City of Westmount
Council Minutes 1981-1990

Challenging decade brings Westmount’s first female Mayor and a vision statement

By Michael Walsh

Did you know that the City of Westmount has a vision statement? It was adopted in 1990 and begins with the following phrase:

The City of Westmount seeks to remain a primarily residential community, offering a quality of life which reflects the values, hopes and aspirations of its residents and takes account of their means and resources.

In short, this “resident-centric” vision places the best interests of citizens as a priority within the workings of all elected City Councils.

How the City evolved to that point, is meticulously detailed in the Council Minutes. As we continue our journey through the minutes we arrive at the time period spanning 1981-1990. That period saw the election of Westmount’s first female Mayor, May Cutler. During her tenure, City council faced several challenges: the suspension of the City’s Director General and the City being placed into trusteeship for not paying its full share of the MUC apportionment. Along the way, C.P. Rail divested their train station to the City – twenty-nine years later, it is still a vacant building.

Nevertheless, Council and residents overcame these challenges and, by building on the past, allowed the City to keep evolving into today’s municipality that offers an exceptional quality of life.

Let’s relive that challenging decade through the words of City Council and gain an appreciation of the “resident-centric” vision that guided Council in their decisions during this interesting period. In retrospect, some decisions appear trivial; however, collectively they add to the building blocks that make the City of Westmount the unique residential community it is today.

“That Westmount present a petition to the Lieutenant Governor in Council requesting the adoption of Letters of Patent amending the Charter of the City of Westmount by changing the French version of the name of the City from “Cité de Westmount” to that of “Ville de Westmount
– March 2, 1981

proclamation 3rd Field Engineer Regiment - WestmountMag.ca

Click for a larger image

“That Westmount confer upon the 3rd Field Engineer Regiment (M) the title, privilege, honour and distinction of the Freedom of Westmount including the right to march through the streets of Westmount on all ceremonial occasions with bayonets fixed, colours flying and bands playing…”
– March 2, 1981

“Alderman Gallery reported that Westmount’s first Indoor Carnival held on April 3, 1981 at the Artificial Ice Rink was excellent and he was sure that the approximately 500 citizens who attended enjoyed themselves thoroughly…”
April 6, 1981

“Alderman Gallery suggested that the City investigate ways and means of making it more obvious that the picking of City trilliums in Summit Park is not permitted.”
– May 4, 1981

“The only recreational facility, which the City of Westmount does not currently have, is an indoor swimming pool. That requirement is satisfied, to a degree, by the pool in the Westmount Y… it is my belief that the tax-payers of the City of Westmount are also not prepared, at this time, to construct and maintain an indoor swimming pool which would be used by a limited few during the winter months…”
– Brian Gallery, Commissioner of Public Services, August 4, 1981

“That Westmount refuse the price of $2,064,473.50 submitted by the City of Montreal for the supply of water by Montreal to Westmount in the fiscal period 1982…”
– September 8, 1981

“That the municipality of Westmount agree to enter into an agreement with the M.U.C… with respect to the transfer of social benefits accrued to the credit of an officer or employee of the City under a supplemental pension plan…”
– September 8, 1981

rotary salt spreader mechanism - WestmountMag.ca

Rotary salt spreader – Image: BOSS Products

Mention should be made of the things that have been originated in Westmount under Norm Dawe which have been copied far afield:

1. The first practical modern snow melting plant
This effort received an award from the American Engineering Association, and recognition for the City’s Engineers (A. Heron and J.R. Daye), who developed it.

2. The rotary salt spreader mechanism for use on snow melting and removal equipment.
This is now used throughout most of North America.

