Martin C. Barry
At the beginning of the June 4 Villeray/St-Michel/Parc Extension borough council meeting, the mayor and councillors paid homage to all the young athletes who participated in the 42nd Jeux de Montréal which took place in April.
From April 3-9, more than 350 children and youths ranging from 6 to 12 years in age competed in several sports while representing the borough of VSP. Several youths from VSP finished first in several sports, including Taekwondo, speed skating and badminton.
VSP D-G retiring
For borough general manager Stéphane Chénier, the June council meeting was his last before retiring after 35 years service with the City of Montreal and 13 years as director-general for VSP. Former sports and recreation department head Nathalie Vaillancourt is replacing him on an interim basis.
The borough council was meeting at the Centre Lasallien community centre on Louvain St. East in Saint-Michel. After wishing Chénier a happy retirement, Borough Mayor Giuliana Fumagalli read a statement outlining her objections to the process for hiring Chénier’s permanent replacement. Park Extension city councillor Mary Deros paid homage to Chénier.
Praise from councillors
Deros recalled that when she had only started her political career in 1998, Stéphane Chénier was responsible for emergency services at the centre city’s sports, leisure and social services department. Deros had occasion to meet him at that time when she sat on Mayor Pierre Bourque’s executive-committee.
“Since that time I’ve seen this man who is responsible working hard for the well-being of our citizens and I appreciated it very much,” she said. The other council members also praised Chénier and wished him good luck in his retirement.
Boxing champ in audience
“We have an excellent team today, and it’s thanks to your efforts that we are here today in one building, whereas we used to be scattered in four different locations,” added Deros. “Thanks for all your devotion and professionalism. We’re going to miss you.”
During the meeting, Saint-Michel city councillor Josué Corvil noted that Yves Ulysse Jr., who recently won a boxing match to become world boxing champion in the 140 lbs. light welterweight category, was sitting in the audience.
During the public question period, former borough mayor Anie Samson got up at the microphone to express some of her feelings regarding the retirement of director-general Chénier. However, no sooner had she stated the reason for her intervention, when Borough Mayor Fumagalli, who defeated Samson in the last elections, interrupted to inform Samson that she was out of order.
“As you know, I stop citizens very often because we have rules and we ask citizens to follow the instructions,” Fumagalli said. “Being very good in nature, I make allowances to the citizens. But if I understand clearly, you are not going to ask a question this evening.”
Samson said she could terminate her preamble with a question in order to meet the council procedures protocol, but that mostly she wanted to address herself to Chénier as it was his last meeting. Fumagalli finally relented.
Mayor invokes procedure
“Very well, I will allow you that,” she said. “But I am simply saying that you know very well that is not a tribunal. But exceptionally I will allow you as you were previously the mayor and worked with Mr. Chénier, so I will allow it. But I hope you will keep it short.”
When Samson reacted, saying she would keep it as short as “a citizen who pays taxes to the borough,” Fumagalli responded: “You don’t have to tell me that, Mme Samson. I’m only saying that citizens have no right to come here and use the microphone for advertising. And you are surpassing the number of questions allowed on a topic. That’s all I am saying.”
Centennial Park delayed again
Samson, who worked alongside Chénier for 25 years, noted that she and the outgoing director-general worked to create the Borough of Villeray/St-Michel/Parc Extension in its nascent days from the late 1990s when Montreal was being reorganized into decentralized boroughs and a centre city administration.
When the borough council passed a resolution to set aside some additional money for the as-yet unfinished Centennial Park project at the corner of Stuart Ave. and St. Roch St., Councillor Deros said it would be built and inaugurated this year. She was interrupted by incoming interim director-general Nathalie Vaillancourt, who said that only “a good part” would be completed this year.