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Arts and Culture Community

A farewell to Momesso’s: Contemplating the void left in its wake

After 46 years serving , Paolo Momesso is retiring on top and closing shop on his own terms, a privilege that few restaurant owners are privy to in today’s financial climate.

“We would like to thank you all for your support all these years. Sadly, as of today, we will officially close our doors. Thank you!” Those were the words posted to Facebook on Jan. 22 by the official Momesso’s restaurant account. Just like that, a single post tore a hole in the fabric of the city’s culinary tapestry as one of Montreal’s iconic inns heralded its closure a week ahead of schedule. 

The owner of NDG’s renowned Italian eatery, Paolo Momesso, had publicly announced the restaurant’s impending closure two weeks prior, planning to serve their last subs on the weekend of Jan. 26-27. At that announcement, hundreds of hungry and nostalgic Montrealers came in droves to take one final bite of the diner’s legacy, emptying their final stock prematurely and shutting it down a week earlier than expected. 

It was at 5562 Upper Lachine Rd back in 1978 that Momesso’s Café served the first of their now culturally renowned subs under founding father, Alessandro Momesso. Forty-six years later, Paolo Momesso, the restaurant’s owner and older brother to Montrealer and Canadiens legend Sergio Momesso, attributed his age to the closure of their iconic café. The 68-year-old Momesso took over the family business after the passing of his father in 2006, upholding the family values that characterized the restaurant as a staple of NDG and its immigrant culture. 

Speaking on Momesso’s cultural presence within the area, NDG city councilor Peter McQueen said, “It’s really too bad that the family decided they did not want to continue operating it [the restaurant]. It’s just a huge loss. The Momessos are a huge part of the St-Raymond community.” 

As a prominent cultural beacon, Momesso stated that to preserve the restaurant’s legacy and memory within the city, he shut the place down rather than sell the business and brand to an outsider. 

Though Paolo Momesso closed shop on his own accord, the closure of such a symbolic institution of city culture is always cause for concern, even more so amidst the current state of the city’s economy, which has drastically affected Montreal’s culinary diaspora for over a decade, accentuated by the effects of the pandemic. 

According to the Association Restauration du Québec’s (ARQ) latest polls, the province has seen a decrease of over 3,000 restaurant permit holders since 2019, strongly affecting the city’s cultural and economic identity.

Restaurants are community anchors. For one, they are social hubs. After all, the point of wining and dining revolves around the communal element. Restaurants also allow for cultural blending as the culinary industry fractures barriers to immigrants who value cuisine and lack social connections in the city.

Despite the province heralding 22.4 per cent of the country’s culinary real estate, 66 per cent of total restaurant bankruptcies in the country occurred in Quebec in 2022. 

Additionally, the province is tied with British Columbia for having the highest chain-to-independent restaurant rates, with independent restaurants only-narrowly maintaining half of the market. 

The director of public and government affairs at the ARQ, Dominique Tremblay, believes that owning a restaurant is more difficult than it used to be due to inflation and that business owners are now facing twice the hurdles. She spoke to the current state of the culinary industry saying: “They’re feeling the effects of the increase in service and food prices, and on the other hand, they’re feeling the consumer’s reaction to inflation, as people have less money in their pockets to spend.” 

Amidst the challenges, city mayor Valérie Plante’s Projet Montréal is investing in the culinary industry to ease the stress plaguing the city’s restaurant and small business owners. Despite the city’s efforts, however, owners are still feeling the pressures of the fractured state of the industry. 

“We’re trying to keep businesses alive and well right here in Montreal so people can shop in their local neighborhood, walk to the businesses, and walk to eat out,” McQueen explained. Through the PME initiative (Petite et Moyenne Entreprise) the city has forwarded $37 M to help support local businesses on local arteries in Montreal. 

Victor Santopietro, part-owner of St-Leonard Italian eatery and culinary hub Milano’s Café, appreciates the city’s efforts yet remains skeptical of the efficacy of such initiatives. “Listen, if you don’t help yourself, the city doesn’t do much,” Santopietro said, stifling a laugh. “Do they help us? You know, you have to help yourself, that’s the best advice I can give.” 

According to him, the major hurdles that restaurants currently face are staff turnover and increased food prices, especially when trying to buy locally. 

Santopietro emphasizes the importance of not only buying local, but also the impact that restaurants have on their subsequent communities. “It’s not an easy business,” he said. “We have to understand that no one is invincible, there’s a beginning and an end to everything”. Milano’s Café is a staple of the St-Leonard community as it s a meeting ground for not only the older generations of Italians in the city who make their daily track for an espresso and a sub, but for the younger generations of Montrealers as well, who immerse themselves in the cultural wealth of the community through food. 

Eateries like Milano’s around the city have been adapting by cutting their schedule and simplifying their menu to save on labor and food costs. However, the responsibility of financial responsibility to preserve culturally significant restaurants lies on the shoulders of the consumer as much as it does the owners. 

“Is it their obligation [to help]? No. But it is nice if you support your local businesses,” Santopietro said. “We try to buy a lot of local products so we can make the economy roll instead of buying overseas, but at a certain point you try to do what’s best for yourself.”