Pedestrian flashing hand signal - WestmountMag.ca

“Flashing hand” no-walk signal – Image: Roblox

3. The “flashing hand” no-walk signal on traffic signals.
This is now used almost universally where traffic signals of some sophistication are employed.
– February 1, 1982

“Alderman Gallery requested that all bicycle owners obtain their licenses and encouraged them to respect the rules and regulations concerning bicycle riding and, in particular, not to ride their bicycles in the park.”
– May 3, 1982

“That Miss Sandra Donaldson, Landscape Architect, be retained as landscape architectural consultant… for the reconstruction of the Westmount Park water course…”
– July 5, 1982

Westmount Park lagoon - WestmountMag.ca

Westmount Park lagoon – Image: Michael Walsh

“Mayor MacCallum reported that he had been advised… that the M.U.C. Police Department… will reduce Westmount’s Station 23 by 17 members… Mayor MacCallum and members of Council strongly deplored that such a drastic decrease in personnel had taken place in the Westmount sector without any consultation with local officials.”
– August 16, 1982

“That the Municipal Council of Westmount hereby accept the gift of the Speaker’s Chair for J. Richard Hyde, used by him as Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Quebec, between 1962 and 1965;”

speaker’s chair city hall - WestmountMag.ca

Speaker’s Chair – Image: courtesy of City of Westmount

“That the said Speaker’s Chair be installed permanently in the Council Chamber of Westmount, for use by the present and future Mayor of the city…”

“As is readily apparent, the Chair is a fine example of Quebec workmanship, being entirely hand-carved in solid oak. The Coat-of-Arms carving at the top bears the signature of L. Vallière, Sculpteur, and the base was made by Deslauriers Inc., of Quebec City…”
– February 7, 1983

“Mayor MacCallum further reported on the theme of “le temps d’un choix” (annual conference of the Union of Municipalities) and how the Minister of Municipal Affairs had blatantly suggested that a share of sales tax revenue might be provided to Quebec municipalities if their elected officials endorsed publicly the Quebec Government’s option of separation from Canada.”
– May 2, 1983

“Mayor MacCallum reported that Mrs. Ohman offered to the city a painting of Greene Avenue made in 1874 by J. Duncan, which her late husband had enlarged and coloured. The city framed the painting and it will hang in city hall.”
– June 6, 1983

painting of Greene Avenue - Westmountmag.ca

Painting of Greene Avenue by J. Duncan – Image: courtesy of City of Westmount

“Alderman Trent reported that the Department of Cultural Affairs had sent a letter with regard to recognition of the Braemar Mansion at 3219 The Boulevard under the Cultural Property Act…”
– March 5, 1984

“That the City of Westmount make a grant of $3000.00 to Arts Westmount Inc., as a contribution towards defraying the costs of the 1984 Arts Westmount Festival.”
– April 2, 1984

“That the City of Westmount grant to the Centre Contactivité Inc. (The Westmount Senior Citizens’ Centre) remain at $18,150.00…”
– April 2, 1984

“Whereas the Quebec Municipal Commission… has consulted the municipal corporation of Westmount concerning a request for recognition for an exemption from municipal taxes by the Atwater Library…”
– April 2, 1984

Antoine-Olivier Berthelet - WestmountMag.ca

Antoine-Olivier Berthelet – Image: Wikimedia Commons

“Alderman Shingler reported that the city staff had tested the Westmount Park Water Course and had detected leaks in the membrane. He reported that the city was taking court action to compel the contractor to correct these defects in the watercourse…”
– May 7, 1984

“That the City of Westmount confer upon the 401 City of Westmount Squadron the title, privilege, honour and distinction of the Freedom of the City of Westmount… That this grant be conferred in a ceremonial manner of September 22, 1984, by way of an illuminated parchment…”
– September 5, 1984

“Alderman Aitken reported that she had consulted with Dr. Helene Saly, and discovered that Olivier Avenue was named after Olivier Berthelet.”

“Mayor Gallery reported that when he had attended Queens’ School, it was commonly called “Olivier”.”
– December 17, 1984

medal of bravery - WestmountMag.ca

Medal of Bravery

“Alderman Shingler reported that, notwithstanding the recent change to the Parks By-law permitting individuals to push their bicycles through parks, there were those, both adults and children, who were still riding them, creating danger to pedestrians in City parks…”
– May 16, 1985

“Alderman Vineberg reported that on the afternoon of January 4, 1985, Lt. Michael Boychuck, of the Westmount, Quebec Fire Department displayed professionalism and dedication beyond expectation when he rescued a man from a burning second-story apartment…”

