Category Archives for Island Report

Verdun Business Community Honours National Women’s Day

More than a hundred women and a few men celebrated International Women’s Day a week early at Quai 5160 in Verdun.

The event, which was organized by volunteers with the Réseau Affaires Verdun (RAV)  featured well-being, with presenters spending ten minutes inspiring people to create better lives.

Sure you can enjoy hamburgers and fries every day if you want,” said nutritionist Isabelle Huot. “But you may find yourself struggling to move.”

Jean Airoldi, the only male presenter, spoke about fashion. Thankfully, he didn’t point out faux pas in the wardrobe of participants like me.

Anne Joyal, from Strom spa, relationship coach Geneviève Desautels and workplace calm and design specialists Danielle Gagnon and Mélanie Boivin gave us all ways to create more peace in our lives. Josée Leger spoke about the pleasures of wine.

The highlight of the evening took place right at the end, when Fanny Gauthier from Ateliers & Saveurs, created three different cocktails for participants to try using Quebec wines from Les Vignes des Bacchantes. Each of them featured a different herb. What a great experience drinking the flavours of rosemary and basil.

Verdun Business Personalities of the Month

RAV recognized Strom Spa co-founder Guillaume Lemoine as their business personality of the month for January 2019. Maxime Bissonnette from Système Intégration Global Inc. (SIG) won for February 2019. For more information, visit the RAV website.

Four Southwest Mayors Speak

The next event to connect the business community takes place on Tuesday, March 19 at 11:30 a.m. at Sofie Reception, 420 Avenue Lafleur. That’s when the Grand Sud-Ouest 5.0 will hold a panel discussion featuring the mayors from Lachine, LaSalle, Verdun and the Southwest boroughs. Manon Barbe, Benoit Dorais, Jean-François Parenteau and Maja Vodanovic will speak about their visions for the future. Tickets cost $95 or $45 for students. For more information and tickets, visit the Grand Sud-Ouest 5 website.

Continue reading

Consulting Residents Prior to Development

Last weekend, the mayors of Lachine and Verdun tested new ways to determine how neighbourhoods get created. Each consulted local experts and residents prior to creating plans for new development.

Their methods differed, but if either or both methods work to make residents comfortable and attached to new projects, municipal land use planning in Montreal could change forever.

Either way, residents appreciated efforts to bring them into the fold early in the planning. Both consultations attracted hundreds of participants. Covering them for my local paper marked a pleasant change.

Residents Usually Get Little Say

I’ve followed municipal land use development in the city for years. Most of the time, residents have little or no influence about what happens in their neighbourhoods.

The usual land use planning routine features city officials privately meeting with developers to negotiate a new project.

Their plan then goes through an internal planning committee of residents and local municipal planning experts.

The committee makes changes.

Developers pay architects for more concept plans.

By the time the development gets approved, both the city and the developer are wed to a project. Only then do local residents get a say.

From the developer and city official perspective, residents who notice problems are trouble-makers.

Hidden Consultations

Traditionally, politicians deal with the potential conflict by attempting to hide legally-required consultations from residents.

Journalists and citizens with an interest in land use planning pay careful attention to official consultations set for December, January, July, August, and holidays. Consultations set for those times are likely to represent very unpopular developments. The consultation for one particularly touchy development took place on the night of the Stanley Cup Playoff! Only four people attended.

Too often, major changes are made to neighbourhoods without property owners being informed at all.

I know of one case where residents in fancy skyscrapers didn’t discover that future developments would eliminate their precious views of the mountain, the river or both until shovels went into the ground.

Usually, public consultations pit residents against developers. If possible, politicians try to divide critics. Advocates for projects with condos and townhouses work hard to set people with environmental concerns against social housing activists.

Residents Forced to Stop Projects

From the resident perspective, city officials and developers care little about neighbourhoods.

Residents who notice problems must work hard to prevent developments from occurring as planned. I’ve seen local residents prevent a former school from becoming a senior’s home shortly after a baby boom because they knew that more schools would be needed in the neighbourhood a few years later. They stopped grocery store owners from expanding because they knew that the resulting traffic would create safety hazards for children attending the school across the street. Schools haven’t opened for years because neighbours use every avenue open to them to stop projects.

