Blog entries will be posted in the language in which they were written.

Archive for August, 2009

August 21st, 2009

Picard elected new WMA president

Posted by Joan McGuigan


Article by Martin C. Barry, in the Westmount Examiner

Following a period of uncertainty that threatened to drive the Westmount Municipal Association apart, the WMA has elected a new president and entered a phase of reconciliation.

“I really believe that this association has an important role to play and I think it has in the past,” new president Jean-Pierre Picard said during a meeting of the WMA last Monday evening following a unanimous vote in his favour. “Unfortunately, maybe in the more recent past, the performance maybe has been not what it has been in the past.”

Picard became president after Stanley Grossman, who was elected to the office in June, agreed to step aside as part of an understanding which had the backing of Dr. Henry Olders, a former WMA president. A fundamental disagreement by Grossman and Olders on the WMA’s orientation contributed to the perception that the WMA was increasingly divided.

Picard, a Westmount resident for the past 20 years, has been on the WMA board for about four months. He thanked Grossman for realizing that his candidacy and presidency were “potentially creating more problems for the organization than good. He was really a strong enough man to say, ‘Okay, for the good of the organization I will step down and see what we can do to make it go forward.’"

“There were some issues and some divided opinions about Mr. Grossman being president and he felt that for the good of the association it would be better if he stepped aside,” Picard told the Examiner. “He phoned me and asked if I would stand and then Mr. Olders did the same. So the two seemed to be aware of my contributions during the first three meetings and suggested I could be a candidate of reconciliation.”

Describing his role, Picard said, “I think the role of the president of any assembly is to get the assembly’s opinions and views and work on a consensus. You also have to lead and bring the association to some meaningful achievement. And I think in this case the association in past years did not have a permanent president and that leadership has probably been a bit lacking. So that’s what I will try to do and try to guide and move the board towards meaningful activities or issues for the Westmount population.”

The WMA board also elected Paul Marriott as vice-president, Helen Rainville as treasurer and Henry Olders as membership secretary. Another issue addressed during the meeting concerned membership. While it was as high as 6,000 at one point, membership now stands at a few hundred. “I’m concerned about our very low membership,” said board member Patricia Dumais, who had the issue placed on the agenda. “This has been brought to me by a number of prominent Westmounters who are concerned that the WMA is supposed to speak for the population.”

Photo: Martin C. Barry

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August 21st, 2009

We are proud to read an article

Posted by Joan McGuigan


about Mrs. Patricia Dumais in the Westmount Examiner, by Ami Kingdon

Thirteen is Patricia Dumais's lucky number. That's the amount of dollars the Greene Avenue resident is trying to raise for each of the 172 kilometres she will cycle in the MS Rona Bike Tour later this month. Dumais belongs to the Spirit Riders, a cycling team that will ride through the Lévis region on August 29 and 30. The Bike Tour events take place across Canada each year to raise money for multiple sclerosis. This year the Spirit Riders are hoping to raise $30,000.

"Last year our team of 15 people raised $31,010," says Dumais, a graphic designer. "Each person raised over $2,000."

Dumais got into cycling seriously about 10 years ago. "Every weekend I do a nice long bike ride, 80 or 100 km," she says. She learned about the Bike Tour after joining outdoor club Randonnée Aventure. She decided to participate for the first time three years ago. Most of the Spirit Riders are members of the club.

Dumais says one of the reasons MS is a worthwhile cause is that current research is very promising. "Things are looking up," she says. "People with MS are faring much better."

Fellow biker Richard Lemire, of Ile Bizard, was diagnosed with MS 25 years ago. "Back then, the only thing they could give you was prednisone," says Lemire, who spent the first eight years of his illness in a wheelchair.

Now, with new treatments, he is back on the bike, riding last year in both Quebec events. Though the disease has prevented him from riding this year, he is travelling to four of the tours. He is optimistic about the search for a cure. "It's so important because we are so close," he says.

MS is a central nervous system disease in which the immune system attacks nerve cells, interfering with their ability to carry information. There is currently no cure. The MS Society of Canada says between 55,000 and 75,000 Canadians have the disease, one of the highest rates of incidence in the world. Treatments can run from $14,000 to $18,000 a year.