There are countless long-standing culinary gems offering delicious goods and spreads at every street corner. Though times might be bleak, Montrealers play a key role in preserving the city’s culinary identity. As Santopietro said, “Just pass by for a coffee sometimes. Once a month, instead of going to a big chain restaurant, help out the regular Joe.”

Categories
Briefs News

Concordia Unveils Master Plan for Campus Development

Loyola campus’ future expansion sparks concerns for residents, faculty, and students

On Feb. 23, a panel of Concordia representatives and Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough councillors gathered at the Loyola Jesuit Hall and Conference Centre to reveal their master plan for the expansion of Concordia’s Loyola Campus to residents of the area, faculty members, and students alike. 

This long-term project is aimed at enhancing campus infrastructure, interior, and exterior environments, as well as increasing mobility and the amount of green space available. 

“We are back [in-person] and need more classrooms, labs, and spaces,” said Dominique Dumont, director of strategic planning and development at Concordia. She clarified that while the team working on this project “cannot [yet] provide answers about when and where” these additional spaces will be added, the master plan is intended to serve as a guide for future endeavours. 

The master plan project first began in August 2020. “It’s been three years that we are in consultation with the city of Montreal,” said Marie-Claude Lavoie, associate vice-president of the facilities management department.  

In the first stage, the team assessed the needs for the Loyola campus and reviewed municipal regulations. The second stage focused on outlining the project’s guidelines to preserve key heritage sites across campus. Currently, the team is halfway through the third phase. At this time, they are seeking feedback for their current campus development plans. The fourth and final stage will release a finalized development plan and outline the steps moving forward to enact the plan. 

According to Rocio Carvajo Lucena, the project’s architect, the team aims to incorporate an indoor parking space for students, outdoor classrooms and fitness equipment, as well as more entry walkways for bikes and pedestrians. Project leaders are also working with key community members and upholding the University’s Indigenous Directions Action Plan by incorporating inclusive signage and planting Indigenous plants, as well as its Sustainability Action Plan through the inclusion of more green spaces, said Carvajo Lucena . 

Nonetheless, NDG residents, Concordia students, and faculty members alike have expressed their criticisms of the project. During the question period, several residents raised their concerns about the expansion of the campus. Some were concerned that the expansion could potentially reduce street parking spots. Others were concerned about the potential for noise pollution caused by the construction in an otherwise quiet neighbourhood. 

Others expressed their worries about the plan’s neglect for the Loyola daycare Centre de la Petite Enfance P’tits Profs. While the panel clarified that the daycare would not be expropriated, former Concordia student and communications advisor for the University Elena Raznovan expressed her disappointment for the lack of consultation with the daycare prior to the conference. The panel encourages all community members to provide their input via a survey they set up to complete the last part of phase three, which will remain open until March 31.

Categories
Arts

Encore Books & Records: A gem that you’ll never find elsewhere

The mom-and-pop second hand books and records shop finds a way to stay alive despite various adversity

In the early 90’s, Sean Madden, a young Concordia graduate, began buying books and records from local yard sales and auctions, eventually sparking his interest in selling them. As his hobbies pursued, his father — playwright Peter Madden — joined him, setting his literary passion ablaze.

“We often buy things from the community, and then it’s a nice process because it returns to the community. I always feel like I work really hard to keep Encore open because what we do here isn’t as much about selling as being a space for works of art to find other lives,” said Madden, the dedicated owner of Encore Books & Records.

Shawn Madden, owner of Encore book store Kaitlynn Rodney/The Concordian

The two would trade from all sorts of stores across town, namely S.W. Welch, The Word, and Odyssey. “Eventually we had so much stuff piled up, we were getting too good at it,” said Sean Madden.

“We stopped supplying other stores and looked for our own. It took us a year and a half to find this location. We lived in NDG, and we wanted something from NDG.” Thus, Encore Books & Records was opened in 1999 on Sherbrooke West and Harvard. 

Madden was keen on finding unusual records from niche genres. “People were throwing out all kinds of things, and it’s always so fun to find somebody’s collection and learn about who they are, what they enjoy.” 

Encore Books & Records has well over 100 genres of books, and over 40 genres of music on vinyl. However, running a second-hand bookstore on a busy street is no simple task.

“Our profit margins are fine, but it’s a lot of work and I think it’s difficult, because our customers are also our suppliers, and people aren’t used to selling things to us,” said Madden. However, the team is always looking for great finds, and people can make their own contributions in their own way and pick something up for themselves.

Caitlin, waiting at the cash for her next customer. Kaitlynn Rodney/ The Concordian

The owner disclosed that he was not planning on expanding the franchise, especially after how COVID-19 affected small retail businesses over the past couple of years. 

“I hope Encore is here forever.”, said Caitlin Van Fossen, an Encore Books employee and a student at Concordia. “I think folks do love supporting local, and Sean likes to emphasise that we want to support the local community, unusual gems that you’ll never find elsewhere.”

