• John Jantak

Havre du Lac campground owner takes legal action against Vaudreuil-Dorion


JOHN JANTAK

Diane Lévesque, the owner of the Havre du Lac campground in Vaudreuil-Dorion is taking legal action against the city after the municipal council stopped the project from proceeding.

The owner of the proposed Havre du Lac campground on rue Meloche just off rue Lotbiniére has taken legal action against the City of VaudreuilDorion after council scrapped the project at the December 1st council meeting. Diane Lévesque, an entrepreneur who also owns and operates Hôtel Balto – a boarding facility for dogs and cats – told Your Local Journal during an interview last Friday that she was disappointed with council’s decision to stop the project.

The most troubling aspect for Lévesque is that the revamped Havre du Lac campground was unanimously adopted by all 15 members of the city’s urban planning committee in August 2013, and that all the work and the $700,000 she has spent to finance and promote the project has ostensibly been for nothing. Lévesque said that when her aunt and uncle previously operated the campground, there were spots for 43 trailers.

The revamped campground would have hosted 31 spots for motorized camper vehicles or caravans, with an additional spot reserved for visitor parking. A tent site would also have been located on the east side of rue Meloche along the waterfront directly across the street from the caravan campground. For the residents of Meloche who only learned about the scale of the project after several mature weeping willow trees were cut down at the campsite mid-October, 31 trailer spots were still too many.

Area residents joined forces and presented a petition at the November 17 council meeting asking the city to stop the project. Mayor Guy Pilon told a small group of residents present at the meeting that the petition would have no bearing on whether the city would decide to cancel or proceed with the project because the city was already looking into certain aspects that apparently weren’t in line with the proposal that was originally presented and accepted by the city’s urban planning committee.

Lévesque said she’s complied with all provincial environmental ministry requirements regarding plans to revamp the septic system and potable water piping that will connect to each motorized caravan. She is also contesting the $16,000 fi ne imposed by the city for cutting down the 32 mature trees on her property without obtaining a municipal permit, saying the contractor came ahead of schedule because of weather concerns which didn’t give her enough time to apply for the permit.

Lévesque contends that even without the permit, Weeping Willows are not allowed in Vaudreuil-Dorion and had to be removed for the project because their invasive root system can easily damage water pipes and septic tanks. The city’s decision means that Lévesque had to let go of six employees who were promoting the project and the city would lose an additional source of tax revenue. She said the purpose of her legal action is to recoup the $700,000 already invested including money spent for the manufacture a model caravan that prospective buyers could visit before making a purchase.

Instead of arbitrarily cancelling the project, Lévesque said she would have preferred to have worked with the city to see if there was anything she could have done to change things. She noted that the concept of the campground was that the caravans would remain on site throughout the winter and only be occupied by their owners from early April until late October. This would allow the owners, mostly retirees who vacation at similar campsites in Florida over the winter, the flexibility to use another mode of transportation instead of driving a caravan back and forth.

She said the demographic of this group of retirees distinctly shows that they always return to the same campsites each year. Mayor Guy Pilon couldn’t comment specifically on the legal action except to say that certain aspects of the current project were not in line with what had originally been proposed. One aspect that concerned the city when the issue was raised during the November 17 council meeting had to do with the fact that the lots that would house the mobile campers would be sold to prospective buyers.

Pilon said at the time that this contravened the purpose of a mobile campground which is to only rent trailer sites for the length of time people stay at the campground and not to house caravans permanently on lots that would be owned by individual buyers.

CARMEN MARIE FABIO

Thirty-two mature trees were cut down to accommodate the proposed Havre du Lac project, raising the ire of the residents living on Vaudreuil-Dorion’s Meloche Street.

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