The State of the Town

2009-08-20

It has been almost four years since we got our town back following the forced merger with Montreal. Did we make the right decision? I certainly think so but you can be the judge. Here is a very brief summary of what we have accomplished over the past four years.

Infrastructure

Almost 40% of our roads have been repaved. Many sections of water mains were cleaned, relined or replaced and the vast majority of the worst water mains will have been replaced or rehabilitated by the end of 2009. We have reduced water main breaks by 50%. Almost all sewers have been cleaned and the most urgent repairs have been made. We have reduced flooding of basements due to sewers overflowing by over 90%.

Finances

Tax increases were reduced every year until this year when 96% of residents enjoyed an average 1% tax DECREASE. At the same time the inherited surplus grew five-fold to $1,500,000. We were also the only town on the island to take the interest-free loan offered by Quebec. The money was used to fix our infrastructure. Over the life of the loan the interest saved will amount to about $3,300,000.

Urban Planning

We enacted new by-laws to preserve the architectural integrity and the green character of Old Hampstead. House valuations have increased dramatically and we now have the second most expensive homes after Westmount.

Public Security and Safety

We have introduced more traffic calming measures than any past administration to make our streets safer. Car accidents involving injuries have dropped by 25%. The No Left Turn at Queen Mary & Ellerdale during afternoon rush hours has reduced traffic by 300 cars daily. The new right turn lane at Queen Mary and Fleet has facilitated traffic flow. Changes on Fleet eastbound during the morning rush hour have dramatically reduced traffic by about 800 cars daily in Hampstead north of Fleet. We saved our local police station, which was slated for closing, thus ensuring better protection for our residents. We attained more police presence in Hampstead – As a result, tickets for moving violations are up 35% since 2005.

Community Services and Recreation

Hampstead’s first dog run was created, one of the finest on the island. It is 100% funded by dog license fees and, in fact, the Town makes a modest profit each year. We introduced HCafe to provide better food service for users of Hampstead Park. There were improvements to 5 of 9 parks and all park equipment was brought up to CSA standards for increased safety. We initiated several new events and programs for adults and doubled the number of events for children. Enrollment at the day camp also increased dramatically – clear evidence of its improved quality. Finally we started a sponsorship program which has already raised over $100,000 for the town.

Public Works

Many of our ancient vehicles have been replaced in order to provide better service and substantially reduce our enormous maintenance costs. We negotiated a deal to use the CSL snow dump saving the town an estimated $100,000 or more annually. This summer it was extended for four more years. In 2009 we introduced a 4/3 work week so that residents will have service 7 days a week with less overtime and we redesigned our snow removal operations so that they are maximally efficient.

Beautification and Cleanliness

We have beautified Fleet, the Finchley Circle and other areas with trees and perennials and we have introduced dog bag dispensers and added dozens of garbage receptacles.

Agglomeration

I was the first Mayor to boycott the Agglomeration Council in May 2006. By December all the Mayors had joined me and the Quebec government was forced to pay attention. The result was Law 22 which has given the demerged suburbs many important benefits and reduced our taxes.

Communications

We introduced this quarterly newsletter that you are reading, eHampstead e-mails and our popular website. Finally, I am easily reachable 7 days a week by phone or e-mail and I respond very promptly. As always, if anything is on your mind let me know.


Sincerely,


Dr. Bill Steinberg
Mayor, Town of Hampstead