Kaitlynn Rodney/ The Concordian
Encore bookstore, is a used and new book store they carry all kinds of genres, as well as records , cds and cassesttes. Kaitlynn Rodney/ The Concordian
Categories
News

Borough Mayor Wants to Split NDG from Côte-des-Neiges

Incumbent CDN-NDG Mayor Sue Montgomery says that now is the right time for the borough to be broken up.

On Nov. 7 hundreds of thousands of Montrealers head to the polls. In the Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough, incumbent mayor Sue Montgomery has pledged to “advocate for CDN and NDG to become distinct boroughs,” shaking up what is already likely to be a tight race to reelection.

Montgomery, now running under her own municipal party called Courage – Équipe Sue Montgomery, is advocating for the split on the basis of the “recognition of their size, geography and distinct characteristics,” as mentioned on her campaign website. In the eyes of some voters, what could be a compelling case for the split is the sheer size of the borough, which is one of the largest in Montreal. Montgomery’s proposal would result in the addition of new seats on the city council, aiding in the representation of the area’s citizens. Additionally, the breakup would mean easier access to services like recycling, snow removal, and garbage pickup, Montgomery stated at a campaign event in late October.

Gracia Kasoki Katahwa, who is running with Projet Montréal against Montgomery, has critiqued the incumbent mayor’s proposal. She said in an interview with Global News, that the plan would only cost residents more in fees at a time where that money is desperately needed in other sectors. Candidates from Mouvement Montreal and Ensemble Montréal, Matthew Kerr and Lionel Perez respectively, have been equally critical of Montgomery’s proposals, calling them divisive.

The current borough has layers of complex micro-issues. For instance, according to the 2016 census, there is a gap of about $7,000 in the median household income when comparing NDG to CDN. Generational wealth plays a factor in the development of both areas: CDN is home to a wider variety of more recent immigrant communities, and includes over one hundred different ethnic communities. While NDG is also quite diverse, it has a larger presence of European immigrant communities that arrived decades prior and have formed more generational wealth compared to CDN. Although Montgomery’s plan is to “ensure equitable investment between CDN & NDG,” a split could have, according to Katahwa, potential impacts on the boroughs’ municipal finances and the availability of services.

In 2017, Sue Montgomery won her election under the banner of Projet Montréal, Mayor Valérie Plante’s party. She won by less than 1,500 votes, or less than 4 per cent, in a borough with a population of over 160,000 residents. Now that she is running under her own party, she will be relying on her individual popularity and not the backing from a Montreal mayoral candidate at the top of the ticket as she did four years ago. Days before Montrealers head to the polls, Plante and former mayor Denis Coderre are neck and neck, and many other local races are becoming nail-biters.

 

Graphic by James Fay

Categories
News

Political pariah finds a new party line

Former staffer Annalisa Harris resets her political career as Loyola’s newest candidate

Caught in a public scandal, Annalisa Harris, former chief of staff to Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough mayor, Sue Montgomery, emerges as a candidate in the Loyola riding for the upcoming Municipal elections on Nov. 7.

Harris was accused of workplace harassment in a report by Montreal’s comptroller general, Alain Bond. However, no formal complaints were ever filed, and the names were kept confidential. In his report, Bond urged for Harris’ immediate dismissal.

Despite pressure from her party, Projet Montréal, Montgomery refused to fire Harris without allowing her the chance to defend herself, claiming the accusations were unfounded. In retaliation, the city released a statement in January 2020 effectively ousting Montgomery for failing to fire Harris.

Harris expressed her disappointment in how Projet Montréal handled the allegations.

“The problem is that Valérie Plante chose to side with the bureaucracy instead of siding with, at the time, what was her own teammate, Sue Montgomery, and in protecting me as a worker,” said Harris.

By April 2020, the city launched an injunction against Montgomery, citing her refusal to obey the directives to cut Harris from her team.

As revealed in a report from the Quebec Municipal Commission (CMQ), Montgomery promptly wrote to long-time borough director, Stéphane Plante, informing him that she would allow Harris to continue her duties as chief of staff.

“In Canada we have the rule of law, where everyone has the right to a defense. My chief of staff has not had that,” said Montgomery during a borough council meeting in February 2020, defending her position to keep Harris on.

Mayor Plante expected Montgomery to fire Harris, in line with the comptroller general’s recommendation.  Unwilling to dismiss Harris, Montgomery stood by her second-in-command.  She defended that the report had been purposely withheld from her, and she had yet to see the accusations against Harris.

In December 2020, the initial verdict was overturned in Montgomery and Harris’ favour. The presiding Judge Synnott ruled that the comptroller general not only overstepped his bounds in demanding Harris’ dismissal, but also unnecessarily interfered with borough politics. The judge ultimately ordered Alain Bond to release the report to Sue Montgomery. 

Harris has since filed a lawsuit against Mayor Plante and the City of Montreal, seeking over $180,000 in defamatory damages.

Following this, Harris and Montgomery were strong in their conviction to continue in politics. Soon, the two hatched a plan to form their own political party— Courage – Équipe Sue Montgomery.

“Ultimately it strengthened my resolve to say the governance here is so broken. We have such a need for better leadership in the city of Montreal,” said Harris.

