• Carmen Marie Fabio

Hudson residents opt to oppose $750,000 loan by-law


PHOTO BY CARMEN MARIE FABIO

Hudson Town Clerk Vincent Maranda greets one of the 591 residents who arrived to sign the registry to halt the by-law to fix the Pine Lake dam.

While some Hudson residents may be pining for their drained Pine Lake, it appears not enough of them are willing to assume the cost of the necessary repairs to its compromised dam following the September 9 registry that garnered enough signatures to halt the $750,000 loan by-law. “We got 591 citizens of Hudson who signed the registry,” said Town Clerk Vincent Maranda at the close of the registry at 7 p.m.

Council now has to decide whether it’s going to withdraw the by-law or whether it’s going to submit the by-law to a referendum. I think people were well informed as to what was going on.” According to Quebec law, only 423 signatures were needed to nullify the by-law, a quantity Maranda explained is determined by a government-defined formula from the electoral act. The hours of the one-day registry signing period, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. are also defined by law and are not open to modifications.

“I phoned to see if we could do it (registry signing) over two days but we couldn’t – it’s against the law.” “It’s democracy at work, I suppose,” said Mayor Ed Prévost, reached at his home following the registry result. A number of residents waiting to sign had expressed reservations specifically about the amount of the by-law.

“If that’s the case,” said Prévost, “then they didn’t understand (the by-law). It could go up to $750,000 but it could be much less. Resident Cynthia Maher whose property line used to border the lake said she wasn’t surprised about the registry results. “I don’t think (the amount of the bylaw) was well explained in the letter,” she said of the August 30 communiqué issued to all households by council.

The letter outlined the process, including a preliminary engineering estimate of $300,000 that would include, “…demolition and removal of the old dam, reworking the retaining walls, dredging, profiling, and restoration of the river banks along the Viviry River.” The $750,000 worst-case-scenario amount factored in unforeseen issues including compulsory hydrological studies, dredging and other government-driven studies.

Maher said the result to residents’ property tax bills would have seen an increase of only $9.85 annually over the next three to four decades. “Just removing the dam at a cost of $300,000 would probably cost the same as fixing the dam. Our taxes will go up anyways. That should’ve been explained.” Maher said neighbours who have consulted real estate agents have been told their property values had diminished by between 15 and 20 per cent.

“The only thing we didn’t spend enough time discussing is the implications of doing nothing,” said Prévost, noting that the repercussions of inaction could be very serious. “We’re looking at the possibility of Cameron (Street) being washed out again when the spring thaw occurs.” Prévost said the next step is for caucus to meet to review and discuss the matter on Monday, September 22 to determine the town’s course of action.

The existing legal options range from the town holding a referendum that would cost between $25,000 and $40,000, comparable to an election. Other options, though less likely, include implementing an abrogated bylaw for a lesser amount or the town could adopt a sector by-law that would see residents who benefit the most from the dam and the lake pay all, or a larger portion of, the cost associated with its repair, a concept that didn’t sit well with Maher. “I don’t agree with that,” she said. “Because everybody takes advantage of the lake. Tourists, families that picnic, kids that go fishing, town tournaments…. No. I don’t agree.”

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