“… You will be pleased to know that Her Excellency the Governor General has awarded the Medal of Bravery to Lieutenant Michael William Boychuck in recognition of his involvement n the rescue of Mr. David Thiaw from a burning apartment in Westmount, Quebec on January 4, 1985…”
– February 3, 1986

“That the City of Westmount apply to the Ministère des affaires culturelles du Quebec for a grant of $30,000 to defray approximately fifty percent of the costs of a comprehensive inventory and heritage evaluation of all buildings of historic, cultural and/or artistic significance on the territory of the City of Westmount…”
– April 7, 1986

Neighbourhood Watch Sign - WestmountMag.ca

Neighbourhood Watch Sign – Image: Michael Walsh

“Alderman Fortin invited all Westmount citizens to attend a public meeting at Victoria Hall… to mark the launching of the Neighbourhood Watch Program…”
– May 5, 1986

“That the terms “Westmountais(e)” and “Westmounter” be accepted as the official names… to designate residents of the City of Westmount.”
– June 2, 1986

“K. Klefos… presented petition with 2,341 names re maintenance of Westmount Station as an art and cultural history museum…”
– September 2, 1986

“That the quotation of Parmic Inc… be accepted for the purchase of one IBM PC/AT 512K system (80286), 8MHZ processor, for the City Clerk’s Office for a total amount of $12,708.12…”
– December 16, 1986

“Keir Cutler… feels that the area would benefit from the establishment of Tundra Books since it was a non-profit organization for artistic purposes; feels that the arguments presented by Council to refuse the establishment of Tundra Books are based on outdated laws; finds it odd that under the City Charter, his mother could open a bank, but not a publishing company.”
– August 17, 1987

IBM PC/AT computer - WestmountMag.ca

IBM PC/AT computer – Image: Creative Commons

“That the tender of L & B Greenhouses Inc., being the low tender, to replace broken glass panels at the Greenhouses be accepted at an amount not to exceed $42,000…”
– August 17, 1987

“Mayor Cutler reported that Marian Scott, a celebrated Westmount artist… had provided the City of Westmount, on long-term loan, with two abstract paintings done by her in the 1960s…”

“That the paintings would be returned to her estate should the City, at any future time, decide to discontinue displaying them…”
– June 13, 1988

Marian Scott painting - Westmountmag.ca

Marian Scott painting – Image: courtesy of City of Westmount

“… at present, the M.U.C. cost sharing formula is based upon the total valuations as indicated in the valuation rolls as at the time of their deposit… and that no adjustment is made taking account of “ex-officio” corrections of assessments… as a result of the “ex-officio” corrections made by the M.U.C., the City of Westmount had reduced its first quarterly payment to the M.U.C… that the City of Westmount had received a letter from Mr. Michel Hamelin, Chairman of the Executive Committee, advising that the City of Westmount had to pay its full share, notwithstanding its contestation.”

“Councillor Aspinall indicated that the City of Westmount would determine… its course of action which may include an appeal to the Quebec Municipal Association.”
– August 2, 1988

“Mayor Cutler pointed out that the City of Lachine had a budget of $1 million a year for cultural events, in addition to $400,000 which it contributed to the Lachine Library. She noted that Westmount had not yet reached this level of financial commitment to cultural activities, but she hoped that additional progress would be made in this direction.”
– October 3, 1988

Mayor Cutler:

We represent Mr. Peter Patenaude, Director General of the City of Westmount and wish to inform you of the following:
On January 30, 1989… you came into Mr. Patenaude’s office and… read to our client the following letter:

“By authority of the power invested in me… I hereby suspend you from your position as Director General of the City of Westmount… you will receive no salary during the time you are suspended…”

Mr. Patenaude would like this matter to be resolved by being asked forthwith to resume his functions effective January 30th 1989 and by a public apology being given to him by you, as Mayor and/or a vote of confidence from City Council…

Beyers Casgrain
Barristers and Solicitors

“Councillor Duffield declared that, having heard the Mayor’s statement… he was still not persuaded that the Mayor had sufficient cause to suspend an employee of twenty-three years’ standing… It was moved, seconded and resolved by a vote of 8 ayes and 0 nays that the suspension without pay of Mr. Peter Patenaude, from his office as Director General of the City of Westmount as of January 30, 1989, be and it is hereby rescinded, revoked and annulled…”

Mayor May Cutler - WestmountMag.ca

Mayor May Cutler – Image: courtesy of the Cutler Family

Mayor Cutler read the following statement to the meeting:

“… The decision of the Council to lift the suspension comes as no surprise… I present therefore the only possible alternatives I see to resolve this situation.”