In deciding values and instilling a positive culture within their party, the two worked together to recruit four other candidates and released a broad and comprehensive platform focused on local governance, environmental action, and community support. This includes affordable social housing projects and the creation of unarmed service teams to work alongside the police.

Harris revealed that while she initially joined the team administratively, she soon realized she could translate her years of studying political science into a successful campaign in the Loyola district.

“I didn’t really think of running until probably six months after we founded the party. For me, it really was a vehicle for the neighbourhood, and I didn’t see myself running until January 2021,” said Harris.

While recognizing the many challenges she has faced over the past year and the emotional toll it has taken on her, Harris hopes to influence change in her riding.  “That’s been the biggest challenge, the toll it’s taken on me personally,” Harris admitted.

“Campaigning has actually been positive in a lot of ways, as someone who went through such a public scandal, because for me, it’s an opportunity to tell my story,” said Harris.

 

* Correction: October 26, 2021

This article has been updated to correct the details of legal proceedings. When it comes to Sue Montgomery’s actions, “Mayor Plante expected Montgomery to fire Harris, in line with the comptroller general’s recommendation.  Unwilling to dismiss Harris, Montgomery stood by her second-in-command.  She defended that the report had been purposely withheld from her, and she had yet to see the accusations against Harris.” Furthermore, it has been clarified that “the judge ultimately ordered Alain Bond to release the report to Sue Montgomery.”

 

Photograph courtesy of Annalisa Harris

Categories
Student Life

Immortalizing a community

NDG jack of all trades wants to create unique public spaces

“I guess I’m technically a jack of all trades,” said Ralph Olynyk, a local Notre-Dame-de-Grâce (NDG) artist, as well as former theatre design and film animation student at Concordia. “Artistically, I dabble in everything,” he said.

I first met Olynyk one morning in August, doodling at the coffee bar in Le Maison Coop Verte on Sherbrooke St. W. We got to talking about artistic expression and muses, then about half an hour later, found ourselves tag-team drawing fusilli pasta on the outside of a bucket. All the while, Olynyk was telling me about one of his latest art projects: carving the faces of dogs into a tree stump in Girouard Park’s off-leash dog zone.

A week ago, I met Olynyk in the off-leash area, next to the stump, to chat more about his project. “Meet my newest customer,” he said, scratching behind the ears of a lovely poodle mix named Annie. Olynyk is looking to immortalize the faces of dogs like Annie who live in NDG on this stump that is approximately 4.9 m in diameter and 2.7 m tall. Why? Simply because he wants to. “I don’t care [to be paid],” he said. “This is not something where I’m in it for the money.”

The stump Olynyk wants to carve is approximately 4.9 m in diameter and 2.7 m tall. Photo by Alex Hutchins.

Olynyk explained that he’s been interested in the idea of carving trees for a while. But in regards to carving stumps found in the city’s public spaces, his inspiration came after the microburst thunderstorm that decimated Girouard Park last August. The brief storm left multiple fallen trees throughout the park, “and now, I’m just noticing stumps everywhere,” Olynyk said with a smile.

However, bringing this project from concept into practice is proving to be more difficult than he initially anticipated, for multiple reasons. “It’s been a very eye-opening experience,” Olynyk said. “Like, how does a citizen actually do things?” He spoke about the struggle of trying to navigate the slew of legal permits and legislative restrictions that stand between him and simply enhancing a public area.

Thankfully, Olynyk is in the process of trying to arrange getting the necessary permits with help from affiliates on the board of NDG Arts Week. “The idea would be me fitting under the umbrella of [NDG] Arts Week,” he said. Olynyk also explained that, because he was already planning to begin carving the stump in the spring, “[his] goal would be to have it unveiled in its finality during [that] week.”

On top of navigating legal parameters, the logistical side of carving the dogs’ faces into this particular stump isn’t as simple as it may seem. Olynyk described a rather complicated process that involved pulling off the bark and scanning the stump, creating multiple 3D designs on his computer, followed by some trial and error experiments with 3D printing. All of this is merely preparation for the actual carving of the dog faces come springtime, which will pose its own set of challenges.

“My idea [is] to have it like a spiral,” he said. Olynyk has multiple carving plans that he hopes to create silicone castings of which, he explained, will be used for referencing the dog’s faces when shaping the stump. Last winter, Olynyk made a Facebook group that now has 22 members who have submitted photos of their dogs to be included in the project. But realistically, Olynyk has to wait until he can actually start carving to see what the grain of the stump will allow him to do. “I may follow [the grain] and go, ‘oh there’s a chihuahua here, and there’s a pug here,’” he explained.

Last winter, Olynyk made a Facebook group that now has 22 members who have submitted photos of their dogs to be included in the project. Photo by Alex Hutchins.

The unique idea of carving familiar dog faces has begun to spread from one canine owner to another in NDG. “I was looking for a chisel at the Réno-Dépôt in [NDG], and it was hilarious because I was talking to the worker, and he [was showing] me all the different kinds of chisels,” said Olynyk. “And I started to explain what I needed it for—and it’s carving this tree stump. And [the worker] goes, ‘so you’re the guy!’”