"Last year the bike tour raised $1.25 million," says Diane Rivard, of the Quebec branch of the MS Society. She expects $1.3 million this year from the Quebec tours. The profits will go equally to research and services to MS patients.

"We finance a lot of [research] projects in Quebec – around 20," she says.

While meeting people and raising money are some of the high points, Dumais says that her favourite part is the ride. "It's fun to just be on a bike," she says.

Patricia Dumais personal pledge page can be found at


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August 19th, 2009

Boost Your Home’s Value with Summer Projects that Sell

Posted by Joan McGuigan

Everyone loves summer and with good reason: after a long winter, the bright sunshine beckons young and old alike to sit by the pool, enjoy a little music, and soak in the warmth. Summer is also the most popular time to buy or sell a home; and by investing a little time and energy into these summer projects that sell, your home will look its best whether it goes on the market next week or next year.

Fencing: Families with pets, young children or those just seeking a little additional privacy will appreciate the functionality and appearance of an attractive sturdy fence. Major home centers sell everything required for the do-it-yourself type, including attractive, low maintenance PVC options. If your property is already fenced, take time to make sure it is well maintained.

Outdoor Sanctuary: With a little creativity and a few hundred dollars, it is easy to turn a problem spot into the center of attention. Get creative with an easy to install garden pond, butterfly or flower garden, wind chime and outdoor seating. Consider adding a decorative fire-pit to encourage family time on those warm summer evenings.

Update the Paint: Indoors or outdoors, painting is a simple way to give your home a fresh new look. If it has been more than five years since your home has had a fresh coat, make it a priority to paint. Do not stop with the house: concrete stains and unique drive-way art are other popular options designed to attract attention. Just be sure to keep them neutral.

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August 12th, 2009

The Latest Real Estate Luxury Trends

Posted by Joan McGuigan


Real Estate: The term "luxury" in real estate is changing. Two types of luxuries co-exist and are equally important: cosmetic and intrinsic. Luxury in real estate is shifting more towards the intrinsic. A whole new luxury vocabulary has emerged and it extends well beyond the words Sub Zero….

With the significant growth in wealth over the past decade, "sameness" has become the enemy of the luxury market. A high price does not necessarily guarantee luxury. Until recently, an Italian Boffi or Varena kitchen with Viking or Miele appliances, a spa bathroom or lavish swimming pool, set the tone: Nowadays, these are pre-requisites. Real luxury lies in customization and uniqueness, the quality of materials and the skills required to produce them, often the most difficult things to find or create. New luxury is found in the convenience, ease of use, quality of engineering, reliability and efficiency of design. Intrinsic luxury focuses on room proportions, ceiling heights, flow of space, light, views, privacy, security, etc. On the cosmetic front, a unique light fixture, artwork, or custom designed, hand-crafted cabinetry can make the "new luxury" new.

Interior designers are under greater pressure to create homes that differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack: this has resulted in a mini-revolt against the modernist movement that has prevailed recently. Re-claimed items are being incorporated again into interiors alongside collector quality antiques and one-of-a-kind pieces. The modernist aesthetic will remain strong, but it will be re-defined because of the ease of good, inexpensive replications at much lower price-points. Home design of the future will incorporate technology extensively. Lutron programmable lighting and Crestron systems are becoming the norm. (A plasma TV used to be a luxury…now every room has one!)

Architecturally, what is so luxurious about a flat glass building that could be in any city anywhere in the world? The best architects and designers tap into the surroundings of a project for inspiration, incorporating materials and contextual, stylistic elements that make the end product unique to its location and setting. A stronger sense of environmental responsibility and "green" architecture is emerging rapidly. Is the newest luxury a self-sustainable home?

The ultimate test for the best luxury real estate is how easily it can be duplicated. Collector-quality real estate is the most valuable luxury of all.

By Leonard Steinberg
Executive Vice President
Prudential Douglas Elliman
JustLuxe Contributer

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