog facility. HOWEVER, we have learned that quite a few addresses did not receive it for one reason or another … quite possibly because a no-flyer sticker on yoour mailbox would have meant the mail carrier was not allowed to leave it, or because the thiing looked so like any other advertising leaflet that it was overlooked and binned (that almost happened in Citizen Marat’s household. (Addendum: late morning Monday – it is now available on the town website and a MailChimp has been sent to subscribers)

Anyway – all is not lost – the short questionnaire is available online at https://fr.surveymonkey.com/r/CH767JX … you are asked to complete it by 11 February.

Right, that’s the public service part of this website’s mandate finished with – now for some suggestions to get the discussion started based on some phone calls CM has received in the last 24 hours.

Perhaps a SKATING RINK?

– as you will know a lot of people in the town have advocated for better skating facilities in the winter and many have asked that a long-season refrigerated rink be seriously considered. Bertold Park has a temporary rink each winter so perhaps this would be a perfect opportunity to ask the town once again to investigate the options of making this a quality refrigerated rink that would markedly extend the recreaitonal facilities for townsfolk now thjat climate change is working hard to minimise the length of the season.

… and maybe a SKATING TRAIL?

– another facility that has been talked about is to create a winter skaiting trail. Whetehr or not the park vecomes home to a refrigerated rink or continues with something similar to what we have at the moment, a non-refrigerated skating trail around the park in the winter wouold be welcomed by many, many residents and be simple to install and maintain.

How about some NATURE and BIODIVERSITY?

– Meanwhile in the summer months CM finds there to be something sadly lacking in the park. During the last year of back and forth over the provision of dog facilities much was said about the “beauty” of the park and its “natural environment” etc. But just look at it – certainly it is green (in colour) but most of that green-ness is decidedly unnatural, sterile, closely mowed grass which is not at all the image that certain contributors seemed to have. There is a growing movement in this and other countries to make public parks more ecologically diverse and natural with the installation of biodiverse native plantings of flowers and shrubs that are beautiful to look at and support populations of butterflies, pollinator insects and birds. For example, look at this: https://bit.ly/2G9RRpE for inspiration and check out the facilities created by our Pointe-Claire neighbours in and aorund Terra-Cotta Park. WHY do we have to have close-cut grass deserts when everything could be so much more pleasant? A chance for Baie-D’Urfé to lead the way again. We have a small and successful milkweed planation on Stafford for monarch butterflies that is maturing very well and interesting to see – here is a chance to take that concept for park design and management and to do much more.

What do you want?
Do you have other ideas?

Don’t leave it to others to create their vision of the park, make sure your ideas are consideread by the council as well. NOTE … this page and the town Facebook page are for sharing ideas – you must still complete the town’s questionnaire to have your suggestions considered by the council

Some Facts about Sound Levels

Over the days leading up to and around Christmas there have been several posts in the Baie-D’Urfé Facebook Group about the perennial issues of sound levels from the highway and rail tracks. Citizen Marat thought it would be time for some hard data …

This consisted of a preliminary expedition to take a few sample noise levels in the north-western part of the town in mid-afternoon on Boxing Day; a day one might reasonable anticipate to be one of the quietest of the year. What follows is preliminary data only, but we think instructive. More sampling will be done in the weeks ahead.

Noise levels were collected using a simply protocol (stand still and point microphone towards the highway 😉 ) with the “Decibel X” app for iPhone. Decibel X is a highly rated app for this purpose, you will find reviews on the internet. Quote: This highly-rated app turns your smartphone into a pre-calibrated, accurate and easily portable sound level meter. It has a standard measurement range from 30 to 130 dB. It boasts many features for measuring the intensity of sound around you built into a nicely-designed, intuitive user interface. Also: “Decibel X” is one of very few noise meter apps on the market that has highly reliable, pre-calibrated measurements and supports dBA, dBC. It turns your iOS device into a professional sound level meter, precisely measures the sound pressure level (SPL) all around you.  

NOTE: This is not a professional sound metering system, it is however highly indicative of real-life experience and more than adequate for the purposes of this experiment. (** HOWEVER – we have now been offered use of a professional sound meter and so will take this exercise further during January 🙂 )

Measurements were taken at around 15h00 on Wednesday 26 December 2018 at four sites shown on the following map.