Olynyk said that when he receives comments like that, it does two things for him: it calms him—sort of reassures him that he’s on the right track—and it motivates him. “It gives me that extra, ‘being stoked’ feeling,” he said. Even though Olynyk is still navigating how to get the right permits and figuring out what safety precautions are necessary, he remains optimistic. “Yes, this is a big project,” said Olynyk. “But for some reason, I feel comfortably committed to it.”

Feature image by Alex Hutchins

Categories
Arts

Trevor Kiernander’s newest solo exhibition is unique to N.D.G.

“When a collapse opens a new direction”

Trevor Kiernander has studied art his whole life.

“I’ve always been hungry for drawing,” he said when describing his background in painting and drawing. At a young age, Kiernander’s parents picked up on his artistic talent and enrolled him in a specialized fine arts program. Since then, he has dabbled in figurative realism, photography and, now, abstraction.

Each of the artist’s solo exhibitions are specially curated to the gallery space he is showing in. In Free Fall is no different. Exhibited at the Maison de la Culture in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, Kiernander’s paintings are not only hung in such a way as to be read cohesively throughout the room, but also to encourage mixed perceptions. This style is very different from the traditional, horizontal placement of paintings and drawings in art galleries.

The artwork in In Free Fall spreads across the gallery’s walls, taking up space that may be otherwise overlooked. Small panels painted in flat, primary and secondary colours—pieces Kiernander classifies as supplementary to his body of work rather than part of it—hang between larger paintings, creating a dialogue between seemingly unrelated pieces. However, all of the artist’s paintings are related to others. In fact, Kiernander often works on several pieces at the same time. He hangs the paintings side by side in his studio and works across both canvases, often juxtaposing raw canvas and linen. When he encounters a creative block, he’ll take the paintings down and work on others in the meantime.

At times, Kiernander will return to these paintings he took down to find he has finished them—he just didn’t know it yet.

Some pieces began as photographs and have since been abstracted to minimum recognition. Photographing his surroundings is essential to Kiernander’s body of work. The act of taking a photograph captures an image in the artist’s mind, that fades over time and allows him to break away from realism and introduce alien textures and colours.

The artist’s final product has travelled through time and space. Interested in the formal and material aspects of painting, Kiernander flips and rotates his canvases to achieve his desired forms and to unite lines and colours throughout a series.

His underpaintings may not take up the entire canvas, but are crucial to the mapping of the final product.

There is a duality within his paintings. The artist layers coats of oil paint in various degrees of opacity to suggest depth, often overlapping these methods to create a unique image. He is interested by the unpredictability of a watery paint, yet often finds himself painting in controlled, intuitive strokes. Nonetheless, Kiernander enjoys the lack of control he has over these elements. A watery paint will spill and bleed on raw canvas in ways paint straight from a tube would not.

The artist’s paintings are unique to each exhibition. In March, Kiernander will have completed a new batch of work prepared for another solo exhibition at the Outremont Art Gallery. In Free Fall will be at Maison de la Culture in N.D.G. until Oct. 21.

Categories
News

Infrastructure renewal project to cost $8.37 million

Infrastructure project to include new generator and boiler at Loyola campus

An infrastructure renewal project for a generator and a boiler needed to power and heat certain buildings connected to the centralized systems of the Loyola campus is projected to cost a maximum of $8.37 million, according to documents obtained by The Concordian through an access to information request.

The authorization for the renewal project was given following the recommendation of the university’s Finance and Real Estate Planning Committees. It was one of three resolutions concerning the renewal project that were passed during a closed session of the April 19 board of governors meeting.

In an email, university spokesperson Mary-Jo Barr wrote that the amount “is based on an estimate, and the final cost will be confirmed as part of the tendering process.”

Part of the projected cost—$3.1 million—will be funded by the federal government’s Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund (SIF). The SIF and Quebec’s Plan québécois des infrastructures 2016-2026 (PQI) will also fund the research centre due to be built on Concordia’s Loyola campus.

According to Barr, the remaining cost of the $8.37-million renewal project will be “funded by a separate fund paid for by the PQI.”

“Concordia is contributing [approximately] $930,000 to the Loyola Campus Infrastructure Renewal Project,” Barr said.

Funding for the $52.75-million research centre, to be built behind the existing Richard J. Renaud Science Complex will also be split three ways. “Approximately 40 per cent is covered by the federal government, 30 per cent by Quebec [provincial government] and 30 per cent by Concordia,” according to Barr.

The research centre, named Applied Science Incubator in the documents obtained, is a 8,700 square metre extension of the campus’ current science facilities.

An internal memo reviewed by The Concordian confirmed a fund was created for the project on May 27, 2016 by Nancy Sardella, a senior financial officer in the university’s Restricted Funds department.

The principal investigator of the project—who is “responsible for the management of the research project, both financially and operationally,” according to Concordia’s Researcher’s Guide to Financial Management—is Roger Côté, the university’s vice-president of services.

The fund was created approximately a year before the announcement of the Applied Science Incubator. According to Barr, it was created “to allow the university to prepare its submission to the governments for project funding.” As well, the fund included “expenses related to feasibility studies, such as conceptual architecture drawings, estimates and technical studies.”

