During last week’s ‘preliminary consultation’, every seat was occupied as over 200 people – mostly Anglophone seniors — showed up in the CDN Cummings Center to share their opinions about what it’s like to be old with (sometimes) limited movement on the streets of Montreal. As the only central city councillor who bothered to attend the meeting, NDG City Councillor Peter McQueen told The Suburban that he was “…impressed” by the crowd’s commitment and passion for all the immediate issues that affect their lives in the big city.
“We’re listening,” said McQueen. “We’re listening because all of these people have a lot to say, and if we don’t listen, we’re not doing our job.”
Following an initial survey that broke the meeting’s ‘senior’ issues down into four priorities, it quickly became obvious that the meeting’s agenda did not properly reflect how dismayed and distraught many seniors feel about the daily challenges that sometimes define their lives in their city. Karen Boloten’s passionate description of what it was like to negotiate two to three blocks of icy sidewalks with a walker struck a nerve as did several complaints about what it’s like to deal with the stairs in several city metro stations. While several people were worried about the ice that transform city sidewalks into a credible physical threat that causes broken hips or worse, others had plenty to say about a city transit system “…where you need three to four people to open the door to the metro.” As ever, there were several complaints about city transit facilities where unilingual Anglos often have to deal with sometimes rude and surly unilingual Francophone employees who work for the STM.
“For some seniors, language is a problem that borders upon nothing less than elder abuse,” said one woman.
After listening to what several seniors had to say about the assorted issues that affect their lives, the afternoon’s consultation meeting, NDG’s McQueen said that he was duly impressed by the concern and dismay about city services that was so well expressed during the afternoon. During a short interview, he assured The Suburban that the Plante administration is “…listening,” and that it was already working on an action plan that will “…do a lot” to reflect and possibly resolve at least some of the concerns local seniors have about their city.
“Once the consultations (4 in French, 2 in English) are done, we’re going to take a look at the data and then we’ll see what we can do,” said McQueen. While he believes that the city’s decision to buy 300 new buses will do a lot to help relieve the congestion on the city’s already crowded transit facilities, he repeated that “…people should know that we’re listening, and we’re going to do as much as we can to help solve at least some of these problems.”
But as far as Ville St. Laurent’s Marlene Szporer is concerned, the city could do much more for its seniors.
“They’re beginning to scratch the surface, but they could do more…a lot more,” she said.