Local residents prevented one major development near the highway three different times. In that case, it was hard to believe that the city and the developer kept bringing back the same unpopular project.

Fun Consultations

In contrast, the presentations in Lachine and Verdun during the weekend felt lively and fun.

The Lachine event featured an open house with developers, local activists and business groups staffing tables to share their visions with residents. A video camera taped attendee visions for the future neighbourhood. It felt so positive and inviting, a few people wondered if it were some kind of trick.

The Verdun event felt equally positive. Set up like a competition, the presentation featured volunteer teams of architects, interns and citizens presenting extraordinarily-well-thought-out plans for the new development. After each team presented, attendees could ask questions or make comments. It was not only informative as a process, but kind of fun too.

I hope these two events usher in new practices in municipal land use planning.

Continue reading

Gardening Season Begins This Week

The gardening season for 2019 officially begins this week. Have you got your pots clean yet? (I recommend spraying them with a solution of water and peroxide bleach to disinfect.)

Starting next week, you can begin seeding peppers (2nd week of Feb), eggplant (3rd week of Feb), cabbage (4th week of Feb) and then tomatoes (1st week of March).

Pick up your seeds this weekend at the Great Gardening Weekend! Traditionally held at the Botanic Gardens, the awesome event takes place at the planetarium this year.

Seedy Saturdays also take place across Montreal beginning next weekend.

Get ready to plant!

Great Gardening Weekend

Planétarium Rio Tinto Alcan, 4801 Pierre de Coubertin Ave.
February 16 and 17 from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. 

The 19th edition of the Great Gardening Weekend takes place this coming weekend. Organized by Espace pour la vie, in collaboration with Cultiver Montréal.

More than 20 different Québécois seed producers will be on hand. There will also be seed exchanges and workshops about urban agriculture.

This is the first time the activity takes place at the Planetarium so there will be more space for everyone.

Seedy Saturday Verdun

Grand Potager at the Verdun Municipal Greenhouses, 7000 boul LaSalle, Verdun
March 9 from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. 

The 3rd edition of Verdun’s Seedy Saturday takes place the second weekend of March.

There will be five Québecois seed producers, a seed exchange table plus kiosks from members of Grand Potager.

Learn about African heritage plants, fruit trees, aquaponics, backyard gardening in Montreal, edible flowers and a multitude of other urban agriculture skills.

Be sure to pick up compost, gloves, pruners and seeds from the Coopérative de solidarité Abondance Urban Solidaire. Membership in the coop costs only $10, which gets you a 10% rebate on courses and products.

 

Continue reading

Lorne Trottier’s Ever-Expanding Universe

] Listen to Unapologetically Episode 17: Lorne Trottier

If there’s anyone who knows how to use the study of science for the benefit of humans, it’s Lorne Trottier

Trottier’s childhood passion for electro-magnetic technology has him to create:

  • a multi-national company,
  • a building on the McGill campus,
  • two research chairs,
  • two institutes,
  • an observatory, and
  • a family foundation known for its philanthropy to science and health.

The Montreal native holds unfailing love for his city. He was appointed a member of the Order of Canada in 2006.  His nomination as an officer took place in 2017.

When I met him, he spoke honestly about the ups and downs of entrepreneurship, the brilliant researchers he supports and the issues on which he’s changed his mind.

“When we started, there was no venture capital,” he says about Matrox, the 600-employee company he co-founded with partner Branko Matic in 1976. “What helped us is that we picked a product to develop that we were able to sell within six months. We kind of bootstrapped and grew slowly in the beginning, not necessarily by choice.”

Matrox

Matrox peaked in the late 1990s and 2000s with its graphics cards. Trottier says the company couldn’t sustain that level of leadership over time and “kind of flamed out.”  Still, he’s proud that the company has not only stayed in business through forty years of high technological change but remains flexible enough to continually develop new products that put the latest research into practical use.