  • Site 1 – St-Andrews almost 1200 feet / 8 houses distance from the highway (measured on Google map)
  • Site 2 – St-Andrews separated from the highway by a narrow strip of trees. Conveniently a train was passing when this measurement was taken.
  • Site 3 – Western part of Surrey separated from the highway by the widest strip of natural woodland in the town. Approximate width 200 feet (measured on Google map). A wooded area of 100 feet width has been estimated to reduce sound levels by around 5dB. Highway traffic only.
  • Site 4 – Middle of John-Weir Park

Results/Data

Site 1

The measurement was taken 1200 feet from the southern edge of the highway at about 8 properties from the house closest to the highway. There was no passing traffic on St-Andrews at the time, all traffic noise came from the highway.

Average sound level was 70dB with a minimum of 58.7dB and a maximum of 77.2db over a time period of 25 seconds.

Note: a train was approaching but was not passing while this measurement was taken. It is estimated that the train was no closer than the John-Abbot Campus.

Site 2

Measured at the top of St-Andrews at a level with the nearest houses to the highway. A train was passing at the time. It is worth mentioning that the ambient noise level while the train passed was such that conversation was difficult.

Average sound level of 77.3dB with minimum 71.4dB, maximum 81.1dB and a single peak of 85.8dB over a 53 second period.

Site 3

Measured on Surrey separated from the highway by a belt of trees about 200 feet deep. The train had passed and all noise was from the highway.

Average sound level of 67dB with minimum 61.8dB, maximum 80.6dB over a period of 40 seconds.

It is inferred from these data together with those from sites 1 and 2 that the strip of woodland separating the sampling site from the highway is sufficient to attenuate the sound as measured in front of the nearest houses to some degree. The reduction could be as much 10dB but more data points are required before this can be conclusively demonstrated.

Site 4

A final sample was taken in the middle of John Weir Park. Again, main noise source was highway traffic. As anticipated this was the quietest site and the noise levels were closer those of the WHO recommendations (q.v.)

Average sound level of 54.7dB with minimum 50.4dB, maximum 67.3dB over a period of 37 seconds.

Implications

** The WHO recommends that for a healthy environment the traffic noise level should not exceed 53dB during the day or 45 dB at night.

Daytime average noise levels in this single sampling exercise on a “quiet” day with low traffic flow were observed to be well above these recommended levels and very markedly above when a train is passing. The presence of a belt of trees 200 feet deep does seem to provide a degree of sound attenuation.

This is no more than a sample exercise and not intended to be a foundation for policy development. Nevertheless, it is indicative of exceptionally high noise levels in a real-world situation. It is intended to expand on this initial exercise and collect more data from various point sin the town using a standardised measurement protocol and under different environmental conditions. It is hoped that these data will be helpful to citizens affected by traffic/rail noise in their environment.

It is pleasing to see that funds have been allocated by Council for stage 1 of 4 of the installation of sound mitigation measures (berm/wall). Many people will be interested to learn from Council what sound level attenuation is anticipated to result from whatever solution is finally approved and installed.


WHO Recommendations

The World Health Organisation recommend the following standards for noise from road traffic (quote):

For average noise exposure, the GDG strongly recommends reducing noise levels produced by road traffic below 53 dB L den , as road traffic noise above this level is associated with adverse health effects.

For night noise exposure, the GDG strongly recommends reducing noise levels produced by road traffic during night time below 45 dB L night , as road traffic noise above this level is associated with adverse effects on sleep.

To reduce health effects, the GDG strongly recommends that policy-makers implement suitable measures to reduce noise exposure from road traffic in the population exposed to levels above the guideline values for average and night noise exposure. For specific interventions, the GDG recommends reducing noise both at the source and on the route between the source and the affected population by changes in infrastructure.

Environmental Noise Guidelines (2018) World Health Organisation

The full report can be consulted at this link:

http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/383921/noise-guidelines-eng.pdf?ua=1

Council Meeting 11 December 2018

Two back-to-back council meetings were held in 11 December. The first to adopt the budget for 2019 followed by a regular meeting of council.

A summary of the matters discussed can be downloaded by using the following link (note: click the file name to read the notes in your browser or the green button to download a copy for your records):

These notes include:

  • Details of the budget for 2019 and the taxes you will pay
  • Money set aside for the sound wall ($2,000,000) in 2019
  • Money set aside for improvements to the Town Hall in 2020 ($2,000,000)
  • Final, final, final plans approved for Bertold Park and the shared facilities 
  • Possibility of future childrens’ summer camps in town
  • Increased remunerations for councillors
  • … and LOTS more besides

Bertold Park – Allocation of Funding

A correspondent present at last night’s special council meeting sent the following summary of proceedings:


The purpose of the meeting was to approve an allocation to be used as required for the early surveillance of the by-laws for dogs in Bertold park in order to send a message to the users which include also non-residents that the Town is serious about its by-laws. 

