Evening Walk to “The Island”
One last chance to enjoy the autumn leaves and the fresh air before colder temperatures arrive. The beautiful trees and bright sunny skies are what make this place so beautiful.
One last chance to enjoy the autumn leaves and the fresh air before colder temperatures arrive. The beautiful trees and bright sunny skies are what make this place so beautiful.
One thing that happens around this time of year is that the days get shorter and nights get longer, but the weather is still comfortable to enjoy an evening walk around our town. Here are a few captures around the river just after sunset and a full moon rising in the sky.
The project that began in early spring has almost come to a close, with the paving wrapped up for this year, and the new light poles added this past week. Trees have been planted and lines have been painted. The final paving will be complete after the thaw next spring, but for now the project appears to be almost complete.
The days are getting shorter, and the temperatures have been getting cooler. The squirrels are scurrying around trying to collect as many nuts and acorns as they can to store up for the cold winter months. One thing I always try to do each year is plan at least one day where I can take in all the fall colours and enjoy the fresh air. This year we were very fortunate to have several very nice and warm days and the trees have not disappointed. Here’s a photo compilation during one of my walks through our town.
Over the years, I’ve watched various cruise videos from vloggers and Travel Channel documentaries, but never knew what to really expect when the time came to embark on my very first cruise. And to top that off, it was a Disney Cruise.
It was not just a normal cruise either, and in more ways that one. The family had been planning this cruise for a while, and I only learned about it at the last minute. It turned out to be a family reunion organized by my sister, her husband and his family.
Now, planning any trip is stressful during normal times; considering the circumstances at the time, with the worldwide pandemic which caused restrictions, lockdowns, masks, vaccinations and staff shortages pretty much everywhere, this made the trip even more hectic.
Testing requirements were some of the most expensive and tense experiences during the entire trip. From testing before plane boarding, which in itself was painless and quick, but waiting for the results which could determine the outcome of the next few weeks. And probably the most taxing on our entire family was the ship preboard testing which would affect the entire cruise for the whole family that was with us.
Not only was a negative test required for us to board, but everyone in our entire party had to test negative before being allowed to board. Now, none of us felt ill, or sick beforehand, we were banking the entire cruise on one single swab of a Q-tip, and a 45 minute processing time, all while staring at the beautiful Disney cruise ship, “The Magic”.
After testing we were told to sit in a waiting room in front of large TV screen with cruise confirmation numbers scrolling on the screen. These numbers were linked to our names, and next to those numbers, a message telling us to wait for results, or clearing us to cruise.
Once we received the all clear, We proceeded to board. Very relieved and hungry. We were invited aboard the ship with our names called over the loudspeaker. Only a handful of parties were called aboard at a time, and we each got to meet Captain Mickey before we were invited to “Fathoms” for a pre-departure briefing. This is where we were instructed on how to download the Disney Cruise app, and set up our schedule, and prepare for the modified safety drill, which was as simple as finding out where our muster station was and read a few instructions on how to safely evacuate during an emergency. Now after checking in, it’s off to find the food!
I’m a huge fan of buffets and large food spreads, and this cruise did not disappoint. Our first meal was at “The Cabanas”, a buffet style dining experience with several counters with all sorts of food. Since this was my first cruise, I never knew how their original buffet style was, except that rather than helping ourselves, there were cast members at each food station serving us.
My first plate included craw claws, shrimps, various charcuteries, Disney signature Mac ‘n Cheese, salmon and steak. Soft drinks, coffees and juices were all included onboard as well. And this was only a “taste” of what was to come. Desserts were very impressive as well, with cakes, pies, pastries, puddings, cookies and ice cream!
Now that lunch is complete, it’s off to find our cabins. Just before the cruise we were advised that we had all been upgraded to full balcony cabins near the mid-aft of the ship. So far the entire ship was so beautiful, that even a smaller cabin would not have lessened the experience, but it certainly made it all that more magical. Our luggage was already waiting, and our keys to our cabin were there as well. Everything was so organized and run so smoothly.