In response to The Concordian’s request for the science building’s architectural plans, secretary-general and general counsel Frederica Jacobs wrote that, because “the project is in its preliminary phase, final architectural plans are not available at this time.”

According to the board of governors’ resolution during the April 19 meeting, the cost of the research building project “will be paid from a combination of funds received from the federal government through its Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund (SIF), contributions from the government of Quebec and the university’s own capital budget.”

A decision-making summary signed by Côte-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough director Stéphane Plante on June 30 indicated that 54 more parking spaces will be needed for the new project, according to a study done by the engineering firm CIMA+.

The summary reads that “it is very probable that [the borough] will need to add parking spaces on street parking reserved for residents when the project is done and to answer to the demands of residents.”

In early September, the C.D.N.—N.D.G. borough determined the project could proceed despite opposition by N.D.G. residents, including Irwin Rapoport, who created a petition requesting a referendum to determine whether or not it should be built.

Rapoport and other N.D.G. residents said they hoped to preserve the green space on which the building would be constructed. “The residents are seeking a moratorium on any development of green space on the campus,” Rapoport told The Concordian at the time.

On Sept. 11, borough officials discovered a clause in Bill 122, a new provincial law adopted in June, which states “public property intended for collective use in the education sector is no longer subject to approval by a referendum.” Consequently, the project was able to move forward without the threat of a referendum.

Photo by Alex Hutchins

Categories
News

By-law deals fatal blow to residents’ petition

Construction on Loyola green space to move ahead despite opposition

N.D.G. resident Irwin Rapoport’s campaign to save the Loyola campus green space was dealt a fatal blow on Monday.

Construction of the new research centre on the green space will now move ahead after Côte-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough officials discovered a clause in Bill 122, a new provincial law adopted in June, which states “public property intended for collective use in the education sector is no longer subject to approval by a referendum.”

Rapoport and other N.D.G. residents had hoped to preserve the green space. “The residents are seeking a moratorium on any development of green space on the campus,” Rapoport told The Concordian early last week. A group of residents wanted to have the development moved to one of the nearby parking lots, with an underground parking garage built to replace the current lot.

Following a borough council meeting on Monday night, Rapoport called the legislation “an attack on democracy.” He criticized the borough for its oversight. “You didn’t cross the t’s and dot the i’s on this one,” he said.

C.D.N.—N.D.G. Mayor Russell Copeman said the city is just respecting the rule of law. “I was as startled as the next person about this [discovery],” he said. “But we’ve double-checked everywhere, and we really feel that, by our legal department, we have no option but to reject the petition. It would be illegal to hold a register under these conditions.”

With the threat of a referendum off the table, Concordia can move forward with its plan to begin construction of the $52-million research centre this spring. The building, which will house research centres for nanoscience and cell biology, will occupy 15 per cent of the nearly 8,800 square metre field behind the Richard J. Renaud Science building.

Rapoport said he is concerned the research centre may only be the beginning of development on the green space. At an C.D.N.—N.D.G. urban planning committee meeting on Aug. 7, he confronted a Concordia official about whether or not further developments would follow. “I asked him: ‘Would you guarantee that the remainder of the field would not be developed?’ He couldn’t say no. He couldn’t say yes or no.”

University spokesperson Mary-Jo Barr said Concordia has no plans to develop the green space beyond the current project. Furthermore, “any future development would need to be approved by the borough and would involve public consultation,” she said.

Even moving the development would not solve all of the community’s concerns. Lisa Kagan lives adjacent to the green space, and said she is worried about noise pollution from the construction and the building’s ventilators. She also worries the building’s presence will create more traffic on her street, which borders the space.

“Already, I have to deal with a lot of Concordia students on my quiet street hopping my fence, and parking and traffic.” She said students often block her neighbours’ driveways with their cars. In addition, she said, before Concordia security stepped in, she would catch a student hopping her fence “at least once a week.”

Rapoport had originally petitioned the city to open a register on the project, gaining 95 signatures of the necessary 12 before the clause in Bill 122 was discovered.

Rapoport said he will continue to fight this project. “We’re going to have to appeal to a higher level of the opposition of Montreal.”

“This green space is more than just Concordia’s green space—it’s become a de facto public green space,” Rapoport said.

Concordia student Gabi Mandl disagrees. “I am so thankful that Mayor Copeman and the council unanimously approved the project because they clearly understand how valuable it is,” the chemistry graduate student said. “This isn’t a building being constructed for business or profit. It is for students to be able to learn and flourish.”

Concordia chemistry graduate student Gabi Mandl. Photo by Kirubel Mehari

Mandl said she hopes to pursue her PhD at Concordia once the new centre is built. She said the community’s demands are unreasonable and unrealistic. “I don’t think it’s a good use of funding to build [an underground] parking lot when all they have to do is build a building next to a parking lot on a huge, unused plot of grass,” she said.

Some residents had previously proposed moving the building either to the parking lot across campus next to the physical services building or the one next to the green space behind the St-Ignatius of Loyola Church. Mandl said the first option would place the new building too far away from the existing science building for the two to be connected by a tunnel. Such a tunnel is necessary to protect the student body from exposure to dangerous substances, including nanoparticles and cell cultures.

