By Jim Morrison
The Pierrefonds Cultural Centre was filled to near capacity, with some of The West Island’s prominent leaders present, in welcoming Concertation West Island (CODI) information session.
Caroline Tison, executive director of West Island Community Shares emceed the event, which included Mayors Michel Gibson of Kirkland, George Bourelle of Beaconsfield, Jane Guest of Senneville, Dimitrios (Jim) Beis of Pierrefonds-Roxboro and former mayor Ms. Monique Worth.
CODI’s mission is to bring forward community development issues shared by the whole West Island, by mobilizing the region, and improving the quality of life for its citizens and communities.
CODI was represented by president George Nydam, and director Bob Benedetti, with Mr. Russell Williams as the keynote speaker.
Williams represented the Nelligan provincial riding for 15 years. He is the founding member of Community Shares, Pointe Claire, and co-founder of the Palliative Care Centre in Kirkland. The message of Mr. Williams is that the West Island, with a population of 230,000 citizens has strong economic and social clout in society.
“The region is rich in professionals, who are dynamic and caring, with a history of working together, and a culture of volunteerism, which makes it unique. It is a privilege to have this sense of community,” Williams proclaimed.
Success stories in the district include the Woodlands-Morgan interchange, CEGEP Charles-Godin, health funding for The Lakeshore hospital, the Ste. Anne de Bellevue Veterans Hospital, and the Palliative Care Centre.
“My point is working together with the three levels of government, targeting key sectors, involve the people, and dream of what the West Island needs in getting things done,” said Williams.
Benedetti and Nydam followed the lead of Williams in re-iterating that CODI would provide logistics to the working groups, developing action plans.
CODI has been responsible for some significant contributions to the area which includes the building of 21 new apartments at Centre Bienvenue, Pierrefonds; Projet Train de L’Ouest and new cycling paths at Edgewater Park, Douglas-Shand and Maywood Roads in Pointe Claire. The floor was open for Question period after the 41 minute presentation.
Jim Bleis recommended West Island as one city. He offered to spearhead a table organizing common issues in the region. “It is a breath of fresh air talking with you tonight,” Bleis said.
Beryl Wajsman, editor at The Suburban newspaper, speaking in French, confirmed William’s statement of the importance of clout and lobbying and cautioned against spreading that clout too thin instead of concentrating on the importance of transport and health care that are the bedrock for the future. He also wanted to clarify the actual population of the West Island, and asked does it begin in Lachine?
Mr. Nydam answered that there are 340,000 people in all cities which includes Lachine all the way to Vaudreuil.
Mayor Michel Gibson announced his focus on the issue of poverty. The perception is that everyone on the West Island is rich. Kirkland aids the Salvation Army, and has now added the West Island Mission, and On Rock Community services, of which Beis is on the board of directors, in aiding those programs.
The West Island works because clear objectives are defined, leadership at multi-level sectors, small effective leadership groups, with sound economics, community support, and champions of passion.
The mandate of CODI is a mechanism that aims to bring key players of the West Island together to collectively consider problems common to the area, (housing, and transport), prioritize actions to be taken, (action committees), and mobilize the necessary resources to put potential solutions into action.
“I am inspired by the evening,” added Williams, as the information session came to a close just before 7 p.m.
More information on CODI is available at www.crcinfo.ca or by calling  694-6404.
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