After resting for a few minutes, we went to the main deck for the sail away party as the ship sounded the signature horn “When you wish upon a star”, we were off. Through the narrow cruise port, towards the open ocean. The horn sounding again, this time echoing off the buildings on either side of us, even resonating through us.
It was now time for a coffee break at the “Cove Cafe”, a very quiet and comfortable place with friendly cast and delicious beverages. We were invited to enjoy a few crudities along with our coffee, as we observed outside the skyline of Miami disappearing in the distance.
It was almost time for dinner. Food options and meals were available everywhere aboard. This was certainly my type of cruise. Night one was at the “Animator’s Palate”
Our first stop the next day was Disney’s very own private island “Castaway Cay”.
Today marks 8 years since the final 60 Zellers stores wrapped up operations and closed down. Opened in 1928 by founder Walter P. Zeller, the discount chain spread quickly across the country and became a household name. In the 1970’s Zellers attempted taking over the failing Hudson Bay Company, but in a turn of events, the hbc reversed the tables and took control of Zellers.
The 1980’s and 90’s were a time of major expansion for the company, with take overs of the Bonimart / Towers stores and K-Mart Canadian stores. In the west, Zellers Select and Fields stores were popping up as local shops. I would compare them to Giant Tiger. Stores with a mostly complete offering of services, with a smaller footprint of 25-35,000sq/f compared to the 100-150,000sq/f of a standard Zellers store.
Jerry Zucker took over a once again struggling hbc in the early 2000’s and started to turn around the business. He introduced several new policies, and plans for revamping Zellers into a modern family department store. A prototype store was created and looked very upbeat and chic, but still had the Zellers charm to them. The prototype rollout was scheduled over the following 5 years to other stores. Staff from our store was sent to Winnipeg to be trained on the new procedures and we were on schedule to be renovated in the near future.
However, Zucker passing away at an early age, and as a private owner, the company was handed down to his wife, who didn’t want to take control, then sold it to a real estate investor and equity firm, Richard Baker, who made it very clear that Zellers was an unwanted child. He proceeded to cut staff, customer service, air conditioning, lighting, employee benefits, staff discounts, froze wage increases, and stocked the stores full of bulk pallets of cheap items just to fill the shelves. This all made the Zellers bottom line look amazing, profits were huge. Then he began looking for a naive company to offload the chain on.
Reminders of the Walmart takeover of Woolco in the 1990’s, where they took over all the stores but maintained the business and staff and gradually renovated fully stocked and staffed stores. Instead of doing what Walmart did when Woolco was taken over, Baker managed to sell only the leases from approximately 210 Zellers buildings for close to $2 billion to major US retailer Target. Zellers never went bankrupt, but they were effectively thrown out of their own buildings! Made it interesting to Target since many included interesting 99 year leases at strategic locations throughout the country, and they didn’t have to manage existing staff or merchandise. They could enter the country on a clean slate with a building waiting for them.
For Baker, as a real estate investor, and the Lord & Taylor chain recently under his control, the money from this transaction went straight into acquiring Sak’s 5th Ave. He proceeded to dissect the rest of the hbc company and put various parts of it on the market. Toronto head office building, Lord & Taylor flagship New York store, and more recently, Baker’s firm sold off the entire Lord & Taylor company to “Le Tote”, an online chic clothing seller, who soon after filed for chapter 11, and forced the closure of the remaining 35 L&T stores, ending the saga of the oldest department store chain in the US.
It was all a game of numbers for this guy. And when that money ran out, he dumped more stores or chains under his control, didn’t matter, thousands of staff and customers that relied on these businesses meant nothing to him. Deco Decouverte and Home Outfitters were next. And the final end game for his Canadian takeover will ultimately be The Bay stores. First he’ll probably sell the historic centralized buildings they are located in to condo or office developers, then close down the Canadian icon for good when that well runs dry, and move on to other acquisitions.