“Today, we have three basic areas of strength,” he says. “With computer graphics, we’re strong in display walls and public information displays. With television production, when you watch any sports on the nightly news, sports or election results, our cards are in the bowels of what you see. We’re also strong in machine vision. The latest flavour there is deep learning and we’re getting into that via the algorithms we’re developing.”

Trottier says that he likes meeting the Matrox senior researchers to make sure that the company continues to benefit from significant technological breakthroughs.

Research Funding

That drive to keep current in basic science also has him funding researchers like René Doyon. Doyon runs the Director of the Institute for Research on exoplanets at the Université de Montréal.

“René Doyon is among the world’s top research in exoplanets,” says Trottier. “He’s developed a sensitive spectrometer to be able to read the biomarkers of atmospheres around planets, including water vapor, carbon dioxide and perhaps methane or oxygen. It’s one of the instruments on the $8 billion telescope called the James Webb Telescope that will launch in the fall of 2018. They want to find earth 2.0.”

Personal Growth

When asked about vulnerabilities, Trottier says that he’s “more of a geek and not very people-oriented.” He’s also “very stubborn and dogmatic.” He says his attitude sometimes prevents him from appreciating public trends.

When his youngest daughter was studying environmental studies, for example, he was less than enthusiastic about the issue of climate change.

“I probably said some things about those protesters that I would be ashamed of now,” he says. “Skeptic is too strong a word, but I was not convinced that there was anything beyond showmanship.”

After his daughters convinced him to take a closer look at the science behind climate change, he brought eminent scientists from around the world for a public symposium on the issue in the autumn of 2005.

Climate Change

What he learned turned him into one of the top funders in the field with a $15 million grant to McGill in 2011 to create two climate change research institutes. The Trottier Institute for Sustainability in Engineering and Design promotes engineering, architecture and urban planning research. The Trottier Institute for Science and Public Policy, which is run by soil-expert Tim Moore, was set up to expand the contribution of science to human welfare.

“If it hadn’t been for my daughters, I might still be on the sidelines with the climate change issue,” says Trottier. “If you have an open mind, you can change it about anything.”

The experience also wanted him to help change other peoples’ minds about science. Since 2007, Trottier has funded annual public symposiums at McGill. Many are webcast and permanently available at https://www.mcgill.ca/science/outreach/webcasts/trottier-symposium.

Canadian

Trottier likes Canada’s modern attitude and its cultural duality.

“Canada is a modern country,” he says. “I like the fact that we have two basic cultures here.”

In his private life, Trottier says he’s still the same boy who began exploring technology through a ham radio set with a buddy. Only today, he’s fooling around with radio-controlled airplanes instead.

Please note that this conversation took place in 2017.

This episode of Unapologetically Canadian is brought to you by Thrive Themes.

Continue reading

Family Winter Fun in Angrignon

The annual family ski event at Angrignon Park takes place on Saturday, February 9, 2019, from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Roughly 200 skiers and snowshoers will explore about 10km of trails through Angrignon Park. If conditions are good, additional trails lead through the Douglas Research Centre, along the Aqueduct, and south to the St. Lawrence River waterfront.

Up to 30 sets of equipment in various adult and child sizes will be available. If you haven’t tried cross-country skiing before, plan to do so on that day. For more information about ski conditions and a trail map, refer to the ski in the great southwest website (which is in French).

Beverages and snacks will be on hand along with music, probably in Douglas Hall.

This latest version closely resembles the family event connecting Angrignon Park, the Douglas Hospital and the St. Lawrence Rapids that’s occurred annually since 2012 when the Friends of Angrignon Park began. The Friends used to organize the event in conjunction with the Douglas Research Institute and the Club Aquatique du Sud-Ouest (CASO).

Since then, Verdun, Lachine, LaSalle and the Southwest Borough partnered with Parks Canada and SOGEP to create similar events in all southwest Montreal parks.

This year, there will be animation ski introduction events in:

  • the Des Rapids Park in LaSalle on Saturday, January 26,
  • René Lévesque Park on Saturday, February 16, and
  • Verdun’s Park Arthur Therrien on Saturday, February 23.

The activity is free.

Everyone should bring warm clothes, a bottle of water and a lunch to enjoy.

See you there!

Continue reading
1 2 3 4 23
>