Letters to the Editor, August 21, 2014

Dear Editor,

In response to Marcus Owens’ letter to the editor (Your Local Journal, August 14, 2014), I respectfully disagree with his statement that residents were “hoodwinked” regarding the fire hall loan by-law and register process. The loan by-law was first officially presented publically following many months of discussion at public council meetings and in the three local papers. The intention and total cost to build a new fire hall was well communicated. The adoption of the by-law followed a notice of motion, notice in the paper announcing a public consultation, public consultation, a further notice advertising the date of the register followed by the actual register day. The Cities and Towns Act guides the register process and was followed. The loan by-law and the date of the register were well publicized as is the case for all Hudson loan by-laws past and future.

Marcus goes on to state operating costs are now too high and our new fire hall is overbuilt. At the time the decision was made to build a new fire hall there was a real possibility that the CSST’s list of non-compliance safety issues and inadequate fire hall would have caused us to lose our fire department, had a new fire hall not been built.

Without a fire hall, there would have been no fire department in Hudson. Vaudreuil-Dorion would have provided Hudson with firefighting and first responder services. While it is true that without a fire department our operating expenses would be less, the cost for our firefighting services would not be lower; probably much higher. The reason for this can be explained based on the formula the Municipalité régionale de comté (MRC) uses to calculate charges for police services in Hudson. As our operating expenses for the Hudson police department dropped when we lost our police force, our cost for police services increased. We now pay $ 1.5 million annually for the services of the Sûreté du Québec (SQ).

The MRC charges Hudson based on a percentage of our total valuation which is relatively high ($1 billion) compared to neighbouring towns, but provides services based on our population, which is low (5000), an unfair reality for Hudson taxpayers.

The same formula would have been used by the MRC for providing firefighting and first responder services if we did not have our own fire department. We would be paying much more for far less.

Finally, in order for Hudson residents to benefit from the security and close proximity of its own fi re department, the town has to provide firefighters and first responders with the tools to do their job adequately and safely. The new fire hall was required and built because the old fire hall was inadequate to serve Hudson. It was built to last for the next 50 years in order to support a group of firefighters and first responders who are second to none in the MRC. Hudson homeowners can be very proud of and secure in knowing such help and protection, if ever needed, is close by, and not in Vaudreuil-Dorion.

Robert Spencer

Hudson Council

Are you serious?

Dear Editor,

I was saddened to read ‘A concerned taxpayer’s’ letter (Your Local Journal, August 14), mostly because the person felt that they couldn’t sign it and somehow felt threatened. In a community like Hudson which, by any reasonable measure, is inclusive of everyone.

Rest assured that the “disgruntled people” didn’t bring unnecessary cost to the impoverished town coffers (and by extension you), the letter that was sent to the town merely reminded the current counsel of their legal obligations and the conditions under which ownership of Pine Lake was transferred. Your mayor and town were quite thrifty in response, since the letter was responded to by their insurance claim adjuster. Given the recent council decision, there is no reason to think that this particular issue will go further.

As in any open society, you certainly have the right to be heard on this issue but it is important to have the correct facts, as the town was reminded, Pine Lake was deeded to, and now belongs to, the town, but that ownership comes with certain obligations and conditions; one of the obligations is to maintain the dam - failing which the town’s ownership of the “lake” and property may well be in jeopardy. So, if the lake is not restored, the “natural and beautiful and ecological area” now present may not necessarily be yours to enjoy as you predict!

Concerns are not about status, Pine Lake is for everyone in Hudson to enjoy.

Cynthia Maher

Hudson

Dear Anonymous Concerned Citizen,

I normally don’t pay very much attention to anonymous letters, (Your Local Journal, August 14). However, given the factual errors yours contained and the light in which you portrayed us, I simply had to write a rebuttal…

First and foremost, we are not bullies. Everybody I know who is involved in the effort to bring back Pine Lake to its former beauty are honest taxpaying citizens who feel that Hudson has a lot to lose by letting this special lake disappear. To suggest that we would in any way seek retribution against you or anyone who is opposed our view is slightly preposterous, never mind insulting!

All citizens, including Ms. Anonymous, have the right to be heard. Why may I ask should our right to express the wish to see the dam replaced be any less righteous? Debate and dialogue do not mean open war or loss of civility; they can also lead to productive exchanges and interesting solutions. However, you must really know what you are writing about before putting ridiculous notions and unfounded, uninformed opinions to print.

It seems I should be ashamed to worry about the possible decrease of my property value. I am sorry, but like many people, my house is the biggest investment of my life. I worked hard to buy a lake-view property in Hudson. Why shouldn’t I try to protect my investment? There are many reasons to want the lake back and to necessitate its return. My concerns are not the same as others, but each of our concerns holds a fair basis for argument.