My predictions so far regarding his conquer and defeat strategy has already begun in Montreal and other major cities in Canada, it seems. The downtown Montreal flagship Bay store has announced a new 25 story office tower will be constructed on top of the existing 130 year old department store. No plans were mentioned as to the future of the department store, but there were discussions recently about merging the Sak’s 5th Ave banner with The Bay, but those ideas have yet to happen. Zoning changes are required due to the height restrictions in the area, but it appears that nobody has contested these plans, so the zoning changes blocking the view of the river might go through without delay. One city councillor questioned the decision at this time for building a huge office tower at a time when less than 50% of the office space in Montreal is being used due to recent circumstances. Will workers ever return to their downtown jobs, or continue to work at home in the future?
The last 15 years were one huge rollercoaster ride and those that stayed on the ride the entire time still remember vividly. After the closures, some retired, others went on unemployment waiting for the next opportunity. A few tried to get work with Target, but according to several ex-Zellers employees, they were turned away because of their age and their association with Zellers in the past. “They weren’t the image Target was looking for”. Store locations that were taken over by Target were extensively renovated and reopened a year later, at the same time brand new store locations were being built for Target and opened a few weeks before they announced bankruptcy in Canada. Shelves were always empty, no customers were shopping, frequent news stories, including those of cultural gaffs, such as not offering bilingual checkouts in a majority English area of Quebec.
According to those I’ve spoken with, various contractors also remained unpaid as well as wholesalers who dealt with the company which by then was under bankruptcy protection. Once the very last Target store closed and the chain left the country, the hbc equity firm began scooping back up some of these locations and began opening Hudson Bay stores in these newly renovated buildings that were only open for a few months by Target and used to be Zellers stores before that.
After the closure of the Zellers chain. 3 stores were converted to hbc liquidation outlets, and as of last year the final two Zellers liquidation stores were closed. Close to 90 years of business, picked clean and disappeared off the map. Who knows what the future would have held if the Zucker plans had come to fruition? Would it have bought the chain a few more years? Or is Walmart so big that they would have eventually chewed up the Zellers chain in the end? Or would it have ended up with a slow and painful death that Sears experienced? Was there room for two major chains in Canada? Customer loyalty was extremely strong, and I’ve met with many people who still talk fondly of Zellers, including the family restaurant with unique food offerings that haven’t been replaced anywhere else.
Stores such as Giant Tiger are on the rise. A Canadian discount chain is trying to fill the void that was left by Zellers and carries many of the same brands and products that Zellers once had. (Home Styles). It’s a good alternative, but just doesn’t have the same feeling or nostalgia that I remember from Zellers. Other Canadian retailers have also attempted to pick up the slack that was left behind when Zellers closed. Canadian Tire has diversified it’s offerings, away from it’s auto parts focus, and more into household supplies, electronics and small appliances. And Dollarama, once known for everything selling for $1 now has expanded its lineup to include $4 and $5 items.
I spent 15 years at the Zellers department store, working my way up from stocking shelves overnight through high school, to customer service in the day. Working in the electronics department for most of that time, until finally taking the reigns and helping turn the department into one of the top performing sectors of the company. I was really proud of our accomplishments, and would often post up the various acknowledgements and awards our store received. It wasn’t always easy going, and there were tense moments and difficult times. But I knew in my mind that I would always put the customer first, and be patient and treat everyone with respect, and still 8 years later I see customers of mine passing on the street, and often at my current job, and we share stories of the past, and remember the history of this almost century old company.
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So I decided to try out this new menu item so you all wouldn’t have to. Tim’s now sells burgers, “Beyond Meat” burgers. They’re about the same price as a regular burger from most other places, but this one is supposed to be “better” for you.
