De Cotis pleased with progress in 2014

Semi-centennial celebrations start New Year’s Eve

By Robert Frank
www.thesuburban.com

This year has, for the most part, been good to Laval, said David de Cotis, as the city prepares for a year of celebration of its 50th anniversary in 2015.

“There’s a running gag that Times Square [in New York City] will be closed Dec. 31, and that everyone is instead coming to Laval to mark New Year’s Eve at Centropolis,” smiled Laval’s executive committee vice-chair, “where we will be kicking off Laval’s 50th with the countdown to midnight.”

In a yearend interview, he gave The Suburban his perspective on the highlights of 2014. “Laval Technopole, the local development and regional councils will be integrated within the city administration under a different umbrella,” he said. “Another obvious accomplishment was breaking ground on Place Bell.”

“We’ve seen two unprecedented $100 investments in the city this year: Lumen and Industrie 440,” he said, “and Standard and Poors has given Laval the highest credit rating in Quebec and one of the highest in Canada.”

“We’re also the only city in Quebec where there’s free public transit for all residents 65 and older—even for the disabled,” he smiled.

“The city also came out of trusteeship a year ago,” de Cotis added, though he noted that the provincial government has, of late, acted otherwise. “We witnessed [Municipal Affairs Minister] Pierre Moreau interfere with the 2015 budget.”

The city also parted company this year with some hitherto significant players under the former Vaillancourt administration.

“The previous Laval Technopole CEO left at the end of 2013,” he recalled. “He was expecting a severance package worth $375,000, which Laval refused to pay. We offered [to pay] him 20 weeks instead of 72, which he has refused. It is currently embroiled in legal proceedings, and we will see whether we will have our day in court.”

The city also sued the ceo and members of the Laval en fleurs board of directors to try to recover approximately $200,000, he said, and halted the controversial Commodore condominium project.

“Since we took power, we’ve performed a major facelift on the municipal civil service,” he added. “In addition to a new city manager, we’ve hired a new assistant city manager, a new legal director, a new communication director, a new community and cultural director, a new police chief and a new city clerk.”

“Since we came into power, we no longer required the services of National Public Relations, nor the law firm Dunton Rainville, which had been responsible for the whole communication and human resources departments,” de Cotis continued. “We have a new communication director, Marie Gendron, and have hired more people to take care of human resources.”

“Dunton Rainville has not been banned from serving the city, he noted. “They can still respond to public tenders for legal services.”

De Cotis is also pleased by the city’s creation of an integrity and ethics office.

“It’s a whistleblower bureau,” he explained. “Officials are responsible for reporting wrongdoing and, if they don’t, they are liable and responsible. That includes elected offi- cials, who have no influence over this office. Even members of the public can use this line of communication.”

Two city councillors Pierre Anthian (Laval des Rapides) and Alain Lecompte (Orée des bois) left de Cotis’ Mouvement lavallois party to sit in opposition to Mayor Marc Demers, de Cotis acknowledged.

Mouvement lavallois also gained a councillor, when Paolo Galati (St. Vincent du Paul) defected from the opposition Action Laval party in August.
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