Right now we live on a mosquito-infested swamp that floods and holds stagnant pools of water after each rainfall. There is quicksand like patches that children have already gotten stuck in (this is fact). The increase in development upstream has caused there to be more water travelling through the water way than there was 50 years ago.

Development (the insane rate at which new communities of homes are being built), means that less water is absorbed where it falls as rain and thus enters streams and rivers where it never did before. This increased water flow affects us downstream. Uncontrolled water flow is destructive.

MOST importantly, the land was sold to the Town of Hudson for 1$ for the benefit of all people of Hudson to enjoy. The intelligent owners of the lake and dam made sure that it was protected by putting in place a document that was approved and voted on at council to maintain the dam. This was attached to the transfer deed. There was a failure to maintain.

Responsibility falls on someone’s hands. Please place your blame on the powers that be who did not do their job and who let people go who could have fixed the dam this spring before further collapse. A whole lot of people did not do their job and the new mayor is left with a mess he has to address.

Finally, you mentioned how Mr. Prévost claimed that now Hudson would have to hire a lawyer and every town dweller would have to cover the bill, from our potential lawsuit. You do realize that the town already has a lawyer, handling many other lawyers’ letters and claims? In fact, they did not even respond to our letter with a lawyer but instead via an insurance claims adjuster. The comment by the mayor was a scare tactic. Get the public angry with us and take themselves out of the limelight. Funny isn’t it how the new Pet By-Law had such a timely release.

Let me ask you Ms. Anonymous, if you had legal grounds to sue and felt you were being cheated, ignored and silenced into submission, would you just sit back? The facts are that a small group of people are fighting for a whole mass of Hudsonites who do want to see the return of the lake. We are finding viable solutions and trying to keep the public informed so the Town does not hoodwink anyone. Please note that the cost of replacing the dam is somewhere between three and 10 dollars per year on the tax bill. Th at translates into a few boxes of tea or perhaps three coffees at Tim Horton’s. The dam needs to be replaced, the option of the field that once was, could no longer exist. The times have changed. Cameron no longer stops at the dam, homes have been built and documents were so brilliantly drawn up to protect future generations of citizens that want to enjoy the lake.

Lastly, please keep up to speed on the latest news from the both government levels as there is a new accord on the “taxe d’accise” that should generate close to $7 billion in the next five years that will be dedicated to infrastructure in the province of Quebec. There should be a fund from which municipalities can tap for their road repairs. Mr. Prévost, our Mayor, did mention this at the last council meeting.

Stephane Sauvé

Hudson

Dear Editor,

The enemy of school board democracy is school board secrecy.

Last Monday, the Lester B. Pearson School Board held its second to last Executive Committee meeting of its mandate before the November 2 school board elections. It was not webcast; I was the ‘public.’

Moreover, going on eight months, I’m officially still not allowed to ask questions at the Public Question Periods, unless I agree to a list of conditions and restrictions, which is anathema to democracy.

Nevertheless, the meeting primarily dealt with financial matters involving millions of dollars. Immediately, following the Executive meeting, there was mention of an Audit Committee meeting, where the public is not allowed to attend.

All this is to prepare for the Council of Commissioners meeting on August 25, when Budget 2014-2015 is passed. Incidentally, just prior to the regular council meeting, commissioners, as usual, will meet one more time, to dot the ‘i’s and cross the ‘t’s.

In any case, for several years, I have requested at council, and via Letters to the Editors, that the Executive Committee meetings be webcast to ensure total transparency because it is here that the major decisions are made.

Not to do so makes one wonder: What is the LBPSB hiding?

Recently, Pearson’s vice-chair correctly stated, “The mandate of the Council of Commissioners is to oversee the budget.” It is also equally true the Education Act grants the right for the taxpaying public to scrutinize, to ask questions about the budget - without any restrictions.

Will the Lester B. Pearson School Board display some courage and integrity by permitting all interested members of the public to pose questions about the upcoming budget? If not, will any candidate for commissioner or chairman, take the initiative, be bold and show direction, by pressuring the Pearson board to allow all concerned members of the public to ask questions on the approximately $265M, 2014-2015 Budget?

Chris Eustace

Pierrefonds

Dear Editor,

Last week I was very surprised to see an anonymous letter to The Editor published in (Your Local Journal, August 14). Upon reading the letter I could find no reason or argument for publishing it anonymously. It consisted of one individual’s opinion on a local matter. This opinion appeared to be based on much misinformation and supposition, but nevertheless, it was simply the author’s opinion, and we are all entitled to have an opinion and express it.

I sincerely hope this has not set a precedent wherein anyone wishing to air their opinions behind a mask of anonymity will have free rein to do so in your publication.

Sincerely,

S. Olsen

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