2021 Year in Review: November

Festival of lights

Although November brings cold weather and shorter days, the start of the month was marked with light and joy in the streets of Park Extension as many in the South Asian community celebrated the holy day of Diwali. 

Diwali marks the start of a new year as families and friends come together to celebrate a fresh start. Festivities include the lighting of fireworks and family feasts, where mithai, a type of Indian sweets, are served and gifts are shared.

People of all ages, from young children to elders, gathered on Nov. 4 at the Shree Ramji Hindu Temple on Durocher Ave. to partake in a religious ceremony known as a Puja. Fireworks and music resounded across Park Extension as people celebrated the start of a new year and the hopes of a brighter future. 

This special day is celebrated every year by millions of people around the world at the end of the harvest. “Diwali is a big festival for Indians,” said CB Singh, president of the India Canada Association Of Montreal. “They call it the victory of the devil to goodwill,” said Singh, adding that “god sends us from dark to light.”

Municipal elections

Every four years, Montrealers go to the polls in the late fall to elect their new borough and municipal governments. On Nov. 7 Montrealers overwhelmingly voted to reelect incumbent Mayor Valérie Plante, who received 52 percent of ballots. 

This put her opponent former Mayor Denis Coderre of Ensemble Montréal in a distant second place with approximately 38 percent of the vote. Third-party candidate Balarama Holness came in third with approximately 7 percent.

In Villeray—Saint-Michel—Parc-Extension, Laurence Lavigne Lalonde replaced outgoing Mayor Giuliana Fumagalli by a healthy margin with 53.3 percent of ballots cast. “THANK YOU to the citizens of Villeray- Saint-Michel-Parc-Extension,” said mayor Lavigne Lalonde after her victory. “It was so inspiring to meet you, discuss your ideas, projects and concerns,” she added.

In the district of Park Extension, City Councillor Mary Deros of Ensemble Montréal kept her seat with 2,871 votes, accounting for 43 percent of the ballots cast. First elected in 1998 under the Vision Montréal banner, she is now serving her seventh mandate.

“I’m looking forward to another mandate,” said Deros the day after the election. “I thank the citizens for their support for the seventh time and I pledge to continue to work for the betterment of Park Ex,” she added.

Speeding on Querbes

During the fall, many residents on Querbes came out publicly demanding something be done about speeding cars on the residential road. “It’s really very scary our street because people speed so intensely,” said resident Hilary Bergen, explaining she feels unsafe when walking her daughter to the park or her daycare on Beaumont.

“It’s a 30 zone, but people go 50, 60 even sometimes 70 kilometres an hour down Querbes,” deplored the resident, adding that the issue had gotten even worse since construction began on Dickie-Moore Park at the corner of Beaumont and de L’Épée.

“Using data collected by a speed analyzer in August 2021, a V85 of 48.61 km/h on the southbound direction and 52.90 km/h on the northbound direction were recorded on Querbes,” read a statement by Anouk Violette, an advisor to the city’s ombudsman.

Both residents and elected officials pointed to the continuation of the Querbes bike path as a potential solution. “The most important thing we can do to slow the traffic on the street is to narrow the street by prolonging the Querbes bicycle path all the way to Beaumont,” said Mayor Giuliana Fumagalli. This was also an electoral promise made by Projet Montréal and Ensemble Montréal. No concrete plans have yet been put forward.  

Borough budget 2022

With a newly elected borough council, the first order of business for the coming year was to decide on the borough’s annual budget and its ten-year program on fixed assets for 2022 to 2031. The Nov. 23 meeting marked the first in-person council meeting since the start of the pandemic.

The newly sworn-in council discussed budgetary previsions for 2022 that were subsequently sent to the Executive Committee at the City of Montreal. For the coming year, the borough estimated a required budget of $61,669,100, roughly 2.2 percent above last years’ budget of $60,365,500.

“This year we didn’t dip into surpluses as much as we did last year, which is good news,” said Mayor Lalonde. Priorities this year included maintaining local tax at the same level, balancing the budget and growing local revenues especially related to the environmental transition.

For every dollar spent, 18.5¢ will go to sports and recreation, 15.2¢ will go to roads and lighting and 13.4¢ to culture and libraries. The city hopes to balance services provided to citizens while also optimizing money spent on operations.

“Sometimes we say that 60 million dollars isn’t a lot of money,” said Mayor Lalonde but specified that ”60 million to pay all city employees, to adequately maintain the network and to offer adequate services to our 148,000 residents, well its a budget that we have to manage wisely because there’s no room for improvisation.”