Category Archives for LaSalle

LaSalle to consult about rail line zone change

The borough of LaSalle plans to hold a consultation about changing the zones of 29 current properties, including the old railway line between Angrignon Park and Highway 138 in part to “authorize a multimodal link for public and active transport.”

The meeting takes place in Borough Hall on Monday, February 8 at 7 p.m.


Notice about the consultation appeared on page 19 of the LaSalle Messenger but did not appear on the borough website. According to that notice,

“The project…is subject to approval by referendum.”

During Monday’s council meeting, Sonja Susnjar asked what the project will include and whether it will simply cut off residents from south of the old rail line from participating in future consultations about development in Wanklyn and on the Fleischman property after the yeast company closes.

“It seems clear that this project could include buses, but it’s not clear what else it might include,” she said. “Also, I’m worried about whether this is just an attempt to prevent citizens from participating in future consultations. All the people south of this zone, particularly those on Stinson, have already signed petitions against the current Wanklyn project. I dearly hope that the Public Consultation Office will recommend against that project, but if they do, and another one comes forward, doesn’t this zone change split the borough in two?”

Acting mayor Nancy Blanchette assured Susnjar that no project is currently proposed, but that the borough simply wants to make future projects possible.

Susnjar then asked why councillors had to convene an extraordinary meeting at 8 a.m. on Thursday, January 21 to ensure that they could enact the zone change this month.

Blanchette simply repeated that “for the instant, the project is not on the table.”

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Last-minute campaign to fill holiday food baskets in Verdun

Volunteers from Westwood High School in St. Lazare and Lester B. Pearson officials were at St. Lawrence Academy in LaSalle today to sort and deliver food and toys to some of the larger families who need help in Verdun and LaSalle. The volunteer efforts continue tomorrow as families associated with Verdun Elementary, Westwood’s adopted school, receive their baskets.

I am just grateful,” said Louise (not her real name), the mom of a seven-year-old at Verdun Elementary, whose family will receive one of the baskets. “I am seriously grateful because even a fraction of last year’s basket will help me get through the next couple of months in staples…Maybe I can even take my son to the dollar cinema.”
When Louise and her family first received a basket from the school three years ago, her husband had just lost his job, she was working full-time, and their son was in day care. Once food and rent was paid, they had no cash left. They even had to set aside their dream of testing their son for autism with The Montreal Autism Society because the $600 fee turned out to be beyond their means. (A test in the public system is supposed to be free, but they remain on the waiting list five years after a doctor recommended her son be tested.) Since then, Louise has changed jobs and works only on Saturdays and Sundays and her husband works nights during the week. Still, their finances remain limited so this year’s basket will come in handy. There mightn’t have been one at all, if school commissioner Mary Ann Davis hadn’t begun earnestly fund-raising a week and a half ago.
I didn’t realize that both Verdun Elementary and Riverview were really short of their objective until two weeks ago,” said Davis. “Apparently the work-to-rule campaign had a devastating effect on the usual fundraising effort. It was clear they weren’t going to be able to give out the food and gifts that families rely on. It broke my heart that they didn’t have enough.”
Since learning of the schools’ plight, Davis has done everything she can think of to attract more cash, including taking students carolling and visiting local businesses of all sizes. A local artists’ collective, Enprientes d’artistes de Verdun, donated $295 they made from last Friday’s jam session at Café Kali. The Verdun hair salon Medz gave enough mini hairdryers for each adult in the families to get one. IGA Champagne on Bannantyne gave her 200 chocolate calendars. The Pharmaprix on Wellington donated a $25 gift certificate. Davis isn’t sure how many baskets the two schools will give out this year, but last year, Verdun Elementary gave baskets to 189 families. The figure is surprisingly-high; the school only has 237 students, and most have multiple sisters and brothers. Davis says the school is a ten out of ten on the poverty scale, so helping families who go there makes sense for the community.
I’m grateful to Mary Ann for starting the project,” said Louise. “I’m grateful to the families in the West Island who participate. I’m grateful that there is no religion pushed on us in the giving too. The blessings we’re received in the last few years have made me stronger to give back to the community.”