The tunnel is also necessary to protect samples from contamination and exposure to the elements. Biochemistry undergraduate student Tommy Roumanas said the human cells Concordia uses for research must be kept safe while in transport. “Human cells are very, very delicate,” he said. “As soon as we take them out of that 37 C incubator, we’re on a timer.” Furthermore, contamination of these cells can go unnoticed for months.

As for the parking lot next to the green space, which is close to the science building, Mandl said she worries about the cost of replacing this lot with underground parking. According to one study, underground parking garages cost on average about $41,600 per space. At this rate, replacing the roughly 80 existing parking spaces would cost more than $3.3 million. Furthermore, Barr said the university does not have permission to build on the suggested parking lot.

According to Barr, a website is in the works to keep the public informed on the project. “Our neighbours are important to us,” she said. “They have always been welcome on our campuses. We aim to create a campus that is an asset for all.”

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Student Life

Feel like family at NDG’s Kokkino Café

The relaxed, family-run spot serves up café classics, with a side of charm

John Zampetoulakis, co-owner of Kokkino Café, calls on a customer by name. “Sarah, you want a grilled cheese?” She shakes her head no and he nods. He proceeds to butter her freshly popped toast and walk out from behind the counter to set her bowl of soup and toast in front of her. At Kokkino Café, table service is on the house.

Zampetoulakis and his wife, Angela Reichman, opened Kokkino Café over eight years ago. “I worked in a lot of restaurants, I made a lot of money and I said, you know what, no more. I want to do this for myself, for my kids, for my community,” said Zampetoulakis.

Photo by Gabrielle Vendette

The spot is a family-run business- even Zampetoulakis and Reichman’s four kids participate in the action.

The concept of the café is a little different than the average grab-and-go coffee joint. At Kokkino, the customer places their order at the counter, takes a seat and the food is brought to them.

Zampetoulakis said he decided to serve his customers this way because “it’s nice and it’s relaxed—it feels like home.” Similarly, customers only pay the bill when they’re ready to leave. “They pay me before they go, that way they have time to digest their food,” he said. “When you’re done, whenever you’re done, you’ve had your experience and then you pay me.”  “Relaxed” is a great way to describe the experience at Kokkino.

Photo by Gabrielle Vendette

The café’s food is freshly made every morning by the two owners and inspired by Zampetoulakis’ Greek origins. The variety of the menu is impressive for an operation run mainly by one couple.

Kokkino offers soups, salads, sandwiches, wraps and desserts. There is a wide selection of teas, and of course, an abundance of coffee. The spot also has a variety of vegan options.

At Kokkino, accommodation is the rule, not the exception. It’s not uncommon for someone to walk in and grab an order they texted Zampetoulakis that morning.

“I know everybody that comes in here. I know what they like, I know how they like it,” said Zampetoulakis. He also custom-makes sandwiches ordered at his counter. There is an attention to detail in his work. Every interaction Zampetoulakis has with a customer is genuine and shows his compassion.

Photo by Gabrielle Vendette

The owner’s vision for the café is focused on creating a calm atmosphere for people to enjoy their coffee and meal. He said he wanted to “create a place where people just feel they can relax.”

Customers who walks into Kokkino are greeted with a warm hello from Zampetoulakis. Dogs are also allowed inside, because, according to him, “it’s just chill. That’s what I want.”

When you go to Kokkino, prepare to be treated like family.  Just don’t forget to bring your dishes to the counter before you leave.

The cafe is located at 5673 Sherbrooke Street West. The spot opens at 9 a.m. every day, and closes at 7 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays, 8 p.m. on Wednesdays, 10 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays, 6:30 p.m. on Saturdays and 6 p.m. on Sundays.

Categories
Student Life

I <3 MTL: Notre-Dame-de-Grâce

Saving grace: Food is a shining star along Sherbrooke Street

 

Similar to its district partner Côte-des-Neiges, Notre-Dame-de-Grâce is a veritable multicultural hub. It is also a neighbourhood where the long-established

Photo by Béatrice Viens Côté

bourgeoisie and poorer families cohabitate, making it an area with one of the highest social and monetary disparities in Montreal.

 

Most of the action in NDG, as it is called by locals, takes place between Villa-Maria and Vendôme metro stations, and along Monkland Ave. and Sherbrooke St. W.

 

On one side is Monkland village, with its classy boutiques and trendy restaurants that flirt with the eternal red-brick and white balustrade houses; on the other is Sherbrooke St. W, where store-owners are caught between economical difficulties— causing the closing of many businesses—and a possible revitalization. Before it is too late, I suggest we give a hand to Sherbrooke St. W., a very important Montreal street, by visiting some of its best stores and restaurants. That way, we will contribute to its revival and truly save Grace.

 

A staple of Sherbrooke St. W., located right before the Décarie when heading east, is Rôtisserie Chalet Bar-B-Q, founded in 1944. The first visit is memorable. From the outside, with its red, yellow and blue sign, the restaurant is not very impressive. Yet once you walk in, you are pleasantly surprised. Frozen in time, the place wears its name well: it is indeed a chalet. Large wood planks the colour of maple syrup cover the walls and parts of the ceiling. Customers sit on red benches and read the menu on paper placemats.

