• John Jantak

Councillor blamed for not informing Chaline Valley residents about landslide risk sooner


St. Lazare resident Richard Meades directs statements to District 3 Councillor Brigitte Asselin and town council for not doing enough to inform residents about the landslide situation in Chaline Valley sooner.

Frustrations over a public information meeting scheduled for next Wednesday regarding a provincial Ministry of Transport (MTQ) report that will address the landslide risk zone designation in St. Lazare’s Chaline Valley boiled over as resident Richard Meades lashed out at District 3 Councillor Brigitte Asselin and the town for not doing enough to inform residents about the situation sooner.

Even though the town has known about the landslide situation since 2004, Meades told councillors at the Tuesday evening council meeting that he only became aware of the risk himself in 2011 when a neighbour informed him about being forbidden from installing a backyard swimming pool because of possible landslides.

“I only found out by accident when I was doing a petition to get the town to re-profile the ditches because of the mosquito problem when this guy told me he couldn’t put in a pool because there was a landslide restriction, which I had no knowledge of, nor did anybody else know,” Meades told council.

“So I went to the town and asked if they had a map that showed the landslide restricted area in Chaline Valley and they gave me a print out,” Meades continued. “I then went home and agonized over this. How come I’m the only one who knows about this? I felt other people should know about it so I posted it at the mail box. That’s how it came out.”

Meades then blamed Asselin for apparently not doing anything to inform area residents at the time even though she was the elected municipal councillor for Chaline Valley.

“I was flabbergasted when I learned the landslide zone existed. This was in October 2011, yet the town knew about it since 2004 and it was brought to council in 2008. How can Madame Asselin sit there and represent Chaline Valley when she kept it secret for so long?” asked Meades.

Mayor Robert Grimaudo quickly defended Asselin saying, “I don’t think you should be blaming her.” Grimaudo added that the town has done its best to inform area residents about the situation starting with a public information meeting that was held in September 2012 to try to quell residents’ fears.

“Who should I blame?” asked Meades. “Thank you for putting on that meeting. It gave us all kinds of maps about landslides and what could happen and nothing about what to do to prevent it. I know the history. And I know what the cover up was.”

Asselin later told Your Local Journal that she and the town’s Director General have met with Meades on several occasions in the last few years to discuss the situation. She added that Chaline Valley residents were invited to a public meeting in 2008 but no one showed up and that the landslide designation has been public knowledge for a very long time.

“Chaline Valley is the one district in which we’ve been working the hardest within council for that past few years,” Asselin said. “It’s not an easy file to work on. Landslides zones exist throughout Quebec and it’s not unique to St. Lazare. We’re doing what we can to help the residents.”