Dorval’s Robert Bourbeau to step down after 40 years at city hall

City manager wouldn’t be surprised if Dorval is merged with Montreal again in the future and Golf Dorval is eventually swallowed by the ADM.

Article content

When Robert (Bob) Bourbeau steps down as Dorval’s city manager this summer, it will bring an end to a 40-year career serving the municipality.

advertisement 2

Article content

Bourbeau was a city councilor for 27 years, before joining the city administration in 2010. He sold his house last week and will soon relocate north of Montreal. He spoke to the Montreal Gazette about his four decades at city hall and what the future holds for the West Island suburb.

Q: How did you first get involved in Dorval politics?

A: I was first elected as councilor in 1982, the same time as (former mayors) Edgar Rouleau and Peter Yeomans. We were quite young… I was re-elected by acclamation four times. I’m going to turn 67 this year and I’m healthy.

Q: Did you get more satisfaction serving as city manager (DG) or councilor?

A: The merge with Montreal was not fun. That was a hard time in municipal politics for towns like Dorval, Pointe-Claire and Kirkland. They don’t operate Montreal the way we operate here. But it’s been a lot of fun as DG over the past 12 years; we’ve never been in such good financial status as we are now.

advertisement 3

Article content

Q: How long have you lived in Dorval?

A: I was born in Lachine. I got married young at 19 to a Lachine girl across the street from me. We moved to Dorval and bought our first house on Pine Beach Ave. in 1978. I think I paid $30,000 for it. I saw it for sale last week on Centris and they’re asking close to $500,000.

Q: How else has Dorval changed since then?

A: The biggest change is that citizens are more demanding now, and there is less of a community feeling. Before we used to have Neighborhood Watch and lots of block parties, corn roasts. You don’t see that much anymore. People are too busy, I guess. Or on their phones or iPad too much.

Q: Was it inevitable Dorval would densify on the Dorval shopping center parking lot and along Dorval Ave?

advertisement 4

Article content

A: It was unavoidable. We’re a suburb of Montreal, we’re close to the airport. We’re going to see a lot of redevelopment like that. A lot of the homes here were built in the early 1950s, late 1940s, post-war. They’re getting old and need work so a lot of them are getting demolished. You see it on is Lakeshore Drive… the price of land has become so expensive, you might as well put up a big house.

Q: What’s the next big challenge facing Dorval?

A: A big challenge, I think, will be dealing with Montreal because all the de-merged cities, as you know, are opposed to the quotes-parts (fees from the Montreal agglomeration council). There is nothing to stop them. The de-merged cities like Pointe-Claire, Dorval and the others, we’re relatively rich. And Montreal knows that, and the province of Quebec knows that. So I’m afraid that eventually some government will come along and merge us all.

advertisement 5

Article content

Q: Again?

A: Yeah, but for good. We’ll all be one-city/one-island. I think so because the money we have, Montreal is kind of jealous… Another big factor is safety. I mean, who wants to move to Montreal North? oof! Côte-des-Neiges is not as bad, but it’s scary. Another loss in the years to come is Golf Dorval. It doesn’t belong to the city, it belongs to Aéroports de Montreal (ADM)… The sport of golf dropped quite a bit in the 40 years I’ve been here. We used to get 160,000 players a year there, but it dropped from a 36-hole course to 18. And chances are we’ll probably go to nine holes. Then eventually the ADM will just say, ‘OK, we need to make room for FedEx or Purolator.’

Q: With the McConnell Woods file, did the city miss an opportunity to buy a waterfront green space?

advertisement 6

Article content

A: It’s funny you should say that because we’re in the process of buying a property right now on the water, one that would be more suitable for citizens to use than McConnell Woods. On McConnell Woods, we bid fairly but it would have been in the middle of a residential sector and there isn’t much lakefront property. The two lots we’re proposing to buy now are completely lakefront: A convent on Lakeshore and Pointe-Picard.

Q: What will you miss about your job?

A: I’m going to miss serving the public. When I took the job, I said we have to solve our problems quickly. All my problems are solved within 48 hours. I am proud of this community. We’re a city of only 20,000 people, but we have two community centers, three beautiful outdoor pools, an indoor pool and a great lakefront. If you based success on complaints, well, I think most people in Dorval are happy. My office is the complaint department and I rarely get complaints.

[email protected]

advertisement 1


Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user follows comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your e-mail settings.

Leave a Comment