My first bite, if I didn’t know, I would say tasted 100% like a Burger King burger. The exact same smoke flavouring they use on their burgers was used here as well. The chew of the burger was more of a crunch though, and then there is the aftertaste. That slight chemical-like taste right at the back of your throat that lasts for a long time after you eat it. It was quite salty as well, had to keep drinking while eating it. But the shredded lettuce and fresh tomato was good, the cheese was at the bottom between the cold ingredients, so it didn’t melt.
The one thing I found the worst about this experience was the bun that disintegrated just by picking it up. It was already falling apart in the wrapper, but totally lost all cohesion when I picked it up for my first bite. So it was an awkward meal trying to keep all the ingredients inside what was left of the bun.
My final thoughts on this: A new experience, and I’m still here to report this, so it wasn’t “that” bad. I’m not sure if I would order it again, since I can walk a few feet over to the next counter and order a real burger at Wendy’s, however this could possibly be good for someone who doesn’t eat meat, it does actually taste like a Burger King burger, once you get past the aftertaste. As for a photo comparison, it didn’t look at all like the advertised burger, but that didn’t bother me, I’m still surprised a donut shop is selling burgers in the first place.
Here is the nutritional chart that can be found on the Tim Horton’s website, or upon request at the restaurant. Note the amount of salt found in this burger, which would explain why it tasted so salty. 1060mg of salt is about half of the recommended maximum daily intake of sodium. And the same for the 26 grams of fat in this burger. To put that into perspective, a McDonald’s Big Mac has less sodium and fat than this plant based burger.
Score: 2 Pusheen kittens sitting on burgers out of 5
Pour changer de rythme, la séance du conseil de ce mois-ci s’est tenue au Manoir d’Youville situé sur l’île St Bernard à Châteauguay. Une belle île remplie d’animaux et d’activités pour toute la famille, toute l’année. La ville a acheté cette partie de l’île, qui appartenait autrefois aux religieuses, pour un couvent et une maison de soins hospitaliers, mais a maintenant pris le rôle d’un hôtel style de villégiature dans un cadre magnifique. (English Version available here).
On m’a donné l’occasion de visiter l’hôtel avant le début de la réunion et j’ai pu prendre quelques photos. Ce qui suit sont mes opinions honnêtes, et je n’ai pas été rémunéré pour promouvoir cet endroit, mais seulement encouragé à partager mes expériences et à mentionner tout ce qu’il a à offrir.
Mes premières impressions sur ce lieu sont celles d’une institution historique, avec quelques équipements modernes. L’ensemble du bâtiment était impeccablement propre et bien entretenu. Les couloirs étaient bien éclairés, les œuvres d’art ornaient les murs, et même des petites attentions telles que des tables d’appoint avec des vraies plantes, des lampes, du matériel de lecture et même des infuseurs d’huiles essentielles emplissaient l’air d’odeurs fraîches.
De l’extérieur, je suis entré dans une salle clair et propre avec un grand sapin de Noël décoré. J’ai été accueillie par l’hôtesse très polie à la réception et le directeur de l’hôtel récemment nommé avec un comportement très positif et énergique. Il avait hâte de montrer tout le travail accompli en si peu de temps.
Une chose que je ne savais pas à propos du Manoir, c’est qu’il y a trois salles de bal pouvant être louées pour divers événements, tels que des anniversaires, des fêtes et des mariages. Capable d’accueillir des groupes de 60 à 150 invités, avec service de bar et buffet disponible. Les résidents bénéficient d’un rabais pour organiser des événements ici. Outre les salles de bal, plusieurs salles de conférence peuvent être réservées dans tout le bâtiment.
Au rez-de-chaussée, il y a une salle de pause-café avec une machine à café en k-tasse (des tasses et des dosettes sont disponibles à la réception pour 1,50$). Les chambres ne disposent pas d’une horloge ni de télévision, mais il y a une salle de télé disponible, et les horloges sont situées dans les couloirs partout dans le bâtiment. Une grande cafétéria offre des repas style buffet pour tous les clients de l’hôtel et les visiteurs de l’île.