“1) The simplest most obvious solution would be for me to resign as mayor and retire from municipal politics…”

“2) The second solution would be for me to resign, to run again, and test the collective will…”

“3) The third solution… would be for me as mayor and all members of the present Council to resign and allow the citizens to choose a new mayor and councillors from among us and others… I will be presenting this option at the next open Council sitting… In the meantime, I will attend no caucus or committee meetings of Council…”
– February 2, 1989

“In view of the Mayor’s refusal to approve the resolution… rescinding the suspension of the Director General… That the Municipal Council of the City of Westmount hereby reaffirms its full confidence in, and support for, Mr. Patenaude, the office of Director General of the City. That Councillor Douglas Robertson be, and hereby, appointed Acting Mayor of the City of Westmount for the months of March, April, May and June 1989.”
– February 6, 1989

“… the City of Westmount approves the sale of… Unity Boys’ and Girls’ Club (1090 Greene Avenue) to The Rotary Club of Westmount Welfare Fund… It was reported that the… additional condition be inserted in this Deed of Sale… giving Westmount some control over the future sale, transfer or disposition of this property… the City had originally donated the land on which the Unity Boys and Girls building was erected.”
– February 6, 1989

“The Mayor… decided to call a public meeting at Victoria Hall… to provide Westmount citizens an opportunity to express their opinions on her style of mayoralty, which input would assist her in deciding whether to continue serving as Mayor or to resign from that office.”
– February 6, 1989

“Mayor Cutler proposed that a Citizens’ Recognition Committee be established so as to recognize, in some way, deceased Westmount citizens who had made a significant contribution to the nation and the world in various endeavours…”

– Council minutes, June 5, 1989

“Mayor Cuter recommended that the City subscribe to Bowdens Radio and TV Monitoring Service, in order to keep abreast of radio and television programs referring to the City of Westmount… Following discussion, the above-mentioned… was defeated by 7 nays to 1 aye.”
– February 6, 1989

“Mayor Cuter provided a detailed explanation of her proposal for a new form of City government for Westmount, involving the establishment of a “Manager-Council-Mayor-Citizen” form of government to replace the present “Manager-Council form of government… to investigate in depth the operations of the various City departments and to resolve operational problems in those departments… It was agreed… this subject be tabled for reconsideration at a future meeting of Council.”
– February 6, 1989

“Mayor Cutler proposed that a Citizens’ Recognition Committee be established so as to recognize, in some way, deceased Westmount citizens who had made a significant contribution to the nation and the world in various endeavours…”
– June 5, 1989

“Mayor Cutler reported that following the making of the payment of $610,541.54 by the City to the MUC… the Commission municipale du Quebec had removed the City from trusteeship as of December 5, 1989 at 12:00 noon.”

– Council minutes, December 7, 1989

Following discussion, the following resolution was moved seconded and resolved:

“Whereas the assessors of the M.U.C. Valuation Department… committed an intolerable number of errors resulting in the gross over assessment of many immoveable properties in the City;”

“Whereas the valuation errors as corrected resulted in the City of Westmount’s MUC apportionment… being $512,706 higher than it would have been if the errors had never been corrected;”

“Whereas the City of Westmount has refused to pay the said portion of its 1988 MUC apportionment to the said excessive valuations…;”

“Whereas the MUC has refused Westmount’s proposal that said sum… be charged to its accumulated surplus rather than redistributed among other member-municipalities… has put Westmount in default to pay the said sum…;”

“Whereas the MUC Executive Committee… has adopted a resolution… to file a motion in Superior Court to have the City of Westmount “in default”… if granted, would result in the City of Westmount being subjected to trusteeship by the said Commission.”
– June 19, 1989

712 Communication Squadron - WestmountMag.ca

712 Communication Squadron

“Mayor Cutler announced that this special emergency meeting of Council was being held to decide on the action to be done by the City in light of the judgment rendered by the Superior Court on this date declaring Westmount “in default” with respect to the payment of a portion of its MUC apportionment.”

