Where do we go from here?

2012-08-29

When I was elected in 2005, following the demerger, our number one priority was obvious. Following decades of insufficient maintenance, compounded by even worse neglect during the borough years, our infrastructure needed major and expensive work. We have been working on this problem for the last seven years with a dramatic push this summer, thanks to the proceeds from the sale of the MacDonald fire station land.

By the time this year's work is complete, we will have gone from 44% bad, or very bad roads following the demerger, to less than 5%. This analysis excludes Côte Saint-Luc Road, as it was an Agglomeration responsibility in 2006 and 2007. Almost all the worst water mains have been rehabilitated. This is 24% of Hampstead's entire water main network. Sewer problems have dropped to virtually zero, thanks to our annual cleaning. Almost all of the worst sidewalk sections have been redone. Over 100 lampposts have been replaced.

Of course, we will continue maintenance ofour infrastructure in the future, but we are now in excellent shape overall and expenditures will be much less in the coming years. So, where do we go from here? What should our next priorities be?


Beautification

If you are a homeowner, first you built/bought your home and then you did the landscaping. Over time, if your home develops problems, your first priority is to fix the leaky roof and other infrastructure problems, then you direct available funds to your garden. It is the same for the Town. Now that the priority issues have been mostly addressed, we can turn our attention to beautification of our garden city.

Over the past several years we have addressed some beautification issues. The Fleet Road median has been transformed from a barren concrete wasteland to one teeming with over 40 trees, a wide variety of perennials and colourful annuals. We also planted early blooming daffodils for the spring. The Baronscourt island, the Finchley Circle area and the Cleve island have all been greatly improved. Tulips were brought back to the Queen Mary median. However, much more work remains to be done and this is a priority for me.

While we have improved all our parks, except Wexford, with new equipment and/or wood chips to replace sand, nothing has been done to make them more beautiful. The Queen Mary median can also be made much more attractive. Our emphasis will be on perennials and trees, as these require less maintenance and no annual planting.

To help speed this work along, I have appointed Councillor Abe Gonshor to the new Beautification portfolioand I intend to work closely with him on this dossier. We have already had many discussions, and with the approval of council, I hope to see substantial improvements over the coming years.


Client Service
 
For the past five years we have had below inflation local tax increases. As a result, our tax rates are now lower than those of our neighbours in Côte Saint-Luc and Montreal West. Nevertheless, we still pay high taxes in Hampstead and residents rightfully expect excellent service. While we have made substantial progress, and I think most would agree that service in Hampstead is very good, it can be further improved. Various changes to our systems for service delivery and tracking can and will be made over the coming months.


What do you think our priorities should be?

E-mail me at wsteinberg@hampstead.qc.ca and let me know your suggestions. Or call me at my home/office (514 483-6954) up until midnight seven days a week. This is a good time to let me know your ideas as council will be doing our 2013 budget over the next few months. Of course, if you like the priorities above, it is useful for me to know that too.


Sincerely,


Dr. Bill Steinberg
Mayor, Town of Hampstead