Les chambres sont compactes, mais semblent confortables. Une suite de deux pièces telle que celle présentée coûte environ 100$ par nuit (plus un rabais de 10% pour les résidents) et comprend le petit-déjeuner. Un lit double dans une chambre et un lit-sofa dans l’autre chambre a coté. Deux tables, un espace de rangement et une salle de bain complète avec baignoire et douche. Cependant, toutes les chambres ne possèdent pas ces caractéristiques. Puisqu’il s’agissait d’un monastère, la plupart des plus de 200 chambres n’offrent que des équipements de base, avec un lit simple, un bureau et une chaise, ainsi que des toilettes et une douche communes dans le couloir. La chambre d’hôtel peut sembler petite, mais les invités ont également accès à des salles de lecture, offrant une variété de livres et de chaises confortables, ainsi que des salles communes joliment décorées et de style d’époque.
Les autres commodités offertes aux invités incluent le wifi gratuit, une piscine exterieure et une salle de massage. Et accès gratuit à la réserve faunique de cette île. Bien que le petit-déjeuner soit compris dans le séjour, diner et souper est disponibles avec des frais supplémentaires.
Le service à la clientèle est généralement ce qui fait ou défait une entreprise, et je dois dire que le personnel que j’ai rencontré était le plus sympathique et accommodant que j’ai trouvé dans n’importe quel séjour à l’hôtel. Très désireux de répondre à toutes les questions que j’ai posées, ils étaient fiers de leur travail et du bâtiment où ils se trouvaient.
J’ai deja mentionné que cet endroit était propre de façon irréprochable, mais je dois dire à nouveau à quel point j’étais impressionné par le fait qu’un bâtiment aussi vaste puisse être si bien entretenu. Et il faisait très froid la nuit à l’extérieur, mais il faisait très chaud et accueillant dans toutes les pièces que j’ai visitées, y compris les installations sanitaires, où se trouvaient des éviers immaculés et des toilettes avec un poush-poush ça sent bon et des savons parfumés. Même le carreaux dans les cabines de douche a été nettoyé dans un facon, ce que la plupart des grands hôtels renommés ne peuvent même pas obtenir.
La réunion du conseil est sur le point de commencer et la dernière pièce que j’ai visitée était la grande chapelle de deux étages pouvant accueillir des centaines d’invités. Les services religieux ne sont plus offerts ici, mais la sensation de paix et de sérénité coule toujours de cette pièce, jusqu’au grand orgue de l’église et à l’art en verre peint aux fenêtres.
Je vais vous laisser maintenant car j’apprécie certaines de ces délicieuses gateries préparées ici à l’hôtel.
Merci d’avoir pris à lire cette mini critique, et j’espère que vous décidez de visiter cet endroit. Comme le maire et tout le personnel l’ont dit, c’est notre hôtel et nous devons faire connaître ce trésor caché.
Je travaille également sur la récapitulation de la réunion du conseil de lundi, elle devrait être en ligne sous peu. Une fois de plus, beaucoup de sujets intéressants ont été abordés et des discussions animées, presque toujours présentes.
The holidays are upon us, and the council will be wrapping up until the new year, but not before introducing a few new policies, passing the annual city budget and authorizing new public work projects in the new year. For a change of pace, this month’s meeting was held at the Manoir Youville on Ile-Ste-Bernard in Chateauguay. Feel free to check out my photo tour, in the previous post, of this beautiful building.
The most discussed topic in recent months, next to the pot policies, was the housing development project planned for the Lang Farm property between Lang and St-Francis streets (Zones: H-627 and H-606). Residents in the area have been very vocal about their disapproval with the zoning change request from construction promoter RMR Leblanc. Currently construction is permitted for 12 two story single family homes. The request was made to allow for 24 single story multi-family row houses.