It was moved, seconded and resolved:

“That pursuant to the judgment… the City of Westmount pay to the MUC the sum of $512,702 plus interest to the date of payment ($98,145)…”
– November 11, 1989

“Mayor Cutler reported that following the making of the payment of $610,541.54 by the City to the MUC… the Commission municipale du Quebec had removed the City from trusteeship as of December 5, 1989 at 12:00 noon.”
– December 7, 1989

“That a grant in the amount of $5,000 be made to the Repercussion Theatre for six performances of the Shakespeare-in-the-Park Festival scheduled for the summer of 1990…”
– April 17, 1990

Westmount Train Station 2019 - WestmountMag.ca

Westmount Train Station – Image: Michael Walsh

“That the motion providing for the making of a $10,000 grant to Aline Gubbay for the preparation and publication of a proposed social history of Westmount be tabled to a subsequent meeting of Council…”
– May 7, 1990

“That the City of Westmount grant “Freedom of the City” to the 712 (Montreal) Communication Squadron and that the Manager of Corporate Services co-ordinate with the Assistant to the Mayor in finalizing the necessary details.”
– May 22, 1990

Gleditzia Tree - Westmountmag.ca

Gleditzia Tree – Image: Michael Walsh

“Councillor Robertson reported that the City had received a copy of the letter sent by C.P. Rail to the Historic Sites and Monuments Commission of Canada, advising that body that C.P. had obtained the authorization of the National Transportation Agency to divest itself of the Westmount Station building… indicating officially that C.P. intends to transfer the ownership of the building to the City of Westmount.”
– June 11, 1990

“That the quotation of Cramer Nursery Inc… be accepted for the supply of 50 Gleditzia skyline trees of $6,5000…”
– August 7, 1990

It was moved, seconded and resolved:

“That the following declaration be it is hereby adopted as the ‘Vision Statement’ of the City of Westmount:”

City of Westmount Vision Statement

“The City of Westmount seeks to remain a primarily residential community, offering a quality of life, which reflects the values, hopes and aspirations of its residents and takes account of their means and resources.”

“To this end, the City Council strives to foster open and ongoing communications with all sectors of the local community; to respond sensitively to the needs and desires of the people; to develop imaginative and coherent policies that secure the efficient and cost-effective delivery of municipal services; to preserve and enhance the unique environment and heritage that is Westmount; to implement its decisions through an honest, competent and dedicated civic administration, for the benefit of the whole community.”

– September 4, 1990

I would like to thank Kayleigh Girard, City of Westmount, and Major Daniel A. Doran, CD, Deputy Commanding Officer at 34 Combat Engineer Regiment, Montréal, Quebec for their contributions to this article.

Feature image: Westmount Train Station by Jeangagnon [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Bouton S'inscrire à l'infolettre – WestmountMag.caRead other articles by Michael Walsh

Michael Walsh - WestmountMag.ca

Michael Walsh is a long-time Westmount resident. He is happily retired from nearly four decades in the field of higher education technology. A “professional student” by nature, his academic training, and publishing, include statistical methodology, mycology and animal psychology. During this period, he was also an officer in the Canadian Armed Forces. Prior to moving to Montreal, he was contracted by the Ontario Ministry of Education evaluating bilingual primary and secondary school programs. Today, he enjoys spending time with his (huge) Saint Bernard while discovering the city’s past and sharing stories of the majestic trees that grace the parks and streets. He can be contacted at michaelld2003@hotmail.com or through his blog Westmount Overlooked

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  1. Patricia Dumais

    Interesting that Westmount actually has a Vision Statement though I had to learn this from your article. Nowhere does it appear in any of the City’s communication tools, print or otherwise. I did a search on the City’s web site and no mention of the Vision Statement!

    A Vision Statement is important as it is a declaration of an organization’s objectives, intended to guide its internal decision-making. An organization that does not have a Vision Statement is like a ship without a rudder. An organization that ignores its Vision Statement is no better.

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