• Carmen Marie Fabio

Pine Lake area residents looking at legal action


PHOTO BY JAMES PARRY

Six residents living on or near Pine Lake have retained lawyer Julius Grey, known for specializing in human rights cases, to look at the issue of maintaining and restoring the lake to its previous status.

Six Hudson residents living in the immediate vicinity of Pine Lake have engaged the services of noted human rights lawyer Julius Grey in an effort to force the town’s administration to commit to a course of action in addressing the broken dam that saw the lake drain earlier this year.

“We are indeed looking at this,” Grey told Your Local Journal, “and I think there appears to be a very serious injustice to the people who live by the lake. The city had undertaken to maintain the lake and it hasn’t.” Grey said the case warrants further legal study before any legal action is decided. “I am looking at all the municipal law and contract issues, and if (legal) action is taken, it will probably happen within a month or two.”

“They are in breach of the 1984 agreement of when the land was deeded to the Town of Hudson, there were minutes adopted at council (saying) what the town’s responsibilities were,” said resident Jennifer Butler. “We’re also accusing them of being in breach of the Quebec Dam Safety Act, by not acting on repairing it.”

Mayor Ed Prévost said the existing agreement was to maintain the dam. “And we will,” he said. “But we can’t do it with a click of our fingers.” Prévost said the town was recently granted emergency measure status and the work to stabilize Cameron Street adjacent to the dam is proceeding as planned. “The fix is a temporary one because the next phase has to do with the dam and we’re following precisely the sequence that we’ve been dictated by the ministry of the environment, and that is to get the hydrological study done.” Prévost said he expects those results by the end of the week. “After that, we proceed to taking out a loan by-law covering what we estimate to be probable cost of rebuilding a dam that will last at least for 50 years if not more. If the loan by-law is defeated, the money will not be available to repair the dam, and we’ll have to find another way of financing it.”

This claim is disputed by Butler who maintains the town’s responsibility was to first submit a plan to repair the dam, then wait to see if the government required further studies on the waterway. Butler also questioned the wisdom of excavating the gravel that was placed around the private property adjacent to the dam in late May for what will be a temporary fix. “If you ask me, they’re paying for things four times over that they don’t have to pay for.”

Resident Cynthia Maher, whose property backs onto Pine Lake near the dam, has already lost two mature trees and smaller shrubs due to erosion and said she hopes this legal action will force the town to make a decision about the respective fates of the lake and the dam.

“We’re also worried about the evaluations of our houses,” said Maher. “The enjoyment of our homes and the quality of our lives has been infringed upon.”

Prévost said he’s surprised that residents would hire a lawyer given the town is proceeding as they’ve been instructed. “We’re not sitting on our duffs,” he said. “We want to move ahead as fast as we can but we have to do things by the book.” Prévost also said that by engaging a lawyer, the residents force the town to hire its own legal representation, the cost of which will trickle down to the citizens.

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