A registry was held and residents in the area were asked to vote at City Hall if they disapproved with the zoning change. A local resident started a Facebook campaign to get the word out to vote down this change. However good intentions were meant, it lead to quite a bit of misunderstanding. Several residents who went to vote initially thought they were voting down the entire project, and to protect this piece of land from any development, when in fact the vote was to deny the zoning change from 12 to 24 housing units. Councillor Mike Gendron clarified this and reminded everyone that the project may still go through, but under the original conditions with current zoning in place. When the vote was tallied, 172 residents came out and signed the registry, more than what was needed to request a referendum, and each resident was told that this was not a vote to cancel the project entirely.
When we contacted a few residents who live in the area, they were a little disappointed that the land could still be developed on, but were relieved that there could only be 12 houses now, rather than the planned 24. Concerns involved, traffic, noise, parking spaces and public safety, having so many people situated on the limited size plot of land.
The city had the option to move to the next step and and call for a referendum, but decided to withdraw the zoning change instead. Right now the project is on hold, we’ll learn more at a future time if the developer decides to proceed with his original plans, or leave the land vacant.
Parking has always been an issue in our town, especially during the winter months, when overnight street parking is not permitted. Not only does parking on the street cause delays to snow removal operations, but piles of snow on the street leftover where the truck had to go around. A few new parking policies and rules are expected in the new year. Currently, if a snow removal vehicle meets a parked car on the street, they need to call it in, where a supervisor will contact the police, who will then go over and ticket the offending vehicle. Plans are in the works to allow certain city employees to issue tickets, which will allow police to focus on public safety and patrolling, instead of being overnight ticket agents.
Also on the topic of parking. Many residents in Chateauguay own or work for a company that requires the use of a commercial vehicle. Officially it’s not permitted to park commercial vehicles on private property, however this will change in the new year. The mayor explained that we don’t live in Westmount, and we don’t need to have such strict private residence parking rules. The new rule would also allow for recreational vehicles to be parked in private driveways. While the books on parking are open, a new rule which would limit the amount of vehicles parked on a single family, private driveway to 5 vehicles per household. The mayor explained that it won’t effect most people, but he has seen some households with over 15 cars in the yard, and the new law will be there for these extreme cases. There is no word on when exactly this will be implemented, or if any tickets will be issued for those who don’t comply.
Ticketing will be more streamlined and efficient in the near future. The city is expected to acquire a new intelligent electronic ticketing system. The $200,000 system will allow police officers to scan driver’s licenses and tickets will be issued faster, and payment can be made sooner at the courthouse.
Cars and streets are a big part of our town, and the condition of some street still leaves a lot to be desired, where potholes outnumber solid pavement. The current budget for road maintenance, and paving projects was $1.1 million in 2018. In 2019, the budget will be increased to $3.5 million. A few major road projects in the works will include the paving of Craik street from Dunver to Parc Bonneau. Before this work begins an environmental study must be made, to make sure there will be no ill effects to the wetlands nearby. A similar study is underway on Industrial near St-Jean-Baptiste, where the width of that road is expected to double to two lanes and bike paths will be added.
Housing projects or land modifications have been a really big part of Chateauguay over the last few years, and several are currently underway, or awaiting zoning changes. Here’s a list of some upcoming projects, and potential zoning changes that the citizens can voice their concerns on:
Construction & Permits:
Two city contributions of approximately $12,000 each for park and recreation space on Haute-Riviere and Pascal.
The city has sold a portion of its property held on Principale street for the total of $130,661 to the OMH organization (L’Office municipal d’habitation de Châteauguay). A non-profit organization with the goal to help those less fortunate find affordable housing. A representative of the group made a request during question period that the new OMH building should be tax exempt for at least the next 5 years. The mayor asked why, and she explained that the group’s finances are very fragile, and paying taxes to the city was not in their foreseeable budget. The mayor then explained that if the finances of this group were so fragile, maybe it wasn’t a good idea after all to sell this property to them. We will follow up on this discussion during the next meeting.