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Lester B. Pearson abandons schools, divides territory

[caption id="attachment_16702" align="aligncenter" width="397"]Riverview welcomed in 1962; to close in 2016. Photo of article courtesy of Rohinton Ghandi. Riverview expanded in 1962; to close in 2016. Photo of article courtesy of Rohinton Ghandi.[/caption] Decisions by the Lester B Pearson school board on Monday night mean that six buildings--Lakeside in Lachine, Riverside in Verdun, Martin Tabachnick in Dorval, Orchard in LaSalle, Thorndale in Pierrefonds and Sherwood Forest in Beaconsfield--will be empty on July 1, 2016, to be turned over to the Marguerite Bourgeoys schoolboard or sold. Chairperson Suanne Stein Day said her administrators advised the moves be made as a precursor to proposed provincial government budget cuts.

Last spring, the ministry of education threatened to remove maintenance funding for any school with less than 50% occupancy,” said Stein Day. “They took that clause out at the last minute, but we expect it to be brought back again in future. And to be fair, it’s not something that I’m against. We’d much rather spend money on students rather than brick and mortar.”
For the rest of the story, please refer to the Suburban online article, which also appeared on page 1 of today's West Island edition. Also refer to:, which refers to the major environmental clean-up project done on Riverview's land at public expense just last summer.  

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Walking downtown with LaSalle and Verdun teachers

[caption id="attachment_16669" align="aligncenter" width="600"]teachers walking downtown Striking teachers walking past Douglas Research Institute[/caption] On Monday morning November 16, at 8:40, a couple of dozen striking teachers and one reporter left LaSalle Community Comprehensive High School on 9th Avenue in LaSalle and began walking downtown.

We’re going to walk to where the common front is meeting at the Metropolis near Place des Arts,” said Paul Wasacz, who teaches a semi-skilled program at the high school. “We did it a few years ago during our 2005 contract talks and found that it’s a good way to get together, a good way to stay united.”
Walking is also a good way to get noticed. As we walked north on 9th Avenue and east on Champlain, cars and trucks continually honked. The noise got even heavier as we passed striking workers at the Douglas Research Institute and Beurling Academy.
We’re noticing more support these days,” said one of the teachers.
Eight teachers from Beurling Academy joined the group and four others from Pearson Adult Career Centre (PACC) joined in at a mini-break at Atwater Market. The group then continued along Atwater and east on Sainte Catherine before reaching Metropolis at 11:30 a.m. As we walked in the sun, one after another of the teachers explained their concerns about large classes and diminishing special need services. The broad strokes of teacher rights and obligations are outlined within a 73-page agreement between the Lester B. Pearson school board and the Pearson Teacher’s Union. The details, however, are much more restrictive. According to the teachers, government bureaucrats and union number crunchers force them to report where they are and what they’re doing every second of every day. None of the teachers who spoke were complaining, and all of the stories included heartwarming incidents serving students. To someone who hasn’t been in a classroom in years, however, their stories emphasized an unbelievable rigidity in schools these days. From 8:29 in the morning until 3:29 in the afternoon, teachers and students follow a regimented routine. Classes last only 50 minutes in Beurling and 53 minutes in LaSalle Comprehensive and the curriculum is designed to take up every one of those minutes. Schedules rotate around six days, with five periods and lunch covering each day. Teachers have to fill in reports justifying lessons in each period. The timetable allows for no extra discussions with students, no marking time and no bathroom breaks. There’s no free time to speak with one another, no time to encourage one another, no time to use the washroom or take a walk. This rigidity affects every classroom. For example, a physical education teacher described the difficulty ensuring that students use only three minutes to get changed so that they can move for more than half an hour. A science teacher described the challenges ensuring that every student gets a hands-on chance to conduct an experiment in a class of 38 students. Imagine a room in which nine groups of four or five students gather around hot plates, trying to determine how heat affects the amount of sugar dissolving in water. A drama teacher spoke about the challenges keeping students on task when so many of them constantly check their latest social media messages. An art teacher described his frustration trying to answer all students’ questions while still ensuring that everyone has a chance to draw or paint before having to pack away their materials. Other issues they’re facing are challenging too. One teacher described relatively small classes of only 23 and 28 students. Each of them had 14 students with “individualized education plans” or IEPs. IEPs enable teachers to understand special needs of a student, which can range from a hearing disorder that requires seating in a specific location to autism.
My classes seem small when you don’t look at the details of who I’m working with,” said the teacher. “It’s those details that the government proposes taking away.”

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