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You recently received a folder announcing the start of a major consultation on the issues of residential urban planning and heritage protection in Mount Royal. I fervently hope that, after reading the folder, you will decide to become involved in the citizen participation process we have set up. Not only is this opportunity unmissable for anyone who wants to express an opinion on Mount Royal’s current and future character, it is also one in which having as many viewpoints as possible heard in the coming months will benefit the entire community.

Residential urban planning in Mount Royal is more than just the topic du jour. In fact, it can rightly be called a hot-button issue. For some time now, opposing visions of what is or is not acceptable when it comes to construction, renovation and demolition in our garden city have been articulated. You’ll have seen this in the letters to the editor section of local weeklies. You’ll have noticed it at Council meetings. You may even have discussed the issue with your friends and neighbours. Some Townies want the Town’s traditional residential architecture to be preserved forever. Others would like to see a more liberal attitude prevail. And then there’s the wide range of nuances that exists between these two extremes.

If you have followed the ongoing debate, you will have noticed that these sometimes clashing positions have given rise to some strikingly disparate positions. The role and make-up of our Planning Advisory Committee has been called into question. Doubt has been expressed over the ability of Mount Royal’s by-laws to protect the Town’s architectural cachet. Umbrage has been taken at the workings of our Demolition Review Committee. One thing is perfectly clear: this debate is highly emotional. It is also important and deserves to be the subject of a proper consultation.

Your Town councillors and I are confident that the consultation process we are launching this fall will give us an accurate idea of what Townies think. A telephone survey of randomly selected households is currently being conducted by the CROP polling firm. This is the first but not the only step. I’d like to direct your attention to two dates in particular. On the morning of November 15, experts will discuss the issues as they specifically relate to our Town. It will be an excellent opportunity for those new to the subject to understand the urban planning and regulatory concepts currently at play, which can only help us discuss them better. Two months later, on January 28, 2015, all residents are invited to a plenary assembly, which we’re called the Town Meeting. We will be pleased to see you there and to hear every point of view, all of which will be discussed.

In every democracy, there are debates that can be seen as pivotal moments, extraordinary deliberations during which citizens’ opinions are quite possibly expressed better than at any other time. We hope our consultation on heritage and urban planning will be one of these moments. Your participation is not only important, it is essential. Because it is through the various steps of this process to gather public opinion that we will obtain the definitive answer to the question of what Mount Royal will become and what it will remain.

We look forward to hearing your thoughts.

govillemo: a new way to stay connected

Times change and fashions change. These days, when it comes to communication, mobility is the name of the game. That is why I'm pleased to present to you a brand new web app that the Town launched last weekend. It ensures you'll never miss our municipality’s important announcements and it's called govillemo.

govillemo lets you receive alerts about topics that concern or interest you. You can receive them on your smartphone or view them at your convenience on your tablet or computer. But if you choose the text messaging option, the important messages published by the Town will be sent to you instantaneously, wherever you are. It's an excellent way to learn, for example, that a boil water alert has been issued or that for reasons beyond our control the library is closed for the day.

Don’t worry. Unless you decide otherwise, the only messages you receive will be ones of critical importance and broad interest. However, you are also free to personalize your alerts and add other categories. Do you travel around Mount Royal a lot and want to know which roads are being worked on? Simply add that category to your alert list and you will always be aware of the thoroughfares to avoid. Would you like to be notified about coming special events? Various alert categories let you arrange for just that, whether it be recreational activities or Council meetings and events.

I am convinced you will appreciate the versatility of our web app. That is why I encourage you to sign up today at www.govillemo.ca. And note that govillemo is a free service – it doesn't cost you anything unless your mobile network operator bills you for the text messages you receive, which is not often the case these days. Also, if you prefer, the alerts can be emailed to you.

Best wishes to all for a magnificent fall!

Philippe Roy

Mayor

90 Roosevelt Avenue

Mont-Royal H3R 1Z5