The city will be offering tax credits to homeowners who wish to perform renovations to their homes built prior to 1985. The credit will be equivalent to the increase in taxes due to the new higher value of their home.
Tax credits and rebates will also be offered to new industries who set up in the industrial park, and meet certain criteria, during their first 5 years of operations.
City taxes for all homeowners is going up in 2019. Councillor Marcel Deschamps voted down the 3.6% average increase. To help residents cope with the increase, the city is allowing for 4 payments to be made throughout the year instead of the usual 3 payments. I suppose we should all be thankful that we don’t live in Beauharnois; with the proposed 25% tax increase. Chateauguay still is one of the highest taxed cities in Quebec, based on revenue and property values. Hopefully we will see a dramatic increase in services and road repairs in the new year.
Finances & Contracts
Water Supply and Treatment:
City Contracts / Expenses / Agreements:
Health and Safety:
Administration and Human Resources:
The nomination for Me. Nancy Poirier to become the new city director general. She had temporarily filled the position since the summer after the previous director vacated the post. The city searched for a new director, and finally realized that the best candidate was the person who was already sitting in the chair. The mayor, as well as the council said how satisfied they were with her performance, and that she was a great leader with vision and would be a great asset to the town.
In my personal life, I met Me. Poirier when I was running as a candidate in the last municipal elections. She took the time to sit down with me and explain step by step everything I needed to know, so that I would be prepared for all the tasks required of a candidate. She organized all of the paperwork so that everything was easy for me to read, and on election day, she came to visit me at the polling station to make sure everything was alright, and if I had any questions or concerns that she was there for me. I feel it’s a great choice for the city.
New / Existing City Projects:
The city of Chateauguay would like to install 4 new boating docks along the Chateauguay River in various locations along the river, such as Parc Laberge, Parc Marcel Sears, Parc de la Commune and Parc Lachapelle. This would allow private boaters to tie up their boats and enjoy a day on the water. Wifi services will also be made available at Parc Laberge, as well as a common sitting area at the end of the dock for everyone to enjoy. There are no longer any plans for boat or kayak rentals however, which were included in plans from the previous administration.
The Sports / Soccer plex debate is still going on. The new multi-sports building is now open, now the decision is what to name it. When you go out and ask people, they’ll either call it the Soccerplex, since that was the original vocation of this building, but it has since evolved into a place where multiple sports can be played, and talks are underway with a Volleyball organization, so the decision was to name it a “Sportsplex” instead. This did not go over well with councillor Marcel Deschamps, who requested a vote on the matter, and that the city should force the Beau-Chateau committee to officially name it the “Soccerplex”. After several minutes of discussion, the vote was 3 for and 5 against naming the building the “Soccerplex”. During the question period, several citizens brought up their concerns about the actual purpose of this building and the ballooning costs to maintain it, without generating any revenue. The mayor called the previous mayoress an “amateur” and it was her fault for the poor planning and why each citizen is being forced to pay $33 extra this year and $75 the following years.
This month’s meeting was held at the Manoir Youville. I posted a photographic tour of this place in an earlier post. It’s a very beautiful and historic place to be calm and to relax, however it’s huge, and discussions are underway as to what can be done with the building now that the city owns it. Presently the city is operating a retreat hotel here. The scenery is beautiful, wildlife is breathtaking and the historic building is clean and very functional. With over 200 guest rooms, a full sized cafeteria, 3 ballrooms and a perfect location, this place has it all going for it, except word of mouth. Most people don’t know this place exists. On one hand that keeps the place peaceful and calm, on the other hand, a business can’t operate if nobody knows it’s there. The city is looking for your opinions on what you would want see done here in the future.
A suggestion was made this month regarding our public library. Right now it’s simply called the “Chateauguay Municipal Library”, but a naming contest was held and the majority of the votes were to rename the library “The Raymond-Laberge Library”. He was a very passionate man, who was a well respected teacher and wrote the book on Chateauguay. 82.9% of the online vote agreed that the library should be named after him. The other most popular suggestion for a new name was “Bob Marley Municipal Library”.