 

How is the menu? Simple, yummy, and inexpensive. For the appetizer, coleslaw is recommended. Then comes chicken, in your chosen form: leg, breast, half or full. Served with fries, barbecue sauce and a toasted roll, the chicken is barbecued on-point. As their website claims, it is “crispy and golden on the outside, tender and juicy in the inside.” I tried, although unsuccessfully, to save room for the delicious-looking desserts, a varied choice of pies and cakes. Finally, in terms of service it is very quick—sometimes maybe too quick—ideal for lunchtime. Chalet Bar-B-Q might not be the healthiest, but I would not refuse it every once in a while.

 

Another favourite on the street is Soba Sushi, at 5227 Sherbrooke St. W. Reviewers on UrbanSpoon prefer it to its not-so-far neighbour, Mikado at 5515 Monkland Ave., by seven per cent. It is also much more affordable. Don’t be misled by the menu’s ‘90s look, which features, among other things, Lucida Calligraphy, flowers and butterflies. Anyone craving a taste of Asia can find satisfaction at Soba. The choice is varied: a selection of 21 sushi and 38 maki, General Tao chicken, sweet-and-sour pork, orange beef, peanut sauce chicken, Szechuan shrimp, tempura, soups, salads, noodles… The list goes on. Moreover, the restaurant is recognized for its $8.75 lunch deals, served with steamed rice and soup every day from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. That being said, take-out and (free!) delivery are winners here because the relatively small dining room is not the coziest in town. Why not eat in a park nearby when spring comes? Don’t forget to ask for some chopsticks!

 

A long-appreciated café is Shäika, at 5526 Sherbrooke St. W. Sitting in a room with a slightly vintage feel punctuated by sumptuous vegetation, customers enjoy their coffee as they eat one of the delicious pressed sandwiches. Whether it is to work or to unwind, this café is the perfect place for a relaxing moment. To add even more value, the café partly transforms into a stage most days of the week to welcome musicians, who entertain customers at no cost. In the summer, the terrace is also said to be quite beautiful.

 

If you’re feeling bitter about the winter, you might as well eat comfy food at incredibly low cost—and Edwina is there to help you out. Edwina, mother of the grilled cheese, has been reinventing the classic recipe in her beloved neighbourhood since April 2014, at 5205 Sherbrooke St. W. From the personalized traditional sandwiches (served with chips and coleslaw at $4.95) to the gourmet ones (how amazing does the Leaning Tower of Cheesa sound?!), and from the $2.95 after-school specials to the fronuts (grilled cheese doughnuts), this place is not difficult to like. Some bands and stand-ups perform every now and then and, even more importantly, students get a 15 per cent discount—hello there! Why not like Edwinas Grilled Cheese on Facebook? If you don’t win a free fronut for being the 700th person to press the like button, you will at least have sexy hot cheese creations appearing on your newsfeed occasionally. Mmm, tempting.

 

Apart from restaurants, you will find Coop La Maison Verte at 5785 Sherbrooke St. W., probably the most organic and community-oriented store in NDG.  The co-op was started during the 1998 ice storm as a response to our dependence on energy and our unfortunate individualism. Through their project, the co-founders of this alternative consumption model hope to foster local trade and give more power to consumers, while enhancing the quality of the neighbourhood. The array of products is varied, from fruits, vegetables, chocolate, tea and seeds to personal and home care products, biodegradable utensils and plants. Although prices are not always student-friendly, this store is worth the visit for anyone who has the Earth at heart.

 

Finally, I must make honourable mention of multicultural stores that have served locals through the years: Akhavan, Iranian grocery store (6170 Sherbrooke St. W.), Pâtisserie Wawel, Polish bakery (5499 Sherbrooke St. W.), Épicerie Coréenne et Japonaise, Korean and Japanese grocery store (6151 Sherbrooke St. W.), and Fruits Rocky Montana, Sri-Lankan grocery store (5704 Sherbrooke St. W.).

 

That, my friends, is NDG’s Sherbrooke St. W. in a nutshell. Please enjoy and eat responsibly. Oh, and before it gets jealous, go say hello to Monkland Ave.—it’s not bad either!

 

Categories
News

Bomb threat at Concordia a false alarm

Montreal police were at Concordia’s Loyola campus to investigate a call concerning a bomb threat received by the university Wednesday morning.

The suspicious call came in at 10:25 a.m. and was later deemed to be a false alarm.

“There’s no danger to the community and it’s over,” said Concordia spokesperson Chris Mota. “Everyone is safe.”

The police operation ended at 12:25 p.m. and focused on securing the entire west-end campus, according to SVPM spokesperson Daniel Fortier.

“We used procedure as usual, so police officers verified the outside of all buildings, security guards checked inside the building for anything suspicious,” said Fortier. At least one police sniffer dog was seen on campus as well.

Mota said the police took the appropriate measures.

“The police and the university have an obligation to make sure everything is safe,” Mota added.

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