Surveillance will be adjusted on a week by week basis starting the first week of November. It is probable that much of the use will be in Spring when usage is higher than in winter. A maximum amount of $50K (going also into 2019) was approved. 

The approach for surveillance was based on the comments of citizens which include mainly non-dog-owners but also local dog owners and their association who have equally been active in trying to advise people of the proper usage. The vote was in favour of the surveillance budget with one councillor voting against (councillor Beauchamp). 

The overall plan will not only include a shared area for the smaller part of the total Bertold Park area for the Canine Recreational Area (CRA), but furthermore the consultation and planning for the entire park namely the Family park side as well. The intent is to have a full plan for the Spring. It should be noted that the fact of having a CRA to one side in no way interferes with the fact that the main part will be planned for the Family park aspects. Both aspects will be considered.

It should also be noted that just like the Town Hall park shoreline stabilization, Bertold Park will also undergo a shoreline stabilization as an entity (again not a specific project for the CRA but shoreline stabilization that is required for the entire area).

As for future expenses of setting up a CRA it would be similar to setting it up elsewhere and therefore the overly-focused comments just due to a shared compromise option with the intent of this part of citizens also enjoying a very small waterfront as all others, is no different than the Town ‘s current and past contributions to other activities used by specific segments of the population including non-residents that are members of the various local clubs and activities. The costs of the entire park plans including both areas will be developed over the winter also based on input for the family part. 

There are still many areas to be defined both in terms of surveillance and enforcement (in a neutral and professional manner) as well final plans whether for the CRA or the rest of the family park. The meeting in question was simply for the approval of a surveillance budget to be used as required based on usage which will of course be low in winter and start up again in the Spring. 

Bertold Park – We Have a Decision

At the special meeting of council last night (15 October) a final decision was taken as to the future of Bertold Park and the provision of off-leash facilities for dogs. It was a close thing when it came to the vote but it was finally decided that Bertold Park will become a “Shared Facility Park” and will adopt a slightly amended version of the proposal nominated Plan B at last week’s information session (see notes of that meeting available on this site).

Thus –

  1. The western side of the park will be fenced for an off leash dog run.
  2. The eastern side is to be developed to provide “family” facilities with picnic tables and shore access etc
  3. No dogs, either on or off leash, will be permitted in the eastern side of the park unless they are being taken directly to or from the fenced area.
  4. A gated car parking area for people with dogs will be created at the northern end of the off-leash run.
  5. Use of the off-leash area will only be available to members of a group still to be formed – details of who is qualified to join this group and what fees might be incurred are yet to be decided. The question of allowing non-residents to become members is up in the air.
  6. There will be strict enforcement of the rules.
  7. The winter of 2018-2019 will be the last season that an ice rink for hockey will be built in the park.

In voting the councillors were divided and the final decision was taken by the Mayor using her casting vote. Councillors Lowensteyn, Beauchamp and Doherty were in favour of the park being an entirely family park with no dog provision plus the creation of a separate dog off-leash facility elsewhere in the town at an as yet unspecified location. Councillors Ryan, Phelps and Gilpin voted for the shared use described above. The Mayor supported the shared use option. All councillors gave detailed explanations of their decisions.

In her comments the Mayor hoped that the decision taken provides a “healing compromise” that will enable all users of the park to work together in the future.

Estimated costs of this project are in the region of $500K with additional expenses for enforcement once completed. It was noted that the creation of any off-leash facility elsewhere in the town would incur comparable costs. It was confirmed in answer to a question from the floor that no trees will be felled in the park.

A second special meeting of Council will be held on 23 October to approve the implementation plans and timeline that will now be finalised by administration staff, to appropriate funds from the town surplus and to enact certain amendments to relevant bylaws that will be needed. The project will then go to tender and installation of new, more attractive, fencing and the parking area will be done next spring. The current temporary fencing will remain throughout the coming winter.

In answer to a question from the floor about future locations for the ice rink we learned that the town is in discussion with local schools on this matter and will report details at some future time.

Genuinely Independent Information & Comment from Baie-D'Urfé