For a change of pace, the council meeting this month was held at the “Manoir d’Youville” located on Ile St Bernard in Chateauguay. A beautiful island filled with wildlife and activities for the entire family, all year round. The city purchased this portion of the island, which was once owned by the nuns, for a convent and hospital care home, but now has taken on the role of a retreat hotel in beautiful surroundings. (Version francaise disponible ici).
I was given the opportunity to tour the hotel prior to the start of the meeting, and was able to snap a few photos along the way to share. The following are my honest opinions, and I was not compensated to promote this place at all, only encouraged to share my experiences, and mention all that it has to offer.
My first impressions of this place are of a historic institution, dotted with signs of modern amenities. The entire building was immaculately clean and well maintained. Hallways were well lit, artwork adorned the walls, and even the little touches such as side tables with potted plants, lamps, reading material and even essential oil infusers filled the air with fresh scents.
From the outside, I walked into a bright and clean lobby with a large decorated Christmas tree. I was greeted by the very polite hostess at the front desk, and the newly appointed hotel manager with a very positive and energetic demeanor. He was eager to show off all the work that had been accomplished in such a short time.
One thing that I never knew about the Manoir was that there are 3 ballrooms available for anyone to rent out for various events, such as birthdays, parties and weddings. Capable of hosting groups from 60 to 150 guests, including bar and buffet service available. Residents are offered a discount to host events here. Along with the ballrooms, there are several conference rooms throughout the building that can be reserved for any business event.
On the ground floor there is a coffee break room with a k-cup coffee machine, (cups and coffee pods can be obtained at the front desk for a modest $1.50) Guest rooms don’t have clocks or televisions, however there is a TV room available, and clocks are located in the hallways throughout the building. A large cafeteria offers buffet style dining for all guests of the hotel and visitors to the island.
Rooms are compact, but appear comfortable. A two room suite such as this one displayed goes for approximately $100 per night (plus a 10% rebate for residents), and includes breakfast. A double bed in one room, with a pull out sofa bed in the next. Two desks, closet space and a full washroom with bath and shower. Not every room has these features though. Since this was a monastery, most of the over 200 rooms offer only basic features, with a simple bed, desk and chair, and a communal washroom and shower down the hall. The actual hotel room may seem small, however guests also have access to reading rooms, with a variety of books and comfortable chairs to sit in, and beautifully decorated, period style communal rooms for guests to entertain in.
Other amenities offered to guests include free wifi, swimming pool, and massage room. And free access to the wildlife preserve on this island. While breakfast is included with the nightly stay, lunch an supper are available at an additional cost.
Customer service is usually what makes or breaks a business, and I must say that the staff that I met were the most friendly and accommodating that I’ve found in any hotel stay. Very eager to answer any questions I asked, and they had a sense of pride for their work and the building they were in.
I mentioned how clean this place was before, but I must say again how impressed I was that such a large building can be so well maintained. And it was a very cold night outside but it was so warm and welcoming in every room I visited, including the washroom facilities, that offered the little things such as immaculate sinks and toilets with a smell-good dispenser, and scented soaps. Even the grout in the shower stalls was scrubbed down and clean, something that most big name hotel resorts can’t even get right.
The council meeting is about to begin, so the last room I visited was the large two story chapel, with room for hundreds of guests. Religious services are no longer offered here, but the feel of peace and serenity still flow from this room, down to the large church organ and painted glass art on the windows.
I will leave you now as I enjoy some of these delicious treats prepared here at the hotel.
Thank you for taking to read this mini review, and I hope you decide to check this place out. As the mayor and all the staff said, this is our hotel, and we need to get the word out about this hidden treasure.
I am also working on the recap from Monday’s council meeting, it should be online shortly. There were a lot of interesting topics brought up, once again, and some heated discussions, which are almost always present.